PARIS — K-Way is giving rainwear a contemporary spin for fall by teaming up with French brand Soeur on a capsule collection that showcases its new, more sustainable water-repellent nylon.
The brand, synonymous with its signature packable windbreaker, is pivoting toward accessible fashion following high-profile linkups with luxury brands including Saint Laurent and Fendi in recent years. In addition to its ongoing partnership with Comme des Garçons Play, there is also a collaboration with U.K. men’s clothing line Universal Works in the pipeline.
“The contemporary space is a very interesting space today,” said Lorenzo Boglione, vice president of sales and member of the board of directors of Italian parent company BasicNet, whose other brands include Kappa, Superga and Sebago.
“Streetwear is a little bit hard to understand at the moment, high-end designer brands are extremely busy doing their stuff, so I think there is space to collaborate between contemporary brands that admire each other,” he added.
The line consists of seven references, with retail prices ranging from 70 euros for a bucket hat with an elasticated chin strap in K-Way’s signature tricolor stripes, to 350 euros for a rain poncho, available in beige or brown. It goes on sale Wednesday in a selection of K-Way and Soeur stores and online.
“I really think that Soeur is doing a very good job from a design perspective. They do very interesting product and it’s very French. And we are an Italian company, but we are a French brand, and we like to associate ourselves with that aspect of our history,” said Boglione.
The tie-up comes at a period of rapid growth for Soeur. General manager Freja Day said sales were up by more than 50 percent in the first eight months of the year, and the brand expects to end 2023 with revenues of more than 50 million euros.
It plans to open a boutique in London in early November, following three inaugurations in Spain earlier this year, she added.
“We have ambitions for the rest of the world. We were focusing a lot of our energy and our investments in Europe where we have a retail, as well as an online, strategy. However, we are developing the brand using wholesale in the U.S., which is actually our second biggest country. It’s, for the moment, still bigger than the U.K. and Spain,” she said.
Founded in 2008 by sisters Domitille and Angélique Brion, the French women’s ready-to-wear label, known for its blend of rock and bohemian influences with androgynous tailoring, is backed by investment firm Experienced Capital. It has 51 points of sale worldwide, including four shops-in-shop in South Korea, which it views as a gateway to expansion in Asia.
“We did a pop-up in Hong Kong as well. Our strategy in Asia is to target these very sophisticated cities where you have a fashion-forward customer,” Day explained.
Since the former Inditex executive joined the company in 2019, Soeur has pivoted toward a digital-first strategy, with the share on online sales rising to 35 percent from 15 percent previously.
The brand has previously collaborated with artist Katrien De Blauwer and influencer Leandra Medine Cohen. In addition to the K-Way capsule, Soeur is also partnering with J.M. Weston on footwear. “We want to work with companies or people who inspire us,” said Day.
The items in the K-Way collaboration are made with 100 percent nylon fabric that is Global Recycled Standard certified, marking the first time the outerwear specialist has employed the material on a complete collection. “From now on, that’s going to be the strategy, to try and make all of our materials more sustainable, starting from the collaborations,” said Boglione.
Day said that while Soeur was strong on outerwear, it doesn’t have the technical capability to produce a water-repellent material.
“When we do collaborations, we seek out a savoir-faire and craftsmanship that we don’t necessarily have internally,” she said. “It’s definitely an opportunity for us to learn, and to see how these big companies work, and we bring our expertise in terms of design and patternmaking and colors.”
She noted that 70 percent of materials used by Soeur are certified, and 60 percent of its production is done nearshore in order to limit transportation and keep tabs on manufacturers. “We want to be more ambitious now and actually look into new, innovative materials. We’re also inspired by the K-Way collaboration,” Day said.