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Introducing the Luis Fernandez limited-edition jersey.
What is Swissness? It's a tough question for anyone to answer, even for its natives. A small, mountainous country tucked in the center of Western Europe, Switzerland has a culture that's an amalgamation of elements, some borrowed from its bordering nations and some so whimsical and inventive that they could only ever have been born in Switzerland. These facets have fused, or rather, been majestically crafted into something else entirely—a culture that's at no risk of imitation. This state of life is reflected in the capital city's diverse architecture, which lines a myriad of architectural generations against a backdrop of snowy peaks.
Ask the above question of defining Swissness to anyone, and you're likely to hear a few reoccurring words: landscape, precision, and function. This is something that as a country we are proud of, but how do you capture these traits in a design? That's where New York-based architect-turned-fashion designer Luis Fernandez stepped in, creating a collection of four limited-edition jerseys that draw inspiration from Switzerland. We caught up with Fernandez to find out a little bit more about these designs.
ASSOS Of Switzerland — First, tell us about your path to becoming a fashion designer?
Luis Fernandez — My roots are in architecture, which is sometimes seen as something out of the ordinary for the fashion world, but I landed in fashion through designing fashion retail. I was interested in the idea of how form is affected by function, and wanted to bring that into fashion, working on a clothing line that is function-driven yet created with a strong form. "Tech tailoring" was the result and it has been a great experience. Naturally, when the opportunity came up to collaborate with ASSOS, I jumped at the chance. As a brand, ASSOS embodies everything that I love about function and fashion because they've melted Swiss precision and performance into one. Coming with such a heritage at the cutting edge of cycling, it was certainly a project that I've enjoyed.
ASSOS Of Switzerland — What is the inspiration for the jerseys?
Luis Fernandez — As a starting point we wanted to create something that not only channeled Swissness, but also embodied the history of ASSOS, yet evolved its design language into a different, more modern-day graphic. This led me to the designs, which come in two patterns: one that represents the clinical precision and geometric might of a Swiss mountain pass's switchbacks, while the other is a much more Bauhaus-esque design. Both are minimal and geometric to represent Swiss precision. I saw it as a triangulation of the Swiss landscape, taking inspiration from photos that friends had shown me from their drive across Switzerland to meet us on Lake Maggiore. The Simplon Pass has such amazing switchbacks and huge, geometric tunnels carved into the rich, green pastures—this road was particularly inspiring.
ASSOS Of Switzerland — We love your term "tech tailoring" — it really captures our approach, too. Did you find it hard to stop at exclusively designing the graphic of the jersey and not being able to take your work further to challenge this iconic piece of cycling equipment?
Luis Fernandez — It is a silhouette that certainly has become part of this project, but I don't think it would be that simple to redesign the cycling jersey. It has taken many decades of trial and error to achieve this current status, so I believe that its form is inherently denoted by its function—something that ASSOS has certainly reached the pinnacle of with its pieces. I have to say that this was something that I really enjoyed with the collaboration, finding out the engineering behind each product, how different fabrics and panels have been used in different places to improve performance. A function-based design like this really strikes a chord with me.
“The only real step forward that I can envisage is a future where one will 3D-knit your jersey before you ride, which would be something interesting, but that could be some time away from where we are now.”
ASSOS Of Switzerland — We hear that you're a budding cyclist too. How has your interest been piqued with this collaboration?
Luis Fernandez — I admit that I have a very limited relationship with cycling. I go to spinning classes but have never really embraced cycling in the traditional sense. Perhaps it's I'm based in NewYork, which is potentially not the most forgiving city to ride in.
But yes, this project certainly has illuminated my interest in cycling—it is the perfect medium to explore your environment at a pace that allows you to be in it, yet also allows you to go far enough to see more.
There was no more fitting way to celebrate and shoot this jersey than by heading to the Swiss capital, Bern, and following local design aficionado Patrick Seabase around on bikes to capture some of the most iconic architecture that this city has to offer. From its Gothic center to the strikingly modern SBB offices and the City Archives and the Bernisches Historisches Museum, we think that it certainly was on point as a location.
Thanks to Luis for creating such striking jersey designs, and thanks to Patrick for the guided tour of his home city.
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