Who are you?
Hi, I’m Michelle Watson, the founder and designer for MICHI, an edgy high fashion, high performance brand inspired by boudoir lingerie meets high-performance sport.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by superhero costumes, retro pin-up girls, Olympic athletes, historical fashion, street fashion, and nature. All of these elements find their way into my sketches and clothing design.
Who is the Michi NY girl?
The MICHI girl is a superhero! She’s confident, creative, fashion conscious and leads an active lifestyle. She’s got a lot on the go and is always working towards a goal. She’s probably busy celebrating her latest victory in some kind of competition, whether it’s a dance or athletic competition, a 30-day yoga challenge, a successful win at work, mastering a difficult recipe or achieving a personal goal. The MICHI girl doesn’t just practice yoga. She sprints, does chin-ups, dances, figure skates, paddle boards or does martial arts. She’s not boring and likes to mix up her workout routine as well as her lifestyle choices. She embodies strength, confidence and uniqueness. The MICHI girl doesn’t just set goals and forget about them; she follows through and knocks them out of the park.
How did you get into designing sportswear?
I grew up playing competitive sports such as golf and ski racing, and then practiced a lot of martial arts and dance later in life. All the while, I was obsessed with fashion design particularly with the cutting European designers from the 1990’s.
I attended Parsons School of Design in NYC and was always trying to figure out a way to have a fashion line that was unlike anything in the marketplace that filled an underserved niche. This thought process continued as I worked on the design team at RLX Ralph Lauren which taught me a lot about the worlds of luxury and active lifestyle wear.
During my time in New York City, I worked out a lot doing a wide variety of athletic activities. I felt like there were a lack of options in the marketplace for sportswear that would translate from the gym to the street as well as from graceful sports like ballet barre or yoga, to hardcore high intensity sports like running, martial arts or dancehall. I didn’t see any existing clothing that had this crossover potential. Living in NYC I would often work out in an average outfit then at the last minute meet friends to go out and wished for something that would function well for both. I wanted a functional line that looks good in the gym as well as when you walk out of the gym to go to a dinner with friends, do a little shopping, or grab a drink at a bar.
Where do you see yourself/brand in 5 years’ time?
In five years I see MICHI as a global brand, with aggressive global distribution and retail stores in New York, LA, London, and Hong Kong. I see MICHI as the go-to fashion-athletic brand. In five years time, I want the brand to have expanded organically into more categories, like accessories, menswear, and more lifestyle clothing.
What’s the one item every woman should have in her wardrobe?
A pair of MICHI leggings with flattering and slimming mesh cut outs, of course!
What are your style tips for dressing to the gym?
Don’t be afraid to look good! So many women take cover in ratty old t-shirts or generic activewear that everyone else is wearing. Just because you are planning to sweat doesn’t mean that you have to wear boring activewear. Have fun with your workout clothing! Try tailoring your outfit to your activity! People should dress with the intention to perform. This also means dressing to get into character for your workout. If you’re heading out on a run, pick something more streamlined and work towards your personal best each time. Going to your Ballet Barre class? Pick something strappier, something ballet inspired. Get into character and master your arabesque! If the mind believes, the body will follow.
Also, when you’re dressing for the gym, you want to think about translating your outfit from your workout, to your world beyond the gym. One of the most important facets of the MICHI brand is that I saw the need for designs that look just as good inside the gym as they do outside and on the street. Pairing form-flattering bottoms like the Psyche legging with a comfy zip-up like the Illusion jacket facilitate the transition from work/life to the gym and back again, help make exercise a lifestyle – not just an activity.
What’s your favourite healthy snack?
Green tea; Roasted almonds; Kale chips; Dark chocolate!
What do you indulge in on a cheat day?
A bottle of red wine…and rich Italian desserts.
What’s your workout of choice?
My workout of choice would definitely be an outdoor workout like surfing, skiing, or snowboarding! If I had to pick an indoor workout, I would have to go with an intense dancehall class or sweaty dancehall party.
Do you have any fitness goals you would love to achieve?
There are so many! I want to be a better surfer and improve my upper body strength. I want to fix my swing kick technique in Muay Thai. I want to work on more acrobatic yoga poses. I want to improve on some gymnastic skills – I’d really love to be able to do a back walkover.
What do you do to relax?
Since I’m so busy growing the business – any kind of exercise, especially dancing, or outdoor sports is my go-to to unwind. A good workout is definitely my first choice for relaxing, preferably out in nature – on the water or in the mountains.
If there was a soundtrack to your life, what song would be playing right now?
“Killer Queen” by QUEEN.