K-Way windbreaker brand taps hip new market with R&D line

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Models wear creations as part of the K-Way men's Fall-Winter 2022-23 collection, unveiled during the Fashion Week in Milan, Italy, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

MILAN – K-way, the Franco-Italian brand synonymous with windbreakers, is stepping into luxury fashion with its first live runway show ever on the closing day of Milan Fashion Week.

The Milan-based brand has been edging into the space with collaborations for such fashion houses as Fendi and YSL, DSquared2 and Comme des Garcons. But it is also seeking its own profile in the streetwear/sportswear scene under designer Monica Gamberoni.

The combined men’s and women’s collection for next fall and winter that was shown Monday uses high-end materials — including upcycled sheepskin treated and colored for vibrant jackets and trousers with a sexy sheen. Recycled nylon was used for quilted garments and recycled feathers stuffed puffer jackets. Technical wool for knitwear was partially sourced from top producer Loro Piana.

Dubbed R&D, for research and development, the collection is strong on both styling and technical experimentation that departs from the brand’s heritage as the maker of high-quality windbreakers and jackets, founded in Paris 57 years ago but long in Italian hands.

Sales vice president Lorenzo Boglione, whose family controls the BasicNet parent company, said he expects many looks seen on the runway will hit the stores, and that participation in fashion weeks has helped the brand position the new line with consumers.

“We want to always twist and interpret our iconic product, but we don’t want to become a fashion company,’’’ he said. “We are a sportswear company. But we want to be contemporary and modern, and that means also being on these kinds of stages.”

K-Way took the first step two years ago by showing at the Pitti menswear shows in Florence in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Last year it featured a digital presentation during Milan Fashion Week.

The silhouette for next winter has a youthful appeal. It featured cropped sheepskin hooded jackets with utility pockets in shimmering, vibrant orange worn with slim yellow trousers with zipper details on the hem; leather mini- or midi-skirts with matching puff-sleeve jackets with shearling details; and quilted long skirts with cropped nylon jackets. Knitwear can be oversized or slim, at times featuring the season's motif, the argyle.

The season's anoraks are ample, almost flowing like dresses, and the famous pocket for storing the jacket is hidden.

“This R&D label gives us the possibility to go beyond our classic or standard looks,’’ Gamberoni said. “K-way is still sporty more in the spirit than in the sport per se."