Former “Sex and the City” and “Younger” stylist Sofia Karvela and industry veteran Phuong Ireland today launch new cozy fashion label Wknd Nation. Karvela, who is currently with The Wall Group, is the brand’s cofounder and creative director; Ireland, who has held prior executive roles at American Eagle’s Aerie and Victoria’s Secret, is cofounder and chief executive officer.
In November 2019, the duo were introduced by FullStride Ventures — a brand incubator and venture lab of Gelmart International, which became Wknd Nation’s investor. Along with investment support, FullStride Ventures provides the young brand with operational and infrastructure support — such as supply chain, product development, manufacturing and marketing (previously seen successfully through intimates label Lively, which sold to Wacoal in 2019).
“We met at a coffee shop, there was a spark and the rest is history,” Ireland said over Zoom. “It was a blind date!” Karvela chimed in.
From the beginning (pre-dating the COVID-19 pandemic-induced loungewear category surge), Wknd Nation’s initial concepts and designs revolved around the idea of making comfortable clothing more stylish. The brand name itself refers to the free-spirited ease felt on the weekends, which the cofounders wanted to carry into the weekdays through “bedroom to boardroom” fashions.
“How do we create that idea of pre-styled garments, or garments that are done in a very thoughtful way, that have a certain structure, but are very comfortable?” Karvela explained. “I tend to think that people who look uncomfortable — from my point of view, it’s never cool.”
Sitting at the intersection between style and comfort (which the brand refers to as #stylewear), at an accessible price point — currently ranging from $28 to $78 (made possible due to FullStride Ventures) — Wknd Nation “celebrates comfort and celebrates your point of view.”
Ireland’s experience in the comfort space gave her a clear idea for Wknd Nation’s initial product launch of evergreen staples.
“I think the way we approached it was almost more of what a beauty company would do, versus a fashion company. It’s not fast fashion — we’re not launching something to go away and then launch something else. We’re launching our core styles, those are the stars of our show and we’re going to nurture those styles, those will live forever,” she explained.
The duo said that they worked to perfect Wknd Nation’s debut designs for the last year. “There’s a story behind them, perfected from a materials and finish point of view because they’re going to be with us, hopefully, forever.”
In addition, Karvela worked to design each piece to be dressed up or down, with polished, pre-styled details woven into the designs.
“I despise leggings and sweatpants, I won’t wear them, ever — unless I’m sleeping. So that was a challenge, too, because I like to dress up,” Karvela said, adding, “The construction of it has to feel different — classic with that twist. Not loungewear, not athleisure, more ready-to-wear that’s more comfortable.”
For instance, rolled cuffs on the brand’s organic cotton Power T or ‘60s-inspired, feminine tulip hems and contrast trim on the Tux Leggings. Sustainability, too, was noted of importance to the brand; the brand is GOTS-certified, with all fabrics having met global standards for organic textiles. Ts are composed of 100 percent organic Egyptian cotton, leggings are made of sustainable fabric made from recycled plastic water bottles and recycled poly and the brand’s packaging is all recyclable and made from recycled materials. Additionally, the cofounders are working to “backwards engineer” their joggers and hoodies into the same organic cottons for the future.
The cofounders worked with Shopify to build the Wknd Nation e-commerce site, which debuts with seven mix-and-match, optimistic evergreen styles (15 sku’s) ranging from a polo-inspired plush sweatshirt and a feminine muscle tank to “Boardroom Joggers,” cut slightly oversize, with buttoned cuffs and drawstring waistband.
As the brand expands, it will unveil new comfortable yet polished, evergreen collections and categories (around every four to six weeks) through the drop model. In addition, the brand is offering digital styling services, with hopes to hold physical events in the future.
“We’re launching with a stylist hotline called 1-800-Wknd-Nation, that so far is going to be just digital. Sofia will do office hours, we’re going to partner with other stylists [within The Wall Group network]; we’ll also be doing Instagram Live [an upcoming series with Shopify Plus was noted] and stuff on our website. Really showcasing the full gamut of stylists,” Ireland remarked.