While the Australian fitness industry may be synonymous with wellness savants promoting the benefits of infrared saunas, green juices and HIIT boxing classes, it hasn’t always been this way.
It isn’t a hyperbole to attribute the shift from get quick fit guides and unsupportive sports bras to functional and fashionable workout attire and female-oriented classes to a few trailblazing industry pioneers, namely Kayla Itsines, Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning.
The former you will know from her lucrative workout empire including her co-founded fitness app, Sweat, which generated Itsines a reported $164m fortune last year alone. You may even be one of her 15.2 million followers on Instagram.
The latter are the co-founders and creative directors behind one of Australia’s most successful sportif fashion lines: P.E Nation.
Whether you’re out for Saturday brunch or on an early-morning school drop off run, a day wouldn’t be complete without seeing Itsines and P.E Nation’s influence on the Australian landscape.
Now, these three fitness mavens are teaming up to release a capsule-collection infusing Kayla’s distinct aesthetic with P.E Nation’s signature functional approach to performance-driven athleisure.
For fans of both P.E Nation and Itsines, it’s not just the opportunity to own a piece of clothing that has the stamp of approval of some of the most prolific and influential members of Australia’s fitness industry, but rather these three working mothers are proof that women don’t have to choose between motherhood or managing their own business empires.
Ahead of the collaboration launch, which features pieces inspired by Itsines’ own wardrobe (which may of may not have been borrowed from Edwards’ own impressive collection of P.E Nation archives), marie claire Australia chats with Itsines, Edwards and Tregoning on the importance of functional fashion, coming together to collaborate and the lessons they’ve learnt managing motherhood and entrepreneurship.
marie claire: P.E Nation has become so synonymous with edgy athleisure perfect for both the studio and the streets. What was the process of combining P.E Nation’s signature aesthetic with Kayla’s own laid back athleisure style?
Pip Edwards: I think with Kayla, it was a really organic one, to be honest, and she’s been a friend of ours since inception. She wears the clothes, she loves it and so it was a really natural fit to arrive at this collab. It’s so crazy because she’s obviously the queen of fitness and we’ve looked up to her the whole time but being Australian and as being women founded businesses and mothers it just was a really beautiful synergy and just felt natural.
Claire Tregoning: It’s also a great opportunity to talk to the functionality and the technicality of our products.
Kayla Itsines: I couldn’t have thought of a better brand to do my first ever clothing collab with! I have lived in activewear for the better part of 10 years now, and having the opportunity to be part of this collection with P.E Nation and combine my passion for functional workout clothes and athleisure with a brand that I love is something I’m super excited about!
PE: From our point of view, when we’re all just talking about it, the reason for us is that we look like a fashion forward kind of active, streetwear, lifestyle brand, but really, we’re anchored in performance and technical. So this was a really beautiful opportunity to showcase how technical and functional our product really is by working with someone like Kayla, who literally it’s all function, and it’s all form and it’s all performance.
KI: For me it’s all about comfort and functionality – I gravitate towards a good pair of training shorts and a crop that is supportive, and I’ll always reach for an oversized hoodie or jacket as well – so we made sure the collection includes those staple pieces.
MC: This root of this collection is very functional in form. Can you talk us through the design process of the collection?
PE: We looked at what Kayla wears to work out in. So that’s the functionality side and we married that back with a lot of our best selling styles. She had input around what works for her. and she has an absolute favourite bomber jacket that we did literally five years ago which she stole off my back, by the way, in the nicest possible way. So, what we did was we brought that back for her because it’s her favourite jacket, but we just tweaked colours and stuff. So, yeah, it was a very organic first kind of design process.
KI: That incredible orange bomber jacket I wore everywhere (I still wear it to this day). Pip was actually kind enough to give me her archived sample of the same orange bomber recently because she knows how much I love it. I remember I was in New York traveling for work a few years ago and a woman stopped me walking on the street to ask what brand my jacket was. I have never had so many people comment on a piece of clothing before as much as I have with that jacket. I’m so excited we have been able to bring the bomber back for this collab – it will be available in a new colour way as part of the second drop of the collection which comes out in November. It’s such a great staple and I can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on it.
MC: What lessons have you learnt from working with one another? And in turn, what lessons do you hope to have taught each other?
KI: Pip and Claire are both so passionate about what they do and that really shines through in working with them – they are the best energy to be around! Their team is incredibly creative and are clear on their vision – it’s easy to see why they have been so successful. What’s been so great about this collaboration is that both Sweat and P.E Nation target a similar type of consumer, so it’s been great to work together and play to each other’s strengths to bring this to life!
PE: I love that relatability about Kayla, and how she is on the journey with everyone. She’s super f**king real. And I think it’s that level of that genuine side to her that we love and that she’s totally playful. And she’s an absolute weapon, it’s an inspiration. But I think Kayla’s more excited to have a more fashion edge to be honest. In her part of the industry, she just puts on what she knows works. I think the boundaries of what also could work with her workout is something to be learned.
MC: Social media has played an integral role in the building of all of your businesses. How has this relationship changed over time?
KI: Social media has been critical to our success, but it’s definitely come with some challenges. We have always worked hard to create a positive and educational environment on our channels and provide a space where women can come together, learn about health and fitness and support each other no matter what journey they are on. But I understand that what we post may not resonate with all women. When it comes to social media, I think it’s so important to work out what’s right for you in terms of who to follow and who not to follow – if what someone is posting doesn’t make you feel good or contributes to negative self-esteem then I would absolutely say click the unfollow button!
PE: I think from a brand lens, it’s so important that we curate, we own that space, and we own that voice. You know, we can reach eyeballs in the marketplace very easily. But that social media, Instagram and on the new channels is just so important for protecting the brand and putting our best foot forward.
CT: It’s not all about selling clothes, it’s actually aspirational and inspirational.
PE: It allows us to show the layers and the depths of the brand people might not be able to see, feel or touch. And so whilst we’re online, we’ve grown it like we’re online, but we have a lot of retailers. I think our social media platform allows us to tell the story a bit better.
MC: What would your number one advice for women in business be?
KI: As women in business, and particularly as mothers, we’re often pulled in so many directions and can be really time poor. Being disciplined with yourself and carving out that time in your week to do things that are good for you is so important – and movement is a big part of that. Caring for your health is so important and will only help you be the best version of yourself in business and in all areas of your life.
The Kayla Itsines x P.E Nation collection drops on Thursday the 27th of October. Sign up for pre-access to get your hands on the collection early here.