“Grocery shopping in your workout clothes? You must be crazy!” Indeed, this may have been looked down upon a decade ago. Today, it has become a norm for New Yorkers (we see you, Whole Fooders). To take it one step further, there is a new brand on the block that brings activewear to a whole new level. Hello, Asteria Active!
Sena Yang had us at kimchi (word on the street is she makes it in-house)! But, what stuck with us was her passion and commitment to bring the best of fashion to the masses. From taking SENA, a contemporary collection, to 70 retailers domestically and internationally, Sena is now jumping on the “athleisure” bandwagon.
There are Lulu’s, Gap’s, Nike’s and several other brands but what differentiates Asteria Active? It’s Sena’s vision of designing based on form, function and feeling. With styles ranging from $85 - $225 and a mix of solid and printed clothing, it’s no ordinary fashion line.
“I don’t want to give people something that’s not going to work.”
As a Rhode Island School of Design graduate in 2006, Sena focused on apparel design. Her past gigs at Catherine Malandrino, Seattle Opera House, Alexander McQueen, and LaROK led to building key relationships in the industry. This eventually helped her become a one-woman show with close experts she could get advice from.
“The idea around the brand is moving forward, positive and inspirational—the values need to be through the process—it has to be full circle for it to be authentic.” Asteria Active focuses on versatility with pieces that work for everyone, everywhere. A trend that bothered Sena was the compromise of quality when it came to activewear. Hence, technical fabrics are at the core of the brand.
The Aha Moment
SENA closed shop after four years mostly due to Sena’s change of heart and the growing competitors in the contemporary space (think Zara). “Contemporary had become a very different market in 2012. It was hard to compete. At the same time, I personally shifted gears because I became interested in health and wellness. I saw the positive benefits of working out and the mind + body connection. The wellness industry was and still is very big and we’re seeing what works, which is exciting.”
In fact, the “athleisure” market in the U.S. — including athletic apparel, footwear and accessories — is worth $97 billion annually. The term even won an entry in the next update of the Merriam-Webster dictionary! Around 2013, while Sena took a stint at freelancing, she realized that her clothes just weren’t working for her. “I thought to myself: there had to be a way to make the clothing more functional. I was wearing all your household names from Lululemon to Nike, but there was a huge gap between functional and stylish. It didn’t make sense to me that great styles didn’t come with fabric that couldn’t perform.” Boom, the idea of Asteria Active (named after a Greek Titan Goddess might we add) was born in 2015. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, Sena raised $16,000 that literally kick started the production process.
Sleepless in Seattle
Born in Seattle, Washington, Sena was interested in art and design from the get go. Her parents helped nurture this by letting her make garments and Barbie dolls; apparently, she made Ken before he was even alive! Another fun fact: Sena was a regular at Value Village, a thrift store where the Macklemore video was shot (#majorthrowback). Here, she bought vintage shirts, cut them up and sewed them back together. One can easily argue that this is when Sena passed fabric 101. “I learned to make things with what I had around me: immediate materials. A lot of my learning and development process began at the age of 3 or 4.”
This creative process has translated into Asteria Active today. The collection’s motto “Activewear for Everywhere” comes to life through incredible fabrics. A few characteristics include four-way stretch, color retention after wash, and durability. The tank tops are made from recycled fibers from the natural biomass found in the ocean that makes it anti-bacterial, anti-odor and sun protective. Most importantly, its anti-pill. The staple black leggings have black spandex in them so it resists shine when light hits it, giving it a strong matte finish. And the best part? Good coverage and recovery. The leggings don’t get baggy around the knees after multiple uses. All of the manufacturing is done in New York because Sena believes that “if the production isn’t right, the product won’t be right.”
“Fashion is cultural commentary in 3D form.”
Everyone knows how hard it is to enter the fashion world, let alone compete with longstanding brands. When we asked her what made Asteria Active unique, she says, “It’s my personal aesthetic and need to find what’s different, yet unique to every body type. The brand is based on positive energy and social observation on what’s going on now.” For example, one of the prints in Sena’s collection is Rain Camo, inspired by endless rain in Seattle.
For Sena, education is at the crux of everything. Outside of Asteria, she is an Educator and has taught at The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. Next month, she will be teaching a workshop at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.
You can find Asteria Active in boutiques such as Erika Bloom Pilates Studio and Evolve Fit Wear or purchase directly off their web shop using promo code: AsteriaxRadiche for 10% discount on any order.
Photo courtesy of Asteria Active.