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October 03, 2013

A Peek into the Design Process for Women’s Running Clothes

Written by Dena Evans

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Katie Dalzell is the Lead Designer for women’s running apparel company Oiselle. Along with founder and CEO Sally Bergesen, Katie is designing stylish and functional clothes for women from their headquarters in Seattle, where they have been based since Bergesen’s first collection in 2007.  Staffed almost entirely with active female athletes and growing alongside the numbers of female road runners and racers nationwide, Oiselle takes their design seriously, recently showing the spring collection for the first time at New York’s Fashion Week.  This week, we caught up with Dalzell to get a quick bit of insight into the design and production of the young and growing market of running clothes created specifically for women.

 

 

rc: With the huge growth of the numbers of women regularly running and racing, everything from running shorts to commemorative race shirts is beginning to be offered in a "women's fit".  When designing clothes for women, what are the major differences in shape and construction from men's or unisex styles?

 

KD: I am typically not a fan of unisex clothing. Women and men are shaped differently, and so the best fitting clothing will cater to each gender individually! Unisex clothing is generally made to fit a mans body, so it lacks the detailing and fit required to truly flatter a woman's curves and shape. Even women’s apparel with a "boyfriend fit" is designed for women's bodies, and fit on women, to accommodate and flatter our different shapes. So the biggest difference? Boobs and hips, of course!

 

rc: Who or what is your muse as a designer of women's running clothes?  What characteristics capture the women you are designing for?

 

KD: My muse isn't necessarily a single person. At Oiselle, runners and the running community are our driving inspirations, though we believe that running apparel can cross borders into most athletic endeavors, and even daily fashion. I design for strong, healthy and motivated woman who are free thinkers and unapologetic. Oiselle's motto is "FEMININE FIERCE", and all of our designs are wrapped around this idea.

 

rc: When shopping, to what should women pay attention when making a purchase they hope will perform well over hundreds of miles and last for years?

 

KD: Pay attention to the fabric and construction of the garment. Does it look like it was constructed with thought and care? Attention to detail? Attention to detail is very important in the longevity of a garment. Look at the seams and stitching, the finishings (hems, armholes, necklines, etc.). Also look for technical finishes catered to the sport, and well constructed, soft liners. Fabric is just as important. For athletic apparel, look for the technical aspects of the fabric. Synthetic fabrics are currently the best option for running apparel. The majority of quality fabrics used for this purpose are nylon and polyester, often blends, and often with spandex. Blends with synthetic and natural fibers can work well too, such as poly/cotton or poly/rayon blends. Look out for "distressed" finishes (often on jeans), as they can often develop holes easier! Though I believe that when a garment is well loved it can be even more beautiful than brand new! :)

 

rc: What's around the corner for trends in women's running wear?  What can we look forward to?

KD: There has been a gap between fashion and running apparel in the past. Sally recognized the need to combine these two elements to create beautiful, fashion forward but highly technical running apparel, and so Oiselle was born! I'm very excited about the future of running apparel, as there are so many unexplored and unexpected ways to design into this market. It's becoming much more fashion forward and in line with ready to wear trends. Future trends are using technical fabrics in unexpected ways, bridging the gap between ready to wear and athletic apparel. Look forward to modern and edgy styling with bold lines, fabric and texture mixing, and effortlessly chic running apparel that you will want to wear on your longest run, and on a fun day or night out!

 

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