Dockers Taps Maurizio Donadi for Collaboration and Vintage Offering

Maurizio Donadi has a storied history in fashion.

Diesel, A|X Armani Exchange, Double RL, Levi Strauss and Atelier & Repairs are just some of the companies he’s worked with — or created — over the course of his four-decade career. Now he’s been tapped to create a special capsule for Dockers through his latest business, Transnomadica, a resource for workwear, military, denim and fashion collectors based on his 15,000-plus piece vintage archive.

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The partnership is intended to celebrate the khaki, Dockers’ signature product since its founding in 1986. “It’s a story about khakis and what I envision khakis to be,” Donadi said, describing the collaboration. He said Levi Strauss — which started and still owns Dockers — was searching for another iconic trouser to complement its blue jeans and settled on the chino, interchangeably called the khaki, a model that had a long history in menswear. According to the Levi’s archives, the word khaki comes from Urdu and Persian words meaning “dust” or ‘dusty,” and the British used khaki fabric for military uniforms beginning in the mid-1800s. Khakis were eventually adopted by explorers and adventurers and Levi’s added them to its line as far back as 1905.

So when it launched Dockers, Levi’s homed in on this more-dressy pant that it named after English dock workers and targeted them to the casual workplace.

Patchwork reworks of the original collection from 1986 are part of the offering.

Patchwork reworks of the original collection from 1986 are part of the offering.

“It became part of the everyday wardrobe because it was so simple and easy. It wasn’t supposed to be streetwear, or a fashion pant,” said Donadi, who worked for Levi’s from 2009 to 2012. “It was just a comfortable casual pant for every day — affordable, well made, built to last, just a democratic pair of pants, no distinction.”

He said he’s “not a wearer, but a studier” of the khaki, so it was “natural to collaborate with Dockers to bring back the first collection from 1986.”

The Dockers x Transnomadica collection reimagines the original ’80s-style pleated pant in three colors: khaki, an undyed twill and a patchwork mix of the two. There are both traditional and elastic waist versions and the pants are complemented by a woven shirt, a mock neck fleece, an unconstructed cotton twill blazer, also available in three colors, along with a khaki twill fishtail parka and a khaki cotton T-shirt.

He said the line, which will retail from $70 to $359, is premium and not tied to any particular season. It is also intentionally compact and limited – there are only one of each style. The entire collection is being produced in limited amounts, or only 2,500 pieces across all the styles.

“With a lot of my projects, I find responsible practices,” he said.

That is evident in the collection of one-offs he curated for Dockers Vintage as part of this partnership. They will retail for $95 to $350.

“We went and sourced late ’80s and early ’90s Dockers of the best quality and best condition we could find,” Donadi explained. “There is so much that has already been produced of good quality. It’s worth refurbishing and restoring these pieces and putting them back out into the market. There’s no future without the past.”

This is similar to what he did with Atelier & Repairs, one of the pioneers of reimagining vintage and deadstock fashion pieces, a business he sold to Saitex two years ago. “I wanted to prove you could build a brand from what already exists,” he said.

Nick Rendic, global head of design for Dockers, added: “Opportunities to resurface pieces of our heritage come up so often, and I think that speaks to the timelessness of this brand. Classic will always be relevant, and that’s something Dockers has always done well.”

Rendic said he has long been a fan of Donadi’s personal style, “so when we decided to relaunch the brand, we wanted to partner with people like him to tell our story. We’re a big commercial brand and he brings an elevated curated level of taste to us. That’s what I love about Dockers: it’s classic, timeless and simple, but we allow people to put their own spin on it.”

Both collections will launch on Tuesday on the Dockers website as well as at Ron Herman’s Melrose Avenue store in Los Angeles and the company’s e-commerce site.

A fishtail parka is part of the collection created by Maurizio Donadi.

A fishtail parka is part of the collection created by Maurizio Donadi.

Dockers, which was put on the block by Levi’s at least twice in the past several years, still remains part of the Levi Strauss family, accounting for some 5 percent of its $5.8 billion in overall sales in 2021. According to Levi’s 2021 annual report, the brand showed improved sales last year thanks to a “healthier, more diverse sales mix and its ‘California casual lifestyle’ aesthetic” that is “winning new and younger consumers increasingly via d-to-c, digital and international markets.” International accounts for nearly 50 percent of sales now with almost 30 percent of the business coming from direct-to-consumer.

“Our analytics are showing a younger consumer coming to our website,” Rentic said, “attracted by the storytelling we’ve been doing.”

He expects these collections to appeal to these younger shoppers, but because they’re “pretty straightforward,” they should also appeal to an older, more traditional Dockers customer.

The price points, while higher than what most Dockers products retail for in the U.S., are “not crazy high,” he said, and are more in line with the price points in Europe, a strong market for the brand.

Rendic said he expects to continue working with Donadi in the future to expand on the collaboration collection and offer it to other retailers as well.

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