As one of the major players in China’s $33 billion sportswear market, it might be disingenuous to label Li-Ning as underrated. Yet despite releasing some of last year’s most intriguing footwear, as well as strong showings at New York and Paris Fashion Week, there’s a feeling that the brand’s premium lifestyle range is yet to register fully on the radars of Western audiences.
But that might be about to change when the brand’s “Humanity and Nature: Walkers, Wanderers, Explorers” collection drops next month.
For Fall/Winter 2019, Li-Ning channels the beauty of bucolic China for a dynamic collection that mixes heritage with the contemporary. There are throwback nylon tracksuits; drapey, Mandarin-clad sweaters; oversized anoraks and parkas; and, of course, the by-now familiar madcap sneaker silhouettes. The colorful gear fits snugly at the intersection of sports- and techwear, while remaining rooted in a Chinese sensibility.
For the new lookbook, Li-Ning took an unapologetically lo-fi approach, shooting models against a mountain backdrop before manipulating the images in post-production.
“With Li-Ning’s FW19 lookbook project, we wanted to examine the collection’s themes of exploration, of embarking on both a literal and figurative journey, but in a haphazard, lighthearted, and playful way,” says Liad Krispin, the former adidas marketing guru who now works closely with Li-Ning.
“As part of this, we juxtaposed a minimalist, austere photo studio in Manhattan with props that signify the journey to the Chinese countryside in the form of faux rock and boulder formations, large format photo prints, and LED screens showing Chinese landscapes. We encouraged the models to have fun with these props and the shoot as a whole, to not take it all too seriously, which underscores the thought that it’s the journey that’s exciting, not just the destination.”
The Li-Ning Fall/Winter 2019 Premium Collection will hit retailers including Selfridges, SSENSE, and KITH in July.
If you missed it, revisit our exclusive trip to Li-Ning’s Beijing HQ here.