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Uncle Tom’s Jacket
by Martina Metzner | 12/22/2013
Enormous presence: debut of Adidas by Tom Dixon during the Milan Design Week 2013 at MOST (Museum of Science and Technology). All photos © Adidas by Tom Dixon

Zaha Hadid designs futuristic shoes for Melissa, Rem Koolhaas[M1] T-shirts for Prada and Stefan Diez bags for Authentics. It is no longer unusual for designers and architects to extend their aesthetic ambitions beyond their own discipline and encroach on other fields. But while the incursions made by the above were flirtations that made little impact, a recent collection now hitting stores and based on a similar collaboration seeks to be much more than a marketing whim.

Adidas by Tom Dixon. Two fine-sounding names, each poised at the top of their respective league, but who at first sight would not appear compatible. Can it work?

First of all, Tom Dixon joins a successful series. For quite some time Stella McCartney and Yohji Yamamoto have been working with the maker of sports equipment. Their special lines are highly successful and spice up the profile of Adidas with an element of innovation and extravagance. However, in collaborating with Tom Dixon, Adidas is venturing into new territory, which may be the reason why the collection has been planned for just two years initially. Nonetheless, both Dixon and Adidas are taking things seriously, as evidenced by the collection’s enormous presence, not only at the Salone del Mobile this spring, but also at the most important men’s fashion fair in the world, the Pitti Uomo in Florence this summer.

In an interview with Monopol Tom Dixon explained his initial problem: “I would like to be organized and ready for anything, but I’m not,” he confesses. “I have designed garments that fulfil several functions at once and can be turned inside out. That means you don’t have to take as much with you, but still have everything you need.” So is this yet another city nomad hipster collection? What Dixon says, however, is not a load of marketing babble: When he first traveled to the Salone in Milan he could not afford a hotel and had to sleep on a park bench. That experience is still influencing him today. Dixon took time over the collection. Adidas had already approached him about a shoe collection a couple of years ago, but Dixon wanted to do more.

The result is a compact line comprising 24 items, which not only include apparel but also shoes and bags. It is marketed as a unisex collection, but on balance has much more to offer for men. All the items appear clear and sleek. Everything has its place and its function. Dixon contributes the fresh, unusual view of an industrial designer, while Adidas has the textile know-how.

There are jackets, trousers and overalls, which with their angular, no-frills styles, sturdy materials and subtle colors such as gray, mint and olive green cite industrial workers’ uniforms in both look and silhouette. But as all the garments are reversible, they can be “switched” at will to strong tones, from olive green to bright yellow or from gray to steel blue. Multipurpose is the catchword: jackets that are swiftly transformed into a skirt or a sleeping bag (park bench!); shoes whose shiny, oily patina might first make you think of Greenpeace activists, only to surprise you with their simple style and blend of desert boot with the sole of a running shoe. That is witty – and functional.

The star in the collection, however, is the luggage: a spacious travel bag, a messenger bag and a backpack, which thanks to their well-structured interiors really are textile pieces of furniture in which you can store a great deal. “Everything-you-need-for-a-week-away-folded-nice-and-flat-in-a-carry-on-bag,” it says in the description. And so the furniture designer makes an appearance, after all.

“Reduce as much as possible to one story” – for Adidas Tom Dixon has done just that. The successful result is a focused, well-made collection with sporty elements for people who appreciate essential chic. Garments that are useful, adaptable but sturdy, and which are not subject to six-monthly fashion cycles, but can still be worn in a few years’ time. Which is why Adidas by Tom Dixon is best described as clothing rather than fashion. Clothing that, frankly speaking, pays homage to the taste of a design-oriented public, in other words all those who equally rave about Authentics bags by Diez.

It remains to be seen if at the next Salone we will get to encounter people in trendy workman’s gear or in parkas that can be transformed into sleeping bags after a night out on the booze? And are spacious enough for them to cram even more catalogs into their pockets.

www.tomdixon.net
www.adidas.com

MORE on Stylepark:

Functional, with style. The “to-go” mentality of today’s globalized world calls for fashion that affords maximum freedom of movement. Part 2 of our catwalk analysis.
(20 November 2013)

Why don’t we simply go shopping in our PJs? Entitled “Untragbar”, students at Bremen’s University of the Arts have launched an original fashion magazine.
(31 July 2013)

Enormous presence: debut of Adidas by Tom Dixon during the Milan Design Week 2013 at MOST (Museum of Science and Technology). All photos © Adidas by Tom Dixon
A compact line comprising 24 items, which not only include apparel but also shoes and bags.
A compact line comprising 24 items, which not only include apparel but also shoes and bags.
Little spacewonder: the backpack.
Little spacewonder: the backpack.
Jacket-trench-skirt-piece.
Jacket-trench-skirt-piece.
“Reduce as much as possible to one story”.

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