Sports and fashion don't have many fans in common, but they have a lot of other similarities. Each is a multibillion dollar global commercial mass entertainment industry fixated on the human body. When it comes to gender expression, they are counterparts: mainstream fashion reinforces traditional ideas about femininity (women are pleasant and upbeat, preoccupied with perfecting their appearance, sexually available) in the same way that pro sports culture rigidly conforms to certain masculine norms associated with aggression, competitiveness — even (off-court) promiscuity. (Of course there are niche segments of both industries that challenge the dominant models, but I'm talking about the stuff that's most visible, like the annual Victoria's Secret fashion show or the Superbowl.)
As a prominent global clothing retailer that sets the standard for athletic wear, Nike is at the nexus of both industries and it's just inked an unusual endorsement deal with WNBA player Brittney Griner.
The 22-year-old basketball player was just signed to Pheonix Mercury, after being selected as the #1 overall 2013 WNBA Draft pick. She's 6'8", on the cover of this month's ESPN Taboo Issue and the first openly gay athlete to sign an endorsement deal with Nike. And there's more: Griner, who wears men's clothing in her personal life, will model Nike apparel that's branded as menswear, possibly as a move to align itself with a new wave of androgyny that's becoming increasingly more common in the sports world.
From her ESPN profile:
"Androgynous models are coveted in high-end fashion, but the trend toward gender-neutral clothing has only just begun to reach the sports world, with NBA stars Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade blurring the lines in their tight jeans and fitted sweaters. No sports apparel company has taken it a step further and expressly targeted the gender-fluid crowd — and whether Nike is willing to ride the edge with Griner remains to be seen. 'We can't get into specifics,' says Nike spokesman Brian Strong, 'but it's safe to say we jumped at the opportunity to work with her because she breaks the mold.'"
This video, where Griner talks about struggling with her sexual identity as an athlete and bullying she faced as a kid, is worth watching:
Alexander Wang’s second outing for Balenciaga proves to be another success for the young designer. Albeit the majority of the fashion crowd seemed skeptical about replacing the brilliant Nicolas Ghesquière with the more street style-focused Alexander Wang, tFS forum members are showing themselves impressed with Wang’s collections for the brand thus far. The shots for the Resort 2014 collection were released early this week and forum members unanimously agreed about the stunning imagery and creative way of showcasing the clothes from multiple angles in the same image.
“The setting is amazing. The shoots are really beautiful,” stated Mathewthew.
And Crying Diamonds added, “It's so refreshing to see every angle of the clothing, especially when they are interesting like this.”
Not just the photography and styling managed to excite, many tFSers also appreciated Wang’s surprisingly sophisticated and intricate designs.
“Very pleased, loving everything!!!” said GERGIN.
And Thefrenchy stated, “I have to admit that I'm very pleasantly surprised by this. While I absolutely did not believed he'd fit the job in the first place, he proved me wrong with his first collection and he's proving me wrong once again. While he's no Nicolas and I don't think I'll ever be super excited and find his collections groundbreaking, what he has produced here is really good.”
LolaSvelt found that “the two collections he has done for Balenciaga thus far are better than pretty much anything he has done with his own brand.”
Even as a major admirer of Nicolas Ghesquière I have to admit that Wang is holding himself steady at Balenciaga so far and both collections which have been presented have been on par with what we expect from Balenciaga. I will go as far as saying that he even surpasses some of Ghesquière’s last collections for the house, which seemed more lackluster and gimmicky than what Wang is trying to bring into Balenciaga. Wang may be trying a little too hard to uphold the Balenciaga identity and he is playing it somewhat safe yet, but if he keeps up the good work there is no reason for us to complain, and as UpperEchelon put it: “My faith for Wang just got back and it's stronger than ever. This is an amazing collection.”
KRISTEN MCMENAMY BY STEVEN KLEIN FOR BALENCIAGA / via Balenciaga FB
Here's the second image from Alexander Wang's polarizing Balenciaga debut campaign, photographed by Steven Klein and featuring a faceless Kristen McMenamy. The initial ad showed the model dressed in mono-black, peering through a crack in a doorway as chiaroscuro shadow playing on her tightly clenched white fist. Although the concept seemed like it could have been a gimmick, the photo was arresting and interesting.
The second ad presents a continuation of the story. Set against the same detailed black wall we saw a month ago, the model sits on a chair, a severe leather satchel propped on her knees, her hands behind her back. Is she tied up or offering herself?
The campaign's first image showed McMenamy's body trembling; her intention was legible and compelling, achieving that result without relying on a model's primary tool — her face. The second ad continues the concept, but the result is not as effective because the model appears as a straight mannequin. Anything the photograph expresses relies entirely on the set-up in the first image and the skewed symmetry of the composition — the uneven placement of the text, the decentered focal figure may not be noticeable at first, but those choices are crucial for the photo's eerie, unnerving mood. Not McMenamy's fault: you can tell she's working her knee ligaments.
