If one of your New Year’s resolutions involved doing more exercise, you’re in luck because there’s never been a better time to shop for gym clothes. The extensive range of prints, colours and styles available right now means there’s definitely something to suit all tastes and budgets. And let’s face it, sometimes there’s just no better motivator than the excuse to wear a cute outfit.
I’m all about a simple colour palette and often favour black, white and navy and I’ve extended this to my workout looks as it often makes it easier to mix and match different pieces. I’ll sometimes add a few subtle prints in the mix just to keep things fun and inject a bit of energy into my fitness wardrobe. Having made a resolution to incorporate more training into my schedule, I’ve been scouting around for the perfect pieces to exercise in, and these in particular have caught my eye…
Catching up with Lorna Jane Clarkson at China Diner in Sydney’s Double Bay
As the woman behind one of Australia’s biggest activewear brands it seems only fitting that Lorna Jane Clarkson’s love affair with fitness apparel first began when she was an aerobics instructor in the 80s. Unable to find fashionable clothes to wear to her classes she decided to design and create her own and found herself inundated with orders for her designs from other women in the gym. The rest, as they say, is history. Today she is a fashion designer, entrepreneur and author and there are now more than 200 Lorna Jane stores across Australia and the United States, as well as stockists in Europe, the UK, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Lorna’s first cookbook, NOURISH – The Fit Woman’s Cookbook was released in 2014 and Lorna’s first ever coffee table book INSPIRED was released in 2015. The fifty-two-year-old businesswoman spoke to me about the inspiration behind her brand, who she looks up to and the most difficult part of being in the public eye.
What is a day in the life of you?
I wake up around 5am, squeeze in a workout, have breakfast, catch up on my international emails from overnight and then head into the office by eight. No two days in the office are ever the same (which I love) and on any given day I could be writing, designing, on a campaign shoot or in marketing, strategy or creative meetings. I always try and leave by six and go for a walk with my husband and our dog Roger to catch up on each other’s day before dinner. I love to finish the day with some yoga or meditation, then I go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again!
What does healthy and fit mean to you?
Being healthy is essentially taking care of yourself so that you can think, feel and be at your best every day. Our health is the one thing we can ALL invest in, and I honestly believe it’s the ultimate investment you will ever make. Without your health, you have nothing, which is why I’m so passionate about empowering women to embrace my Active Living Philosophy and daily practice of Move Nourish Believe – for the simple reason that it makes being fit and healthy really easy.
What is your favourite piece in the current collection?
What do you think was the key to being able to successfully expand your empire?
Authenticity. Since day one, I’ve always done things my own way and I’ve never tried to emulate anything another brand is doing. I think our authenticity is why we have such an incredible and loyal customer base, which is what has allowed us to be able to expand internationally.
How did you get into the health and fitness space?
My mother has always been a great role model for health, so it’s been important to me for as long as I can remember. I got really into the aerobics craze when it launched in the 80s and ended up doing my instructor training and teaching aerobics classes after work. At that time I couldn’t find any gym clothes that inspired me to want to workout—so I started making my own. When I started wearing them to the gym, the women in my classes really loved them, so I started taking orders and before I knew it I was completely swamped (and my lounge room was an absolute mess). I found a real niche and loved what I was doing, so I decided to quit my day job and start designing activewear full-time. And I can honestly say it was the scariest but absolutely BEST decision I’ve ever made!
What were the biggest challenges you faced when you started the company?
The very first one was getting people to believe in my vision, that comes down to self belief as well. I think you need to need to come from a very powerful place with your vision because for me to say that I want active wear that inspires women and changes the way they think about their workouts, people are thinking “yeah yeah”. I could see women wearing their activewear beyond their workouts and people thought I was crazy to open a store that just sells womens activewear. But a lot of hard work and I proved them wrong!
What are you most passionate about?
Inspiring women to live their lives at 100 per cent.
Who do you look up to?
I admire so many people for so many different reasons. I admire strong women like Oprah, Michelle Obama and Diane von Furstenberg. My mum for being such an inspiring role model for me when I was growing up. And of course my husband Bill for being such a visionary and fearless leader!
What is the most rewarding part of having such a successful brand?
Hand over heart, the most rewarding part of my job is when our customers tell me how Lorna Jane has helped them overcome an obstacle in their life. Our ‘Inspo Tanks’ have become a big part of our brand DNA and I’m humbled every time a customer tells me wearing one has helped them push through an obstacle in their life. I’ve heard stories from fitness instructors wearing them to help motivate their members in class right through to women wearing them whilst fighting for their lives in hospital. Hearing stories like those are the reason I do what I do and it makes the more challenging and stressful times so worth it.
