SoulCycle designer STEPHANIE HIRSCH discusses her design background, her vision for the SoulCycle line and, yes, the Soul unitard.
SC: What’s your background in fashion and design?
SH: I started a company called INCA 11 years ago. It was a resort lifestyle company, but I was really known for my swimwear and the fit, fabric and design.
SC: How did you get involved with SoulCycle?
SH: I sold the company [INCA] in 2008 and had a baby. I wanted to get back into shape and I saw all these women at SoulCycle, they had three kids and they looked amazing! I said, "I can do it” and started going religiously, 3-4 times a week. I became so inspired by the whole movement. "Be the best that you can be, we’re a group, we’re a team." I just loved it. It saved me in so many ways: It helped me get into the best shape I’ve ever been in, plus, and it got me to an amazing place mentally after having a baby.
SC: How did your collaboration with Julie and Elizabeth begin?
SH: Knowing my background, Julie and Elizabeth approached me and said, “Would you ever consider designing a line for us?” I was already familiar with the technical aspect of it -- the fit for the body, making the body look as amazing as possible in the tightest fabric possible. Obviously, I had the design aesthetic as well. Plus, I really believed in what Julie and Elizabeth were doing and their brand and their movement, so it was an easy fit.
SC: The SoulCycle line has a very cohesive look to it. What was the design process like?
SH: Julie and Elizabeth started by explaining what they wanted. I understood the SoulCycle customer, but I wanted to hear it from them – they're the owners, they gave birth to it. We came up with the idea of a spiritual warrior and it clicked immediately. To me camouflage is very sexy, it’s very tough, it’s very cool and that’s who I believe the SoulCylcle person is.
SC: Was it difficult to switch from swimwear to fitness clothing?
SH: The most important difference was the moisture wicking: keeping the body temperature down, keeping the sweat away from the body. In swimwear fabric there's built-in technology to make the fabric dry quickly, but it’s a whole different ball game when you’re sweating your brains out. It was a learning curve, but I did my research.
SC: Where did you guys get the idea for the unitard, which is one of the more stand-out pieces of the collection?
SH: I mean obviously this is a collaborative creation, but I think Julie and Elizabeth also came to me for my ideas. When I had my company and I was designing, I hit on a lot of trends. I’m good at seeing what others don’t necessarily know that they want, but when it’s in front of them they want it. My thing is if you’re going to break into something, you gotta stand out. And what better way to stand out than to wear something so bold as a unitard. It’s sexy, it’s functional, and it’s amazing to ride in. It’s a weird way to describe it, but it’s a very clean feeling on the bike. It’s almost like you’re wearing nothing, but you feel very secure in it.
SC: People assume that you have to be stick skinny to wear the unitard, but it's actually very flattering.
SH: What I did is ask, “What’s the best way to make someone’s body look like an hourglass?” And the answer is to literally camouflage the waist area. So I made the whole body black and tailored it: I put the camouflage portion right down the side. And I did it in such a way that it really gave the body that curve where you want it. I also cut out the back to make a sexy racerback. I love when I’m sitting behind another person and you can see their shoulder blades and those tough arms. It just looks hot. So I made sure the top portion was cut almost like a wife beater. I love that look. It's tough, but it's also feminine and looks really beautiful.
SC: For riders who are used to the Nike tights, how would you say your tights differ?
SH: First of all the fabrication is different. It’s a softer sleeker feel and I think it holds you in a little bit more. Also, in terms of drying, the moisture wicking surpasses them [the Nike tights]. When you wash the tights you'll see, you wring them out and they’re almost dry. And then of course the design is different as well.
SC: Were the drawstring pants designed for riding?
SH: Yes. There are days when you just do not want to have stuff clinging to your body. They're made of the performance fabric and they make you look 10 feet tall and bone thin. I had done a similar style on my resort line and people would freak out, they were the best pants. So I changed them up a little bit: I made them fit more like a jean so they really lift your butt. And if you need to do something after spinning and you can’t shower, you can just take off your pants and put those on and you just feel clean and look good.
SC: Do you feel like you achieved everything you wanted to with the SoulCycle line?
SH: Yes. I really wanted to make fitness fashionable. I really wanted to express who the SoulCycle person is through SoulWear and I think that for our first run of it, it was well-executed.