Two Sides of the Functionality Coin – On x South2 West 8 ‘Cloudaway’
Words: Ali George Hinkins
During a time of spineless collaborations for collaboration’s sake, On and South2 West8 convene as partners for Autumn/Winter ‘22 on the ‘Cloudaway’ silhouette, bringing together the individual components of each brand. Whilst the two of them may seem like an odd match, I hear the phrase ‘opposites attract’ reverberating through my head, piquing my interest further. But, before we dive into the nitty-gritty product details of the shoe itself let’s paint a broader picture for you to indulge in.
Despite its performance-oriented background, On has burst onto the fashion landscape in recent years amidst the rising thirst for technical footwear that has welcomed in long-steeped names like Salomon and Norda to sit alongside newcomers such as the Swiss pioneer, On. Since its inception in 2010, a seemingly short period considering On’s current placeholding in the footwear field, the function-first brand has been shaking things up without fear of stepping on the toes of the market leaders who have been operating for decades longer. Despite being in an industry bound by consistent innovation, On has largely deviated from the mainstream notions of what sole technology and construction are but it is clearly paying dividends for them. It’s hard to look past On’s silhouettes without being somewhat intrigued by the cloud-like appearance of its sole units which is a proprietary technology called CloudTec® – a multi-directional cushioning system that’s activated exactly when you need it.
Causing a similar kind of stir on the flip side of the coin, South2 West8 is a fashion-meets-function label healthily inspired by mountain stream fishing, an activity that the founding designer, Keizo Shimizu holds dear to his heart. It isn’t just the act of fishing itself that informs Shimizu’s design language, but the apparel associated with the sport that plays a key role whether it be the reinterpretation of a vintage garment found in a thrift shop or accounting for technical characteristics that are typically used in modern-day equivalents. Particularly enamoured by ‘Tenkara’, a traditional method of fishing largely practiced in Japan, this filters throughout each collection with influences replete in specific items such as the Tenkara Trout Parka or Tenkara Fleece Pullover that are particularly identifiable for their utilitarian appearance often adopting multi-pocket assortments, rod holders and cropped lengths for their functional uses. Despite operating as a component in a larger machine amongst the likes of Engineered Garments and Needles, South2 West8’s identity is as clear as day and not concealed the identity of the larger names in the Nepenthes network.
Abstractly, On and South2 West8’s collaboration is like two industry disruptors coming together to cause, well, even more disruption. Already these two operate on different playing fields, but somehow they are united by a common ground where their performance-inspired designs have been adopted by modern urbanites who are interested in technical design. For some of the customers of both On and South2 West8, their intentions are far removed from the realities that inspire them.
Bringing together the identities of both parties, the Cloudaway maintains its technical acumen whilst South2 West8 adds a flair of its own. The overall construction of the Cloudaway remains largely the same whilst South2 West8 has put a clear visual twist on it in the form of an all-over graphic print that is mirrored throughout the brand’s Autumn/Winter ‘22 collection consisting of on-brand antlers and geometric shapes. Their influence doesn’t end there with further collaborative touches including co-branded sock liners, heel logos and branded tongue webbing. Despite this, the composition of the Cloudaway stays true to itself with an upper that is made using a combination of ripstop and synthetic suede. In addition, its technical features are here to stay including CloudTec®, Helion™ foam and a quick lacing system.
To showcase its functionalities in an appropriate context, HHV has taken to the streets of Berlin, an unlikely contender when it comes to a spot of urban fishing, to bring the activity from the outdoors to the city much like the two respective parties, On and South2 West8.
The On x South2West 8 Cloudaway is available now from HHV’s online store.