Did you have any struggles and setbacks in creating the Lorna Jane brand?
Of course! I can’t even count the number of times—but it’s all part of the journey and to be completely honest I wouldn’t change a thing, because it’s the setbacks and obstacle that teach you lessons, make you stronger and help you to appreciate what you already have so much more.
What is the most challenging aspect of being in the public eye?
When people are quick to make a judgment or assumption about you based on something they’ve read or heard.
What motivates you on a day-to-day basis?
My customers, my team and my amazing family.
How important is it for you to be a role model and embody the Active Living Philosophy and daily practice of Move Nourish Believe?
The reason I put my name on the door 28 years ago, was to make sure that I stayed 100 per cent authentic to who I was as a person. Lorna Jane the brand really is just an extension of Lorna Jane the person and Active Living is my personal philosophy that’s achieved through the daily practice of Move Nourish Believe—plus it’s the very thing I credit for getting me to where I am today.
What is your favourite meal?
Breakfast! Hands down!
Who do you turn to for support?
My husband Bill. While he’s the CEO of Lorna Jane, he’s first and foremost my husband and I know I can turn to him for anything.
Your husband Bill also works actively in the business. Is it hard to switch off as a couple?
We always make sure we schedule some quality family time together every day, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk together before we have dinner so we can really connect as husband and wife. I think when you run a business it can be so easy to get carried away and think “I’ll just send one more email” or “I’ll talk to him about it when I get home”, so actively scheduling ‘no more business’ time is the way we switch off.
Why do you think the activewear industry has seen such growth over the past few years?
Two things—I think that people are finally starting to realise the importance of good health and that wearing activewear is so much more comfortable and conducive with how we live our lives today. Activewear has become an important part of the modern woman’s wardrobe and I think more and more brands have realised this in the last few years, which is why the activewear industry has absolutely boomed.
Where do you see the Lorna Jane brand in five years?
Do you get to relax?
Of course. There’s no way you can be in business for 28 years and stay at the top of your game if you don’t take the time to rest and relax.
What do you do in your downtime?
We love to go to the beach and Byron Bay is a popular spot for us to escape for the weekend. But I also make sure I schedule a little bit of down time every day, even if it’s just half an hour of yoga or reading before I go to bed.
WE ATE Pork & scallop san choi bao with green bean and almonds; “Asian Slaw” of shredded cabbage, snow pea, carrot and coriander with plum and yuzu dressing; Crab spring rolls with plum sauce; Massaman curry of wagyu beef shin and roasted peanut
I’ve always been about making sure that everything in my wardrobe works in multiple ways. Versatility is key after all to making sure that you get more bang for your fashion buck. This is why it’s been important to me to ensure that my footwear can work in myriad ways. Whilst I love a white sneaker I’ve also been wanting to break out of my trainer rut into something a little bit different which is why I’ve really jumped on the new Nike Air Max Zero. I’ve been on the hunt for sneaker that I can wear during a work out and a casual weekend look without ever missing a beat and now that I’ve finally found it I could kiss my Airs! The style was created by legendary streetwear designer Hiroshi Fujiwara and is a great mix of classic style and modern comfort and is in keeping with my aesthetic for neutral pieces whilst being on trend.
The one thing I really love about the blurring of the lines between activewear and loungewear is that I’ve essentially doubled the use of a lot of items in my wardrobe without having to really do much (or spend much) at all. In this instance these Air Max can now stand in place of my usual go-to white sneaker in that I can wear it with a top and skirt and a cosy cardi, team it with on trend pieces such as a black backpack and round sunglasses and it looks quite relaxed but still pulled together. It can also work equally as well with a dress or cropped jeans which extends its wear even more. And when I do want to wear these sneakers to work out I can dress up my look a bit by keeping my ensemble in a monochrome palette and adding accessories such as tortoiseshell sunglasses and a leather monogram backpack to elevate it from being just a regular gym outfit. The bonus is that regardless of which look I opt for style is definitely not compromised for comfort – and both are definitely a must for juggling a busy work/mum schedule like mine.
