The history of menswear label Ports 1961 dates back to—you guessed it, internet sleuths—1961. But with their newest collaboration, the Canadian fashion house isn't relying on their own rich heritage to reach a new demographic. Instead, they're pulling some know-how from the instantly recognizable American boxing brand Everlast.
"If you look at the archive and history of Everlast, very famous people like Muhammad Ali were wearing the gloves," says Ports creative director Milan Vukmirovic. "It’s a very iconic logo and brand."
The collection of eight styles—available today—makes good use of that logo, too, brandishing it proudly across workout essentials like tanks, T-shirts, shorts, and a bomber jacket. Several of the styles come in both black and Ports' star camo pattern, cribbed from the brand's mainline collection. Vukmirovic is quick to point out that this is much more than just a co-branded capsule collection meant to wear while stunting around town. "It is definitely done for sports," he says. "They actually produced the samples with us, using some of the fabric they’ve done. So, it’s definitely made for doing actual, real sports, with our taste, in a fashionable way."
Vukmirovic's own relationship with Everlast was a late-blooming one; the native Frenchman didn't actually discover it until he moved to Miami during a previous iteration of his career working with local boutique The Webster. "I never really did sports in my life. I was working a lot, traveling a lot," he says. Then, inspired by the beach bodies and outdoor lifestyle of Southern Florida, he took up boxing. "I bought my first shorts, and it was [a pair of] Everlast shorts," he remembers. "It was one of my favorite ever shorts for the gym. I used them so much."
Aside from the active clothing expertise Ports leveraged from Everlast in terms of fabrics, Vukmirovic also looked at the way fashion has handled its relationship with the performance clothing that's been a common well of inspiration in recent years. The Ports 1961 x Everlast gear fits a bit bigger than traditional fashion brands to accommodate more athletic builds. It doesn't seem like a revolutionary concept, but it is. "When you do a lot of sports, you don’t always find a lot of the right clothes," he explains, noting high-end labels' penchant for using ultra-thin 18 and 20 year-olds as runway models. "I was very skinny for years, and fashion always looked good on me. But the moment I started to do sports and had a better body, I was losing the shape that you actually saw on the catwalk."
If there's one fan who might appreciate that particular quality of the Ports x Everlast gear, it's Usher, who has been spotted in several different Ports 1961 outfits recently. (Vukmirovic says Usher is not a paid ambassador, just a genuine supporter of the label.) The singer is a noted workout aficionado. "He's really taking care of his body," Vukmirovic notes. "He's so incredibly fit."
Keep an eye out for Usher in the Everlast gear on an Instagram feed near you. "We sent him a little package of the capsule," Vukmirovic says. "I hope he will like it."