As the founder of Mode Sportif, the online boutique that specialises in luxe athleisure and leisurewear, it seems Deborah Symond was destined to head up a hugely successful business. Given her father is the founder of Aussie Home Loans, John Symond, you could argue business acumen is in her genes. Along with the website, Mode Sportif now has a bricks and mortar store in Sydney’s Paddington and it seems the brand shows no signs of waning. I recently sat down with Symond, to chat all things fashion, business and her essentials for nailing stylish off-duty style.
How would you describe your relationship with your father?
I am very lucky – Dad and I have a great relationship. Maintaining a strong relationship has been important to both of us since I was very young. We speak on the phone every day and have breakfast together once a week (at a minimum). Father/daughter relationship aside, he is my business mentor and a huge support for Mode Sportif. I’m extremely thankful for him guiding me through the bumps and wins that come with owning your own business.
What is the best advice he has ever given you?
The best advice Dad has ever given me is to trust my gut instinct. It’s something I live by both professionally and personally.
What is your own favourite ready-to-wear fashion piece?
How to pick one?! That could be a crime.
What inspired you to create the ultimate luxury leisurewear destination?
I was becoming more and more aware of emerging and exciting brands in the athleisure space and a lack of retailers providing a one-stop shop for designer sneakers, off-duty fashion and luxe activewear. It was upon identifying a gap in the market that the first concept of Mode Sportif was born!
What are your top 5 favourite pieces for ‘off duty dressing’?
Fresh, white kicks – Common Projects sneakers add an athleisure edge to any off-duty look.
A relaxed pant – a designer jogger pant in a luxe fabrication is a timeless staple in your off-duty wardrobe. Wear with sneakers and a t-shirt, or style with heels and a knit for drinks and dinner.
A monochrome tee – A favourite amongst the street style crowd, a graphic t-shirt in monochrome tones is an athleisure essential. The Sandrine Rose t-shirts are amazing quality with subtle, fun details.
A cross-body bag – athleisure fashion lends itself to practicality. The ultimate statement accessory for your off-duty look is the black leather cross body by Alexander Wang. The statement silver hardware makes this bag a must-have.
Statement sunglasses – the cherry on top of off duty cool is a pair of statement sunglasses. I personally love a round frame with gold tones to elevate my leisurewear wardrobe. This Chloe pair is everything!
What exotic trends are we seeing in the market?
Across both active and leisure, floral prints are trending. We are seeing brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim, Ganni, Clare V, Iro and The Upside incorporate florals as a key theme in their collections this season.
What are the struggles of owning your own business?
No two days are alike when owning your own business. As much as that keeps me motivated, it can be challenging at times. My biggest struggle is finding a work life balance. An online boutique never sleeps, so no matter what I am doing or where I am Mode Sportif is always on my mind. Everything in life presents struggles, and I wouldn’t change a thing!
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Evolving the business to an omni-channel model. Creating a physical presence, and seeing Mode Sportif come to life at The Intersection in Paddington has been incredibly rewarding.
Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
Happy, healthy and surrounded by passionate and driven people!
What growth do you think we will see in the activewear/ lifestyle category?
We are consistently delighted by new and emerging brands coming out of the activewear space such as LNDR and Vaara. Activewear is growing to be equally as fashionable as it is technical and ready-to-wear labels are continuing to be inspired by sport. This sector has surpassed denim and has become a staple in women’s wardrobes.