Volacious: Apt or fit to fly
Annie Weinert knows how bodies move. Hailing from Portland, Ore. via San Francisco and Chicago, Weinert, a professional hula-hoop and vertical dancer, has always been interested in movement. Last Saturday I went to the runway launch of her latest clothing line, Volacious. Composed of high tech cotton/lyrca blends and supplex, her designs have both structure and drape. From the material choice to silhouette, it was overwhelmingly apparent how music and dance meet functionality for a fresh take on active wear.
Weinert started making clothes when she was in high school. Her specialty being halter tops for friends. While studying painting at University of Illinois, she continued making costumes for her dancer friends. In 2006, she took the leap to being a full-time fashion designer. Upon moving to San Francisco, Weinert was introduced to festival culture that inevitably influenced her creative outlook.
Weinert says that the cities she’s lived in have had a big impact on her designs, giving them a specific urban edge. She branded her company as Annie Land, LLC, and it is easy to see the spirit of the street and Weinert’s bold take charge attitude in her clothing. Her previous designs include soft, “wookie” like hoods, mini top hats, and ruckus animal-print jump suits. When styled together Annie Land clothing embraces an aesthetic akin to Tokyo’s “Harajuku Kids.” In her past collections Weinert represented a sensibility of wanting to be seen and a certain theatricality that embraced humor and originality. Volacious takes a big step away from this costume essence.
“The inspiration for the line comes from seeing a niche to fill in the active wear industry. I seek to provide women with garments that are easily worn during their favorite physical activities, but do not look too ‘athletic.’ Instead they are chic and urban inspired, and are easily worn in all other aspects of life, Weinert says.
“Versatility is a key part of my inspiration. Movement and dance have a huge impact on my design choices. Comfort and freedom of motion are the highest priorities in my clothes. As a former professional hoop dance teacher and performer, I have an acute understanding of technical features and fabrics that enhance movement and expression.”
What I loved most about the Volacious line was the bridge Weinert made from play or activity to everyday chic. I have long searched for workout gear that could literally be worn all day and not look sloppy, awkward, masculine or boring. Volacious takes a step outside of the box using string ruched cowl necks and printed jersey genie pants as staples in the line, diverging from companies such as Kucoon, Lulemon and Breathe Athletic. Because of the fit and fabric choice, the extra draping never becomes cumbersome or problematic. This kind of design knowledge is filtered from Weinert’s experience in transitioning between daily tasks. In each design there is never a moment where functionality is sacrificed for aesthetic or vice versa. The interplay between the two is seamless and effortless, much like watching Weinert in her instructional hoop-dance videos.
After watching the fashion show, I tried on many of the Volacious garments and fell in love with them all. Composed of several prints, and mostly, grey, black, reds and neutrals, the pieces easily intermesh into any wardrobe. Also important to note is Weinert’s vision to keep production local. She has the line manufactured in her current hometown of Portland, Ore.
Find the launch of Volacious at volaciousapparel.com.
Photo: Women’s wear from the 2013 Volacious line by Hannah Hardaway