If Lululemon’s quest for market domination hasn’t tipped you off, American women love their workout wear…and the entire industry is taking note. Traditional fitness brands like adidas have long been inching into fashion territory with lines like adidas by Stella McCartney, while more and more fashion brands have been introducing sportswear collections as of late (ie. Norma Kamali).
So, what would inspire an otherwise unknown fitness-loving lady to get into the sportswear game? That was my first question for Denise Lee, founder and CEO of ALALA, a new fitness line that launches this week. ALALA’s first collection features bright fabrics, intricate zipper detailing and soft knits in sporty silhouettes. And her first coup? Securing a spot in NYC-based Equinox stores (with more markets in the works). I caught up with Lee to learn more.
Julie Bensman: In such a saturated market, what makes ALALA different?
Denise Lee: ALALA combines the function of activewear with a sophisticated downtown attitude. We are inspired by contemporary ready-to-wear and incorporate design details into our pieces that fit right into the modern woman’s wardrobe. Our pieces can take the ALALA girl from the gym to work to a fun night out with friends.
JB: Talk to me more about the ALALA girl…
DL: She’s cool, but approachable. She’s stylish and self-possessed, but more than willing to spill where she got her killer look. She lives a full life and is always on the go. She’s the girl everyone wants to be around!
JB: Why were you inspired to create this new collection?
DL: In early 2012, I was training for a triathlon and working out six days a week. I wanted to buy some new workout clothes, but found that there wasn’t a brand that I was excited to buy. As someone who loves fashion and shopping, I realized there was a white space for luxury, well-designed activewear.
JB: What are some of your favorite pieces?
DL: Living in New York, I absolutely love the black, white and gray color story in the Spring 2014 collection. We have some amazing neoprene statement pieces as well as a great selection of tops made out of the softest nylon fabric. If I had to pick one piece, I would say my absolute favorite is our Toughie Tee, a muscle tee style that’s just so chic.
JB: Why is stylish workout attire a great investment?
DL: I truly believe that loving the way you look in your gear makes your workout so much better. You feel amazing and it motivates you to push harder. There’s no need to leave your style in the locker room!
JB: What are some of your own favorite ways to stay fit?
DL: I love variety! I see my trainer Kenny twice a week and we do a mix of Insanity and boot camp exercises. I also love going to Equinox classes, Flywheel and running outside. I eat pretty healthy during the week, but I will indulge on the weekends. For me, life is all about balance!
JB: Whose workout style do you always love?
DL: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Izabel Goulart are always so chic and look amazing in their gear.
JB: What's the last thing you googled?
DL: “Bruno Mars Super Bowl.” Can you say AMAZING?