‘ISPAnificio’ by NIKE ISPA
ISPA is a splinter of the world’s leading global sports brand Nike. Usually, in the case with brands such as Nike, there is always a reputation to keep up and there are often strict rules on what the brand can and cannot put out. ISPA works as a forward-thinking design collective with no limitations – their purpose is to create the most innovative designs using a variety of experiments.
The location of the event was actually a former bread factory and so everything inside was presented just how an old Italian bread factory would be, with some slight modifications: a live DJ set, old TV screens playing promotional video and ISPA shoes instead of loaves of bread. The models on show were the ISPA MindBody, ISPA Universal and the ISPA Link Axis – all three set out to question some of our basic assumptions about footwear, most notably their making process. ISPA uses no glue or adhesives in their making process, the idea is to utilize what we already have in order to create a better outcome for our environment.
The layout of the event was perfectly articulated and split into three distinct areas – there always seemed to be something new, everywhere you looked. This event really made us look forward to what ISPA has in store in the future, as their releases are always a treat, and we can't wait to see what direction the team will take it in.
‘To Connect’ by VIBRAM
The Vibram ‘To Connect’ space was probably the most immersive experience that we visited in Milan. The team were happy to show us around their space and talk us through the process behind their amazing craftsmanship. Upon arrival I was given two key rings in the form of the original Vibram sole that had been infused with the scents of both chocolate and cinnamon using their sole creating machines, a nice personal touch.
Next we made our way over to the most interesting part of the experience: using motion-detecting technology, the team were able to analyze how my legs move and where I apply pressure to my feet the most whilst standing. Shortly afterwards, I got the chance to put some Vibram soles to the test. Firstly, using the ‘Arctic Grip’ sole I was able to walk on an ice block with ease. Incredibly, the way the sole is designed meant I exercise complete control over my movements on the ice. My initial anxiety over whether I would slip or not melted away (no pun intended). I also had the chance to try out the ‘Mega Grip’ on a series of almost vertical test ramps. The technology allowed me to climb up the ramps with total control – it felt as if I was wearing a real life gadget from a James Bond movie!
In conclusion, we were given a brief history lesson on the brand and shown some of their staple inventions, including some archival prototypes/collaborations that never hit the shelves, yet are still used as inspiration.
‘THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM’ by BYBORRE
This event was held right within the heart of Milan at the Castello Sforzesco – a medieval fortification that is rich in Italian art and design (very fitting). I was first greeted by a huge elephant structure, sitting within the portico dell’Elefante courtyard. Resting upon its back were three large pieces of BYBORRE signature textiles, immediately recognizable from their unique construction and textural patterns.
BYBORRE explained in detail the making process... of the brand’s garments and showed complete transparency surrounding its craftsmanship. The brand’s message was to be as open and honest as possible.
The talks were held in the Sala della Balla (home to some incredible art) and a series of chairs in the front, constructed from Byborre fabric, added to the aura. A panel discussion, held by Sara Sozzani Maino from Italian Vogue, architect and designer Fabio Novembre, art historian Francesca Tasso, Borre Akkersdijk himself and the Councillor for Culture of the Municipality of Milan, addressed the issue at hand. The primary focus of the talk was around ‘the elephant in the room’, a metaphor for brand transparency and how it is not talked about enough within the fashion and design industry. Borre wants to achieve total transparency within his process and in doing so wants to encourage other brands to do the same. The talk was extremely insightful and not only raised issues about what is going on within the industry, but also provided solutions on how it can be improved.
‘Prototype Research _ Series 07: Liquid Crystal Heat Reactive’ by STONE ISLAND
In this small and very beautiful exhibit from Stone Island guests got the chance to see two of the Prototype Research _Series 07 Liquid Crystal Heat Reactive jackets in person. When seeing the pieces you are immediately stunned by their incredible craftsmanship. The display was accompanied by some eerie music and strobe lighting on two huge screens – a very on-brand experience.
Series 07 unveils a special thermochromic technology: a nylon canvas fabric, coated with helical-shaped cholesteric liquid crystal ink, which reacts once heat is applied within the range of 15° and 31°C. The fabric changes immediately to yellow/green before flowing into blue. This collection is Developed by the Stone Island Research and Development Hub in collaboration with the British duo Sara + Sarah.
There was also the chance to play around with some of this ‘thermochromic technology’ by pressing your hand on small samples of the fabric. Stone Island CEO Carlo Rivetti was more than present at the exhibit, personally spending time with visitors and talking through the collection with them.
‘ECO-ENGINEERING’ by ROA x DEEP
The ‘Eco-Engineering’ exhibit by ROA and DEEP was held at the SlamJam offices in the center of Milan. The space itself was almost like an underground rave scene: the walls are completely white, the floor is bare and any furniture within the space has a brutalist look to it.
We were first introduced to the ‘archive space’, which was inhabited by a series of archive pieces from ROA, as well as garments that had been used as inspiration over the years. The collection was impressive, to say the least, and included anything from archive Raf Simons trench coats to Spanish football team scarfs. Notably the archive included alot of ROA footwear, mainly samples we haven’t seen or even heard of before.
Later in the evening, just after 7pm, there was a talk held by both ROA and DEEP. It was an insightful conversation, based around the process of ‘rewilding’ – DEEP is a radical ecological impact organization that specializes in this process. Working at the intersection of culture and ecology, DEEP aims to build biodiversity outcomes, conducting research in areas such as rewilding local White Claw Crayfish in Italy’s Central Apennines using breeding and a reintroduction program. Crucial and monumental, to say the least.