Lorna Jane Clarkson on how to stay relevant in the oversaturated wellness industry
29th May 2019
If you don’t own at least one item from famed Australian activewear brand Lorna Jane, you’d be one of the few. This hugely successful, game-changing brand is the functional and stylish choice for active women everywhere. And indeed, the brand’s founder, Lorna Jane Clarkson, reportedly even coined the term “activewear” back in 1989.
Founded by Clarkson in the 1980s when the former fitness instructor couldn’t find any inspiring gym clothes to teach and work out in, the brand has become one of the leading Australian labels in the category, pioneering an approach to activewear that marries fashion and function. Of course, in 2019 there’s no shortage of stylish activewear brands thanks to the explosion of labels keen to get a slice of the booming activewear market, so how exactly does this 30-year-old label stay relevant in such a competitive market?
Lorna Jane’s founder, Lorna Jane Clarkson, who also happens to be a six-time author, iconic businesswoman and wellness authority answers this question and more, including when she first realised her brand would be a success and how to build your own activewear wardrobe.
With the explosion of activewear companies, how have you stayed ahead of the competition?
“I think the key to staying ahead of the competition is to not think too much about them and what they are doing and focus more on your brand and what you want to achieve.”
“At Lorna Jane our focus is “active living” and we continue to be a leader in what we do because we focus on giving our customers the best products, the best customer experience and the best solutions for living an active life. We are always striving to be better and my belief is that you can’t do that if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder at what other people are doing.”
Please share the story of when you knew your brand was going to be a success.
“There have been so many moments but I think the one that stands out the most would have to be the day someone came into our store and bought everything!! We had been in business for about two years, we had one retail store in Brisbane and I was working from a small design studio underneath our house. Bill [Clarkson, Lorna’s husband] had just come on board to help run the business and roll out our retail stores. This particular day I was working from home and Bill was working in the store when he came home early with a pocket full of money and the news that someone had come into the store and not only bought every single piece but wanted more!”
“Of course, we celebrated for a good few hours until we realised that we had to get back to work if we wanted to get stock organised to re-open the store. I remember that weekend as we madly worked to make enough pieces to re-open the store thinking ‘WOW if one woman can like what we are doing enough to buy every single piece then we really must be on to something!’”
“It’s amazing how this one action boosted our confidence and made it a little less scary to make some of the big decisions that were coming our way.”
As an activewear expert, what is your advice on the key activewear items every woman should have in their workout wardrobe?
“I think it’s important to ‘build’ your active wardrobe and if we’re talking key items that has to start with a good-fitting sports bra that is both supportive and comfortable. You also have to think ‘sport-specific’ when it comes to bras, so my advice is to invest in one for your more high-impact activities like running and HIIT [high intensity interval training] and another one for yoga, Pilates and every day wear.”
“The perfect black tight would have to be next on my list, and I recommend you look for styles that not only shape and support, but are guaranteed never to go see-through. I also like to have a minimum of one pocket in my tights for my keys and a little cash but am loving our ‘Phone Pocket’ styles right now for their hands-free convenience. A good pair of trainers would have to be next and as the weather starts to cool, some great layering pieces to take you from warm-up to cool down with ease.”