Magazine Jul/Aug 2013 Fashion of Total Body and Mind

13 July 2013, 14:15
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Fashion of Total Body and Mind

From sweat sensors in workout gear to trials of smart clothes that provide built-in cooling effects, the athletic loungewear market is taking the once-glamorous individual who felt the need to galvanize the world with her stylish clothes. All across America, women have replaced their beloved pair of jeans with their favorite pair of leggings. Despite the controversy raised over the umbrella concept of “street to gym” attire by numerous style experts, the appeal is at its all time high. Mike Bastegian, owner and president of Solow and Solow Sport, a manufacturer of active wear, foresaw the demand back in 2000 with not only a cult following but a game-changing fashion business plan.

During the era of Juicy Couture sweatpants paying retailer’s rents, the shift into loungewear was introduced to a mass market of teens, moms, gym-goers and ladies who lunched. Suddenly wearing a tracksuit channeled more than just an outtake scene from an Italian mobster film. It represented classy comfort and trend focus. During that same time, Solow was being rebranded into something with more depth and function. “We started off as an underwear company and gradually moved into loungewear. The ceiling was limited and the competition was too high. As soon as we made the decision to skip the underwear and build up the loungewear, our sales went from zero to $1 million in the first year. We became a cult-like brand for a younger clique of girls on the east coast who needed our signature legging in every color,” says Bastegian.
With the change in the economy, Solow rebranded yet again and concentrated on an older, more sophisticated target market. They didn’t want to compete with the H&Ms or the Forever 21s. The company hired a new contemporary designer, and by their third year jumped from $2 million to $6 million in sales. The line grew so large that Solow Sport was established to build not only a clientele of casual lounge customers like the main line, but true athletic clients as well. The company had to focus on traditional fitness sport outlets such as cycling, yoga and running, but also keep up with the trending hybrid fitness studios including Cardio Barre, Bikram Yoga, Pilates and Barre Method. “The attention of the brand had to be distinct yet versatile for the diverse types of workout outlets, which was achieved with the add-on of Solow Sport,” Bastegian explains.
Solow can be described as an expression of simplicity and style with silhouettes that are fitting for day, travel, nighttime and lounge. The line includes hoodies, linen jackets, soft tees, dresses and skirts. The Solow woman loves to layer her pieces together to and from the gym as well as for carrying out her daily activities and running errands. She wants to feel put together but be comfortable at the same time. She may have a busy lifestyle, and her attire needs to withstand the day effortlessly.
“Maybe it’s an economical factor, but glamour isn’t the main effort anymore. If people could, they would wear our attire to work. I know people who wear Solow every single day. Our clothes do not represent a careless attitude about appearance. You will always look presentable. It just has become more socially acceptable to simply want comfort.”
Solow Sport is more of a true active wear collection with leggings, sports bras, shorts and camis. It is for women who incorporate fitness into their routine. They are concerned about detail, fit and function. The company uses fabrics that are durable through high performance, offer support and are blue-sign certified, which represents a global movement toward more sustainable products without losing the integrity of quality and design. All of Solow’s products are made in the U.S., are environmentally friendly, and the company does not support child labor.

With showrooms across the United States and in Canada,
the brand is constantly developing. Solow products have been featured in Glamour, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Shape magazines. They are sold in Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Fred Segal, as well as the online retailer giant ShopBop.com. Their online sales business is just as lucrative as that of their department stores. “At a recent meeting with Nordstroms, the sales analysts mentioned their fastest growing avenue is online sales. While brick and mortar is steady without steep increases, online is constantly rising. It is certainly the future,” shares Bastegian.
Other than distribution in stores, Solow has recently partnered with the bohemian chic retailer Free People and co-branded the “FP Movement” which is specially limited to the brand. Free People is planning to open FP Movement stores in Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Solow also has a private label at Free People’s sister company Anthropologie called Lolli. While Solow has fashion covered, Solow Sport is working with cycling titan FlyWheel on a co-brand to be sold exclusively in all of their studios. They have designed unique cycling bottoms with a built in gusset for comfort during rides, among other specialty products.

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