Photo courtesy of The Upside
Despite being in the epicentre of fashion, while practicing yoga in New York THE UPSIDE founder Jodhi Meares struggled to find stylish workout clothes that would take her from Sun Salutation to a coffee meeting to dinner with friends. The Tigerlily founder enlisted fellow designer Ashlea Holdsworth and together they’ve created a brand that is gaining global recognition for their comfortable sport luxe range.
Almost year since we caught up with Jodhi, we get the scoop from Ashlea about what’s driving the global brand to be on the up and up.
What inspired the creation of THE UPSIDE?
THE UPSIDE was a developing idea of Jodhi’s for a few years before she put the concept into motion. She was living between New York and Hawaii and because she was practicing yoga daily she noticed a gap in the market for functional yet fashion forward active wear. She called me three years ago and from there we designed the first collection and launched a year later.
Can you describe the label to us?
As a lifestyle brand, our focus is on function first however we want our pieces to transcend the gym or yoga studio. THE UPSIDE is predominantly stretch wear, with a focus on beautiful prints and panelling. The outerwear is designed to complement our legwear for outfits that will take you from your workout to coffee or lunch with friends. We have expanded our offering to include swimwear and accessories to cover all facets of the active life. We also have our highly anticipated launch of men’s in 2016 with designer Matty Bouris at the helm. That is something we are really excited about.
Who have you created THE UPSIDE for?
We consider ourselves very inclusive, a label for anyone who wants to live a fit and healthy lifestyle – and look good doing it. I believe THE UPSIDE is ageless.
Has anything surprised you about the journey to creating this new label?
It is amazing how well we have been received, especially if you consider how young we are. THE UPSIDE is doing very well nationally and the international market has been so receptive – we’re growing a lot faster than anticipated. Jodhi is an incredibly talented businesswoman and Creative Director, so in a sense, it doesn’t surprise me.
What was the key to the success of THE UPSIDE?
We spent over a year developing our signature stretch fabric so that our legwear is the most comfortable and durable on the market. I think people can see the value in our clothing as we pride ourselves on creating collections that work both in and out of the gym. I am lucky to work with an incredibly hardworking and talented team, which of course is the number one reason we’ve seen great success.
What advice can you offer to other brand makers or designers?
Remember why you started designing in the first place. As a designer you have to stay true to yourself and the brand ethos. There will be people who try to talk you out of creative ideas so it is important to take on feedback constructively and make a considered decision based on all factors, including your own intuition.
You donate a percentage of your sales to charity. Why is donating important to you?
From the get-go Jodhi wanted THE UPSIDE to support a charity. Through Charlie Teo she met Tara Winkler who is the founder of the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT). CCT works diligently with Cambodian families and their children to provide a safe home, an education and ultimately a job to allow them to become self-sufficient adults. The cause struck a chord with Jodhi and the team and committing our brand to helping this great cause was a very easy decision.
You did the Be You campaign, which was about accepting who you are, just as you are. Is this a strong message the brand promotes through its range?
We want to send the message to both men and women that acceptance of themselves and others is key. To feel comfortable in your own skin can actually be a luxury but it should be a right. We don’t want this brand to be intimidating to any woman, but all-inclusive. Ours is a label that believes in being the best version of you and we work hard to promote that ideal without discriminating. Through design, I try to cater to a spectrum of shapes, sizes and ages. I try to make sure that there is something for everyone while also being true to THE UPSIDE.