Titled “Future-Vintage, Sport-Formal,” the 30th anniversary collection of Li-Ning was unveiled on January 18, 2020 during Paris men’s week wherein the brand honored proposed a new meld of sportswear and tailoring – a hybrid look with multiple reference points that remain in continuous dialogue.
The collection originates in an image of Mr. Li Ning, the brand’s founder and an Olympic gold medalist in his own right, wearing a suit at last season’s runway show. The vision of a champion athlete in relaxed tailoring inspires Li-Ning’s approach: applying techniques of classical tailoring to iconic, sport-derived styles, seen through an aesthetic lens of future-past.
This range of apparel, footwear, and accessories is a product of Li-Ning’s three-decades-long quest to define a wardrobe for tomorrow.
The brand’s 30th anniversary also sets into motion a far-reaching series of new collaborations and associations within the worlds of fashion and contemporary art, the latter of which is represented in Li-Ning’s three-year patronage, beginning in January 2020, of Paris’ renowned cultural institution the Centre Pompidou.
With a focus on live performance, the program seeks to crystallize the partners’ shared belief in the unifying nature of experience and the power of art in creating exchange.
For the show, Li-Ning creates the effect of a shifting 3-D urban landscape—the Pompidou illuminated in a matrix-like grid constructed of scaffolding, neon, pixelated LED screens, and monitors displaying 8-bit content reminiscent of ’80s video games alongside various vintage video footage. The games and videos play, glitch, and “break down” then loop again, highlighting the season’s innate clash between lo-fi and hi-fi.
Guests including Jackie Chan, Mr. Li Ning, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, Stefano Pilati, MJ Harper, and Honey Dijon took in this epic display, in which models walked the Pompidou to a roughly collaged soundtrack that flickered between underground dance music, new wave hits, and ambient sounds of city bustling streets.
Juxtaposing then with now and casual with formal, the Li-Ning collection identifies archetypes of the modern global metropolis— characters who freely blend and layer their wardrobes to suit their moods and needs with little regard for gender, occasion, or preconception.
Oversize check suits are rendered with knuckle-length sleeves, cropped trousers, and graphic patches. Li-Ning accessorizes them with studded belts, nubby fleece skull caps, and industrial shield glasses.
Tracksuits come patchworked in contrasting parachute materials and trimmed in traditional trench-coat detailing. Pinstripe suits feature unique drawstring, double-layer pants and are worn atop track jackets with asymmetric open plackets.
Quilted sweatsuits in safety orange recall a ’90s streetwear mood, as do the ergonomic, body-hugging messenger bags worn with many looks. In a reference to early video games, naïve, lo-fi graphics appear across sweaters, hoodies, and a range of accessories.
Photos courtesy of Li-Ning