After taking little time making her mark in the women’s athletic/streetwear market, Pip Edwards is turning her attention to men’s wear.
The cofounder of P.E Nation, who created the brand with a former colleague, Claire Tregoning, in Australia 18 months ago, has tallied some major customers since launching the label. These include Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Carbon 38, Bandier, Net-a-porter, Selfridges and Browns, among others.
The brand’s retro-inspired designs combined with technical attributes have also caught the attention of Reebok, which collaborated with P.E Nation on a sneaker capsule in January, as well as Nerida Winter, with whom it partnered on visors, and Poppy Lissiman for clutches.
The brand even made a showing at in June at Pitti Uomo, where it teased its men’s collection at an Australian pavilion sponsored by the Woolmark Co.
But in January, Edwards and Tregoning will be especially busy, launching not only the men’s collection but also another collaboration with Reebok as well as one with New Era for caps, SoulCycle for activewear, a yoga capsule and denim.
“We don’t do things in halves,” Edwards said during a visit to the U.S. last week.
Although P.E Nation is new to the scene, Edwards and Tregoning are fashion-industry veterans. Edwards worked in design for Ksubi and Sass & Bide, where she met Tregoning. She has also been design director of General Pants Co., a retailer she describes as the Australian equivalent of Urban Outfitters.
Tregoning was on the design team at Topshop before branching off to launch Maise, a ready-to-wear collection focused on denim, before being lured to Sass & Bide.
Edwards, an enthusiastic fitness buff who has been called one of the most influential fashion figures in Australia, said the name for the brand was “obvious” as not only is it her initials, but it’s also short for physical education.
“P.E Nation is sport-active with a street vibe,” she said. As a self-professed “tomboy” and a single mom, Edwards said the women’s collection is known for its colorblocking, graphic elements and stripes in performance fabrics and is targeted to the multitasker who doesn’t want to change clothes as she races through her daily life.
P.E Nation will offer a similar sensibility for men.
“Claire and I reference men’s wear a lot in our women’s wear and it has a great influence in how we design,” Edwards said. “Men have been buying our jackets and sweats, so we decided to give it a go. It’s something that can sit in Palace or Supreme.”
The men’s line, which will include tights, shorts, sweatshirts and pants, tanks, T-shirts and jackets, will offer layering options in designs that morph streetwear and sportswear in wicking, breathing and water-resistant fabrics.
“Men are either buying performance or streetwear,” she said, but P.E Nation is a blend of both. “A lot of active brands say you can wear their stuff all day, but it doesn’t look like it,” she said.
Prices will be similar to the women’s, retailing for $79 to $140 for most pieces. Merino wool options for men will be priced higher but most everything will be under $300.
Edwards said that while P.E Nation seems like it came out of nowhere, it’s the result of the connections made after 16 years of working in fashion.
“We’ve been with brands that have failed and brands that have succeeded,” she said. “So we spent a lot of time working on the back end [before launching.] I’ve done my time and I know how to build a brand.
“We know that product is king and P.E Nation has got its own stamp.”