TORONTO - While Lole may be a newcomer to the Toronto runway, the design director for the Montreal-based activewear brand has a strong Fashion Week track record.
Andy The-Anh, who has been with Lole since 2011, has presented his signature line at past Fashion Week events in Montreal and Toronto.
Still, the veteran candidly confessed to nerves ahead of his presentation at World MasterCard Fashion Week on Thursday, where Lole unveiled its fall-winter collection.
"Scared. That's the first word," The-Anh said in a recent interview.
"I think I know that the expectation is there. They have people in to compare what I'm doing before and what I'm doing now. But I think I always stay true to myself.
"I always have the same philosophy ... the same thinking behind (me), so I just hope that everybody's going to like what I'm doing now."
Lole cranked up the colour at World MasterCard Fashion Week on Thursday with a vibrant palette of yellow, pink, purple and mint green teamed with grey, black and white in the line.
The collection featured a full slate of activewear aimed at helping women suit up pre- and post-workout. Athletic bras, logo tees, leggings, running shorts, cardigans, hoodies and cover-ups were all featured in the range.
The designs were punctuated with the type of fashionable touches that would be at home in a ready-to-wear line, with use of sheer panelling, circular cutouts and cool graphic patterns.
The runway showcase closed out with a series of looks suitable for the slopes with puffer coats and one-piece snowsuits on display.
Prior to joining Lole, The-Anh was well-known for his signature chic, crisp suiting and tailoring, and elegant eveningwear.
Over the years, The-Anh dressed notable women in Canada and abroad, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper's wife, Laureen, actress Patricia Clarkson and professional ballroom and Latin dancer Anna Trebunskaya of "Dancing With The Stars'" fame.
Despite acclaim for The-Anh and his designs, his company closed up shop in 2010 due to lower sales driven by a disappointing season in the U.S.
Economic challenges following the recession were cited as the main reason for the decision.
But it didn't take long for The-Anh to bounce back, signing on shortly afterwards to lead the design direction at Lole — an acronym for Live Out Loud Everyday.
Still, he admitted the transition from eveningwear to activewear was initially challenging. Yet while the fabrics and styles differed from his previous luxe looks, he realized the end goal was the same.
"What I was understanding is that I was designing for exactly the same woman that I was designing for when I had my own brand," The-Anh said.
"This woman is a strong woman, she's a career woman, she's balances her work life, her professional life and her family life."
The-Anh said the multipurpose and routine use of athleticwear staples like jogging pants and leggings show the wider embrace of active clothing among women.
"After dropping their kids to the soccer game or the music class they don't want to change that much. Those clothes become more than fitness clothes — they become more like a lifestyle."
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