In a sign of the growing popularity of clothes that enable women to have, or look as if they have, a fit lifestyle, the Active Collective trade show is expanding. The show’s fourth edition, which launches Jan. 15 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa, is expected to host 240 brands, representing a 20-percent increase from its last expo. The retailers who will be roaming the aisles over two days reflect a mix of major department stores, specialty shops, e-commerce giants and fashionable gyms, including the likes of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Carbon 38, Bandier, Revolve, Amazon, Zappos and Equinox. Here are some emerging brands to watch.
Brand: XCVI Movement
Debut Season: Summer 2016
Retail Prices: $58 to $98
Background: XCVI, a longtime player in the California casual contemporary sector, is making a move for the activewear market.
With XCVI Movement, which will deliver its first shipments in April for the summer season, the company is taking a different approach to merchandising and designing workout clothes. Polyester and nylon, both made stretchy with Spandex, come in neutral hues, such as black, navy, white and khaki. Details like tie-dye, heathered colors and graphic prints prevent the neutrals from appearing boring. For example, a white tank revealing tiny folds of sheer mesh is gathered at the waist and printed with gray ombré stones.
By refraining from targeting specific sports such as yoga, tennis and running, the Los Angeles-based brand aims to be part of the customer’s everyday life. “She’s going out for a walk, she’s hopping on an airplane,” said Chris Myers, director of brand management at XCVI.
While a woman could certainly mix pieces from XCVI’s main line and Movement, Myers said the difference is that “XCVI is more ethereal; it’s cotton; it’s breathable. This is more synthetic and technical in nature.” XCVI, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, believes in Movement so much that “we’re marketing it as a standalone brand,” he added.
Brand: Peggy Moffitt
Debut Season: Spring 2016
Retail Prices: $33 to $133
Background: A longtime fascination with Peggy Moffitt has led Evelina Galli to create an ath-leisure line that blends the Sixties-era model’s free spirit with high-tech fabrics.
Moffitt became a symbol of sexual liberation when she modeled a topless swimsuit by Rudi Gernreich. In what could be construed as a self-fulfilled prophecy, Galli received the Rudi Gernreich Scholarship for a bathing suit she designed while a student at Los Angeles’ Otis College of Art and Design.
Now friends with Moffitt, Galli said the 75-year-old inspires and reviews everything in the line. Moffitt’s matte-jersey green T-shirt dress with sleeves color-blocked in pink, white, black and yellow from 1972 was the template for color-blocked supplex leggings accented with mesh inserts that the wearer can cut to adjust the length. A cream wool-knit minidress with vinyl panels circa 1968 gave birth to a white tank top made of recycled moss and mesh. “She sees the designs, she gives her blessing,” Galli said.
At the moment, Galli is offering the line only on her e-commerce site. She hopes to interest retailers with the sleek lines, bold colors, made-in-L.A. ethos and performance properties that wick moisture and deter microbes. Galli is in talks with a couple of Silicon Valley companies, and is pushing her spin on wearable technology, like a garment that can monitor the wearer’s heart rate. “Some of the components of what your phone does can be incorporated into wearable T-shirts,” she added.
While the inaugural collection for spring emphasizes clean lines, cuttable fabrics that the wearer can customize and a jetsetting vibe, the fall collection will reference the blocks in the Minecraft video game as well as the military with olive-green tints and camouflage prints.
“We’re going to move to a different direction a little bit,” Galli, 38, said. “The muse is going to be the same, which is an independent, modern woman, who is strong and sexy but feminine and elegant at the same time.”
Brand: Adho Mukha Athletica
Debut Season: Spring 2015
Retail Prices: $16 to $108
Background: Named after the Sanskrit words for “downward” and “face,” which, taken together, are recognized as one of the first poses learned in yoga, Adho Mukha Athletica strives to make cross-functional clothes that can be worn all day and night. The brand ambassadors for the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company reflect its cross-cultural vision. In addition to power yoga enthusiast Meli Aguayo, it also calls on stuntman Sean Chuma to test the limits of its activewear, which is made of sustainable textiles like Tencel and recycled polyester. For its fall collection, it sought inspiration from the artwork of Frank Stella and melded the aesthetics of the Seventies and Nineties.
“We’ve listened to the men and women we sweat with, work with and hang with,” said Sash Seoane, director of design and marketing at Adho Mukha Athletica, “and we’ve created products that work, fit and last.”
Brand: Kastel Denmark
Debut Season: Fall 2013
Retail Prices: Under $100
Background: Charlotte Jorst is merging her past in building a fashion business with her current love of equestrian dressage. A cofounder and former co-owner of Skagen Designs Ltd., the Scandinavian-inspired watch brand that was acquired by Fossil Inc. in 2012, Jorst is growing her line of UV-protective clothing to be worn while horseback riding.
After starting with long-sleeved shirts for equestrians, she’s adding skorts [Eds: skorts, not skirts] and short-sleeved polo shirts that can be worn to play golf and tennis to her spring collection. Her fall line-up includes merino wool and a deep palette of forest green and gray with blue accents.
“What she saw throughout that industry was a void in UV-protective clothing that was branded but with a little more pizzazz,” said Mike Paidakovich, general manager of Kastel, which is based in Reno.
Staying true to her Danish roots — after all, the brand’s name means “fortress” in Danish — Jorst has each shirt embroidered with the country’s flag on the sleeve. She holds dual Danish and American citizenship, and is training to represent the U.S. in the top level of dressage competitions. “Her dream right now is to make it to the Olympics,” Paidakovich said. Wearing Kastel, no doubt.