Following a first look at its latest sneaker last week, Chinese sportswear label Li-Ning showed its new collection at Paris Fashion Week Men’s.
SS20 marks a 30-year anniversary for the brand who has grown from a domestic favorite in China to become an internationally recognized sportswear label. This was celebrated with a collection that builds on Chinese pride with an athletic ping pong themed collection. The sense of sportsmanship and national pride seem particularly fitting for the brand as it echoes founder Mr Li-Ning’s past as a former Olympic gymnast.
The show began in total darkness with flag-carrying models walking around the gymnasium-themed runway in a new model of the Li-Ning light-up Aurora sneaker. The shoe was made in collaboration with Random Identities, the Berlin-based label from the former head designer of Yves Saint Laurent, Stefano Pilati.
After the sneaker debut, curtains were suddenly rushed off the glass ceiling, flooding the runway with light and giving way to a light-hearted collection based around China’s favorite recreational sport, ping pong. It should be noted that ping pong played an important part in improving the relationship between China and the United States in the ’70s, known as “ping pong diplomacy,” which is referenced in the collection with the text “Central Chinese alliance for ping pong diplomatic relations” appearing throughout.
For SS20 Li-Ning deconstructed its classic sportswear staples and featured a ping pong bat print. The mackintoshes unzipped above the waist, allowing the outerwear to transition into a sportier cropped jacket. Meanwhile, the brand’s signature tracksuit was re-imagined with new colorways and a rubberized ping pong logo patch. There was also several new iterations of the oversized polo with long-sleeves, stripes, patches, piping, open V-necks with vintage-inspired circular pulls.