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Nicola Mira
Dec 10, 2019
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Sportmax fetes 50th anniversary with book, special collection

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Dec 10, 2019

Sportmax is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a superb photo book and a very special capsule collection.

Over the course of half a century, the more directional label by Italian fashion group Max Mara has marked fashion trends and followed the evolution of society -- working with top photographers like Sarah Moon and Peter Lindbergh, and avant-garde designers like Guy Paulin and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, among others.

A model from Sportmax’s anniversary collection - Sportmax

A fascinating adventure, portrayed in a 250-page volume entitled ‘Sportmax’; full of captivating, never-seen-before archive images, sketches, drawings and backstage pictures from photoshoots and catwalk shows.

The book, published by Assouline, was curated by Olivier Saillard in collaboration with Luke Leitch for the text, and is priced at €195. It immerses readers in the history of Sportmax through five chapters over five decades; from the 1970s, to the present day.

Founder Achille Mararamotti lay the foundations for his fashion group in 1951 with the creation of its leading label, Max Mara, and over the years he added new lines to the range. In 1965, he launched a line called 'Pop', targeting a younger audience than Max Mara. Four years later, the line’s success led to the birth of Sportmax, which at the time tapped swinging London’s liberated, extravagant mood.

Sportmax was one of the first labels to introduce the concept of ‘total look’, with easy-to-match items, especially dresses, sleeved tops, trench coats and knitwear. Tailored fits, leather, pleated fabrics, knitted items, colourful graphics and a sportswear mood were the other key distinguishing elements of the label's style.

Sportmax showed for the first time in 1976 in Milan, well before Max Mara, which made its catwalk debut in 1983.

Sportmax followed trends closely – and this led the Max Mara group to carry out an in-depth overhaul of its industrial process to extend the product range to new product categories, like knitwear - while Max Mara instead featured a more timeless style.

A picture from the Sportmax Fall/Winter 1993 campaign, by photographer Albert Watson - Albert Watson

Not by accident, Sportmax’s first collections were not created by an established designer, but by former model and Elle editor Lison Bonfils. She was followed as creative director of Sportmax by Italian designer Nanni Strada; French designers Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Odile Lançon and Guy Paulin; then by Laura Lusuardi, who handed over the reins in 1983 to Grazia Malagoli, who is still in charge of Sportmax’s design, overseeing a team of young designers.

Sportmax is currently commercialised in 70 markets via 17 directly owned monobrand stores; 16 concessions in leading department stores; 350 multibrand retailers and at Max Mara flagships. The label is currently in the process of entirely redesigning its Parisian store in rue des Saints-Pères, which will be ready next year.

Sportmax is also celebrating its 50th anniversary by dropping a 15-item anniversary capsule collection giving a fresh twist to its 1970s heritage, especially by using a special sewing and garment construction technique invented at the time, which enables the creation of destructured, lining-free clothes.

Sportmax, Fall/Winter 2004 - photo Mikael Jansson

The collection features overcoats, trench coats, jackets, dresses, shirts and knitwear in a palette of emerald green, dark red and ultramarine blue. It also includes accessories such as hats, a messenger bag, sneakers and eyewear, and will be available from February and March 2020 at Sportmax and Max Mara stores, and in dedicated sections at select department stores.

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