Q&A: Michelle Watson on pairing sports with style
The local designer behind innovative athletic wear brand Michi on why she loves fashion in T.O.
Michelle Watson started Michi after graduating from the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Paired with her flair for fashion is her background in competitive sports, and she realized she was part of an underserved niche of those who mix sports with style.
What inspired you to create a fashion-forward sportswear brand?
I felt like there was a lack of options in the market for sportswear that would translate from the gym to the street, as well as from graceful sports, like ballet barre or yoga, to hard-core highintensity sports like running, martial arts or hip-hop/dancehall dance. I wanted a functional line that looks good in the gym as well as when you walk out of the gym to go to a dinner, go shopping or grab a drink at a bar.
Why did you choose to base your line in T.O.?
Although New York has a great garment district for readyto-wear, the factories don’t have the machines for activewear. I had a good lead in Toronto for manufacturing and fabric and had a few PR and digital media friends here too. Since I’m Canadian, I also missed the culture and sarcastic sense of humour.
What is your favourite boutique in Toronto?
Jonathan + Olivia.
What are your wardrobe essentials?
I wear my Michi leggings for everything. I wear them to work, to go out at night and for running, yoga and dance. I wear a Michi bra every day in and out of the gym. For everyday dressing, I like to layer these pieces with our drapey tops and statement sweatshirts or with contemporary designers such as
Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang or Maje.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I have always been inspired by superhero costumes, retro pin-up girls, Olympic athletes, historical fashion, street fashion and nature. All of these elements find their way into my sketches and clothing design.
Who is the Michi woman?
She is a very serious athlete. She’s confident, creative, fashion conscious and leads an active lifestyle. She doesn’t just run or practise yoga. She sprints, does chin-ups, dances, figure skates, paddle boards or does martial arts. She embodies strength, confidence and uniqueness.
What do you love about Toronto’s fashion industry?
There are a lot of great talents here in Toronto, and they are more easily accessible than equivalent talent in the fashion capitals.