Organic is one of the season’s buzzwords in Milan. Raw hems, tactile textures, luxurious pauperism, and natural hues have been all the rage. The Sportmax collection was a case in point. The show notes promised clothes swaying to the relaxed beat of summer. Cropped jackets, cozy knits, and long dresses looked charmingly precarious, almost unfinished. They came knotted on the front, molded on one side, and frayed all around. Elsewhere, seams were exposed. There was an impromptu quality running throughout the show, as though everything had been put together spontaneously minutes before hitting the runway. It was a cerebral take on summer ease. Patch pockets added casual slouch. Jute, canvas, and jersey raffia provided the all-important textures, which got amplified in the macro-damier pieces made of woven micro-strips of leather. Outsize ginghams were the only prints; used on the bias or blotched to mimic Franz Kline’s gestural paintings, they made a bold, if slightly heavy, visual statement.
Over the past few seasons, Sportmax has gained focus, finding its own niche in the bigger Max Mara universe. This collection, coherent and well-edited, looked like further progress. Of course, frayed hems and casual draping are hardly something new. The design team seemed to have been looking at the Japanese stalwarts and the work of Jil Sander in the ’90s. At Céline, too, maybe a bit too closely. Yet this wasn’t a case of blatant appropriation; rather, of reinterpretation. Sportmax turns bold, fashion-forward inspirations into wearable, desirable clothes.