Kit and Ace on designing ‘technical apparel’

We speak to Kit and Ace Vice President of Brand Shawna Olsten about designing clothes that aid productivity and mindfulness 

Vice President of Brand Shawna Olsten

Kit and Ace believes what you wear affects your day. Most of us don’t slow down from 6am to 10pm and you need your clothes and your mind to keep up. The technical design of their clothes can take you from work to work out and the team believe that mindfulness is just as important to your day as exercise and a productive professional day. We talked to Vice President of Brand Shawna Olsten about why the pieces are perfect for a 2017 life.

Tell us about the vision of Kit and Ace’s products: what is the ethos behind every piece? How is Kit and Ace designed to reflect the real life of its customers?

The lines between work and play are becoming blurred nowadays. We need clothes that function all day. There are brands who have nailed athletic apparel but with Kit and Ace we’re creating the pieces that transition through the rest of the day, that offer the same ease of care, comfort and use, but still look polished.

How big is the design team and is there one thing they keep in mind while working?

We have a very talented team devoted to the design and creation of our products. Their process begins with identifying the customer’s need. Traditional fashion apparel is centered on the aesthetic, but Kit and Ace is about function. Function comes before fashion, and then form creates the aesthetic. Taking functionalities and making them beautiful is the unique challenge we face.

Kit and Ace store interiors

Kit and Ace is dedicated to mindfulness – how does that manifest in the brand story?

At Kit and Ace, we’re mindful in everything we do, from the intentional creation of our clothing to the considered layout of our showrooms, which are designed to save people time and offer the highest level of customer care. We also share meditation with our community. We create clothing for people living busy lives and for those people, it’s also important to take time to pause.

You recently hosted an event at One World Trade, The Big Quiet, tell us about that and if you plan to do similar events in the future.

The Big Quiet at One World Observatory was the second event we’ve hosted in partnership with the Medi Club, the group behind The Big Quiet. The first was in October 2016 at the Oculus. For the second event, eleven hundred people took over the top three floors of Observatory (1,776 feet up) to pause, connect and take in a staggeringly beautiful view of New York City. We also shared the event with our global community, hosting simulcast viewings of the event in eight of our shops across North America, with thousands more experiencing the Big Quiet through an online livestream. It was an incredible evening – we’d love to do it again.

Kit and Ace store interiors

Living in the city and working to tight deadlines can be stressful – How do you advise busy professionals to maintain a level of mindfulness throughout their days? 

Ensure that you’re conscious of how you spend your time. We’re all so busy and using time wisely is key. When feeling overwhelmed, make time to pause and reset – even if it’s just taking a moment to meditate at your desk or a lap around the block.

How does mindfulness and the practice of meditation help your day-to-day work at an International brand? How does this help creativity and performance?

I find that meditation is a great tool for bringing clarity, intention and performance to every aspect of life, including the workplace. When my mind is clear, I’m able to work much more effectively and think more clearly.

Do you have any advice on how to spend the only free part of one’s day – be it 5 minutes or two hours – to increase productivity and open the mind?

There’s merit in unplugging – we live in a world that is always on but spending time away from electronics is revitalising.


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