Redefining Luxury Athletic Wear | Wone by Kristen Hildebrand
In a fashion market dominated by c-corp athletic brands, fast fashion powerhouses, and luxury designers churning to keep up with new consumer patterns and digital consumption, designer Kristen Hildebrand offers a moment of respite with Wone.
After founding the popular fashion blog Bleach Black in 2008, Kristin was the mastermind behind the RVCA x Erin Wasson collaboration before being hired away by Nike to creatively direct and conceptualize their women’s collection, as well as other special projects. Fast forward to Wone. The formerly elusive brand is built on the concept of pre-sustainability, and an ethos that is drawn from the Tao philosophy. The word Tao is nothing less than an expression of the profound unity of the universe and of the path human beings must take to join, rather than disturb, that unity.
Wone is an expression of simple, functional, yet natural feeling athletic pieces. Available in limited edition runs, Wone offers all black garments without elaborate details, like stitching, that accentuates musculature, overdone mesh paneling, or cutouts that wear like lingerie, in favor of pieces that feel more like a second skin than an article of clothing. The best part? The fabric Kristin uses is meant to last a lifetime, sustainable in that the fabric can withstand the wear and tear and sweat of life as well as repeat washes.
Tell us about the philosophy behind Wone, and how it inspired the brand.
The philosophy is rooted in Taoism. The Tao guides everything for the brand, including design. It blows my mind more brands don’t have a philosophy they work from.
The fabric you've selected is a luxury yet sustainable textile from France, tell us about the concept of luxury workout wear, is it a niche within the industry and are there a lot of companies exploiting the term or is it widely accepted?
The definition of “Luxury” is changing so I prefer the idea of sustainability as it relates to quality. It’s a simple concept to work from but again is not popular in the athletic marketplace. Logically it makes far more sense to buy a high-quality piece for an initial larger spend and have it last longer than a smaller short term spend where you’ll have to keep replacing that same piece.
Has sustainability always been at the forefront of your designs or is it a focus that grew with you throughout your career?
It used to be that the fashion cycles were far more lengthy and one’s access to special pieces was fairly limited thus making the rationale for keeping a large closet quite acceptable. The current state of fashion is now the opposite which makes it more imperative to have a smaller closet with less, but that will last longer and do more for you.
How long did it take you to develop and launch Wone?
I believe the development and launch of Wone happened in the “Kairos” sense of time versus Chronos.
Your line is self-funded, what was that like as an entrepreneur and what are some of the challenges?
Being an entrepreneur from my experience has really been an exercise in exploring my own perceptions of my own limitations. It’s lead me to a really interesting place where I’m working quite a bit with my subconscious and a hypnotherapist.
Tell us about the membership, how do we access Wone and what does the membership entail?
My initial concept for membership has changed slightly in that I was getting the opposite response from my customers in terms of what I was trying to accomplish, thus, I’m opening it up a bit more. My clients can still become members and I’ll still offer exclusives like pre-launch, etc.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are working towards or are in the process of launching an independent brand?
What are your three favorite workouts?
Boxing, Pilates and running – all contemplative sport. I love the discipline and the focus.