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    Umbro China leads UK students into luxe sportswear

    The University of East London design undergraduates presented their football-inspired collections tailored to the mainland at a runway event during London Men's Fashion Week.
    Connecting students to the crucial Chinese consumer, Umbro China has collaborated with the University of East London on a fashion design initiative. Photo: Sophie Mitchell Photography
      Published   in Fashion

    What happened

    On June 12, University of East London (UEL) undergraduate design students showcased collections in collaboration with Umbro China; the results of an official course initiative led by the English sportswear giant.

    Presenting an array of diverse creativity during a runway presentation at the university, Umbro pieces were seen upcycled, with reworked logo detailing and avant-garde urban silhouettes.

    The undergraduates worked on a brief set by Umbro China’s General Manager Keith Cheng over the preceding six months.

    Encouraging them to connect with the Chinese market, the initiative tasked the students with producing football-inspired collections tailored to the mainland with a focus on design innovation, creativity, and business acumen.

    Collections featured upcycled Umbro jerseys, hinting to the football history of the brand. Photo: Sophie Mitchell photography
    Collections featured upcycled Umbro jerseys, hinting to the football history of the brand. Photo: Sophie Mitchell photography

    Each piece was to be manufactured with the focus of human wellbeing, sustainability, inclusivity, and diversity, values both Umbro China and UEL espouse.

    The participants also worked with students from other courses to benefit from their diverse knowledge, which covered games design, film, and photography.

    Out of the 15 participating students, three selected designers will be invited to visit the Umbro China office in Xiamen, Fujian Province, the company’s factories and its supply chain.

    The partnership encompasses internships, press coverage, and even help with potential launches in China.

    The Jing Take

    With the sportswear industry increasingly embracing fashion collaboration, and activewear having never been so glamorously experimental, this partnership is a great introduction to the industry for the undergraduates.

    “It’s an opportunity for the designers to interact with China,” Keith Cheng tells Jing Daily. “We really care about the next generational pillars of society, and their thoughts and ideas on how lifestyle and performance clothing can interact.”

    That focus on design innovation in activewear is a core trend defining the industry today, and the mentoring and experience in this field will prove extremely useful for the designers.

    Colliding the beauty of collaboration with Chinese consumer connection, Umbro China has excellled with its UEL partnership. Photo: Sophie Mitchell photography
    Colliding the beauty of collaboration with Chinese consumer connection, Umbro China has excellled with its UEL partnership. Photo: Sophie Mitchell photography

    Collaboration is an increasingly commonplace business strategy in the sportswear industry in China, and the rest of the world. Western brands such as Asics have worked with independent Chinese designers like Shushu/Tong, and local sports names like Li-Ning have launched co-branded collections to expand their consumer bases.

    “Collaborating with Cheng on this industry project has been an invaluable experience. It allowed UEL to integrate real-world industry expertise into our Fashion Design curriculum, fostering cross-department collaboration and providing students with the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Cheng,” said Wesley Hartwell, Lecturer in Fashion Design at the University of East London in a statement.

    As well as valuably teaching students to enter the industry with a collaborative mindset, Umbro China has successfully increased awareness of one of the world’s most crucial luxury consumers before they have even graduated.

    From sportswear collaboration, to consideration of the China market, this marks a headstart for those directly entering luxury post-graduation, that’s for certain.

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