Though the holidays are a seasonal joy, the desire for health and wellness is year-round. As athleisure and activewear become more ingrained into daily lifestyles, WWD scouted a handful of up-and-coming sustainable workout brands to put on the radar for gifting season.
The following companies were founded within the last three years by women entrepreneurs and offer fresh takes on materials, fit or function. Whether preppy-chic or sleek, these brands are sure to inspire a range of workouts.
Daughter Lessons: New York-based sister duo Caroline and Lizzy Tierney wanted a brand that fit a range of exercises (as well as daily life) inspired by taking competitive dance lessons while growing up. Thus, Daughter Lessons was born.
“We design for women with lifestyles similar to our own — non-stop! We are always on the go: running from workout class to afternoon event from Zoom calls to dinners. We design for the lifestyle of so many women who work hard, prioritize their physical health and value their own personal style,” said cofounder Caroline Tierney to WWD, reiterating that the brand’s aesthetic combines “athleticism and art.”
Retailing for between $52 to $198, the brand’s debut fall 2022 collection boasts a blend 75 percent recycled polyester and 25 percent spandex in core styles like leggings, sports bras, onesies and sorority-esque T-shirts and crewnecks.
Though the sisters maintain that the onesies are the signature style (selling out in nearly every size), the “activation long sleeve” complete with a corset-style open back and boatneck neckline, is a “fast favorite.” As for dressing up, Tierney said, “This is the perfect ‘active’ top that styles effortlessly with a leather trouser and a blazer for dinner and drinks.”
This December, Daughter Lessons will launch its collaboration with New York-based designer and stylist Kate March of Undone by Kate. The DL x Undone collaboration will feature more than 20 streetwear pieces made from upcycled DL deadstock samples and designed with Kate March. The streetwear pieces are part of a longer-term circularity vision and will be available for purchase on both websites, Daughterlessonsnyc.com and Undonebykate.com.
Ko.Studio: Launched a little over a year ago, Ko.Studio is a Toronto-based women’s boxing brand that is trying to expand access and representation in the sport. Already, thousands of women have tried out the brand.
Designed and tested in-house in New York City, the brand aims to provide sleek options that bring to mind sizing differences (smaller hand cage, adjustable fit and additional padding).
Though founder Yin Qi Xie said the brand is in the process of exploring non-animal alternatives to leather, the current line of gloves, for example, are made with cowhide leather. Gloves retail for $139 and workout apparel and accessories are also shoppable via the website (ranging from $12 to $200) at Kostudio.co.
Tripulse: Stockholm-based start-up Tripulse’s big tag line is that it’s activewear made sans plastic.
So what’s it made of then? The first line of tights, shirts, shorts and tank tops are made with Lenzing’s wood pulp innovation or 84 percent Tencel lyocell and 16 percent Roica V550, which is a more eco-friendly version of elastane that has also been used by brands like Everlane.
Tripulse was founded by Franziska Mesche in 2019 in an effort to cut down on the plastic prominence in activewear. The collection ranges for between $22 for tanks to $103 for leggings and is available via Tripulse.co.
To note, even waistband drawstrings are made out of an organic cotton and natural rubber mix, while printing employs eco-friendly water-based ink solution and the care labels are made from organic cotton. Additionally, all packaging is made with Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper packaging. The brand says it manufactures ethically in Europe.
Branwyn: Similarly, Portland, Oregon-based Branwyn was inspired by a mission to eliminate plastic in its performance innerwear.
In October, the Oakland, California-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH) published a report finding sports bras and athletic clothing makers (the likes of Athleta, Pink, Asics, The North Face, Brooks, All in Motion, Nike and Fila) are over-exposing wearers to BPA. (As WWD reported, the brands remained largely silent on the matter.) CEH’s report found exposure was, in some cases, 22 times more than the legal limit of BPA. The chemical has been linked to increased risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among other issues.
Inspired by this mission, Branwyn’s female-led design team set out to find a pair of underwear made from natural fibers that women would want to wear while exercising. Branwyn makes its performance innerwear out of merino wool, aiding thermoregulation properties for the wearer (including skin cooling in summer months and retaining warmth in winter months) as well as better garment biodegradability at end of life.
Its sports bras, for example, are made of a knit blend of 81 percent extra fine merino wool, 12 percent nylon and 7 percent Spandex and retail for $52 on Branwyn.com. A number of sustainability standards like Oeko-Tex (organic cotton), Reach Compliance (EU’s chemical safety standards) and ZQ grower standards (a New Zealand-based farmer growing manual) instruct manufacturing for the brand. Furthermore, all of its performance innerwear is made using Santoni seamless knitting technology to reduce waste and the brand equally hits the notes for sustainable packaging standards.