Home > Style > Fashion > How utilitarian lifestyle brands are entering mainstream luxury fashion
How utilitarian lifestyle brands are entering mainstream luxury fashion

The pragmatic side of fashion has leaped into a new code of aesthetic. Utilitarian lifestyle labels are no longer making products that serve its primal purpose, but to capture a new audience with progressive pieces that are meant to be equal parts fashion statement.

Moncler, for instance, was founded in 1952 as a lifestyle brand known for its skiwear and heavy-duty down jackets. More recently, the Italian label has veered into an edgier direction with couture pieces, exclusive collaborations with luxury brands like Valentino and Palm Angels, as well as its latest Moncler Genius Project.

Moncler Pierpaolo
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collection for Moncler Genius is a progressive approach for the brand into luxury fashion. (Photo: Moncler)

Moncler Genius is the brand’s novel approach in changing the way people consumes fashion. Instead of having one creative lead at helm, the project sees multiple creative directors working for the same brand while creating individually distinctive collections that are released throughout the year. The format works like a creative partnership, with creatives like Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, London’s most wanted menswear designer Craig Green, as well as London-based designers Richard Quinn and Simone Rocha.

Another look from the Moncler Genius collaboration. (Photo: Moncler)

This exodus from just creating something functional into statement fashion staples is also a way for brands to have regular conversations with customers while providing more content for ideas and style inspirations.

A recent industry report by Business of Fashion and McKinsey&Company also quotes that fashion’s new mission is to be fast-paced, think digital-first and a quicker turnover in the market. The report spells out: “The brands that will succeed will have come to terms with the fact that in the new paradigm taking shape around them, some of the old rules simply don’t work.”

Once dowdy Timberland and North Face, both specialising in outdoor gears, are also upping the ante with pieces that are no longer used for those great adventures but for everyday athleisure fashion. Consumers who are constantly seeking function in fashion, with a touch of comfort, will be immediately drawn to some of the latest drops including the North Face Tech Denim Capsule and the latest update on the 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket, that has been a style staple in the hiphop community before its recent hype in mainstream fashion.

The North Face
A fur-cap from The North Face Purple Label Capsule. (Photo: The North Face)

The power of collaboration has also paved the way for brands to work its way into the likes of top fashion giants — reeling attention from the media and making headlines for its unconventional joint venture. However, it has since became a norm for brands to collaborate in such fashion, especially in the world of streetwear and high fashion. Here’s where we see the 2017 collection between North Face and Sacai, as well as Timberland’s collaboration with Supreme and Mr Pharrell Williams.

The utilitarian lyricism of The Original Yellow Boot for instance is now paired with fashion piece, making a once blue-collar hardy boot an iconic must-have for every style influencers.

timberland yellow boot
The timberland yellow boot is now a must-have fashion staple for style influencers out there. (Photo: Timberland)

In fact, lifestyle brands are not losing out even in the advent of progressive and sustainable fashion because of its engineering that are made to last. As fast as fashion goes out of season (and style), utilitarian lifestyle brands have the upper edge with strong staying power thanks to its legacy of being made to endure the toughest situations. 

Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.