After honing her skills at Roland Mouret and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Scottish designer Shonagh Speirs is living the American dream by starting a new life and an ath-leisure line.
In September, the Scottish native moved to Austin, Tex., from Glasgow, where she had been incubating the design concept for Being Apparel for more than a year. What she came up with is a softly tailored line that mixes ready-to-wear and activewear in a feminine, versatile manner.
“I was still working on it when I was teaching at the Glasgow School of Art,” Speirs said. “I had just become a mother. I was also practicing yoga regularly and interested in wellness and mindfulness.” However, she realized that “with all these different things happening in my life, I didn’t have a wardrobe to fulfill all the things I do in my life on a daily basis without carrying around and changing into multiple outfits.”
Speirs isn’t alone in taking a multifunctional and fashionable approach to activewear. Tory Burch, Nanette Lepore and Trina Turk are some recent stylemakers who have launched activewear lines. To differentiate Being Apparel, Speirs is calling on what she learned from a decade of cutting precise patterns for a master draper like Mouret and assisting Preen’s namesake designers, Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, with making samples and other duties. Top-of-mind is establishing her design signature, which is based on layering, playing with proportions and integrating asymmetric details into organic cotton, bamboo-viscose jersey, Tencel and chambray.
“Ath-leisure doesn’t always have to be a young, sporty, body-con aesthetic,” she said.
Speirs is also taking a slow approach to the fast-paced fashion industry, producing two collections a year that are limited to 15 to 25 pieces each. Her inaugural collection includes $58 strappy seamless bras, $78 culottes, $88 high-waisted leggings and $399 kimono-style overcoats. Based on these 16 pieces, which launch on her e-commerce site on May 19, she calculated that more than 100 outfits can be created.
Estimating that first-year sales will be less than $500,000, she plans to sell directly to consumers in the beginning and start wholesaling to specialty stores in August. She aims to extend to Canada, Europe and Australia in the next two years.
The seemingly simple name of her business, which employs three people including herself and her husband, means “unclouded consciousness.” But it also signifies her wish for the clothes “to be a daily go-to for people,” she said.