Olympian Allyson Felix Dishes On Designing Her Winning New Fashion Line

  Allyson FelixPhoto Credit: Athleta

Although the Olympics have been postponed until summer 2021, Allyson Felix has hardly been using 2020 as ‘downtime.’ The six-time gold medalist runner has continued using her voice and her public platform to make a difference — and at this moment in time, she was able to marry her desire to give back with a chance to play fashion designer as well.

The 34-year-old USC grad (who was just voted THE greatest Olympian in USC history) recently unveiled her first capsule collection with Athleta, her first of a larger, long-standing partnership to come. Co-designed alongside Athleta’s lead female designers, The Allyson Felix + Athleta collection reflects not only the performance needs of an Olympian, but also her personal style and tastes for pieces that truly reflect HER. She drew inspiration from her daughter Camryn for the purple and metallic-hued line, with the intention that her designs would provide a sense of empowerment and community for both women and girls.

To Felix, the world’s most decorated track and field athlete, the launch both signifies a physical manifestation of the brand’s Power of She movement – its campaign that invites women and girls to stand together, collaborate and achieve — and demonstrates how her partnership is changing the sponsorship narrative for female athletes everywhere by shining a light on how important it is for brands to invest in female athletes and support them across every facet of their lives.

Here, Haute Living chats with Felix about her collection, how she’s empowering women and why there’s a silver lining (or a gold one, as it were) to the postponement of the Olympics.

Allyson FelixPhoto Credit: Athleta

This is your first collaboration with a brand and Athleta’s first sponsorship of an athlete. Can you share more about your partnership and why this is such an exciting moment for you both?

There has been a huge disparity between the number of female and male sports sponsorships for years. Viewership numbers for women’s sports have been steadily rising, but sponsorship of female athletes still lags far behind that of men. As a result, so has pay and recognition and I have seen this firsthand. I have learned that it is really important to hold brands accountable to what they market and what they say they are going to do. It has to be more than a campaign – you have to be able to see that through the business. What is really special about the partnership with Athleta is that is truly at the core of who they are. I think that’s why our missions align so well. They stand to empower women and girls and that really speaks to who I am and what I want to accomplish as well.

What was the collection collaboration like/how involved were you?

Very! The capsule was designed through a deeply collaborative and intimate process between myself and head designer Casey Schumacher, and the brand’s lead female designers. It is truly designed by women, for women. I was able to sit down with the design team and talked about what is important to me as an athlete—what my standards are and to have pieces perform at the top level. That’s something that is really unique and special about this partnership–I don’t think that a lot of other athletes and people who have collaborations are so involved. Also, I thought a lot about the way that I want women and girls to feel when they put on these pieces. I want them to feel confident, empowered and
strong. Together we were really thoughtful and mindful when creating them, and one way this came to life was through the little love notes written to the individual who puts them on.

Allyson FelixPhoto Credit: Athleta

How did you come up with the designs and how do they reflect your personality?

I’ve been an athlete my entire life, so designing beautiful, functional performance wear for women is at my core. I know firsthand that when you feel good, you perform and play better. Even my training pieces came to life in this collaboration. For example, I love to layer and to be fully covered when I am stretching, so we created the track suit for that. As I get warmed up, I love to shed those layers and get down to the
minimal pieces, which there are a number of. When I finish a workout, I am not typically going home. I might be running errands, grabbing coffee or going to the grocery store so, again, layering is super important. I didn’t want to sacrifice style either. I wanted pieces that would perform at the highest level, but also look beautiful and effortless as well.

Many items in the collection are shades of purple. Is this a nod to royalty or victory, or do you simply love the color?

I wanted to incorporate shades that would look beautiful on all skin tones. We came across these shades of purple and I just fell in love because they were truly flattering on everyone.

Allyson FelixPhoto Credit: Athleta

You talk a lot about your daughter. How do you manage being a mom and also one of the top athletes in the world? Did she impact the collection in any way?

