Soulace is not athleisure, but what exactly is athleisure. The term was introduced in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. Initially, athleisure described garments and footwear that simply gave the appearance of activewear, but made no promises about the performance of the article.
Athleisure slowly declined as a fashion concept after celebrating some initial success as a novelty. Around the 2010s, athleisure reappeared in fashion headlines and quickly gained a foothold in popular culture. By 2020 athleisure became the design approach for a number of emerging brands and a new product line for many incumbent brands. In some cases, this trend even fostered collaborations between brands like Nike and Cole Haan.
WHY THE COMEBACK, ATHLEISURE?
While a number of things paved the way for athleisure's comeback, the most influential factor may have been material science. New moisture-wicking, breathable and light-weight materials began to emerge. While these were initially adopted by athletic brands, dress brands also started to see opportunity to create less-stuffy dress attire. As more brands sought these materials, the increased demand lead to more material suppliers meeting the demand. The increased supply decreased the cost of these materials and made them accessible to a larger audience of brands.
SOULACE IS NOT ATHLEISURE
The idea of creating shoes or apparel that look active and fashionable is not novel anymore. A lot of brands have found success riding the athleisure fashion trend and the term defines an entire division of the fashion industry. As much as I wanted to jump on that bandwagon, I couldn’t get this thought out of my head. If athleisure is 50% fashion and 50% function, then it's simply catering to the lowest common denominator. It both provides and compromises in both areas.
SOULACE IS DUALITY
Here’s the problem. I don’t want to wear shoes that just make me look like I run and workout. I NEED shoes that I can run and workout in. Appearance isn’t enough. I need performance. I’ve ran marathons and experienced all of the terrible things that can happen to your feet when you buy footwear because of the way it looks. Nowadays, I’m buying one of the least attractive shoes in the store, because they have the support I need. These experiences and observations became the launch pad for the Focus model.
We didn't aim to design a shoe based on the intersection of the fashion function ven diagram. Our approach is true duality in design. We started by defining the functional requirements of our shoes based on the activities they support. Then we defined fashion needs based on the lifestyle of active professions. We aren't splitting the difference. Soulace is 100% function in the sole for performance level comfort and support and 100% fashionable uppers for any occasion.