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.

Richmond Hill Post - - Life -

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.

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