WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
Grace Wales Bonner doesn’t just create fashion, she comprehends it. Using her London-based label, she invites members of various cultures and generations to escape to her eccentric world informed by her heritage, interests and experiences. Judging by the popularity and success of the Wales Bonner brand, It’s safe to presume that many have already accepted her invitation.
Over the years, the British-Jamaican designer has made her namesake label an indispensable pillar of the London fashion scene, and she’s worked with adidas on one of the most sincere collaborations of the present epoch. Below, we tell you everything you may want to know about the brand, the designer and the adidas collaboration.
Wales Bonner: The Designer
In South-East London in the early 1990s, Grace Wales Bonner was born to an English mother and London-born Jamaican father – the latter being the youngest child of a family who travelled to the UK as part of the Windrush generation.
Early on in Bonner’s life, her parents separated, which led to her being raised between her mother’s house in Dulwich and her father’s house in Stockwell.
During Bonner’s childhood, her father would take her on trips to Jamaica which helped her better understand her bi-racial identity.
Fast forward to 2009, Bonner enrolled in a degree at London-based arts and design university, Central Saint Martins (CSM).
The designer completed her CSM placement year at British fashion label Meadham Kirchhoff and American Vogue, where she assisted fashion editor Camilla Nickerson.
Towards the end of her degree, Bonner wrote a dissertation that focused on black rhythmicality, which looked at artists Charlie Parker, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kerry James Marshall.
Grace Wales Bonner’s graduate collection titled ‘Afrique’ was presented in 2014 and won the L’Oréal Professionnel Talent Award. In the same year, the designer launched her eponymous label.
Wales Bonner: The Brand
Wales Bonner embraces the multifaceted nature of its founder by combining all aspects of her interests, personality and background to produce meaningful collections. Additionally, the brand promotes conversations about contemporary social issues surrounding gender, sexuality, race and politics via its films, lookbooks, campaigns, collaborations and runway shows.
To the delight of designer Grace Wales Bonner, the luxury fashion label has gone from strength to strength ever since it was founded in 2014. One year after the initial launch, Bonner picked up the prize for emerging menswear designer at the British Fashion Awards in 2015. And then in 2016, she received the LVMH Prize for Young Designers, which helped herself and the brand reach a new level of recognition.
Today, Wales Bonner is best known for its preppy bohemian aesthetic (think patterned tailored tracksuits, regal yet casual knitwear and crochet dresses) and ongoing collaboration with adidas.
Wales Bonner: The adidas Collaboration
Sure, adidas collaborates with numerous brands, designers and creatives each and every year, but the adidas Originals by Wales Bonner collection stands out from the crowd thanks to its genuinity. It’s a collaboration that feels imbued with love like no other.
The sportswear meets luxury fashion collaboration has one major source of inspiration: the British-Jamaican communities of the 1970s/1980s. To stimulate her creativity, Grace Wales Bonner sorted through the wardrobe of her father and his friends to make sense of the subculture’s intrinsic style. Subsequently, the designer translated her findings into practical sportswear pieces for contemporary consumers.
Thus far, each drop has seen Bonner and her team reinterpret iconic adidas pieces – including three stripe-adorned tracksuits and the brand’s quintessential Samba sneaker – as well as adding adidas Originals iconography to luxury fashion silhouettes. Aptly, each piece wouldn’t look amiss at an 80s-inspired dancehall event.
Wales Bonner: The Edit
Wales Bonner Brixton Striped Knitted Vest
Grace Wales Bonner is well aware that nothing screams Jamaica more than a striped knitted vest. The Wales Bonner take on the classic Caribbean flex is bright, bold and bodacious, and, may we add, surprisingly comfortable.
Wales Bonner Sunlight Straight-Leg Track Pants
Ultimately, the Wales Bonner brand aims to encapsulate and preserve late-20th Century British-Jamaican culture by designing retro clothes. It seems that Bonner hit the nail right on the head when crafting these mustard yellow straight-leg track pants.
Wales Bonner George Knitted Zip-Up Cardigan
Wales Bonner is an elite sartorial reference for all year round, but most especially when it comes to transeasonal periods. Take this George knitted zip-up cardigan, for example – an ideal everyday layer for spring and autumn.
adidas Originals by Wales Bonner Zip-Up Sweatshirt
There's nothing we fashion insiders love more than luxury takes on wardrobe staples, and right now, it’s the adidas Originals by Wales Bonner zip-up sweatshirt that’s captured our attention. Just look at those crocheted details!
adidas Originals by Wales Bonner White Nizza Lo Sneakers
Evidently, Grace Wales Bonner has a knack for refreshing understated sneaker silhouettes. Two of our favourite adidas Originals by Wales Bonner sneakers are the Nizza Los – originally released in March 2021 – adorned with subtle branding and nostalgic colour palettes.