We’ve seen a ton of sports-inspired fashion in New York already. At Calvin Klein, Raf Simons pulled cheerleader pom poms apart and played with all-American bowling uniforms. At Monse, designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia staged their SS18 show in a wood-floored gymnasium. They then deconstructed the college gym kit, cheered on by Minnie Mouse, who had fled Disneyland to mingle with the guests. At Public School, which was set in a covered alley near Canal Street, the collection featured mesh sneakers, leather tracksuit bottoms, sweatshirts and track shorts. There were nylon parka zipper tops, pull ties and sporty buckle belts. None of these clothes would have worked on the athletics track, but they all suggested a practical edge that only suits the gym honed.
There were parkas, trainers, tracksuits, buckle belts and gym bags at Rihanna’s latest outing for Fenty x Puma. But Rihanna was armed with other secret weapons. The looks were showcased in the vast Park Avenue Armory, amid a set decorated by giant pink sand mountains. The collection was introduced with a series of dazzling, death defying motorcycle stunts. The acrobatics were astonishing. And the show was a game-changer. More to the point — it was really good fun.
And the clothes? Perfectly ok sportswear, infused with just enough Riri swagger to keep it interesting. A zippered fuchsia sock boot worn with electric blue cycling shorts and a nylon cycling hoodie. A corset dress in a bright mesh. Oversize moto-trousers with multicolour panels, which were slung over the hips and worn with a crop top. Like the singer’s own brand of dressing, the looks were flamboyant and fearless. But you could also just wear them to jog in.
Rihanna’s association with Puma has helped light a fire at the Kering-owned company that has, until recently, been a poor performer in its portfolio. In July, the company upgraded its full-year forecasts: it now expects to report full-year earnings of between €205m and €215m, and a sales growth of between 12 and 14 per cent.
With an audience of 56m Instagram followers, and an intuitive understanding of showmanship, Rihanna has helped breathe new fashionability into the German brand. And she makes it look easy. This week, in the competitive field of street-savvy sportswear, she blew everyone else away.