Fluid design, seamless collaboration

In the heart of a bustling trade show in Munich, Germany, something wonderful just happened. Two companies, both of which would usually operate in opposing worlds to one another, share a stage. There’s fizz, canapés and a few speeches before a new relationship is sealed – one with tangible and, now that I think of it, obvious links. Seamlessness, fluid form and the drive to push boundaries is the glue of this bond. Meanwhile, passion, creative thinking and the fearless individuals taking on the task to reinvent design is the fuel keeping next season, FW18, a relevant milestone.

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On the panel (left to right) Odlo’s CEO Christophe Jean Bezu, Zaha Hadid Design Director Woody Yao, Zaha Hadid Design Director Maha Kutay and Odlo’s Head of Design Lavy Ohayon.

For Zaha Hadid Design and Odlo International, the collaboration is not a ‘one-night stand’. Instead, this is the start of a long-distance, long-standing, solid relationship that marries up. The goal is simple, to take sportswear to the next the level – and if Zaha’s infamous legacy is anything to go by, the bond between the two brands will have many layers.

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Heydar Aliyev Centre, Azerbaijan

The late Zaha Hadid was a true pioneer, an architect with an attitude and she left a legacy that is arguably the most unique. Her most recognised buildings include The 2012 London Aquatic Centre, the Serpentine Gallery and the Heydar Aliyev Centre. Under the umbrella of Zaha Hadid Architects, a team of innovators at Zaha Hadid Design collaborate ideas with other companies and create striking pieces of design that break boundaries and – like the buildings – make you rethink what you thought you knew about design and fashion.

From the collaboration comes Odlo Futureskin, which is no ordinary sports underwear. Odlo’s first task was to submit the design to the design house. This was met by open-minded designers. Working side by side, directors at Zaha Hadid Design, Maha Kutay and Woody Yao, were not afraid to take risks. The pair started their journey at the studio at similar times in the ’90s and together worked on some truly inspirational pieces, including among others Zaha Retrospective MAK, Guggenheim Museum in New York and London’s Design Museum.

Meeting them, it’s as if their minds operate as one, as fluid as the buildings they have created. Their strategy before embarking on these collaborations always starts the same; by observing. They learnt from and watched Odlo’s Head of Design, Lavy Ohayon, before drafting any sketches. “We needed to understand the products, the materials, the ethos of the brand and how the clothing was made,” says Kutay. “In order to create a direction we first had to understanding more about the thinking behind existing collections.” Three minds collided and with that a new way of body mapping was stitched.

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As a design enthusiast, as well as a fitness fanatic, the core fabric of this FW18 collaboration is fascinating to me. The structural design for Organic Bodymapping is dictated by the human body itself. The body, though, has various needs on cold days depending on the athletic activity and the part of the body. Those needs include weather protection, insulation, moisture transport and most important, I believe, freedom of movement. In order to fulfil these sometimes opposing demands with one piece of apparel, Odlo has worked with organic performance zones. Whilst some zones have insulating characteristics, others in contrast are particularly breathable. Add to that fabrics with the innovative 360 degrees Motion Design for extra stretch at the knees and elbows to guarantee ultimate freedom of movement. In contrast to traditional body mapping, the transition between these various zones simply flows – all achieved without bonding, seams or inset panels.

The product, much like the three experts’ thinking, is seamless – and with hints of further collections to launch in the pipeline, I think Odlo and Zaha Hadid Design are on the right side of the curve, so to speak!

Watch this space.

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