Mar 27, 2024
by Karl Smith
Napapijri and Obey’s Latest Capsule Prioritizes Planet, Performance and Endurance
by Karl Smith
Mar 27, 2024

When Christopher Raeburn was named Global Creative Director of Napapijri back at the end of 2023, the London-based designer brought his utilitarian, Earth-friendlier ethos to the brand with him – but he wasn’t starting from scratch. Very much on display in the Italian label’s latest release, the collection pre-dates Raeburn’s appointment to the role – functioning (and function is the operative word) as a showcase for all the reasons why he chose to take the position, rather than proof of what his influence could change.

A continuation of Napapijri’s ongoing collaboration with Shepard Fairey’s Obey, the collection focuses on apparel and accessories, thoughtfully crafted with more than just the industry-standard nod to recycled materials, and designed – first and foremost – to perform; to do a job.

Napapijri x Obey precedes my appointment as Global Creative Director, and yet it speaks to my values as a designer and innovator, as well as to my choice of joining such a creative brand,” explains Raeburn, “It blends outdoor aesthetics, utility details, and contemporary streetwear, and the pieces were made with innovative fabrics and techniques such as ozone dyeing, recycled materials such as polyester and polyamide, 70% responsibly grown cotton, and durable, performance-fabrics like ripstop nylon and Cordura® – which is one of Napapijri’s signature fabrics.”

This, then, is not your average streetwear collaboration – not designed for pure, throwaway consumption as so many other capsules falling loosely in that category tend to be – created to be worn and to be reworn; made to be used, put to heavy work, and – with all that in mind – built to last. Combine this endurance with Earth-friendlier practices in production, and what you’re looking at is a collection considerate of the environment from two angles – how to exist within it and, also, how to preserve it.

These, for those in the know, have long been Raeburn’s values – and the core tenets of his namesake brand, RÆBURN; non-negotiable pillars of his design work that have earned both designer and label a well-deserved cult following over the years. Still, the chance to espouse those beliefs to the kind of audience a brand like Napapijri commands is – if not a step up, per se – a step out into the wider world, and an opportunity to open a considerably further-reaching dialogue.

“One of the most exciting aspects of working for a global brand is the potential impact on contemporary culture: the breadth of people we can reach really makes us think about the message we want to put out there,” Raeburn agrees, “As you say, my projects so far have focussed on conflating responsible design and innovative materials, embracing circularity as a design concept. Napapijri has been consistently doing the same, from giving up fur and down in 2015 to creating the first, fully recyclable anorak in 2018, to getting C2C certified in 2021. All of this due diligence puts us then in a position to reach out to our community and ask: what is important to you? How are you handling the ongoing demand for a more aware consumption? Which in turn takes us straight to Napapijri x Obey and its call for collaborative effort and action.”

Of course, just because you have the infrastructure to get that message across, it doesn’t mean you can take it for granted – you still have to get creative; still have to think of innovative ways to communicate with your audience as much as it’s vital to keep thinking of innovative new ways to design lower-impact clothing.

“The campaign video was shot in Los Angeles and the Mojave, directed by British Louis Lincoln-Bottcher and Sludge Creative, and it wants to trigger a bitter-sweet reflection on the concept of crisis and the positive impact that can be achieved from collaborative action,” says Raeburn, reflecting on the campaign which arrives alongside the collection. “Playing with a surreal imagery and with the notions of amazement and mesmerisation, the Beeman,” whom – you’ll see in the video above – is exactly what you’d expect from someone with a name like Beeman, “not only speaks to the very real issue of endangered species, but it also calls upon hive mentality – the collective consciousness that emerges when a group of individuals come together to share thoughts, ideas, and information.”

Back to the more tangible elements of the capsule, then, the collaboration includes everything from shorts to shell jackets, waist and cross-body bags to long-sleeve tees. And, as Raeburn mentions, across these products there is a slew of innovative materials and processes at play: post-industrial Cordura® in the bags, 100% recycled polyamide in the shorts and bucket hats, ozone-washed and responsibly grown cotton in the T-shirts, and an impressive mix of most of these in the collection’s hero piece – the Epoch Shell Jacket.

And, in line with Raeburn and Napapijri’s shared mix of planet-first philosophy and forward-thinking design pragmatism, these garments and accessories also boast the kind of technical specifications you’d expect from a brand with a USP of genuine practicality. Alongside all the sustainable innovation, there’s also (PFC-free) water repellant, performance-ready breathable fabrics, a commitment to Ripstop material for durability, and other little details – like the jacket’s anti-leakage seams – which, paired with those Earth-friendlier credentials, signal a commitment to thoughtful design from all angles.

The Napapijri x Obey collection is available now, direct from the brand’s web store, starting at £50 GBP (roughly $60 USD) for the bucket hat, up to £245 GBP (circa $300 USD) for the shell jacket. For a closer look, check out the gallery above.