Activewear and athleisure brands are potentially the ones most poised for success during COVID-19, as many around the world have traded in their work attire for sweatpants and leggings for the foreseeable future. And P.E Nation, an Australian “street-meets-sportswear” brand that recently debuted an activewear collection with H&M, continues to make headlines in the space and add more apparel categories to its offerings.
Founded by fitness and fashion enthusiasts Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning, the brand today announced a collaboration with Australian luxury apparel brand Rebecca Vallance that combines its own athleisure elements with the latter’s signature structured design. With standout pieces like a full skirt with a drawstring waist and a hooded blazer, the capsule collection gives off an elevated athleisure aesthetic best suited for a home office—and it could be exactly what consumers are looking for as they settle into the new work-from-home culture.
“We decided to create a new P.E. category, and when we looked closely at who we were inspired by, we turned towards Rebecca Vallance,” said Tregoning. “We love and respect the Rebecca Vallance brand, and we’ve worn her collections over the years, so it was great to lean on her suiting knowledge.”
Other pieces in the collection include elevated sweatshirts and matching sweatpants that, when worn together, look more like a work uniform than a track suit. The slightly flared bottoms and coordinating abstract prints give the cozy collection a professional boost. The collection’s retail price ranges from $80-$580 and the capsule includes pieces made from organic cotton and recycled polyester.
This isn’t P.E Nation’s first foray into unexpected combinations. From day one, the brand has combined premium activewear with fashion pieces that place it somewhere between Lululemon and Kith—the latter of which it teamed up with for an exclusive collection earlier this year. The collection showcased mix-and-match activewear and sportswear pieces featuring an earthy palette of tan, peach and stone colors with pops of stripes, neon green and leopard print.
It’s these types of bold accents and experimental coloring that most inspires the P.E team.
“We are always on the search for new and exciting palettes. We pull references and inspiration from everything: artwork; landscape; music,” Edwards said, adding that the team takes a week out of the office each season to put together a creative brief complete with color palettes, print ideas, textures, shapes and stories for the season.
These elements, combined with new tech and sustainable fabrics they constantly source for their collections, are what she considers to be the brand’s trademark.
“P.E Nation is instantly recognizable,” she said. “We have merged great product with a strong visual identity and brand voice. Our color combinations, materials and shapes may change from season to season, but the label’s stamp of sporty stripes, primary colors and visible branding doesn’t budge—consistent aesthetic is key to the label’s success.”
Though the company has firm branding and a grip on its identity, at just four years old, the Sydney-based label is still new in town.
Edwards and Tregoning met while working together at Australian fashion brand Sass & Bide. With their combined retail and design knowledge—Edwards specialized in accessories and Tregoning specialized in denim and knitwear—they left to launch P.E Nation and fill what they saw as a gap in the massive activewear industry. They wanted to be the solution for women who want to “multi-task and juggle their busy life—who don’t want to miss a beat, and who want to do it all.”
The brand has aggressively expanded in just a short period of time, and boasts more than 253,000 Instagram followers. It now includes technical activewear, retro-inspired streetwear, functional snow gear, footwear, accessories and denim.
In fact, some of P.E Nation’s bestselling pieces exist within its denim collection, which features a mix of high fashion and tomboy styles. The 1998 jeans, $189 retail, feature a wide leg and elastic waist in a dark-wash rigid denim, and can be worn high on the waist as a paper bag pant or lowered down to resemble ’90s-inspired baggy jeans.
Other key styles include the 1975 jean, $200 retail, a high-rise, slim-fitting black denim jean with a raw cut hem and cropped kick flare; and the 1987 denim jacket-hoodie hybrid, $320 retail, that combines vintage stone-washed rigid denim and contrast white sweatshirt paneling.
The brand’s exclusive capsules and collaborations with global brands expand its reach even further. Just before nonessential businesses were forced to close as a result of COVID-19, P.E Nation debuted a collaboration with H&M—the first Australian brand ever to do so—that featured clothing, swimwear, undergarments and accessories. Fortunately, the collaboration was produced prior to the outbreak, swerving any delays that could have occurred as a result.
P.E Nation has shifted to Instagram to connect with consumers during isolation, urging them to “wear outfits that make you feel like your most authentic self to boost your confidence.” The brand posted that message, as well as “Staying in doesn’t mean you can’t dress up” alongside an image of a model wearing a flowy full-length skirt, drawstring windbreaker and P.E Nation-branded top.
And it’s this exact mix-and-match aesthetic that Edwards worked into the brand’s foundation back in 2016.
“The P.E Nation shopper has no boundaries,” she said. “She can mix and match, she has limitless potential and knows she can dream big—always ready to explore her individuality.”
The brand’s latest capsule collection with Rebecca Vallance is available exclusively on the P.E Nation website.