As if ethically manufactured, sustainable, eco-friendly activewear made from recycled water bottles wasn’t enough, Girlfriend Collective has elevated all that a pair of leggings is capable of. Their super soft matching sets made with every type of woman and kind of body in mind have proved moveable enough for any workout, and stylish enough for any hour of the day. I was honored to get to hear from Quang Dinh, Girlfriend Collective’s founder, on the heart behind their brand, their priority of creating an inclusive culture, and how they handle the hurdles that come with choosing to create slow fashion.
What was the core inspiration that moved you to create Girlfriend Collective?
For us, we wanted to be the brand in the very crowded activewear space that made the highest quality activewear above reproach in all facets, but with accessible prices for all people of different shapes and sizes.
We want to be as impactful as possible with everything we make, and let our customers know that they have the opportunity to be impactful with us.
You put a huge amount of emphasis on creating an eco-friendly product, made sustainably and ethically, and designed to be timeless rather than trendy. Can you share with us a few of the ways you accomplish this?
Time was the main factor above all. I took a lot of time to go through the R&D phase in producing the right fabric. We tested out so many different yarns and mixtures using recycled chips, where many companies will just buy stock showroom fabric from the mills. We wanted our product to feel and function differently from what was in the marketplace, and that’s just a function of how much time you put into it and not just being okay with a product that’s mediocre.
In many of your campaigns and within your imagery, you include a diverse range of women and body types. What, in turn, do you believe this speaks to women?
In terms of shopping online, I think it makes sense to include women with different body types because it represents our customers and shows how our product fits and performs for all women. We feel that beauty comes in all different colors, shapes, and sizes, and we want our campaign imagery to reflect that.
We didn’t want to be the brand that didn’t walk the talk and, really, diversity is at the core of who we are and why our name is Girlfriend Collective.
We want to be the brand that all women can look to, trust, and know that they are important to us always, and that we’re not just including them as a marketing tactic or revenue driver.
As we all know, the media has a history of doing a poor job representing different body types; often creating an unrealistic “standard of beauty” for women. Thankfully, a movement of body positivity has been on the rise within the last few years. How has Girlfriend Collective aimed to become a part of this movement?
It’s always been a core belief of ours to have representation. We started this brand to be inclusive and be for everyone. Our goal is to grow a base of different customers from all walks of life to join our mission and be the change they want to see.
This month at Yellow, we are focusing on Body; opening up conversation around the relationships we have with our bodies; from our shame and struggles to how we can care for and celebrate them. What do you believe contributes to having a healthy, positive relationship with our bodies?
We have a saying around the office lately: that it’s important to keep our emotional capacity high. And really that means a lot of “treat yourself” self care, leaving noise at the door, and remembering there’s no need to burn that emotional energy on things that don’t matter. I think if you need to eat a pizza, eat a pizza, and leave the guilt at the door. If you need time off to mentally recharge, do it! If you just feel like going for a walk versus a run, walk! Be active, be happy, and don’t stress about it!
We know that with creating slow fashion comes hurdles that many fast fashion brands do not experience. What struggles have you faced along the way? What motivated you to continue sticking to your mission?
I think the struggle for us is not having enough merchandise to supply our demand. We want to make the right things, and not just churn out goods based on trends or what we see is doing well in the marketplace. With that, we would miss out on those anyway because our process just takes longer.
We want to make timeless clothes that people can wear year-round, for many years.
As an activewear company, your pieces are made to be moved in. What are some of the Girlfriend Collective team’s favorite ways of being active and connecting with your body?
We talk about food a lot, so walking to get food is active right? [Laughs] We’re really into classes like BurnCycle, or ones at Seattle Boxing Gym here in Seattle, but we also love taking advantage of all the gorgeous nature around us. We recently went on a team hike at Rattlesnake Ridge with our dogs and just enjoyed the fresh air and getting to move around. Obviously, everyone wore Girlfriend!
Why did you choose the name Girlfriend Collective? What do you hope this will evoke in women?
As a brand, we wanted to evoke that feeling of community you get when you’re working out with a tight knit crew. We wanted to feel authoritative, but friendly and smart at the same time — like your girlfriend who’s totally down to earth and cool, but can also help you do your taxes. The name Girlfriend Collective just felt like it embodied both the friendly nature and community spirit we were going for.
Many women in our community care deeply about doing purpose-driven work that can impact the world for good. What advice would you give to someone during their journey of doing so?
I would say they should start with one thing they care about and determine what they can actually achieve to make that problem better. There are so many things going on in the world, it can feel so overwhelming that a lot of people who care actually end up doing nothing. But by starting small and choosing something attainable, we can all make a difference in our daily lives.
Images courtesy of Girlfriend Collective