I’m a huge fan,” says Jonathan Anderson, Creative Director of Loewe, smiling on Zoom from her design studio in Paris. He talks about the shoes he wears – which are, in fact, the same shoes he wears every day – in At. The Swiss brand has become, after just 12 years, a serious player in the highly competitive field of performance clothing, as well as the first brand with which the 176-year-old Spanish leather house has collaborated. “We have worked with artists or areas such as Rennie Mackintosh, but never a real brand,” says Anderson. “So it’s kind of nice because it’s unexpected. I never saw On as something hyped. I like brands that aren’t too loud. There is a specific need or functionality.
With an understated design on top and precision engineering below, On is the Swiss sneaker watch – it’s no coincidence that the brand’s head of design, Thilo Alex Brunner, started his career at Swatch. Anderson got hooked on the shoes about five years ago, coming for the look but staying for the feel. “They were really good for my feet. Excellent support, very light. And they go really well with everything,” he says. “I don’t like making decisions in the morning. So now I just have to think: black, gray or multicolored? I am in black today. There’s nothing better than finding something that works.
Loewe x On Cloudventure Trainers, £295
The men’s and women’s collection, launched this month, features 13 sneakers, including Loewe’s translation of the brand’s logo Cloudventure and Cloudrock trail shoes, accompanied by ready-to-wear pieces including running pants, thermo-regulating t-shirts and a unisex customizable three-layer parka. These are all in a nature-inspired gradient palette of khaki, blue and orange, the idea being that you can wear everything – clothes and shoes – in the same color or design.
“With activewear and outdoor clothing, you can get a little elaborate in terms of color,” Anderson says. “A lot of people will wear a coordinated look to go for a run or hike, and I like that.” Brunner says the gradient effect “always makes me think of the sunrise and how life in nature awakens. I hope the collection inspires people to get out and explore.
Polyester parka, £925
Polyester running pants, £425
Craftsmanship is at the heart of what Anderson does at Loewe, whose foundation has launched its annual report craftsmanship awards in 2016. In this collection, the blue coat and matching blue shoe with a starry night pattern are inspired by Japanese sashiko stitching. “People always have this image that sportswear and sports shoes are made by machines or robots, but that’s not the case,” says Brunner. “To a large extent it’s ‘handmade’, and the art is to repeat it several times in exactly the same way, which is an underestimated challenge. I think Jonathan and I were fascinated by the encounter between artisanal work and manual craftsmanship.
For his part, Anderson enjoyed the technicality of performance apparel design. “When you’ve never worked in this world, it’s so different – the way you incorporate aerodynamics into something or explore the actual functionality and purpose of a garment or shoe. It’s not about racing to make a product, it’s about enjoying how to work with it, and the chance to work with a brand that literally guides him through every step of his day.