As part of my plan to kickstart 2017, I’m back into pilates and about to start personal training. One of the perks of working out these days is that there are some seriously fashion forward pieces available. The activewear revolution has meant that a busy training session or day running around no longer requires a shabby tshirt and plain leggings. I tend to opt for quality pieces and durable fabric as there is a lot of running around with Grace and Sophia too.
I’ll always try to mix in navy and grey marle to avoid feeling too washed out in all-black. Don’t be afraid to add in some navy and grey to your look this season. Sweat is no longer a problem with this amazing towel from Dolce and Gabbana. I’ll be using one for a quick post-training dip at Balmoral.
How about some of these standout pieces to add to your activewear wardrobe? The platform Kenzo trainers may not be the best running shoes, but they will lift up any casual outfit.
Fashion designer Jodhi Meares has just launched the first stand-alone store for her successful activewear brand, THE UPSIDE, in Mosman. Her designs are stocked around the world and have been spotted on fashion and sports icons including Kelly Slater, Kim Kardashian and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Meares, 45, chatted to me about developing an activewear empire, finding love with her 29-year-old husband, Nicholas Tsindos, and her secret to being a better wife.
Tell me a day in the life of you?
Gosh, it changes so much. I’m still travelling a lot, I don’t have like a really regular day … [THE UPSIDE] needs a huge amount of attention as it’s still a young company … I read a lot of philosophy and I find that that’s inspiring, for my work. …We really look at THE UPSIDE [as] the Heroine and now we’ve launched men’s, he is the Hero. So, we look at so many aspects of the brand and we talk about it, politically, what she or he stands for, what they might be reading at the moment, what films they’re watching.
What has been the biggest milestone for THE UPSIDE?
I think, days like today when you see it on somebody. To me that’s where I get the most joy, watching it come to life and see somebody enjoying wearing it and playing with the kids on the beach in it. Why did you decide on Mosman for your first bricks-and-mortar store?
I like to shop on streets, so we were just looking for really good areas that we could do good retail. Mosman was on our list and this shop came up and it was perfect … I’m excited and I know the area because I went to school over here and we think it’s right on point for the brand.
As a designer, where do you get your inspiration?
I look at so many things … When I started developing the [Jocks & Nerds] collection, I was in Paris and we were looking at some of the ghettos of Paris and watching kids play basketball … it’s good to look at things from the street level.
What made you first launch THE UPSIDE?
The evolution really was, I’ve sold Tigerlily [Meares’ bikini brand, sold to Billabong in 2007], I’ve taken some time out, I’m spending a huge amount of time in New York and this phenomenon happens … For me, it started with that one Lululemon Black Legging and it’s what I was wearing at the time and then I was kind of looking for other things because it became such an important part of my wardrobe and just seeing it on the street, it was so there … It just felt so obvious, the gap in the space, that it was like, “You just have to do this. This is such an obvious need” and then, the timing was really perfect.
With so many activewear brands, how do you set yours apart?
We try to stay very true to the philosophies of the brand. I mean there is so much scope in this area: we’re going to launch new categories, which I can’t give away, I wish I could, but because it opened this huge spot, it’s really a lifestyle business.
What did you learn from your experience with your label, Tigerlily?
I’m much more involved in the business now. I think I was very nervous of that with Tigerlily because I had no experience in it … I understand what we need to do, but with Tigerlily I was very nervous and I don’t think that’s a good place to be in business … I had to learn the hard way a lot of times with Tigerlily, [I] really made some big mistakes.
Did you always plan to go into fashion and have your own company?
I did. Tigerlily was an absolute dream. I didn’t know that I would have any success in it … but I am absolutely a bikini nerd, it was my first love … I had an education in that business anyway, I knew pretty much every surf retailer in the country and that’s where Tigerlily started.
If you hadn’t gone down that path, what would you have done?
I don’t know … I probably would have been a yoga teacher I think … I still might be one day!
Congratulations on your marriage to [photographer] Nicholas Tsindos.
Thank you, yes. It was very unexpected, but very wonderful.
What drew you to him?
He has got so many wonderful qualities, but he is incredibly kind and for me kindness is probably at the top of my list.
Your husband often shoots campaigns for THE UPSIDE. What is your advice for mixing business and pleasure?
We get along so well. We’re really great mates, so it’s really nice if you go home and talk to somebody credibly, because I really love my work. I’m a chatterbox. It fully drives Nicholas mad sometimes, but it’s really easy because he has got such a great eye … He is already so close to the creative, he is my husband anyway, so by the time we get to shoot he knows what we’re trying to do.
What are you most proud of?
