Claire Ortiz and Heather Park have a background in building performance brands, and when the two decided to launch their own collection, they took their expertise in technical textiles and performance engineering and applied it to professional wear.
The result, Ortiz Industry, has the sophisticated look of a contemporary men’s and women’s line but is engineered to perform.
“Why should it only be the superstar athletes who get best of technology?” Ortiz said. “Everyone should have it.”
The launch collection of easy-to-wear classic pieces includes pencil skirts, slim trousers, a dress and woven and knit tops for women, and a suit and woven and knit tops for men. Ortiz and Park packed each piece with details. For example, all bottoms have the Tuck Track waistband, which keeps shirts tucked in, and integrated pockets that stay in place. The pencil skirt is contoured specifically to a woman’s body, allowing for ease of movement, and is lined in a breathable stretch fabric that provides a smooth foundation. Edges are laser cut for precision, and seams are sonic-welded. “We do shapes and details you could never get from sewing by hand,” Ortiz said. Sleeves have gussets to give the wearer increased range of movement.
Self-described research geeks, tech junkies and fashionistas, Ortiz and Park saw a void in the market for professional clothing that could keep up with busy professionals’ lives.
“There’s no such thing as 9 to 5 and no multitasking,” Ortiz said, describing a woman dropping off a toddler at preschool before racing off to give a presentation or a man who gets off a flight and can immediately head to a meeting looking fresh pressed.
“We all have to perform,” Park said.
Adding performance attributes to contemporary designs was a natural fit for Ortiz and Park. “We know technology,” Ortiz said. “We have worked with [athletic] legends and have studied biomechanics. We put it together and said, ‘Let’s do something we are passionate about—technology, science, art and fashion.’”
Park describes Ortiz as “the visionary of creative advanced functional technology.” The two have a utility patent in the works for their pencil skirt and proprietary agreements for several fabrics with the mills.
“A lot of people throw around the word ‘innovation,’ but we really mean advanced technology,” Ortiz said. “From fiber level to coatings to the way it’s worn, we want to get fabric to perform a way it never has before.”
All of the fabrics in the collection must have at least four advanced properties. “Nothing should ever be nonbreathable,” Ortiz said.
Fabrics have four-way stretch and recovery as well as UV resistance, moisture management, anti-microbial and soil-release properties, and all items can be machine washed.
At a line review at Ortiz Industry’s downtown Los Angeles office, Ortiz takes out a bottle of water with an eye dropper and drips water on the men’s suit jacket. It beads off.
To illustrate the performance aspects of the collection, Ortiz and Park hired a dancer, a skateboarder, a triathlete and a stunt man to model the collection for the lookbook. “We purposely shot everyone in full action,” Ortiz said.
When they found out the stunt man also does parkour, the urban obstacle sport, they had him leap from a building wearing their men’s suit. He landed with his shirt still perfectly tucked in.
“[The dancer] can do the splits in our pants,” Park said.
Performance and brand building
Ortiz is a Southern California native who has worked around the world, designing for companies such as Esprit, Nike, Under Armour and Wilson. She serves as chief executive officer of Ortiz Industry. Park is originally from Hawaii, and, before co-founding Ortiz, she had her own design firm, creating branding strategies and art direction for companies such as Nike, Halekulani and Hive. She serves as vice president of branding for the collection.
The two met when Nike first began launching its Brand Jordan division and helped grow the business from a small collection into a $1.75 billion global lifestyle brand, according to published reports.
Working for such large companies and brands helped refine the concept behind Ortiz.
“You go to a presentation and you don’t have to think about what you have on,” Ortiz said. “Is it appropriate? Does it fit you? We wanted to eliminate the time space those moments take up for women and men.”
And the proof is in the fitting room. When the models first tried on pieces from the collection, they were impressed with the fit and the function of the pieces, Ortiz and Park said.
Retail prices range from $175 to $275 for most separates, jackets are $350 to $450, and the dress and skirts are $275 to $350.
“This is apparel you’re going to have in your closet for a long time,” Park said. “This is the antithesis of fast fashion.”
Ortiz and Park are based in downtown Los Angeles in a light-filled office near Pershing Square, but to produce the collection, they went overseas to Asia. “There are only a handful of factories in the world that have the machines it takes to build these pieces,” Ortiz said. “We think of ourselves more as a technology company. Athleticwear has really led in technology. It’s been very well focused. We want women and men to feel comfortable with technology and geek out the way we do.”
Published Jan. 9, 2014 at ApparelNews.net