Athleticwear brand Solfire has built a following by catering to the fitness communities of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Mount Kisco, N.Y., where its stores are located. The stores offer daily donation-based yoga, prenatal and meditation classes taught by local instructors. The Williamsburg flagship features an outpost of Owl Juice Pub, which also serves coffee and gluten-free muffins.
“We wanted to create a hub for active people,” said Philip Pavkov, Solfire’s chief operating officer. “It’s a fitness oasis where instructors and shoppers meet. We have an awesome map of the area that shows where all the yoga studios, chocolate factories and juice bars are in the neighborhood.”
With today’s launch of solfireclothing.com, the brand will expose its ethos to a wider audience. The web site has a callout for New York-based fitness enthusiasts and potential brand ambassadors. While other e-commerce sites work with social media personalities with large followings, Pavkov said Solfire is looking for authenticity over sheer popularity.
The brand is collaborating with Peleton on a collection of fitness shirts, sports bras, shorts and pullovers made from performance fabrics and strategically placed technical features and branded with the Peleton logo.
Solfire apparel includes Alpha-tech fabric leggings in dégréde shades of blue and magenta, $89; kinetic tights with contrasting fabric inserts, $82; racer-back tanks with mesh panels, $52, and back cutout hoodies with thumb holes made from Litetech3 fabric with dry release fibers, $48.
John Ziegler in 2013 founded Solfire. The company in 2016 bought 483 Driggs Avenue, which houses the flagship. The building’s upper level was turned into a design center, but the company quickly outgrew the space and moved the design facility to the Bushwick section of the borough.
“We built the Bushwick facility so that we can obsess over the details,” Pavkov said. “We design the garments, take time fitting them and then wear-test them. We don’t design something and send it away and wait.”
Solfire’s Bushwick facility has a full sample room and rare Flatlock sewing machine that creates smooth seams by butting fabrics together rather than the raw-edged seams produced by typical machines that can chafe the wearer. Pavkov touted the different pieces of machinery as if they were antique cars. There’s a Gerber cutting table and sublimation machine printer so big it had to be delivered on a semitruck. A Framis bonding machine eliminates the need for stitching on some products. “They’re expensive, but they’re worth having,” Zeigler said of the Framis. “Only Nike has them.”
Pavkov, who attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, said he was always interested in brand-building. While working at Fila, he got a call from a head hunter who suggested he meet Zeigler, a 20-year veteran of Wall Street, who was ready for a new challenge. After a four-hour discussion about the industry, the two men agreed to work together.
“We’re not just trying to quickly turn trends,” Pavkov said. “We have a very long-term vision. We want to establish a strong infrastructure for what we create so that we can support it.”