In the end, it’s about relationships, so probably my relationships with my family and my friends.
What do you think really helped you to grow your commercial ventures?
I think the timing was really, really good; and the right team.
What’s the vision for the brand?
Ultimately, I have a huge vision for the brand and outside of apparel, completely; I can’t divulge any of it just yet.
What do you do to stay fit?
I love yoga, I’m a yogi, and I love to walk and I love to paddleboard when I’m in Hawaii. But really, I’m not a gym person; it feels like going to the office … Some weeks I do yoga every day and sometimes, at the end of a long day, the answer is yoga and some days at the end of the day the answer is a bottle of wine!
What do you do to relax?
Yoga. I think I’m a nicer person, a better boss, probably a better wife, a better friend, better sister when I’m practising yoga, that also makes a difference … I think even if you’re not going there for spiritual reasons, [spirituality] … will happen anyway.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I don’t really think in terms of that, I probably should more. I do try to actively stay present in what I’m doing … There is that old saying that if you live in the past you’ll be depressed, if you live in the future [you’ll be] anxious, and if you live in the now you’ll be peaceful and I think that’s true, so I don’t really think about it too much.
Jesinta Campbell shows how to do the athleisure trend Pic: @jesintacampbell
It’s amazing to think just how far activewear has come over the last few years. Remember when heading to the gym meant finding an old tee and a simple pair of leggings? These days the clothes available for working out are seriously fashion forward. This probably explains why activewear often sneaks its way into our casual wardrobe and is worn out and about and as far away from a treadmill as possible! From designer threads to old sports favourites such as Nike and Adidas there are so many on stylish options that you’ll be jumping aboard the athleisure trend in no time.
Check out some of my top picks for updating your activewear wardrobe below:
These bright shorts are ideal for a major sweat session.
You can never go wrong with a pair of classic black tights. Love the tie finish on this pair.
Think beyond the humble tee. There’s plenty of great workout tops these days with interesting finishes.
Elevate your workout topper to this pastel bomber. The best bit is it’s so chic that it can easily make its way into your regular wardrobe.
Whether you’re after a pair of sneakers that are bright, all-black, white or with a simple colour accent such as this pair, the humble trainer has well and truly become a fashion staple.
Patterned sports bra
The boring ol’ sports bra is a thing of the past. There are so many interesting prints available these days you’ll find it difficult to choose one.
Who needs a plain bag? Carry all your gym gear in style in this stylish Stella McCartney for Adidas backpack.
Clever design means that you can often find sportswear with built-in sports bras to make dressing for a workout a cinch.
Venture into adventurous territory and try out a pair of statement leggings. The bolder the print the better!
You can’t go past a cute matching sports bra and leggings set for the ultimate in chic workout gear.
As the founder and CEO of the wildly sucessful online athleisure store Stylerunner, Julie Stevanja spotted a gap in the market before it even presented itself. It was during her hunt for fashionable yoga gear that she became frustrated at the lack of options available and thus the idea for a luxury retailer for stylish activewear was born. It has been four years since Stylerunner’s inception and since then site has gone from strength to strength. I caught up with the Stevanja to talk the boom of athletic wear, the biggest mistakes women make with activewear and her top fashion picks of the season….
What is a day in the life of you?
Every single day is different. It usually starts off the same – I wake up, do some exercise (or do some yoga stretches at home if I’m short on time!), pick my sister Jasna up on the way to work and we have a coffee meeting on the drive.
When I get in, I say hi to the team and check in with where everyone is at, and then get updated on any deadlines which might need my approval. From then on, my day to day changes. I oversee the strategic direction for all departments, so I could be meeting with the buying team to discuss the brands and products Stylerunner will invest in, working on strategic planning with our marketing team, or working with customer care to devise ways to step our game up that little bit more. For such a fast growing business, I also spend quite a lot of time in recruitment and finding the right people to join our team.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
The Stylerunner journey has been a whirlwind of achievements, but I’d have to say that my most memorable to date would be winning the Young Retail Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the World Retail Awards this year in Dubai. It was the first time for us to be recognised on a global stage to such a large degree. Talk about surreal!
What inspired you to create Stylerunner?
I was working in London at a startup, and going to Bikram classes 5 days a week. As a reward, I decided to treat myself to some beautiful activewear, only to be faced with masculine, traditional sportswear stores. I was really disappointed with the selection!
