If you believe designer Alexander Wang, all the dystopian, futuristic fashion you see on the silver screen in the latest Sci-Fi epics aren’t visions from tomorrow, they represent the look of 2014.
That was the message on Thursday when Wang live streamed a runway show from his website, officially launching his collaboration with retailer H&M. The tech-enabled, live event is unique in that it essentially bypassed September’s Fashion Week, opting for an Apple iPhone event-style launch, catering to the mainstream, connected consumers both companies hope to reach.
Treating the event with the same level of theatrics you might expect at a Paris runway show, the designer’s models stepped out in goggles, visors, elaborate special-ops-from-the-future-vests, minimalist footwear and even helmets.
The collaboration, announced back in April, is a rather bold move by both the designer and the retailer. If consumer reaction matches the immediate responses to the live stream on social media, the new line could rebrand the image of H&M, moving it from affordable outlet for fashion-lovers on a budget to a resource for couture-style looks from one of the industry’s leading designers.
For Wang, already a well-known name in the high fashion world, it could help push him toward becoming a true mainstream brand.
Composed mostly of muted grays and blacks, the designs offered a peek at what futurism looks like when properly grounded in contemporary style. Although some of the logo treatments, featuring “WANG” as a large design element, may put off some consumers who might like the designs, but tend to avoid wearing large brand name identifiers.
In some ways, the “Alexander Wang X H&M,” as the collaboration is termed, approach is reminiscent of Armani Exchange—also known as AX— the Giorgio Armani mainstream offshoot launched back in the 1990s. Early on, the strategy seemed to breathe new life into the company.
But today, the mainstreaming of the Armani brand, driven by the lower-priced, AX logo-laden apparel seems to have chipped away at a good deal of the venerable Armani brand cache.
However, the AX designs weren’t as experimental or as well conceived as this new collection from Wang, so there’s no reason to believe that it will suffer the same fate.
Wang’s entire H&M collection will hit stores internationally and online beginning Nov. 6.