Awake NY founder Angelo Baque sees collaborations as a communal effort, a unfication of likeminded creative peers. Collaborations aren't merely two brands coming together to drop a product, that's for sure.
And, considering the cultural clout that a guy like Baque commands, he could likely have his pick of the collaborative litter, so to speak.
But he prefers to patiently pick out opportunities that align with his personal taste, lifestyle, and ideology; intent is everything.
"Growing up in New York, Lacoste was an aspirational brand," Baque explained to Highsnobiety. "I’ve been a fan since I was a kid – I remember seeing the polo and tracksuits in music videos, watching hip-hop artists and my own friends adopt them and incorporate it into their own style. I grew up with Lacoste.
"I have tremendous respect for Louise and the work she’s done with Lacoste. She’s immensely talented."
"Working with Angelo and his team at Awake was a unique experience as I was given an insider’s view on an iconic New York brand that I love," Trotter added. "I feel very fortunate to share this experience with him and to have a creative dialogue with respect and trust."
The resulting collection is a hybridization of Baque's retro-leaning aesthetic and Trotter's worldly design sense, incorporating both iconic Lacoste items (the polo, the post-workout sweater) and fresh pieces (an updated harrington-style jacket) into a fresh spin on preppy heritage.
"As a brand, we represent youth culture, not just here in New York, but globally," Baque continued. "With this partnership, I wanted to bring that youthful energy into each of the pieces. The pieces are all wearable and can be mixed and matched across the collection."
"Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions, we didn’t get to work together as closely as we both would have liked, but Louise helped make the process seamless nonetheless."
This collection, deceivingly simple in nature, is the result of literal years of effort. It took untold time not only to design the garments but to scour the archives, to find the right fabric weight, to produce the items in Lacoste's native France.
"We began conversations with Lacoste prior to the pandemic, so the original plan was for myself and our head designer to fly to Paris, meet with the Lacoste team there and go through the archives," said Baque.
"Like the rest of the world, we had to pivot in early 2020, so much of the creative work took place via Zoom and from the comfort of our respective homes," Baque recalled. "Although the process wasn’t ideal, we’re still very proud of what we were able to create in partnership with Lacoste."
"I see this capsule as a mix of our French sporting codes and Lacoste’s heritage, reinterpreted, reinvented with the codes of Awake NY for the streets of New York City," Trotter offered.
"We wanted to bring together Awake’s community in New York with Lacoste’s roots in iconic French preppy style. The creative process was challenging as it was all conducted remotely, but at the same time the dialogue was fluid and direct. We worked collectively along with our creative teams to bring both our worlds together. We sent archive references, current ideas, sketches and fitting images and bounced ideas back at each other"
Though there's plenty to like throughout the range — especially the slouchy, colorful sweatpants — but, for Trotter, it's all about the knitwear.
"The knitted Lacoste X Awake NY sweater's origins can be found in our archive, but it has been reinterpreted with a level of craftmanship that makes it a collector’s piece," she said.
"Very few pieces were made as each piece takes a long time to produce, so I hope it will be a piece that people will love and cherish because of its uniqueness."
Though the sweater's no less special to Baque, even the basics hold special meaning for him.
"For me, it’s the polo. It’s a status symbol, and a symbol of achievement. To now be able to work with the Lacoste team and put our touch on it, that’s something that I never would have thought I’d do,"
"It was always a dream to work on something that’s iconic and steeped in history," finished Baque. "The opportunity to work on a polo and put our brand name on it, that’s a bucket list item.