Shaping the future with fashion
MINI’s collaborations with young fashion designers inspires not only new and daring directions in men’s fashion, but also keeps its own creative spirit on the bleeding edge of the zeitgeist.
“Driving a MINI is a statement of style and identity, which is one reason why the brand has had a close connection with the fashion world since the 1960s.” – Esther Bahne
MINI and the world of fashion go way back. Rewind to the late ’90s when Paul Smith and Kate Moss both gave classic MINIs the fashion treatment – Smith painting his signature stripes and Moss decorating hers with a spiderweb pattern.
“Driving a MINI is a statement of style and identity, which is one reason why the brand has had a close connection with the fashion world since the 1960s,” explains Esther Bahne, Head of Brand Strategy and Business Innovation at MINI. Pushing the boundaries of fashion design has been a way for MINI to challenge assumptions and, in the process, overcome barriers within our minds.
In search of talent
Collaborations have always been an important tool for MINI when it comes to developing its perspectives on fashion and design, and in doing so making new discoveries. Both locally and abroad, MINI began the year with exciting fashion collaborations and partnerships, with a particular focus on supporting young designers.
This year, MINI has teamed up with South African Fashion Week (SAFW) to sponsor MINI Scouting Menswear, an established talent search for the country’s next great menswear designers. “MINI has always been a brand for people who dare to do things differently, to stand out,” says Head of MINI Thilosh Moodally. “With the MINI Scouting Menswear competition, we want to support upcoming talent as well as celebrate new and bold statements in South African men’s fashion.”
Only open to fashion designers who have been in the industry for 10 years or less, this menswear competition not only aims to discover new and exciting talent, but to support emerging labels in their breakthrough into this competitive market. “The aim of MINI Scouting Menswear is to assist talented designers, with the potential for commercial growth, to start making the transition from a developing creative to a sustainable business that can play a role in the creative fashion industry, generate jobs and wealth, and contribute to the GDP of the country,” says Lucilla Booyzen, CEO of SAFW.
The MINI Scouting Menswear winner will win prizes worth more than R100 000, including the opportunity to show their Spring/Summer 2018 collection at SAFW in April, their Autumn/Winter 2019 collection in October, a stand at the SAFW Designer Pop Up Shop in August 2018, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Pitti Immagine Uomo, a leading men’s fashion and lifestyle trade show in Italy. Previous winners include Beware the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2014), ROGUE (2015), Floyd Avenue (2016) and De Mil (2017).
Pushing the boundaries of fashion design has been a way for MINI to challenge assumptions and, in the process, overcome barriers within our minds.
MINI meets Woolmark
It’s not just locally where MINI is supporting new, young designers. Internationally, MINI and The Woolmark Company announced an exciting partnership in 2018 to promote the work of young designers. The Woolmark Company, considered the global authority on wool, aims to connect with like-minded brands like MINI in order to educate and inspire up-and-coming talent in the fashion world.
In June this year, the partnership’s first collaboration – a capsule collection in wool, created with young fashion designers – will be on display at Pitti Immagine Uomo 94 later this year. “This partnership with MINI will allow us to join forces with a global brand that shares our core values in nurturing young design talent,” says The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough.
Both brands have a history of questioning – and boldly reshaping – existing structures. This shared understanding of the need for innovation underpins the collaboration. So we can expect exciting projects that build on MINI’s design expertise and The Woolmark Company’s many years of experience in materials research and development.
MINI moves Pitti Immagine
This isn’t the first time MINI has played an important role in men’s fashion at Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence, Italy. In 2016, at Pitti Uomo 90, the limited-run MINI FLUID FASHION Capsule Collection was developed with five young designers from around the world, showcasing the democracy and style of the humble sweatshirt.
Last year, at Pitti Uomo 92, MINI unveiled the BEYOND NATIVE Capsule Collection, which once again involved five up-and-coming international designers who highlighted the creative tension that exists between their cultural roots and adopted homelands. The collaboration produced five items for the urban traveller who enjoys roaming between different cultures and ways of life, both in the city and beyond. The products combined traditional cultural cues inherent in their countries of origin, with contemporary elements from their adopted homes.
It’s clear that MINI and Pitti Immagine share common values: passion, innovation and creative research. This long-standing partnership doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon, with a series of projects focused on trends in urban culture already planned for 2018.