Behind the creation of the Velocity Collection
Fashion isn't just about looking good, it's about identity. Great fashion is a seamless blend of utility and aesthetics; functionality and style. Like dance, fashion is a visual language, and our choice to express ourselves through the clothes we wear lets us communicate our identity to the world - and whilst words can be used to describe who you are, fashion let’s you become it. We thought you might enjoy a first-hand peek at fashion in the making, find out how our designers created the newly released Velocity Collection:
A year before you first hear the name ‘Velocity’, or sneak glimpses of the print on Social Media, an idea is born, a brief is given and researching begins. Words and ideas are thrown back and forth, concepts are played with; selected, discarded, selected again. The genesis of Velocity came about through our design team recognising the growing demand for a new, fresh take on professional dancewear; dancers were craving something that was sophisticated and modern, and that reflected the way the artform is evolving as dancers become increasingly more diverse and progressively versatile.
Today’s dancers are multi-faceted – they’re bolder, edgier and more resilient than ever before, and dance isn’t just a part of their life, it’s the driving force behind it. The role of our designers was to create a collection that was up to the task of reflecting this.
Brief: A pro-ballet/contemporary collection for the female dancer.
The main themes that stood out to us in the lead up to Velocity was the desire for active wear that was versatile and sophisticated, something that wasn’t only tailored to the studio, or classwear, but let you feel right at home in any landscape. “The fact that the modern lifestyle is so busy means we’re needing things to come with us from day to night” explains Energetiks Fashion Designer, Kara Sutton. Our designers were also driven by the motivation to create dancewear that inspired the wearer and reflected the incredible mental, emotional and physical barriers dancers confront and conquer every single day. This meant starting with some fundamental questions:
‘What and how do dancers get inspired? What does exploration look like for them?’
'It's about exploring as many possibilities as possible and pushing the boundaries of what has been done before.'
For Velocity we were immediately drawn to nocturnal themes and colour palettes that the concept of self-discovery and exploration evoked; the vast beauty and diverseness of the universe was the perfect parallel for the infinite depth and expression that dancers explore through movement, and the immense journey that this discipline requires. Today's dancers are also synthesising genres and fearlessly stepping into unchartered territory, and there's no greater mystery than that of space, the ultimate unknown.
As this would be a print-based collection, our fashion designers worked hand-in-hand with our graphic designers, since the final print would be a completely original creation, an amalgam of the elements that encapsulated the uniqueness of Velocity's concept and physicalised it into wearable artwork.
Favourite Velocity piece: The Astrid Crop Top. "There's really no rules for how you can choose to wear this crop top."
Favourite Velocity Piece: The Bella Wrap Skirt. "I'm a big fan of the large expanse of print, and the double intensity over a leotard!"
Everything from constellations, to planets, lights, cityscapes, maps, bokeh photography, stars, ice textures and organic patterns were visual influences on where to take the collection. Stylistically, the team started looking at high necks and clean, minimal lines, urban/street vibes, feature sleeves, and celestial-inspired colours such as deep purples, navy hues, and rich plums.
Fast forward a few months and our design team have narrowed down themes and are starting to build a visual and textural landscape for what this collection will be, this is where we look at upcoming trends, discuss key elements and review the feedback we’ve been getting from those in the dance industry.
We’re fortunate enough to not only be dancers ourselves, but be heavily involved in the dance community (supporting everything from Victorian Dance Festival, to the Australian Teachers of Dance and professional dance companies, as well as sponsoring talented dancers all around the world). This means we get firsthand insight into what the industry is looking for from their dancewear. At every event and competition we’re involved in, our team make the most of each opportunity to talk with dancers, teachers, parents and students about everything from shoes, to performance wear and dance uniforms. This feedback then becomes an integral part of shaping the direction we take when planning upcoming styles and the features of various garments in our collections.
