I’m a super-fan,” says Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, smiling over Zoom from his design studio in Paris. He’s talking about the shoes he’s wearing – which are, in fact, the same shoes he wears every day – by On. The Swiss brand has, after just 12 years, become a serious player in the highly competitive performance-wear arena, as well as the first brand the 176-year-old Spanish leather house has collaborated with. “We’ve worked with artists or estates such as Rennie Mackintosh, but never an actual brand,” says Anderson. “So it’s quite nice because it’s unexpected. I’ve never seen On as something hyped. I like brands that aren’t too loud. There’s a specific need or functionality to it.”

Loewe x On polyester anorak, £650, and polyester running trousers, £425
Loewe x On polyester anorak, £650, and polyester running trousers, £425

With understated design on top and precision engineering underneath, On is the Swiss watch of trainers – it’s no coincidence that Thilo Alex Brunner, the brand’s head of design, started his career at Swatch. Anderson first got hooked on the shoes about five years ago, coming for the look but staying for the feel. “They were just really good for my feet. Great support, very lightweight. And they go really well with everything,” he says. “I don’t like making decisions in the morning. So now I just have to think: black, grey or multicoloured? I’m on black today. There’s nothing better than when you find something that works.”

Loewe x On Cloudventure trainers, £295

The collection for men and women, launching this month, features 13 trainers, including Loewe’s translation of the brand’s Cloudventure and Cloudrock trail-running shoes, accompanied by ready-to-wear pieces including running pants, temperature-regulating T-shirts and a unisex customisable three-layer parka. These are all in a nature-inspired, gradient palette of khaki, blue and orange, the idea being that you can wear everything – clothes and shoes – in the same colour or design. 

“With sportswear and outdoor-wear you can be a bit elaborate in terms of colour,” says Anderson. “A lot of people will wear a coordinated look to go running or hiking, and I like that.” Brunner says the dégradé effect “always makes me think of sunrise and how life in nature awakens. I hope the collection inspires people to go out and explore.”

Polyester parka, £925

Polyester parka, £925

Polyester running trousers, £425

Polyester running trousers, £425

Hand-craft techniques are at the heart of what Anderson does at Loewe, whose foundation launched its annual Craft Prize in 2016. In this collection, the blue coat and matching blue shoe with a starry-night pattern is inspired by Japanese sashiko needlework. “People always have this image that sports gear and sports shoes are made by machines or robots, but that’s not the case,” says Brunner. “To a large part it is ‘handmade’, and the art is to repeat it many times in the exact same way, which is an underestimated challenge. I think Jonathan and I were fascinated about where artisanal work and manual craft meet.” 

For Anderson’s part, he has enjoyed the technicality of designing performancewear. “When you’ve never worked in that world it’s so different – the way in which you build aerodynamics into something or drill down to the actual functionality and the purpose of a garment or shoe. It’s not about racing to get a product done, it’s about enjoying how to work it out.” That, and the chance to work with a brand that literally gets him through each step of his day.

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