For most of us a brand new year usually means new promises and resolutions or a pledge to commit to a just cause. Equinox Fitness Clubs did so recently launching a new chapter in the group's "Commit To Something" campaign.
"Commitment, A Collection by Equinox", is a capsule of seven exclusive products inspired by the passion and persistence of key individuals or organizations.
The collection features a series of interesting products: there's "The Truth Lipstick", a black ink lipstick hinting at free press and journalistic integrity made with a special formula of iron oxides, ricinus communis oil, beeswax, and The Washington Post paper, and preserved in a case designed by Mel Ottenberg.
Then there's "The Law Suit", designed by Eckhaus Latta's Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, made from case files of lawyer James Thornton, founder of nonprofit ClientEarth, committed to fighting for the environment.
If you prefer accessories, the collection includes "The Stonewall Stilettos", designed by Shayne Oliver (formerly of Hood by Air and most recently of Helmut Lang) and made from the pleather from the banquettes at The Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village bar where resistance to a police raid started the modern gay rights movement. The stilettos-cum-mid-calf-boots remind us of the commitment of early activists fighting for LGBTQA rights.
"The Shades of Humanity", designed by Adam Selman, and made from the Fuji camera lens of 2016 Instagram photographer of the year Ruddy Roye, prompts instead people to think about capturing the stories that often go unseen, while the "Eau De Blood, Sweat & Tears" is a custom scent by 12.29 infused with the actual DNA of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and a powerful symbol for equal rights for all female athletes.
The fragrance is stored in a bottle designed by Rafael de Cardenas/Architecture at Large and is currently awaiting the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.
The collection is completed by "The Scrubs Sweatsuit", designed by Off-White's Virgil Abloh, and inspired by the workwear of the oncologists like those ones at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and by "The Real Camo Jacket", designed by Y/Project (Glenn Martens), and made using actual material from the uniforms of four Heroes Project veterans (Charlie Linville, Brad Ivanchan, Carlos Torres and Kionte Storey).
The products appear on Equinox social channels accompanied by stories about each design; they will also be displayed in select Equinox club windows in the States and will eventually auctioned off in 2018 with proceeds donated to nonprofit organizations of importance to the people behind each products, including Equinox's charitable partners, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and The Heroes Project.
This is not the first time Equinox - a group operating 92 upscale, full-service clubs in the States, as well as international locations in London, Toronto, and Vancouver - embarks on a collaboration: a while back they launched for example an active collection of underwear, T-shirts and socks with Mack Weldon.
The new Commitment collection, though, goes beyond the mere commercial products and aims at subverting the more stereotyped perceptions of luxury, attaching social messages to a series of designs.
Yet the entire operation, some of the designers chosen for this collaboration and, frankly, some of the products make you sit and ponder a lot about the consistency of modern design.
You're right, luxury doesn't need to be useful, but it still needs to be desirable: in this case the collection is accompanied by a campaign with strong images shot by Steven Klein, but some of the products developed, though carrying a great meaning, look as if they had just come out of one of those experimental showcases of products designed by students for graduation shows or for special displays at major design fairs.
Conceptual (Eau De Blood, Sweat & Tears), unwearable (The Stonewall Stilettos), unnecessarily complex (The Real Camo Jacket) or simplistically dubious on a design level (The Scrubs Sweatsuit), these products make you sit and ponder about the state of contemporary design: all the causes presented are equally important, all these commitments should be embraced, but the products representing them do not seem so strong design-wise or make you wonder if social causes need a branded future to exist.
Maybe the collection proves that it can be hard for brands providing a message without a glossy image, a product to dangle in front of our eyes or the umpteenth collaboration (what if they had chosen seven students worthy of being promoted rather than designers such as Abloh who have recently partnered with so many companies that we have lost count?).
Hopefully being brave in our modern times means more than promoting the physical fitness of a generation of branded superheroes or producing a pair of hybrid dagger-heel stilettos/boots and attaching to them a great and powerful message.