On the occasion of Paris Fashion Week, the Off-White™ show, entitled “Slightly Off”, presented the womenswear collection Fall/Winter 2020. A certain amount of attention was focused on yet another Air Jordan revisited by Virgil Abloh, specifically an Air Jordan IV in the “Sail” shade, already exhibited at the “Figures of Speech” exhibition at the MCA in Chicago.
But what caused the most uproar was to see sumptuous dresses on the catwalk, with wide skirts, unstructured, swallowed up – thanks to the splicing technique – by the jackets of the outdoor brand that, more than any other, is climbing to the mythical peak of high fashion, Arc’teryx.
Contemporary trends are clearly mixing all the styles related to the fashion world (streetwear, gorpcore, workwear, etc.), and what comes out is continuous and accelerated contamination, which sets no limits to what can be created.
From this point of view, outerwear, and all technical clothing, stands out clearly and yesterday’s fashion show is an empirical example.
The attention around Arc’teryx was deflagrated during the Future Forum in New York organized by Nike in early February when Drake and Virgil himself showed up in a front row with two identical Arc’teryx LEAF jackets.
But what exactly is Arc’teryx? Where does it come from? What’s its history?
In the middle of the Canadian mountains, in 1989 in North Vancouver in the British Columbia area, Dave Lane, a mountaineer, was not satisfied with the climbing products on the market until now and decided it was time to produce his own.
He founded Rock Solid Manufacturing and began making climbing harnesses and bags to contain magnesite, which is essential for climbing, all within his own home. Shortly afterward he decided to take advantage of his friend and colleague Jeremy Guard‘s enormous knowledge and experience in climbing, and it was here that the legend of the “Dead Bird” was born.
In 1991 Lane and Guard decided to change the name of the company, inspired by Archaeopteryx, an extinct genus of dinosaur, a transient form between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds that is considered the oldest known bird. The choice fell on this specimen, to reflect the vision of the company and its founders: to create a breakthrough evolutionary innovation in the outdoor field, just like Archaeopteryx, which served as an evolutionary bridge between terrestrial feathered dinosaurs and early birds.
The logo is the brainchild of graphic designer Michael Hofler and depicts “the Berlin specimen”, a fossil discovered in 1875 by Jakob Niemeyerl, the most complete skeleton of this specimen to date.
The turning point from a production point of view came when the company managed to obtain a license to use GORE-TEX® from W.L. Gore & Associates, thanks to which it implemented a new line, the Arc’teryx LEAF (Law Enforcement & Armed Forces).
Of military derivation, some articles of this line are still made “imitating” the jackets of the armed forces from which they derive, while others are produced following military specifications.
Arc’teryx has also been involved for years in a number of initiatives to raise awareness of environmental and social issues, such as the worldwide “bird’s nest” campaign. For an entire weekend, Globetrotter volunteers in Cologne, Germany, made a series of raincoats using leftover GORE-TEX® laminate left unused during the production of jackets at the Vancouver plant. The raincoats, which are waterproof and windproof, were then distributed to homeless people in the German city.
The impact and enormous success of the Canadian company in the streetwear world, and therefore in the fashion world in general, is mainly due to two reasons: first of all the incredible quality and centrality of the performance concept and secondly the affordability. Most likely, what we saw yesterday during the FW20 womenswear show of Off-White™, is just a small piece of a much bigger asteroid, ready to make an impact on the planet of high fashion in this 2020.