|Photo courtesy of Liberty|
|Photo courtesy of Nike|
|Photo courtesy of Nike|
Liberty have previously taken part in several carefully chosen and successful collaborations that have seemed entirely appropriate. Their beautiful prints have adorned Hermes silk scarves, which seemed like a marriage of refinement and quality. They allowed the creative director of super-cool Parisian charity boutique, Merci, to design a range of products to be adorned with their prints - a match which seemed entirely fitting when, as shops, both Liberty and Merci share a fabulously refined eccentric and quirky feel. They also lent their patterns to Bensimon, makers of understated tennis pumps, which have a charm and loyal following all of their own, with or without Liberty prints.
|Photo courtesy of Bensimon|
But their collaboration with Nike feels to me to be an odd venture. Previous collaborations have appeared to be the fleeting partnership of two niche companies to produce one beautiful product: something that makes sense, looks and feels right, and is a natural extension of each company's commercial direction. When it comes to Nike, it seems as though it is a union of two high-profile brands coming together to watch sales sky-rocket, without a thought for whether the ethos and products of the individual companies compliment one another.
I would have previously said that it's almost impossible to make liberty prints look ugly. They seem unique, in that just like nature, you can put Liberty colours and prints next to one another that in theory should clash and yet somehow they don't. I thought that their floral prints had the strange ability to transcend their synthetic roots and behave just like real flowers. This illusion has been shattered. To my eyes, there's something horribly jarring about seeing the delicate floral prints on clompy Nike trainers. But why am I bothered? Why not decide that it's just a collaboration that didn't appeal to me and forget about it? I've thought about that and I think it's because of what it represents. When Liberty slap their prints over any product that passes them by, rather than enriching the brand, it cheapens it. With collaborations such as this their prints become a moment in time, in fashion. And when the moment passes you know that a fallow period must follow when they will inevitably fall from grace. In tainting their brand with blatant commercialism, I worry that they may be unwittingly deconstructing the indefinable quality that makes Liberty feel so quintessentially English - something which I think is a huge part of their appeal both here and overseas. I feel sad that the treasured quilt made by a grandmother full of faded Liberty prints, that might otherwise have remained timelessly beautiful, will come to look outdated, over-done and tasteless.
|Photo courtesy of Merci|
Apparently these Liberty print trainers have been a runaway best seller, selling out completely online in a very short time and flying off the shelves instore. Which has left me feeling as though I may be very much alone in my horror over these shoes. Is this the seamstress in me greedily wanting to preserve Liberty prints solely for the sanctity of needlework. What do you think?