During the development stages earlier concepts are perfected and transformed into actual patterns for our pattern maker, production and design teams to create. We knew that statement sleeves would be a big trend this season, so our designers took on the challenge of contextualising this in a way that worked for the dancer; the outcome would be designs that didn’t just allow them to make a statement in the studio, but translated seamlessly to streetwear style as well. A primary consideration whenever interpreting fashion in the context of active wear is making something that is as high-endurance and ergonomic as it is aesthetically enticing. Something that our printed mesh fabric allowed our designers to execute with exciting results. The mesh sleeves allow for full coverage whilst keeping the garments breathable and ensuring there's no restriction to the dancer's movement. The stirrup sleeve on the Astrid crop top is an additional detail that ensures the fluid line of the arm is sleek and streamlined from shoulder to wrist.
High necklines, strategic mesh panelling, cut-out backs, minimal lines and futuristic, contoured silhouettes all played in to creating the garments featured in the collection. Each design was carefully considered to offer as much variation as possible within the pieces available: Crop tops for modern dance; the Alexis Leotard for optimum coverage and support; the sleevless Stellar Leotard for a simple silhouette; the Celeste leotard for a cap sleeve option and mesh panelling across the back; the Rhea leotard for a 3/4 arm; the Bella wrap skirt to accessorise with each leotard, and the flattering and supportive Astrid High Waist Brief to compliment the Astrid crop top, or any sports bra or crop.
The other significant design aspect in creating the Velocity Collection was the development of the original Velocity print. Printing onto mesh created an extra challenge during the design process, and our designer had to ensure she allowed for the variation between the intensity and appearance of the print on-screen, as opposed to once it was printed onto a textured, semi-sheer surface like mesh.
The boldness of the galaxy print was carefully attenuated to the perfect intensity; rather than a garment that overwhelms you with it’s pattern the Velocity Collection draws you in with it’s sleek silhouettes and streamlined shapes, before your eyes become gradually transfixed by the undulating shimmer of the star-scattered mesh and nuanced colours that transform arms and back panels into infinite planes of exploration. The subtlety of the print is what allows the collection to be as infinitely versatile as dancers are themselves.
The next stage of the process is when the fabric itself is brought to life and we receive samples of our mesh in the new Velocity print. It's a gratifying point in the design process, when creative concepts and digital illustrations (or 'CADs') become physical, tangible work. But it's even more exciting when it's such an innovative technique; no-one else in the industry is expanding the frontiers of printed design in this way, printing on mesh is relatively unheard of for dancewear, and it's especially striking on a collection that features such prominent areas of mesh incorporated into every garment. The fabric samples have already been rigorously tested for colourfastness, stability, stretch, strength, durability and overall quality, but the ultimate decider is whether our design team is 100% happy with the colour and intensity of the print. For Velocity we went through the fabric sampling process several times, tweaking the results until we were certain that all the nuances and rich opalescence of the Velocity print had been realised on the mesh.
This brings us to the actual garment sampling: after getting the go-ahead from our production team, our factory creates the very first samples of each leotard, skirt and top in the Velocity Collection for our team to check over. This is when we get to see our Velocity designs on a dancer for the first time, and check that every part of the garment is a flawless fit. Things don't always run smoothly, every now and then we'll decide that a line needs adjusting, or some measurements need altering, but the pay-off is knowing that when we do eventually approve the collection, every single garment is an unrivalled, ideal version of itself.
And now... after months of planning, testing and refinement to get every line and seam just right - and over twelve months since the creative process first began - the day we've all been waiting for: the Velocity Collection arrives at Head Office.
The rest of the story may be familiar to you: sneak peeks on our social media; a stunning campaign shoot with the beautiful Chanel Cahill; filming the Velocity trailer with FlukeMedia; ensuring all orders have been sent out to our many dancewear stockists, and getting the collection ready in-store and online so that Velocity is available to every dancer on release day - wherever they are around the world. And there you have it, the making of the Velocity Collection. May you get as much enjoyment out of wearing the collection as we had creating it.
Celestial prints collide with striking mesh detailing and sleek, minimal designs in the futuristic splendour of the Velocity Collection...
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Article by Elly Ford.