I came up with the idea for Stylerunner in the middle of one of my Bikram classes. I thought if I was having this problem in one of world’s fashion capitals, then surely women all over the world were also looking for the same thing – beautiful activewear that they could feel great in, but also with a luxury experience much like Net-A-Porter.
Once the idea came to me, I moved back to Sydney, worked incredibly hard for three months and Stylerunner was born.
What is your best advice for styling activewear?
My best advice would be to invest in lots of good basics. Invest in that pair of black leggings that fits you perfectly, the muscle tee that makes your shoulders look great, or that crop that makes you feel confident and powerful. Pieces that you can always fall back on, that help empower you while you’re working out. I also think it’s important to invest in quality compression gear. Compression wear helps you perform better and recover quicker.
Then when it comes to styling, build up your activewear wardrobe with fun, statement pieces for when you want to stand out. And of course, an easy way to update your look is with the latest sneaker. It’s all about athleisure, and kicks are here to stay.
What mistakes do people tend to make with activewear?
The biggest mistake: still wearing your daggy stuff that you’ve had for the past 5 years! Whether you prefer an understated look, or something a little bolder, invest in beautiful high quality pieces that you’ll feel fabulous in whether you’re grabbing a juice on the way to yoga or bumping into a friend on the way out.
Also, people shouldn’t be scared to venture away from brands that they know, to new, lesser known brands. There are so many gorgeous designers out there waiting to be discovered. I’m a big supporter of emerging labels. In fact, that’s why we’ve just launched Radar on Stylerunner – a platform designed to raise the profile of emerging designers in the activewear and athleisure-wear category.
What is the biggest challenge with having an online store?
Having an online store is a huge operation. The biggest challenge is managing the sheer size! There are so many different parts of the business, from logistics to customer care, to buying to marketing – every department needs to function efficiently to deliver the entire experience seamlessly and profitably.
What is the biggest challenge with having an international brand?
As we start to think about scaling globally, we need to consider different cultural preferences, both in terms of content but also what they’re purchasing. We plan to tackle that with localised sites and teams around the world. It’s a very exciting time for Stylerunner!
What has been the most useful advice you have received?
Work on things that are the most important, not the most urgent.
How did you grow your social media following?
Ultimately by sharing great content of beautiful product, and being very inclusive of our community from the start.
We have such a unique product selection, our followers can’t get enough! We view our social media community as just that – our community, our BFFs. We love hearing about what they’re loving, seeing them in our product and sharing the love on our channels. It’s the close relationship that we have to our customers that makes our social media following truly special.
How do you live a healthy lifestyle?
It’s great being surrounded by fit, healthy team members every single day. We’re always inspired to eat a healthy lunch, grab a juice or smoothie and go to workout classes after work together. I also have a yoga mat at home and I like to fit in some stretches in the mornings when I can. My current obsession is reformer pilates – and when you love something, it makes it easier to find the time for it!
The new year is the perfect time to have a renewed focus on health and fitness and in 2016 I’m promising to do more to stay active. After a busy festive season and a holiday overseas, I am so excited to be back home to embark on a new exercise routine, and with the summer weather being so gorgeous it’s a great time to train outdoors. And what better motivation to exercise than some new workout gear? I’m making a few new additions to my fitness wardrobe at the moment and I am loving workout gear in neutrals, greys and lighter tones.
When choosing sports wear, I always use a checklist:
Flattering: I always choose shapes and styles which accentuate my body and try to find styles which are feminine.
Durable: If I purchase quality products, I find that not only are they comfortable and provide the right amount of support, investing in quality pieces also means they usually last a lot longer.
Versatile: The best thing about active wear is that you can usually mix and match the items. I always shop knowing what pieces I already have and try to find items which will work with that look.
Click on the images above or these links to shop my favourite sports looks for 2016.
It’s important to have a pair of quality, well-fitting runners so if you can, make sure to get a proper fitting. I love these sneakers as they’re lightweight and the colour works easily with the rest of my workout wardrobe.
A great sports bra is so important for providing the right support during training. I love the fact that gone are the days of just plain black or white sports bras and they now come in a range of fun prints and colours.
Of course I have a go-to pair of black leggings, but sometimes it’s nice to mix it up with a pair in a vibrant print or colour. Only Stella McCartney could elevate a pair of leggings into something quite stylish!
It’s important to have a great bag to carry around your workout essentials but think outside the box and opt for a striking backpack instead. It’s definitely easier to carry around and I find it’s great for when I’m heading to a workout from home or the office.