Zella's Community Made Athleticwear
Introducing the Zella Community Collection, highly functional, versatile and cute athleticwear designed by and for you.
By Solvie Karlstrom
Imagine you could tell your activewear designer exactly what you wanted to work out in—what elements mattered most to you, how you wanted it to look and feel. For the Zella Community Collection, a group of customers in LA did just that. From sketch phase to test phase, their collective input determined everything from color palette to technical features.
Spin instructors, boxing coaches, runners, yogis—Zella gathered together a group that knows what they want in a workout outfit. And it turns out, they want a lot of the same things: lightweight fabrics (preferably made with recycled fibers), high-waisted styles, clean details that transition from sport to street, and (this is a big one) pockets.
Input even led to an all-new leggings feature for Zella. "They have this panel in the back that you can stick your sweater in instead of tying it around your waist. We thought that was really, really cool," says Pilates buff Jennifer Hooper. "I was excited to see that it was actually created."
Body combat instructor Maria Pope is especially happy with the collection's rosy color palette and clean details. "My suggestion was to keep the top design simple, and now seeing it on the tanks, I'm proud." Spin instructor and hike enthusiast Daise Lambert is proud of the patterns, the open-backed top, and the final length of the pants—a detail that's crucial for comfort on your way up a mountain.
From the design team's perspective, the whole process was unprecedented. "We've never done this before," says Zella Senior Designer Katie Walag. "I literally took my sketches to LA and they voted on them." Over four months, Walag evolved the collection to include every design element the group voted in. "I talked through sketches with these customers the way I would with my design director."
To celebrate the launch of the collection, Walag and her collaborators geared up in their favorite pieces for a sunny hike up Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles. "It feels like a little bond was formed," says Walag, who calls the whole experience a career highlight. "I love that they feel ownership—that they can look at the collection and think, we did this.”