Previously: Kristen McMenamy Makes World’s Most Expressive Fist for Alexander Wang’s Debut Balenciaga Campaign
The Bling Ring star Emma Watson and the rest of her The Bling Ring pals walked the red carpet last night at the premiere of The Bling Ring, the film. (Sentence not sponsored by The Bling Ring.) [BellaSugar]
Giorgio Armani intends to lend a hand to struggling young designers by letting them breath the same air as him. [Fashionologie]
Sienna Miller vs. Naomi Watts: Oh, it's on. [FabSugar]
The Bachelorette decides to allow Twitter messages to appear on the bottom of the screen to hilarious effect. [EarSucker]
Sh*t Bloggers Wear: An illustrated guide to what every personal style blogger ever wears ever. [SBW]
Maxi dresses are apparently unpopular among the man set. [SheFinds]
Matthew McConaughey is a man of many talents: actor, dancer, singer, leading man, southern gent, bongo drummer and perfect specimen of the male physique. Now he's adding fashion designer to his repertoire, and where better to launch his budding empire than at Sears Canada?
If you hadn't already heard of McConuaghey's conglomerate, it goes by the name of JKL (for Just Keep Living) and consists of an admirable youth-centered charity and line of apparel. Inspired by McConaughey's signature laid-back style (and penchant for outdoor adventure), JKL sportswear features technically-advanced fabrics, performance details and a relaxed, casual aesthetic. Dubbed All-Journey Gear, the collection delivers versatile, active-inspired looks with functional performance fabrics that merge into good-looking, but hard-wearing apparel.
Matthew McCounaughey launches JKL clothing line at Sears Canada.
Sears will begin offering JKL apparel in store and online at sears.ca for the Fall 2013 season. Here's what McConaughey himself stated in a press release about the brand's development:
"JKL stands for just keep livin'. In 1992, my father moved on, and just keep livin' came to be. It was about keeping his spirit alive and continuing to get incentive from the things he taught me. The tag line is a compass for me and serves as an approach to life: No matter where we're headed, where the road takes us, what's up ahead or what's behind us, we've got to just keep livin'. That's the philosophy. It's a big part of what we try to show the kids through our foundation and it's the DNA of the JKL brand."
A noble cause to say the least and, even better, is the fact that a portion of every sale from JKL goes to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Sears' community partner for almost half a century. The funds will provide after-school fitness and wellness programs for youth in Canada based on the curriculum of the just keep livin Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Matthew McConaughey, that supports after-school programs in areas that need them most.
Having dropped major weight for his role as an AIDS sufferer in new movie Dallas Buyers Club, I'm not sure how McConaughey is able to sustain the momentum of juggling so many ventures, but that aside, I really hope his clothing line doesn't go the way of Justin Timberlake's William Rast. It would also serve Sears well if the line were to be a success, not least because of their past failures to recruit a certain rapper and his YOLO motto. Hey, maybe MM should also add retail rescuer to his resume come next season.
Image: Alberto Reyes/WENN.com
J.Crew has just signed a ten-year lease for a two-level retail space at 151 Court Street in Brooklyn, its New York City location outside of the island of Manhattan.
Perhaps you've heard of Brooklyn: It is NYC's most populous borough, a historical haven for immigrant communities and kids playing stickball. Woody Allen grew up there; Lena Dunham may have visited once. Today's Brooklyn residents are best known for their hilarious idiosyncrasies, like eating organic food (because obviously it's much tastier to stuff your body full of pesticides and caged chicken tears) and procreating.
The retailer's expansion to Brooklyn shouldn't come as a surprise. Gentrification and an influx of capital has been homogenizing the borough's diverse population in certain neighborhoods (like Cobble Hill, J.Crew's future digs), which attracts mass-market chains and disrupts the mythologized mom-and-pop retail landscape.
In a conversation with J.Crew's CEO Mickey Drexler, WWD wondered if the company was waiting for the "demographics to improve" (that's the publication's elitist language, not Drexler's) before moving to Brooklyn. His response: “We were not necessarily waiting for the demographics [to change] [note: WWD's brackets, not ours]. It’s been quite clear over last few years that a lot of our customers live there. In fact, a fair amount of our headquarters team members live there, and we knew it pretty well.” (Yes: J.Crew creative director and Brooklyn style mascot Jenna Lyons recently sold her Park Slope townhouse.)
A sampling of what you might find in the blocks surrounding the store location: American Apparel, Barney's Co-Op, Radioshack, Trader Joe's, Starbucks, Urban Outfitters, Brooklyn Industries (which now has a location in Manhattan), Chase Bank, Barnes & Noble, Gamestop.
Depending on your perspective, J.Crew is either a corporate pioneer or a pock on a pure retail landscape.