“New year, new me,” says everyone when January 1st hits. ‘Tis the season for getting over that holiday food coma and back into your fitness routine.
We all want to strive to be the best versions of ourselves. Look good. Feel good. This year is different, right? We've officially entered the roaring '20s of our generation. ✨
Regardless if you set any definitive goals or resolutions for the year, some badass workout gear is always a must. The launch of the athleisure category was a real game changer when it came to picking out an outfit for hot yoga or spin class. Now, buying a new sports bra or leggings is just as exhilarating as purchasing a new pair of boots. This new fitness-meets-lifestyle category led to the birth of a string of new brands. And BANDIER is one that has managed to stand out from the crowd.
Back in 2014, Jen Bandier saw a gap in the market. There wasn’t a one-stop shop for fashionable activewear. So she went out and created one. BANDIER brings all of the best fitness products for women together under one roof. Deemed a “stylish fitness emporium” by Vogue, the brand is on a mission to reinvent the way that women shop for their workout gear—keeping in mind that it’s not just about the workout, but also how it transitions to brunch dates, coffee runs, and airport uniforms.
We sat down Sophie Recio, social media manager at BANDIER to get the inside scoop on what defines the brand, the latest trends in the activewear world, and her go-to athleisure brands of the moment. Scroll on for the full convo. 👇
Follow Sophie on Instagram @sophrecio
How did you get started in social media?
I got started in social back in 2016. I was working at Bloomingdales at the time, and joined their social team as a producer and had the chance to work on some of the brand’s bigger campaigns. This inspired me to move into the frontlines of social, which brought me to L'Oreal where I led social at Essie for a few years. I’d always wanted to work at BANDIER—it’s a dream come true to be on the team!
Tell us a little bit about the history behind BANDIER?
BANDIER started back in 2013. Jenn Bandier, our amazing founder, spent most of her career as a music executive for iconic artists like TLC. Her role was heavily focused on discovering and supporting talent. After she left music, she frequented boutique fitness classes and was looking for her next move. She ended up breaking her foot and spent most of her recovery time walking the city in New York. Jenn noticed that there wasn't a single multi-brand luxury activewear store anywhere insight. The mainstream traditional activewear stores didn't speak to her and from there, BANDIER was born. In 2014, she opened our first location in South Hampton as a proof of concept before venturing into NYC.
How would you describe BANDIER as a brand in three words?
The foundation for BANDIER has always been fashion, fitness, and music. Fashion and fitness obviously go hand in hand—our product is very fashion-forward and fitness centric. Jenn used her experience from the music industry to find and curate the coolest up-and-coming designers so she could house them under one roof. Music plays a big role in our store experience. Jenn didn't want to play the typical “elevator music” that a lot of retail stores play. Instead, she wanted the music to establish a strong brand voice and create a place where people were excited to shop.
The three words that I think really describe the brand are:
- Discovery: you're always going to find something new or unique at our store when you walk in. You're always going to discover a new brand, collaboration, or trend.
- Experiential: everything from the music, to the local coffee shop we have in our LA space make it more than just a shopping experience. We wanted to create spaces that speak to our brand and our customer.
- Community: bringing people together is a huge part of the success of the company. Everything from shopping together to working out together. We have Studio B in LA, which is our boutique fitness studio where we bring in a rotation of top trainers from LA to NYC. Through this, we really created a BANDIER family.
How does BANDIER position itself as both a fitness and fashion brand? How does social media tie into this strategy?
Our product selection has a huge assortment of fitness and fashion products. But what's unique to us is that we have pieces that really fit into both categories. Ultracor, for example, is one of our top selling brands. Its products are performance-driven with everything from high compression materials to patented inner shapewear that make you look your absolute best. It will get you through every workout, no matter what you do. And on the flip side, Ultracor has super fashion-forward prints like leopard and tie-dye.
Social media helps us communicate our trend authority, everything from our fashion POV, to the performance of our products. It's really important to us that our customer understands how activewear can fit into your life—not only in the gym, but also outside of it.
One of our go-to questions—what is your favorite Dash Hudson tool?
I use Dash Hudson daily to schedule out content, discover user-generated content (UGC), and pull all of my reporting. My favorite tool has to be Visual IQ, it helps me identify what content is really working and what’s not. I use the tool to allocate content accordingly. I also love the competitive aspect of Visual IQ to find gaps in our content and uncover what other social-driven brands that we admire are doing on Instagram. Finding these learnings from other successful brands helps us take a step back and evaluate our own strategy.
With Visual Trends, we have different boards created including a retail category and sneaker category. Our sneakers board includes everything from sneaker brands to streetwear magazines. I use Visual Trends to see how different styles of imagery are shot, and how content that works for these brands might be able to work for us when I'm shooting content on the fly. Long story short, I really use Dash Hudson for so many aspects of our social strategy—it's a life saver!
Why do you think “athleisure” has taken over the fashion world?
I live in activewear and couldn’t be happier that it’s gone mainstream. Athleisure is so much more than just about working out. It's about being comfortable and looking your best without having to put much thought into it. Living in a city like New York when you're running around 24/7, having amazing activewear is key. I literally live in sneakers on a day-to-day basis.
Feeling comfortable in your clothes leads to self confidence. It’s less about feeling like you need to dress up. In the past, maybe you would have only worn heels to go out. But now, you can throw on an amazing pair of sneakers, and still feel sexy and look your best because you feel the most you.
In your opinion, what will be some of the biggest trends in the fitness industry to watch in 2020?
For 2020, I think it's going to be some of the same trends that we've already seen in 2019, like white sneakers, tie-dye, and neon. With 2020 being the start of a new decade, I expect we’ll see some more structured pieces with a lot of activewear brands taking cues from more traditional fashion powerhouses. The 2020 Olympics are also in Tokyo this year so I'm sure we'll see a lot of red, white, and blue, and some Japanese inspired pieces too.
Current top 3 activewear brands?
My number one go-to brand is All Access. It's the best. Between all of our lines, it's one of the more affordable ones and has amazing quality products. Super high compression, high-waisted leggings, it's amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. We Over Me has the softest leggings and fabrics you will ever put on your body. You basically want to live in it all day. You can do anything from yoga to day-to-day activities. Ultracor is also amazing. It's an investment piece for sure but worth every penny. I just got my first pair of Ultracor leggings and they're unlike anything else. Definitely worth it.
What’s your go-to gym outfit? Any tips to make activewear look chic to wear outside of exercising?
Totally. For me personally, my go-tos are All Access leggings with a crewneck or sports bra. I’m a huge fan of pilates, so luckily for that you don't need to wear shoes. I usually throw on any pair of fun sneakers, that aren't necessarily performance driven. I'll pair a really fashion heavy sneaker with a pair of black leggings and throw on a cozy sweatshirt or bomber afterwards to spend the day walking around the city.
Any new year resolutions for 2020?
Something that I've been working hard on personally is being really mindful and present. Focusing on being my best self, and taking time to breathe, without letting stress and anxiety get to me. That's something I definitely want to continue to prioritize. It's not all about being hard on yourself and feeling like you need to hit the gym seven days a week for example. It’s more important to do what you can, feel your best when you do it, and be present every time you do hit the gym.
That’s a wrap! For our interview that is. As for the new year, it’s just the beginning. You’ve got plenty of time to find your new favorite pilates class, discover the perfect workout ‘fit, and be your best self. Whatever your resolutions for 2020, we know that you can do it. 💪🏼 And while you’re at it, show BANDIER some love on social here!
Header image: @BANDIER
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