The onset of a new decade is always an exciting time, as it often means a cycle is ending and a new one is ready to begin. And this year, in particular, should exceptionally be lauded as a time to celebrate, as many brands and designers are and will be commemorating their 50th anniversaries.
While London was all about Sir Paul Smith and Margaret Howell, Milan will be honouring Sportmax, the Italian brand founded by Achille Maramotti. For the occasion, the brand will be marking its achievements by releasing a unique coffee table book published by the luxury publishing house Assoulin and presenting a dedicated capsule collection alongside it.
"In the book celebrating 50 years of Sportmax, curator Olivier Saillard talks about finding nobility in the ordinary," said Grazia Malagoli, who has been the Creative Director of the Italian brand since 1979. "I believe this concept embodies the soul of the brand perfectly, as our focus over time has always been that of creating the perfect wardrobe for everyday life, something that isn't ostentatious yet still modern."
It is precisely this spirit that embodies the fashion house founded in 1969, a very particular time in Italian history. Sportmax emerged as a brand that supported cultural and social change, slowly evolving over the following 50 years and always trying to give the correct answers from a fashion point of view. It is also this spirit that characterises the book, a collectable item cultivated by the all-star fashion curator Olivier Saillard, with contributions by fashion critic Luke Leitch. The book is divided in five decades – starting from the 1970s up to the present day – and narrates Sportmax's visual journey through time, including some of its most significant collaborations with some influential photographers in fashion, from Sarah Moon to Peter Lindbergh, to name but a few.
"Creating a book felt like the most plausible choice as we realized we had a lot of material we could use. But we also decided to publish a book as our company's heritage is also all about handing down culture to the future generations, as our beliefs are rooted in the transmission of knowledge," she said.
Yet Malagoli didn't just look into the company's archives for the creation of the book, she delved deep into a hunt for something that would make the capsule collection unique. The designer who has always been a passionate fabric researcher and has, throughout her tenure as creative director of the brand, experimented with technical and textile research (she believes one must 'listen to the fabric to fully understand it'), decided to look into the first decade of the brand's existence, a time where many different designers contributed to its visual development.
"Working on the book and having a vast archive of material, I also have testimonies of what was done in the early years by designer Nanni Strada - in particular a shaded stitch that had become her signature. I found the use of the stitching exciting; thus, I made sure our team was able to technically turn this company signature into a modern key for the capsule collection."
While this particular stitch – and the machine used to create it (Macchina Rimoldi) – is widely used nowadays, especially on rather dynamic and elastic fabrics, the brand made sure to use it on noble materials such as cashmere and silk. The team also used the stitching to create contrasting patterns on dresses and coats. This resulted in a 15-piece collection in three ultra-bright hues — emerald green, deep red and marine blue — and included coats, jackets, dresses, shirts and knitwear, all matching to create a coordinated wardrobe.
Finally, to better visualise the collection, the brand collaborated with director Robert Carsen on the set design of department store La Rinascente's shop windows in Milan, which will be unveiled on January 19th and were inspired by the late sixties.
The coffee table book and capsule collection will also be available in stores starting from mid-February and will be officially launched on January 19th at La Rinascente.
By Elisa Carassai