Sometimes it feels like we’re swimming in an active wear world, with new brands launching on a seemingly daily basis; but few really making a mark meaningful enough, either through their philosophy, design and fit, distribution strategy, or their straight up innovation. When Wone floated across our desks we were finally introduced to an athleisure line that seemed to channels all of those elements, making for the perfect Noble Conversation in this particular clean luxury category. We chatted with Kristin Hildebrand (pictured, end), Nike’s former creative concept director and founder of Wone, on how she made it happen.
LET’S TALK A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND. HOW DID YOU GET TO NIKE AND WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE THERE?
I’ve been a designer/creative director my entire career. I’ve worked for a few fortune 500 companies, including Nike. I was recruited to my role with that company and asked to build what is now a 30+ person team of creative concept directors. I feel really good about my contributions to that company.
WHAT CATALYZED THE DECISION TO LEAVE AND START YOUR OWN BRAND?
I needed to be working with a company that my values aligned with and that company didn’t exist, so it became painfully obvious I needed to create it.
WHAT KEY SKILLS DID YOU LEARN FROM BEING AT A LARGE COMPANY THAT HAVE TRANSLATED TO YOUR DAY TO DAY NOW?
I learned quite a bit about politics, how to navigate complex organizations and conformity. It’s hard to translate these skills to a start-up and particularly my own company, however it’s always applicable to life as the world we live in is a large company.
“I’ve yet to hear a brand spell out it’s philosophical origins. It’s important to have this grounding as everything stems from this foundation. All decisions, all actions, everything ones does comes from these guidelines.”
TELL US ABOUT WONE. WHAT SPACE IN THE MARKET DID YOU WANT TO FILL? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNIQUE POINTS ABOUT THE BRAND?
I like to think that the premise for Wone is less about filling a space rather than opening up space. I’m hoping to subtract from anxiety about what to wear in the morning, what purpose each garments serves and generally subtract noise (visual and physical).
I think the most unique aspect of the brand is it’s philosophy. I’ve yet to hear a brand spell out it’s philosophical origins. It’s important to have this grounding as everything stems from this foundation. All decisions, all actions, everything ones does comes from these guidelines and to not have them in place is something I don’t understand.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF ATHELEISURE?
Athleisure and the wellness movement has changed how we live and what is aspirational. Communicating a healthy lifestyle is now more of an important status remark than carrying a luxury handbag would have been in the past. People expect to be comfortable and for their garments to behave in more of a technical manner, even outside the gym.
“Commerce for mass consumption eats at my soul. Humanity deserves and really should demand more dignified methodology.”
YOUR COMMUNITY TO QUALITY FABRICS, LIMITED COLLECTIONS AND MINIMALIST DESIGN SPEAKS TO SUSTAINABILITY. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT AND WHAT DREW YOU TO MANUFACTURE THIS WAY?
Commerce for mass consumption eats at my soul. Humanity deserves and really should demand more dignified methodology. What we’ve built is well thought out, timeless, sustainable product that lasts longer than the 30 wash industry standard. Emotional and physical durability is what we look to achieve with Wone.
WHAT IS YOUR GO TO WORKOUT? WHAT ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE FITNESS AND WELLNESS TIPS?
Boxing with my trainer Steve Forbes who is a former World Champion is my go-to workout.
It may seem like semantics here however I’m more of a self-actualization person than general wellness. I need for things to fit my life and my aspirations versus “wellness” that seems to address current trends. I believe everyone should seek out practices that make sense for them as individuals.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve got my daily practices that could certainly constitute me as a weirdo.
LASTLY, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW FOUNDERS IN THE APPAREL SPACE (OR BEYOND)?
There will never be “the right” time, so just jump in and learn along the way.
Hearing “No” is an opportunity. The obstacle is the way.