Designer Grace Wales Bonner has taken inspiration from athleisure for many years. So, she built her design house around the aesthetic of vintage sportswear. Everything from Wales Bonner’s collaboration with Adidas, pieces from which were featured in this collection, to its own designs and visuals feed into this image of retro athleisure. The Spring 2024 Menswear collection took this one step further. It leaned into the sportswear theme in a collection aptly named ‘Marathon’.
The collection stayed true to the brand’s sport-inspired roots. And even went as far as to feature athletes Yomif Kejelcha Atomsa and Tamirat Tola in the show. This may have been the slowest race of their careers. But speed was not the main focus of this walk around La Monnaie’s courtyard; this collection was all about the journey.
The collection switched between the tailored pieces we have come to associate with Wales Bonner’s personal brand. Along with the vibrant tracksuits, we know and love from its collaboration with Adidas. The collection was diverse yet deeply in line with Wales Bonner’s two personas. Despite capturing two distinct styles, each look was rooted in a combination of vintage maximalism and a modern take on preppy styling, allowing the collection to remain cohesive and fluid.
This binary created a distinct understanding of Wales Bonner’s two identities. And it simultaneously blurred the lines between the tailored country walker and the marathon runner. Running shorts were paired with suit jackets and leggings with chequered ponchos. This made the identity of the Wales Bonner wearer more fluid than they may have originally seemed.
Playing with Binaries
Another binary that Grace Wales Bonner likes to play with in her work is the concept of gender, where androgyny and gender-neutral styling often take centre stage. This, yet again, remained prominent within this ‘Menswear’ collection as the design house stayed true to its commitment to genderless fashion, casting both male and female models to walk in the show. Regardless of the gender of the models, these looks found their roots in androgyny. The pieces played with the notions of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ and the expectations that come with each.
This outlook is particularly interesting when you take the concept of athleisure into account. Both sport and fashion have had strong ideas about gender ingrained in them throughout history, whether that be which sports you play, how you play them or what clothes you wear. Grace Wales Bonner is disrupting and dismantling these notions with every collection, blurring the distinction between what we wear and when we wear them, reminding us that both fashion and sport should be rooted in enjoyment.
Footwear by Wales Bonner
The collection also debuted Wales Bonner’s latest footwear collaboration. Straying away from their ever so sought-after take on the Adidas Samba, this time, the brand chose to lean into its more formal side with a shearling-lined loafer created with footwear brand UGG. I have no doubts that this shoe will be just as popular as the famous Wales Bonner Sambas, especially with the popularity of the loafer, socks and shorts combo that we have seen everywhere this Men’s Fashion Week.
Combining this upcoming trend with the UGG revival that we have witnessed in the past couple of years proves that if she is not the one starting the trends (I personally believe that the entire ‘Blokette’ trend is indebted to this designer), Grace Bonner always has her finger on the pulse of fashion.
Amelia Gregory is Junior Fashion Lead for SSEDITORIAL. She writes on everything from sustainability to runway. She is our lead contributor for red carpet reviews, so keep an eye out for her latest 'Best Dressed' list. Find her on Instagram: @milly_gregory