EN POINTE: Nine professional dancers — most of whom are under contract with the American Ballet Theatre — have banded together to create a clothing line called Company Cooperative.
The direct-to-consumer brand will debut online next month and is geared for stylish and physically fit city dwellers in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Non-ballet shoppers may not recognize how the compact collection was inspired by such rehearsal staples as black marley floors, satin ribbons, leather soles or pointe shoes. The dancers have experimented with using some of the tens of thousands of pointe shoes that are thrown away each year for recycled trims that will be released as special-edition pieces after the launch. The discarded shoes will also be featured in public art projects. The group of New York-based dancers plan to work with more dance companies to extend the collection.
Cofounder Jamie Kopit said, “As dancers, we’re very in tune with our bodies. We’re in the aesthetic arts, so we’re always looking at ourselves in the mirror and we’re creative. It makes sense that we could design what we put on our bodies, which we work so hard to perfect. Plus, a lot of dancers are used as muses or models for designers. I thought, ‘Why can’t dancers be the designers themselves since we’re so in-the-know in the fashion world and attend galas and things like that.’”
The high-waisted Lall legging (named for Erica Lall) “that is more dressy than athletic” and the Boren pullover (named for Katie Boren) in a breathable Neoprene-type of material are expected to be key pieces. Retail prices will range from about $100 to $400. The dance-inspired collection is made of technical fabrics, but the designs lean more toward streetwear and casualwear, Kopit said. “It’s not super high-impact wear. It’s nicer clothing than what I want to work out and sweat in, but I could live in it, move in it and pretty much do anything I wanted to in it. Just personally, I wouldn’t want to work out in it and get it all sweaty, but you could,” she said.
The expectation is that 80 percent of shoppers will buy the comfortable, polished and professional clothing to go out for dinner, out at night or in the workplace. The remaining 20 percent would use it to work out, Kopit said.
The collection is made entirely in New York’s Garment District. Company Cooperative’s team needed guidance executing their design ideas since none of them had studied design. Without any investors at the moment, the team used some of their own savings accounts to bankroll the launch. Kopit, who is freelancing for other dance companies but may return to the ABT, said, “Logistically it’s a lot of moving parts at once. And running a business is not something any of us are superexperienced at. It takes time, but we expected that. It’s part of the fun — we like challenges.”