Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s latest collaboration tapped a high-end textile designer as the firm continues to expand the boundaries of its design aesthetic.
The company enlisted the help of textile artist Janaïna Milheiro from Brazil on digital prints based off of her feather designs. Milheiro is best known for her intricate work weaving feathers and silks to create detailed patterns and textures. She has collaborated with Chanel, Valentino and Proenza Schouler among other fashion houses.
The collection, named Featherlight, launches Black Friday and will be sold at all Lululemon stores and online.
Lululemon executive vice president and creative director Lee Holman said he stumbled upon Milheiro at a couture fair and approached her about a collaboration, commissioning her to work on three prints for the firm.
“I was excited about how do we take that craftsmanship and put it into a performance lens,” Holman said of the thinking behind the collaboration.
One of the prints used is based off feathers hand cut by Milheiro that were then arranged so they graduate from white to black. The other two prints are a bit more freestyle but were also based off hand-cut patterns arranged by the artist and then digitally printed on the company’s Nulux fabric. Nulux is a lighter-weight material, with the print appearing on the company’s high-rise pant, two bra styles and a pair of tights. The Lululemon pieces retail from $52 to $148.
“It really lifted the whole line,” Holman said.
He added the artistry and craftsmanship that went into developing Milheiro’s prints was something that opened the eyes of the company’s design team to encourage them to explore other artistic approaches.
“I think doing any collaboration, there needs to be a way [where] you’re going to learn something from it,” Holman said.
Featherlight represents a good balance between functionality and design — two aspects the company is constantly weighing in the development process, he said.
Holman is the company’s first creative director, overseeing design for both men and women.
For Holman, the past 12 months have been about “going back and respecting the DNA of the brand,” he said, but also looking at how silhouettes can be evolved and innovating across product categories. That’s expected to continue next year, he said, with innovation in bras, bottoms, shorts and short liners along with expansion of men’s.