Behind the Collection

"Fresh Air" Inspiration & Concept

Behind the Collection
Jun 21 2021

Every season the concept of the show and inspiration for the collection go pretty hand in hand.  Knowing where we’re shooting helps inform the colour palette, style of graphics and a lot of the silhouettes to a degree.  We started thinking about the collection and show around April this year, which as late in the game as that was, somehow served as plenty of time to execute this season.  Below I’m going to talk about the process and inspiration behind the show pretty informally and hopefully provide some context for it all.

I wanted to start this off with a couple of pages from the first concept deck we made with PlayLab.  This has to be version 12?  I think?  The original concept was something involving setting up different scenes our trail runner walks through up at Crystal Lake to highlight our Merrell 1 TRL collaboration.  The location scout trip is what lead us to seeing the East Fork Bridge on the way back.  We did a few laps of the bridge and scoped out the area and immediately pivoted from the lake.


The new idea that took shape was only a slight pivot from the original, this time just with actual runway.  As of now it is a narrative driven piece starring a trail runner who happens to find himself pulled into our SS22 show.  Andre created the dialogue and script for the BTS scene and we made sure everything we actually needed in the BTS area was not only good enough to be on camera, but actually function for us too.

Below are a couple of mock ups pulled from the various group chats that go into this.  The actual runway element is taking place right on the East Fork Bridge.  Thanks to our friends at the USDA Forest Service we got the permit to shut down the road for a little while.  We had about 20 benches lining the road for guests and the flags we made spaced evenly alongside.  Models walk from the backstage onto the road, down the bridge and back to the start.

The start of the design process follows this path pretty closely.  I go into each season with a vague idea of what I want to make and the rest tends to stem from the show concept progression.  The colour pops of the vibrant reds and blues are in reaction to the landscape being pretty muted earth tones and wanting something to really stand out.  KAYTRANADA beats clashing with a quiet landscape works the same as the colour pops to me.  The white varsity jacket in look 1 is embroidered with the same flags that line the bridge.  It’s the little things like this that help tie it all together.

The title, “Fresh Air,” is a very open theme.  Every collection title needs a few meanings that all work together for the name to land.  The first one is obvious, the brand being based on outdoor activity and scenery.  The narrative element of the trail runner running through the scene without a moment to catch his breath.  The first outdoor show we’ve done with a live audience.  Working with an entirely new production and manufacturing situation after ending a bad relationship with our previous partners.  Fresh Air.  Finally…

Going into this season’s design process I knew the most important thing to do was design in a way that reflects the feeling of our first in person show again.  BIgger, louder, more colour.  Trying new things such as the dress with Juliet Johnstone was a major part of this.  The seasonal camo’s and embroideries are made out of the foliage found on site during the scout trips.  Everything was made in a slightly more outdoor lens than usual to work with our Merrell 1 TRL collaboration debuting on show day.  

Back to the show itself.

Weather is a real thing.  Who knew?  We have to track what’s happening to make sure we can actually film outside on the day.  The light is another major thing.  Andre described this location and show time as the “worst possible combination possible for light” at first.  There was a moment he was pitching us to do the show at night and floating a balloon light the size of the runway above the bridge…  Maybe next time. 

The weather on show day played in our favour and everyone walked away pretty happy.  Overcast in the morning when Liam MacRae shot our campaign while Andre was filming the morning shots of Gordon Clark running through the valley.  The sun came out around 3pm and show started at 4 or so.  

Going into these shows everyone has an idea of what it can look like in execution.  The difference is when working with a team like Andre Bato Inc & PlayLab, you kinda get what you were hoping for!  Mock ups become reality and it actually happens… I can tell you how great these teams are to work with.

The final piece of the puzzle is the staff tee.  I know that’s irrational but it’s a huge deal!  I did a post with detailed shots of the shirt.  The original concept sketches by Jeff from PlayLab get printed on a shirt worn on the day and you can see 3 months of work in one image…  We’ve worked together for all 3 of our digital covid-era shows and I’m incredibly proud of each of these projects.  Now it’s up to Andre to figure out if he can get a crew together when we’re actually back in Paris! 

Until next time,



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