The announcement that Tim Coppens would design an upscale contemporary label for Baltimore-based sportswear brand Under Armour made perfect sense to people familiar with the Belgian designer’s eponymous line. Coppens’ collections are characterized by a tailored-meets-technical design narrative that sees outdoor gear-nerd details like taped seams and 3M reflective fabrics applied to classic menswear silhouettes like blazers, trousers, and coaches jackets. Ben Pruess, Under Armour’s President of Sport Fashion, spoke at length about the new endeavor, dubbed Under Armour Sportswear (UAS for short) in a recent episode of our podcast.
Early glimpses at UAS included a peek at the UAS Club Low, a minimal low-top with a leather upper and neoprene tongue that hinted at the full collection’s fusion of classic style and sporty futurism. Today UAS debuted proper, taking over the rapidly gentrifying South Street Seaport. Nearby, a $3.9 billion structure called the Oculus is nearly complete, with many portions of it open to the public. Its daunting, ribcage-like exterior juts into the city skyline where the Twin Towers once stood. If those buildings represented an old idea of American consumerism and wealth, the Oculus modernizes that concept.
In addition to a transportation hub with ample underground passageways, it offers plenty of shopping. From high-street stores like COS and Reiss to eateries by Daniel Boulud, the intimidatingly sterile interior almost seems too clean to eat in. It’s a mall one could see as the setting of films like Gattaca or Minority Report. Appropriately, a Star Trek and MAC activation was happening on the ground floor, where a stoic Vulcan and a crowd of shoppers watched a green-skinned Orion woman dance. Science-fiction had become a little more real, and immediately purchasable. Perhaps, that’s a similar tone to what UAS represents as well: a look towards the future reconciled with the instant gratification of the present—the collection was available directly after the presentation online and at select retailers like Barney’s New York.
The presentation occurred to pre-planned set times, with models hidden behind a corrugated metal door. The area they initially stood in mirrored the triangular design of the UAS logo. Coppens’ used a modified J Dilla track as the show’s music, which looped throughout the presentation’s duration. The brief portions featuring the models began when the doors swung open, revealing a phalanx of looks that slowly marched forward in groups, before walking around the installation in the middle of the room. The invite described this as when the show was “in motion,” and with buzzwords like “athleisure” being music to corny marketers’ ears, it gave a context for what most fashion editors are already attuned to—seeing how the fabrics and silhouettes interact with a moving body.
Of course, most people who buy luxury sportswear aren’t wearing it to actually work out in, but the technical appeal of 3M feels more relevant when transformed into a sartorial grid check and rendered on a trench coat. Camouflage melton wool topcoats, quilted blazers, and blaze orange quilted scarves mixed influences from military gear, Americana, and perennial street staples in a way that feels commercially right for a label like Under Armour, yet still had Tim Coppens’ signature technical touches.
In between show times, an installation gave a closer view of the clothes. Technical materials were stretched to emphasize comfort, durability, and a sense of athleticism. Footwear dangled so sneakerheads could have a full 360-degree view of a shoe. A translucent, Patrick Bateman-esque fishtail parka was a showstopper, and paneled outerwear looked especially good when you could see the contrast between the quilted down on the bottom and the moisture-wicking technical fabric up top.
Footwear included low-tops, high-tops, and an impressive pair of field boots with a Michelin rubber sole. Part modern update to L.L. Bean’s classic weatherproof duck boots, and part more wearable version of the Yeezy 950, the shoes pushed the design envelope enough to look different from what’s out there, but still democratic enough that no one would have any trouble figuring out what to wear them with.
For more from NYFW, check out our street style report from the Big Apple.
- Photography: Thomas Welch / Highsnobiety.com