Minimalist cuts, high-quality fabrics, sustainable design and – very importantly – comfort. The ADAY fashion label designs women’s clothes for uncomplicated, everyday use – be it in the office or the late-night party. We spoke to the founders at their studio in New York’s SoHo district to find out what’s behind their design philosophy and to learn how the right clothes can create the headspace needed to focus on the important things in life.
The sounds of the city are coming in through the wide-open windows of the bright and airy office on Lafayette Street, where ADAY employees process orders, advise customers and compare fabrics and cutting patterns. It’s rush hour in New York City. The streets are blocked, cars edge forward at snail’s pace and a bus honks while trying to make its way across the intersection. But closing the windows is not an option; not today: the air conditioning has stopped working and the sluggishly rotating fan can’t cut the heavy summer heat. “In a start-up, you have to be able to tackle difficult circumstances,” says Nina Faulhaber and laughs.
Founding a start-up means being able to make your own visions a reality.
Yet Faulhaber cannot imagine doing anything else other than this. “I always wanted to start my own business. Something I carry the full responsibility for,” says the Frankfurt native. Her co-founder Meg He harbours similar feelings: “Founding a start-up means being able to make your own visions a reality.”
What do their visions looks like? Faulhaber and He want to design clothes that are as aesthetic as they are versatile, that women can wear not only to work but throughout the whole day – for sport as well as a foray into nightlife. “We design the clothes we were looking for ourselves,” says Meg He, who grew up in Beijing and London. “Beautiful, versatile staple wear for women who are on the go a lot, who love doing sports, but who also have to kick in a night shift at the office every once in a while.”
The two first started thinking about ADAY during their time as investment bankers in London. That’s where they powered through 120-hour-work weeks and realized how difficult it was to integrate an active lifestyle into their daily routines ruled by deadlines and overtime.
“Being active is very important to us. We do a lot of sports, but we’re also convinced that even the smallest things can make a big difference – for instance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or using your lunch break for a stroll or a jog,” says Meg He, who is a certified yoga instructor, has ran marathons, and rock climbs. But even these things become more difficult when the office dress code is blouse and pant suit.
”We always felt more at home wearing our sport outfits than our office attire,” says Faulhaber. In her youth, she practiced gymnastics at competition levels; now, she often starts her day jogging along the East River and across the Williamsburg Bridge. “The way these garments are made helps us move rather than keeping us from it.”
Nina and Meg started thinking about how to “hack” their clothes – and began to interpret classic garments in a new way. Like the shirt blouse made out of a spandex blend which eliminates the need to have it dry cleaned or ironed. Or the leggings with seams that are glued to make them even more elastic and comfortable – so that it can be worn after work for yoga or jogging.
With their innovative designs and production techniques, Nina and Meg want to create simple staple clothes that not only allow their customers an active lifestyle, but that in fact simplify their lives. “As a child, I never thought about my clothes. They were just there for me,” says Nina. Later she started replacing her clothes on a regular basis, something she is questioning now. “Our consumer behaviour is geared towards always buying new clothes.” This is what she wanted to change, together with Meg. “We waste so much time and money on getting new outfits. I wanted clothes to become a ‘non-issue’ again,” says Nina.
If you work in a start-up, you will never arrive. It’s always about further development, it’s a progression over time.
“We want to encourage the people to go back to consuming less“, agrees Meg. “And that applies to clothes as well.” If you don’t have to worry all day about your outfit, you have more time for other, more important things. Like running a successful business and taking those decisions that make it grow.
For Nina and Meg this meant moving their head office from London to New York. Both of them appreciate New York’s hustle and bustle just as much as the opportunities they can find here. “In SoHo, so many different groups come together,” says Meg, “long-established entrepreneurs and start-up founders for example, or locals and tourists. And the best things come out of this context.”
The city does not only serve as a source of inspiration for the planned expansion of their collection, but also allows for an exchange with other founders, thus always pushing ADAY forward. And that’s exactly how it should be. “If you work in a start-up, you will never arrive. It’s always about further development, it’s a progression over time,” says Nina. Every day would bring a new challenge. On most days, this means preparing the opening of a pop-up store or visiting tailors and fabric suppliers. On some days, it means dealing with the repair of a broken air conditioner.