Responsible for creating “Activewear” as we know it today, Australian designer and entrepreneur Lorna Jane has been creating inspiring gym wear for women since the late 80s. Today, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the industry. Having inspired countless women to start sweating and look great while doing so, she is someone to look up to for active and healthy living. Lorna Jane recently opened her first flagship store in Vancouver and I had the opportunity to chat with her about her brand as well as her plans for 2017.
1) What inspired you to start the Lorna Jane brand?
My inspiration was really quite simple, but I guess unusual for the time. I wanted to design activewear that would inspire women to workout. My thoughts were that if I could make my designs both fashionable and technically functional, that women would put them on in the morning and wear them all day so that when an opportunity presented itself for her to workout she was ready to go! I was working as a fitness instructor at the time and there was absolutely nothing available for women that was anywhere near feminine and fashionable. So when I started wearing my designs to the gym, the women in my classes wanted to place orders – and it grew from there. The demand was overwhelming and within a few weeks I decided to take the plunge, quit my day job and pursue designing activewear full time, and you know what? I haven’t looked back since.
2) What would you say is the biggest change in activewear since you started in the industry?
I started designing activewear before it was even a ‘category’ so I’ve always had a very strong vision for it to be something so much more than what you put on to work out! To me, the fact that sport luxe is now such a huge global trend is true testament to just how strongly activewear complements the modern woman’s busy lifestyle – and believe me when I say this is just the beginning! I am often asked if I ever would have believed that activewear could be such a huge category and my answer is always – “you’re kidding right – I have been talking about this for 25 years!”
3) What separates Lorna Jane from other activewear brands?
We were the first to coin the term ‘activewear’ and are the ultimate believers that wearing activewear can actually change your life! At Lorna Jane, everything we do as a brand is aimed at inspiring and empowering women with our activewear, our Active Living Philosophy and daily practice of Move Nourish Believe. We are an Authentic brand that has heart and is on a mission to empower and inspire women all over the world. We believe that activewear can’t change the world – but the women that wear it absolutely can!
4) What are some of your proudest achievements with the brand to date?
There have honestly been so many, from winning Fashion awards, Marketing awards, Retail awards opening stores around the world and even meeting Oprah. But one of the moments that will stick with me forever was as far back as 1993, we had just l opened our first retail store in Australia and my husband Bill was working in store that day, while I stayed at home to design and sew the next range. I remember Bill walking through the front door long before closing time and I panicked, asking him “what was he doing? Who is looking after the store?” and he just smiled and said to me “Lorna, we’ve sold everything”. And we actually HAD… a woman from Malaysia had walked in to the store and taken every single thing! That was a real turning point for us and when we realised this crazy idea of ‘activewear’ was so much bigger than we ever could have imagined.
5) Can you talk us through some of the new collections you’re releasing in 2017?
2017 is an exciting year for activewear. At Lorna Jane we have a big focus on Women’s Technical Fashion and are asking women to re-think their Active wardrobe this year more than any other! We deliver 70 to 100 new Lorna Jane pieces every month, and this month (Feb) we have a huge focus on ACTIVE CORE STABILITY our trademarked technology that will seriously change the way you see yourself in tights. They come in a variety of shapes and colours (so there’s something for everyone) but believe me when I say – they are seriously life changing. They’re the most flattering tights you’ll ever own because they shape and support your curves like nothing else in the marketplace. But they’re also really functional and the perfect workout essential.
To find out more about Lorna Jane and her active living brand, go here.