NEW YORK, United States — Helmut Lang, the storied label acquired in 2006 by Fast Retailing subsidiary Link Theory Holdings, is set for yet another transformation. BoF has learned that chief executive Andrew Rosen has appointed Isabella Burley the brand's editor-in-residence. In turn, Burley, who is also the editor-in-chief of Dazed magazine, has recruited Hood by Air designer Shayne Oliver to create a special collection to be revealed in September 2017. The collection will include men’s and women’s clothing, as well as accessories. It is thought that Burley will continue to bring on new designers for special capsules in seasons to come.
"Helmut Lang is a pioneering company and we are going back to its heritage of being bold,” said Rosen, who is also chief executive of Theory. (Both Theory and Helmut Lang are part of Link Theory Holdings, a fully owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing, the Japanese conglomerate behind Uniqlo).
Rumours began swirling last month around Oliver’s involvement in Helmut Lang — and what that meant for the fate of Hood By Air, the fashion collective for which he has served as head designer and public face. After Hood By Air canceled its March 2017 show at Paris Fashion Week, industry insiders wondered if the label was on the verge of closing. Not so, said a representative for the label: "Shayne is currently focusing his time on the special project with Helmut Lang. As a result, HBA will be continued but is transitioning to accommodate this. We will be releasing more information soon.”
Helmut Lang's new direction will be closely followed in a market where mid-priced brands reliant on wholesale are feeling more and more pressure. (When Fast Retailing acquired Helmut Lang in 2006, it rebooted the formerly designer-level brand as a contemporary priced label.)
The first fruits of Burley’s work at the brand — including a relaunched website and revamped digital presence — will be revealed during the summer of 2017.
Designer Alexandre Plokhov, previously creative director of menswear at Helmut Lang, has exited the company. Previously, Nicole and Michael Colovos designed both the men’s and women’s lines. The label’s revolutionary namesake designer retired from fashion in 2005 to pursue art.