Motherhood has given me a whole different drive and motivation. I’ve always been this really competitive person and athlete. Being a mom has shifted the reason why I am competitive and the drive to win. It’s completely changed. For now, I really want to show Camryn how to overcome adversity, teach her to keep fighting and what that really looks like. Then, it also has shifted my perspective beyond sports. I have a platform, and I want to affect change because of her and because of the world that she will grow up in. Everything Athleta creates and does is in service of their mission to empower a community of active, healthy, confident women and girls, which I think about a lot as Cammy’s mom. Because this collection is for girls as well as women, I wanted to make sure we created pieces that she would feel inspired by and love in the future (at the moment, she’s a bit too young for Athleta Girl, but I can’t wait for her to get this feeling).

What are your favorite pieces from the collection? Which do you think will be the biggest seller?

I have two favorite pieces from the line: the Legend Luxe Crop Halfzip Jacket in Flora Mauve Metallic and the Legendary High Neck Bra. The jacket is one of my favorites simply because it’s a crop top and super easy to throw on. Plus, I love the mauve metallic color. Also, the Legendary High Neck Bra is so great as it looks very sleek but is practical to take down for training. I have a feeling the Legendary High Neck Bra is a top seller!

Allyson FelixPhoto Credit: Athleta

How did you feel about the postponement of the Olympics?

I had to take time to just grieve it because it felt like such a loss. I have been training for so long for this moment. Once I did that, I felt like I could pick up the pieces. I kept reminding myself that it’s postponed – it isn’t canceled – and I just had to push forward. But I think there are still days that are a challenge because everything has been shifted, and training still isn’t normal yet. I’m just trying to be kind to myself through all of this.

Did the quarantine pose any disturbances or challenges to your fitness routine? How did you manage them?

I will say I’ve gotten really creative with my routine through all of this – especially with the stay-at-home order. I was literally training on the street in front of my house, going to our local parks, training on the soccer field, and just doing whatever I could at the start of quarantine. Things have gotten a little bit better now, and I’m able to be back on the track, but we’ve had to shift our timeline so that we’re able to still be at exactly where we need to be a year from now. There aren’t competitions, so that’s a whole other factor. ‘Go with the flow’ is what I keep telling myself! I’m just trying to be open, like everyone in their jobs and their situations right now.

Allyson FelixPhoto Credit: Athleta

How have you stayed healthy in general during this time period? What additional things are you doing to protect yourself?

I have definitely made it a priority to stay healthy during this time and am still pushing forward with the same intensity, but like I mentioned, I had to get more creative. Some days I have to find that pre-COVID motivation and am super conscious when I am lacking it, so I’m just trying to keep pushing myself. I am constantly reminding myself that I need to move forward with the same intensity because the Olympics are still coming, even if it’s a year later than I hoped.

USC voted you one of the best athletes in history. How does that make you feel?

USC has produced more Olympians, Olympic medals and Olympic golds than any other college in the nation, so to be chosen out of this list of incredible talent is just a huge, huge honor. All the love for my Trojan family, Fight on!

Allyson FelixPhoto Credit: Athleta

Can you walk us through a day in your life, from training to what you eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks in the morning?

    • I am normally up around 7:30 am, get ready for training and then waking up my
      little one for breakfast. I am normally out the door by 9:30 am to head to the track
      for about 3 – 4 hours of practice.
    • Once I am done with my training on the track, I will eat a light lunch. Normally
      involves a salad and a side of nuts or fruit, nothing too heavy. Then I head to the
      gym for weight training.
    • Once I am back from weight training, it is normally around the time for my little
      one to take a nap, so I will put her down and then use the time to shower, relax
      and have some time to myself.
    • For dinner, I normally have salmon with veggies and brown rice or as of lately, I
      have been trying some different zucchini noodle recipes. After dinner, I am giving
      my daughter a bath, reading to her and getting her ready for bed. It is my favorite
      time of the day.
    • Once she is down, I am relaxing with my husband catching up on some of our
      favorite shows, emails or work/projects.

Allyson FelixPhoto Credit: Athleta

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

The biggest luxury in my life is my support team. I have this amazing group of family, friends, coaches, managers and more that show up for me personally and professionally. They motivate me when I am struggling, challenge me to dream bigger and are always there to listen. Their time, heart and willingness is so precious to me – I am extremely lucky and grateful.