It's an undeniable fact that when you feel good you're more likely to have a good workout; it's also undeniable that women in most major cities are time crunched. With that in mind, ALALA founder and CEO Denise Lee started her new activewear brand. "I wanted to start a brand that made clothes that were fashionable enough to wear all day, but functional enough that you could just change your shoes and be ready to go to the gym," says Lee. "No one wants to lug around an extra set of clothes." Armed with an MBA and a background that includes working as Chris Burch's VP of business development — where she was instrumental in launching C. Wonder — Lee has succeeded in doing just that. We stopped by the ALALA office to find out more about the brand and get a sneak peek at some of the upcoming styles.
“Initially the idea for ALALA, named after the Greek goddess of war cry, came about when I was training for a triathlon in 2012. I love to shop and working out six days a week I was spending a lot of time in my workout clothes, but couldn’t find any pieces that I was dying to spend money on. I wanted to create a brand that was as functional as it was fashionable; one that brought a downtown edge and coolness to workout-wear. I learned a lot working for Chris Burch – it was basically a crash course on how to build a brand. I spent a year researching and building out the concept for ALALA and then launched in 2013.”
Lee is wearing one of her brand’s neoprene sweatshirts slated to come out next season. “We’re probably going to be selling it in black though; it’s more versatile for working out.”
"I've lived in New York City forever and I really want to bring a cool downtown vibe to my collection. We're very inspired by streetwear for the designs and I think our customer really responds to that. Most of our orders come from the Tri-State area."
Fall 2014 Fabrics
"These are some of our Fall 2014 fabrics."
"Spring 2015 will be our third season and these are some of the fabrics we're considering. We'll definitely have our core fabrics, which have proven popular these last seasons along with some fun new mesh ones. We work with high-endurance fabrics, sourced mostly from L.A., and innovative fit techniques because we want all of the designs to look, work and feel great.”
"It was very important for me to work with a model that reflected our brand. The woman we chose is not only a model, but also a dancer and a SoulCycle instructor."
New Spring 2014 Top
"A lot of people are excited about this piece. It has a built-in bra. It reflects ALALA well in that it’s designed with a lot of 'fashion,' but it’s functional and appropriate for a lot of body types. It has, for example, mesh to cover pesky back fat and most of our pieces have a decent amount of spandex in them so they feel great while sucking you in."
"We're still a small-scale start-up so I pack and ship every single order myself. This is basically all of the stock for our website orders."
"It's very important that we send out beautiful packages. We have branded stickers, tissue paper and stationery. I handwrite a thank you note for every order. Especially as a startup, all of our customers are very special and we want them to know they are appreciated!"
Fall 2014 Lineup
"This is our lineup for Fall."
Denise Lee's Desk
"This is my desk, which I try to keep as clean as possible. I work next to Christie Orlando, my head designer. She does all of her designing out of this office. Interestingly enough I found her on Linkedin! I was looking for a designer and she was the head design manager of womens apparel at Champion Athleticwear. We hit it off right away."
"These are some of the fabrics we're working with for Fall 2014. As a startup, budgets are always tight. We actually started off working out of someone else's office, basically squatting on the floor! It's been great to move here, to the Garment District, especially because our samples are made just down the street."
“These are various design tools and patterns for pieces when we make samples – they’ll literally cut fabrics based on these patterns. Sample making is definitely a process, one that anyone will tell you is often times a painful one!”
"This is a rack with some Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 — you're actually the first person to see our Spring 2015 collection!"
“Our colorful neoprene tops and athletic leggings – which have gold accents – do really well. This a new vest that I also anticipate doing well for us.”
"Scuba has been such a big trend and I think these mesh bras really pick up on that. They're very functional because they have a pull cord so you can easily slip them off when you're finished with your workout."
"These are some of our popular pant styles and the large gold zipper will be introduced for Spring 2015."
"We sell our pieces on our own website, at over two dozen Equinox locations and at a few awesome specialty stores."