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In Focus: Adidas by Wales Bonner AW21

In Focus: Adidas by Wales Bonner AW21

If only we could enroll in the Adidas Originals Wales Bonner Literary Academy. From the moment she graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2014 with a softness and sensitivity that has continually drawn the industry deeper and deeper into her world, Grace Wales Bonner has been as much an artist, ethnographer, poet, dreamer, teacher and academic as fashion designer. From her L’Oréal Professional Talent Award-winning graduate collection, entitled Afrique, shown on a cast of black male models through to her LVMH Prize win in 2016, to her first institutional exhibition, A Time for New Dreams at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2019, Grace’s work addresses the politics of identity, sexuality, and race through projects that delicately balance multinationalism with a sense of personal subjectivity. Of course her carefully considered collaborations with adidas Originals continue these expressions, her message amplified. Forming an integral component of the brand’s autumn/winter 2021 collection, entitled Black Sunlight, the third capsule outfits her Gifted Brotherhood.


In Focus: Adidas by Wales Bonner AW21

First unveiled back in January, Black Sunlight provides the closing chapter in the brand’s trilogy in exploring the sociohistorical threads that bind the UK and the Caribbean. Whereas the previous two collections saw Wales Bonner reimagine the aesthetics and stylistic tendencies of the 70s, the designer now turns her attention to the diasporic radical thinkers of the 80s. “ We were thinking more about Caribbean thought and intellectualism, about a school of writing and poetry that has shaped post-colonial discourse, as well as an idea of Caribbean and diasporic identity,” she explained. The sartorial narrative threads great poets and thinkers including Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite and Stuart Hall, and the intellectual legacies they left behind. “I was trying to imagine a fictional university that is a lot more multicultural,” she told Vogue of the collaboration’s evolution. The result is her elevated take on a team kit for gifted brotherhood.


In Focus: Adidas by Wales Bonner AW21

Echoing the considered and crafted origins of sportswear, Wales Bonner leaned into adidas’ archive and technical resources to revive specific fabrications. Throughout the carefully considered capsule, the collaborative apparel and accessories see iconic adidas pieces refreshed through Wales Bonner’s inimitable lens – implementing popular 80s inspired cut lines and silhouettes on items including T-shirts, pants, trackpants, a tracksuit, an anorak, and a sunhat. Inspired by scholarly iconography, select pieces are then elevated with collegiate graphics, representing academic and spiritual growth. Alongside the proven sell-out success tracksuits, a T-shirt printed with the emblem for “Wales Bonner Adidas Originals Literary Academy” underlines the point.


In Focus: Adidas by Wales Bonner AW21

Shot by Tyler Mitchell, the launch of the collection is accompanied by an evocative photographic campaign which intimately captures the inherent nostalgia of a balmy summer's afternoon and reflects a moment suspended in time. Moving beyond the institutional academic setting, this season adidas Originals and Wales Bonner step outdoors into an idyllic space of leisure as a cast of models relax together in a field interacting with artistically elevated footballs, bikes, and goalposts – all wrapped in vivid fabrics and ribbons. “Away from the quick rhythms of the city, an afternoon unfolds.” Building on themes of identity and representation that are encapsulated in both Wales Bonner and Tyler Mitchell’s work, the campaign conveys emotive feelings of freedom, intimacy, and brotherhood drawn out through unfettered authenticity and connectedness.


In Focus: Adidas by Wales Bonner AW21

In Focus: Adidas by Wales Bonner AW21



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