How did you get started in designing activewear?
My only experience with activewear was originally from a consumer side. I had a pretty regular workout routine with some friends, and even though athleisure was at its peak, nothing particularly excited me in the activewear space. In parallel to that, Quang (our GM) and I started researching sustainable clothing manufacturing and stumbled upon a few eco-friendly gems, including our recycled polyester. Everything really fell into place after that.
Quang has a background in fashion, but because there are so many technicalities to activewear apparel, we worked with a former lululemon designer and Acne Studios designer for our first collection to make sure everything was perfect. As we’ve evolved, our design process has become much more collaborative, and we do all of the designs in-house with our team.
What, if any, are your design inspirations? Any insight into your process?
Our process is extremely collaborative so our entire team contributes and tests everything we make. We’re also an office full of perfectionists, so we take our time with each idea, and sometimes it takes a year or more until a final piece sees the light of day.
I find we’re the most inspired by everyday apparel and then try our best to translate that into activewear, so our clothes lean less sporty and feel more universal.
I’m personally a huge fan of brands like Paloma Wool, MNZ, and Mansur Gavriel. I love the beautiful colorways they use! We typically focus on keeping our silhouettes minimal, feminine, and functional, and then have more fun with the color palettes we choose.
How does the place you live in influence your design aesthetic?
Seattle is a very very outdoorsy city! You’ll see the majority of people wearing leggings or REI gear on their way to work or go out for dinner. One thing about living here that’s really influenced our design aesthetic is making sure every piece is extremely functional. I’ve found most Seattleites value function over fashion, and while I tend to lean more towards the latter, it’s one of the reasons we take so long in our design process — we want our pieces to not just look great but actually stand up against the most intense workouts and consistent use.
What is your mission statement for Girlfriend Collective?
Our goal is to make sustainable activewear for people who care — care about other people, care about how their clothes are made, and care about making an impact through their purchasing power. Through ethically manufactured activewear, recycled materials, and our ever-growing community, we hope to help people lead more sustainable lives and rethink the activewear industry’s role in saving the earth.
What other creative outlets do you have?
I feel like Girlfriend is the ultimate creative outlet for me — I get to wear different hats and be part of so many amazing campaigns and projects, it’s really the most fulfilling career path I’ve been on so far. At the moment though I’m attempting to learn sewing and pattern-making on the side because I’m fascinated by that process and would love to learn something more tactile.
Describe a typical day at work and also a day off.
Most of my days at work are spent planning/moodboarding content and collections, designing emails, and drinking a lot of coffee. There are a lot of collaborative meetings, and also a lot of me sitting at my computer for hours on end, moodboarding and piecing together concepts and ideas for the months ahead. I’ll also hop on Instagram to scroll through messages and comments every day to see what people are engaging with and commenting on, and squeeze in as many email responses as I can!
When I’m off work, I spend the entirety of my time hanging out with my 1-year-old and navigating this crazy journey of motherhood. We go on a ton of walks around the city, and I generally just do my best to live in the present and enjoy time with friends and family.
What's next for Girlfriend?
So many things! We’re continually working to expand our size range and we have even more inclusive sizing dropping soon, more styles, more colors, and some very exciting sustainable technology that we can’t wait to release. Stay tuned!