I am a big fan of companies that have a mission or philosophy and that live up to that mission. Ellasport falls into that category–it’s a new fitness apparel brand for women that is getting a lot of positive press. The designs are gorgeous, and the items are high quality, but the best thing about the company may well be Pamela, the founder. She was kind enough to answer a few questions I had for her recently*; read on for our interview!
I Came to Run: On the ‘About’ page for ellasport, you describe how you felt when working out in ill-fitting apparel, which I think sums up the effect that uncomfortable or poorly-designed workout clothes can have on women really well. Obviously, designing fitness apparel for women is about much more than just making something look good, it’s about making the wearer feel good too (a big part of ellasport’s mission). In trying to live up to this mission, what were some of the greatest challenges you faced?
Pamela: Luckily I have not faced any great challenges, regarding design. However, there is one issue that has come up a few times. Once we have a sample made, a fit model tries it on and basically the garment is tweaked to meet “standard measurements.” This is a problem because I don’t like the standard measurements! 🙂 So we usually go back and forth about what the measurements and shape of the garment are going to be because it is extremely important to me that we design the apparel to complement the female silhouette and incorporate the natural curves of a woman’s body – they make us beautiful and sexy so let’s not hide them!
ICTR: I’m guessing that in developing ellasport, you worked with a fair amount of women in order to develop a product that would perform well and wear well. What were the most common complaints or issues that you heard from women with regard to their fitness apparel?
Pamela: I’ve found that women have two issues. One, their workout apparel is cute but it is not adequate for more technical uses like training for a race. This type of apparel usually includes those super-cute yoga tanks with the skinny straps that offer no support. Two, women have apparel to race in, which, in general, I have heard “it’s ugly and unflattering because it doesn’t really fit my body!” So we aim to combine the two types of apparel by creating garments that are really cute to workout, train, and race in!
ICTR: What is the design process like for any given item? What’s been your favorite item to design and manufacture so far? What’s been your least favorite?
Pamela: The design process is my favorite part! Since I am so picky about the fit of my workout clothes, it gives me great pleasure to create the perfect measurements and fit for a new item. Then there is choosing the fabrics and colors – SO fun! I just love imagining someone running in our new item in a beautiful color and feeling so carefree and confident. That’s the image I design for.
I LOVE the New Power Capris! I have always been a huge fan of a slim-fitting capri. Because I have long legs, pants are always too short. Many people love running and working out in shorts, but I can’t make them work! They always ride up and move around too much. I spend my whole workout adjusting, pulling, and fixing them! So a fitted, slimming capri is PERFECT. The best part about the capris, as with other items too, is the sheer happiness on our customer’s faces when they put them on and love how they look in them. They usually say things like “I love how my butt looks” or “I feel like they are holding me in a little bit – I look thinner.” And who doesn’t want that?! 🙂
My least favorites do not make it passed the sample round. The reason for this was that the fit just wasn’t quite right due to pattern, fabric, whatever! Sometimes you go into the design of a new item thinking it’s going to be amazing and then when you have a sample made you find that it just doesn’t quite work.
ICTR: One issue that I’ve written about a bit on my blog is the physical image of health that a lot of apparel brands promote on their websites or in their advertising, and how it may or may not correspond to their company or brand mission. Clearly in a society like ours, where consumers and marketers want models to be thin and conventionally attractive, it’s hard to create advertising material that promotes a broad spectrum of beauty and health. I’m interested in hearing about how you feel about this. Is it a challenge you’ve faced already with ellasport? How do you deal with it, and how do you plan to continue dealing with it as the brand continues to grow?
Pamela: When I am going through the process of choosing models that will represent ellasport, I look for women that are healthy and fit, which is something I will always do. All of our models have been fitness instructors, athletes, or dancers. So they naturally maintain a healthy body weight and muscle tone.
ICTR: Related to my last question, what are the key aspects of creating a brand that is body positive and emphasizes the importance of feeling good, and not just looking good, to women?
Pamela: They key aspect of creating a brand that emphasizes positive body image for us, is to continually focus on our main objective, which is to create athletic apparel that women feel good in. Once you feel good in what you are wearing it’s amazing how good you look without even trying. For ellasport, this begins with the fit. Every curve and every seam of our garments is calculated and measured on real female bodies. It is absolutely imperative for us to design clothes for the curves of a woman’s body. By doing this, we create apparel that complements your silhouette, which creates a feeling of confidence and motivation making you unstoppable! 🙂
My many thanks to Pamela for taking the time to provide such thorough replies. I find it interesting to hear more about the design process and I’m looking forward to watching ellasport grow in the coming years!
*I contacted Pamela out of my own interest in how the women’s fitness apparel industry works. I was not offered nor did I receive any compensation in any form for doing this interview.