My New Sweats
Daniel Barabasi | Tuesday, September 9, 2014
This past Sunday a whirlwind of students took the JACC by force in a post-shutout euphoria. The occasion? A celebration of the new Under Armour deal by selling the old, outdated-at-conception sports clothing and equipment. Yet, upon arrival barely an hour into the event, the festivities seemed more like the melancholy one experiences when walking into a long-looted grocery store during the zombie apocalypse. No twinkies, only XXL bright pink shirts.
If you can relate to this type of emptiness, I bring positive news from the lands of the sartorially-approved affordable loungewear. This past week, H&M and Uniqlo announced collaboration with Alexander Wang and Alexandre Plokhov (Helmut Lang), respectively, for athletic lines of clothing. The two fast-fashion companies have been known for reasonable costs and decent corporate practices, at least when compared to the rest of the fashion industry.
Both Wang and Plokhov tackle the same subset of clothing, men’s activewear, but two distinct styles emerge. Plokhov for Uniqlo follows the trend of mainstream modern fashion: slim and suave, but effective pieces in grey and black. Wang takes a risk with his H&M collection, as his concept work this past week gives a peek at a more blocky, in-your-face approach.
My fashion persuasions pull me towards Plokhov, as I was immediately starstruck by his willingness to put a contemporary spin into a “cheap” chain. His plain joggers and sweatshirts offer the simplicity that has more or less disappeared from lower to middle end fashion (an example of this is trying to find a baseball cap without a logo for less than $70). His hoodies leave something to be desired, but he makes up for it with the magnus opus of the collection: the turtleneck sweatshirts and batwing hoodies he presents.
The turtleneck sweatshirt is Plokhov’s response to the abhorrent chimney-collared sweatshirts that took Europe by storm in the past two years. Where the chimney-collar gives off an odd presence of trying to suffocate the wearer while being loosely draped over a collarbone, the turtleneck offers the refinement that we last saw in Steve Job’s iconic tight, black counterpart. Meanwhile, the batwing hoodies provide an alternative fashion style to a chill night out. I would even consider wearing a button-down and tie underneath, slightly unzipped, to properly blend the desire to appear composed with the casualness of a mid-winter classroom.
Wang takes the opposite road: stand-out pieces that focus on the bulking aspect of sports. GQ claims that the collaboration is boxing inspired and shot the preview in the middle of a ring. He seems to be sticking to his head-turning all-black men’s fall 2014 Ready to Wear collection featured prominently on his website. This collection is made even more exclusive considering his spring 2015 runway lineup, which promotes a return to the color palette, although still in minimalist measures.
Not keeping his involvement a secret, the designer emblazons “WANG” over croakies, socks, sweatshirts and shorts alike. This motif has varied success in terms of positioning. Whereas I would be comfortable with this block-lettered slogan across my chest, having it over my crotch for shorts seems less appealing.
Despite this daring, Wang’s simple puffer coats take the prize for the collection. Both seem to feature detachable hoods, an under-appreciated necessity today’s “bigger is better” coat trends. Perhaps they will be warm enough to last the winter.
This past week, Rihanna has been seen sporting Wang’s newest designs around New York City. If she had access to the ready to wear section, the women’s styles offer a much more form-fitting alternative to the men’s pieces. However, the “WANG” pattern is even more prevelant.
The collections are perfect for the expected Big Freeze of December through April. Stock up on the products, and make sure to pass off your now outdated sweats to your significant others, and keep your new stockpile far from prying eyes.
The Alexander Wang x H&M drops early November, while Halmut Lang x Uniqlo hits the shelves Sept. 22.