LONDON — Colorful isn’t the first adjective that comes to mind when thinking of the British high street fashion brand Reiss, but its multiyear partnership with the McLaren Racing Formula 1 team has changed all that.
Reiss’ debut apparel collection with McLaren for womenswear, menswear and childrenswear adds vibrancy, prints and patterns launching on Feb. 15.
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“We really went for it with the color. We’re quite muted, tasteful and dialed down with our color palettes, but it was fun to actually have the papaya [orange to design with],” said Alex Field, menswear director at Reiss, in an interview.
The brief was for an all-year wardrobe that can last for the 24-race season for the drivers and consumers following the races, which begins on Feb. 29 and runs until Dec. 8, moving locations from Miami all the way to Silverstone in Northamptonshire in England.
The T-shirts, hoodies, shirts and fleeces target the more casual Reiss customers and Formula 1 fans who are buying into the name and hype, meanwhile, the cardigans, leather and varsity jackets in neutral shades with the McLaren speedmark logo dotted around in small and large doses are for those who want collectible items as they come in a higher price range.
The other big motif running through the collection is a 3D render of a tire that has a rubber effect to it.
Field and his team created different bowling shirts to nod to some of the cities that the Formula 1 travels to. The Miami shirt features palm trees and colorful buildings, whereas Melbourne is splattered with illustrations of skyscrapers.
“There’s luxury in mind with the knitwear, we’re using fine gauge knits; the gilets have little leather trims; a stretch suit and suede jacket — they’re all reminders of the interiors of a car,” explains Field.
In recent years, the Formula 1 demographic has changed immensely — it’s become more popular among Millennials and Gen Z due to the Netflix documentary series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive.”
Later this year, Brad Pitt and Damson Idris will take to the big screen in an upcoming, untitled Formula 1 film.
“It isn’t just a 60-year-old guy now that’s a diehard fan. It’s gotten younger among women and men loving it. We wanted to give something for everyone to wear that supports McLaren, on and off the racetrack,” Field said. At the British Grand Prix he noticed a girl standing next to him wearing an old McLaren polo with all the sponsors’ names, but she had cropped it to feminize it.
At the races, he was taking notes of the vintage styles racegoers were wearing to help him inform his research for the upcoming collection, which has surprisingly tapped the childrenswear category, a growing market for Reiss.
Field, who has been a designer at the British brand for 20 years, found the collaboration refreshing as he shifted gears to play around with logos and more sportswear elements.
“We’re not trying to pretend to do sportswear and we’re not saying these are the clothes that you should wear in the paddocks,” he said.
Since the pandemic, Reiss has been touching up its image; before the pandemic it was a brand that was synonymous with formal dressing and royal fixtures such as Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.
“We still want the Reiss customer to come back to us, but we also want to engage with a younger customer. We were on that journey of casualization and selling things like knitwear, jersey and more comfortable fits, but then the pandemic helped speed all of that up,” Field said.
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