If you watch the design team work at The Nest, it’s clear — the ties between athletics and apparel design are strong. Every day they practice. Every day there’s progress. Some days, that progress is iterative: small changes to styles that make them more comfortable, more flattering, more functional. Other days, that progress is transformational: new additions to our collection that fill an unmet need in the life and wardrobe of a runner. Our designers are also athletes in their broader lives, making these parallels even more obvious to those who have the privilege of watching them work. They concept as creators, but evaluate as users. The designs get stronger as they create, use, and improve.
The pursuit of great design doesn’t have a finish line, but our collections do. They’re a moment for us to reflect on what we’ve accomplished. In these moments of reflection, it’s hard for our design team, like any athlete, to shout their successes. They prefer to humbly witness their designs being used in the real world. But as a proud member of The Nest who works just beside their discipline (no actually, I sit to the right of the design pod) let me shout on their behalf — this season is a PR!
Our Fall 16 collection is stronger than ever - combining technical styles, performance fabrics, inspired designs, and flattering silhouettes. So to celebrate their product, we give you an inside look at their process. What follows is my Q&A with the Oiselle design team, our in house Masters of Flight, where they share with us how they brought to life our latest collection.
Let’s talk Fall 16. What inspired the line?
Kami: Fall '16- wow! This is a very exciting season for us! A lot of our focus was nailing our fit, bringing back some of our favorite fabrics, truly obsessing the details, all while creating special styles that each serve a purpose in the line. The line was inspired by a kabuki theme which to me brings a feeling of strength and self-expression, so in my initial designs I really focused on creating styles that would help each woman express her inner warrior- strong lines, soft fabrics - bold prints, beloved silhouettes.
Sally: I have always loved the definition of Kabuki as "avant guard theatre." In many ways, sports are the stage. And what we wear -- uniforms, singlets, costumes if you will -- are as much a part of it as anything. I like to think we are backstage, creating the bold, dramatic, fierce garb of the world's greatest athletes.
Nelle: Fall 2016 was the first line that I helped design- and the kabuki theme was great to keep in the back of my mind as I dove into designing my first collection at Oiselle. Be brave! Always be open to learning! Fiercely protect what you know and love about yourself! I could go on....
How does that inspiration pull through to the styles, especially as you navigate the form and function of the designs?
Steph: Form and function and feeling are intrinsically linked. The holy grail of product design, and what we strive for every day, is to make apparel that effortlessly performs for the athlete and does what you need it to do - whether that's staying warm and dry, or cool and comfortable, or fluidly transitioning from run to life, or inspiring you to get out the door for a run, the list goes on. If we do our jobs and make apparel that fills these needs, it means that once it’s on you don't have to think about your clothes, you just feel it and go! Strong, powerful, free, fluid, confident, alive.
Nelle: I think form and function can be one and the same when done well. I try not to design anything with superfluous details, but then again, I break my own design rules all the time. Fun details can be the most fun part of a garment- and they reason why it stays in your wardrobe forever.
Sally: I love airports. In a totally unique way, there are those competing forces at play. On the one hand, there is often a desire to rise to the occasion and specialness of flying. (Back in the day, air travel was a BIG deal, and people dressed to the nines). On the other, there is a need/want for comfort, whether that's easy slip off shoes, or pants that won't bind and get "crotchy" (technical term there). So what people wear while traveling often represents their top choice in combining form and function. It's fascinating. And for athletic apparel designers, it's such an important vein to mine.
How does being an athlete influence your designs? Your process?
Steph: Apparel can truly make or break your run, and we've all had experience with both. Thinking back to those times, the good and the bad, and how to make the experience better is simple but powerful. We live and breathe our designs and test prototypes as soon as they are fit to wear in public! There is just no substitute to being a user of your work and getting out there.
Nelle: Wear testing styles, and then washing them- is the only way to really know how a style will perform. It's the step after a fit session where we go out and see exactly how that seam will feel placed where it is on your leg, if the swing of the shirt is too wide for a run, if the fabric is breathable enough for a hot summer run. I love the design process at Oiselle because it combines the creativity of sketching and designing a piece from scratch- and then really testing the functionality of what we've created.
Kami: One huge goal this season and continuing aspiration for me is for the love that goes into each design to be displayed not only in the initial look or feel, but down to each little detail that someone may or may not notice at first. Every stitch, seam, print, label and additional accessory being intentional and evaluated for performance. Once the details are in place, each style is wear-tested in a few different sizes to be sure it works for different body types.
It’s also clear to anyone who watches you work, you’re a team. Tell us about how that plays into the process?
Steph: One thing I love about our team is that we're real with each other. We call it like we see it, give each other candid and constructive feedback, and bring our different strengths and perspectives to every design session. Everyone's input is valued and respected. It's a beautiful thing that you won't find at every (or many) other companies. And ultimately makes for better product!
Nelle: Our team is really good at collaborating. There's no ego there- we have the common goal of making a garment as good as it can possibly be. In fit session, we work together add details, change design lines, update fit, etc. on every piece.
Sally: Challenges happen every day. The trick is remaining resilient and dedicated for long enough to resolve them. Above all, I want our team to be brave in tackling the many incremental details that can either make or break a line. There is no ceiling to improvement.
Alright moment of truth… if you had to pick, what are your favorite items this season? You have to choose!
Muscle Long Sleeve - both tough and vulnerable, if a garment can be that.
Lux Raglan Long Sleeve - formerly known as the Lux Layer - it's even better now, with a softer Lux (what?) and more flattering raglan sleeves.
Window Tights: These are incredible! The fabric, the fit. They do not budge and they are incredibly flattering, with just the right amount of detail.
Lux Accessories - Because Lux on hands and heads!
Lux Tech Hoodie - this is the perfect piece for Fall/Winter because it's tech enough to run in, but stylish enough for anything else. Layer it under a vest and it's ready to roll in crisp, cold weather.
Best for last: Aero Tights, Aero Tights, Aero Tights. The lines, the fit, the pocket, the badass-ness. I remain obsessed!
I'm really excited for the Muscle Long Sleeve and Aero Jacket.
The Muscle Long Sleeve is simple, yet elegant which I love. I also think the print compliments the design lines and pairs it well with either a solid or bold printed bottom.
The Aero Jacket I'm excited for because for as much of a struggle as this style was in the development process, the end result gives such a fierce look to a flattering style.
I am SO excited about these tights that Kami designed- the Moto Tights. Those are some badass pants. Also excited about the Lux Runfinity Scarf- that's not coming off of my body this winter.
I also have the mention the Nelle LS- can't help it! I grew up dancing ballet. I designed this shirt thinking about how ballet dancers always layer their clothes in really unconventional- kind of wacky ways. You usually have to look twice to see how they're wearing what they're wearing. The neckline on the Nelle LS really shows off the neck and collarbone with a really graceful cut. But we kept the thumbholes! Never forget the thumbholes.
There you have it! I hope you’re as excited as we are to wear the styles. And remember, if you have questions for our design team, we’re here and ready to respond! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll come back with answers as soon as we can (sometimes we’re out for a run).