What's your favorite piece of clothing, and what makes it so? A band T-shirt from that once-in-a-lifetime concert you attended? A lucky pair of socks that you could swear makes you a better footballer? A hat that a loved one gave you all those years ago?
Whether you agree or not, clothing carries meaning. That meaning can be sentiment, power, purpose – anything at all. But to that end, clothing is a choice. At Earned Athletic, every piece we design, test, and produce is no less than a long list of choices.
For our latest women's line, the Keeping It Real collection, we partnered with CrossFit Games athlete and coach Tammi Robinson. In doing so, we believe we have created the pieces that you have been looking for.
Who is Tammi Robinson?
While an athlete and coach by day, Tammi has spent the last nine months working in a new role: clothing designer. So what meaning do clothes have for her?
"Honestly, I don't have a favorite shirt or anything like that. I'm probably the least sentimental person you'll know! But if I find something that works for my body and feels like I'm not wearing anything, it will be at the top of the pile every day."
There's a word that best describes Tammi's stylistic priorities: comfort. She grew up in baggy jeans, skateboarding shoes, and six-foot wallet chains, far less typical than girls her age. But that didn't matter because she was never afraid of going against the grain to feel comfortably, genuinely, and honestly herself.
This bottom line has been the foundation for her career, which took her to Bali to train as an elite athlete, California with a third-place team finish at the CrossFit Games, and now Hong Kong as a coach and athlete. This path connected Tammi to Alan of the Earned Athletic Team, who convinced her to take the brand in a new direction.
Make the Clothes You're Looking ForAlthough Tammi had never designed a piece of clothing before, she was up for the challenge of making a training outfit for her athletic frame while providing the quality to stand up for a high training demand. These two qualities proved to be difficult to find in Asia, let alone anywhere.
The current state of women's activewear can find quality in high-end labels like Lululemon or Sweaty Betty. While the quality of their pieces is undeniable, they are usually flattering for a slim figure and accommodate mostly lower-impact exercises. Unfortunately, female athletes typically find that yoga outfits don't last too long under the barbell.
"I wear my Lulu leggings when I can, but they are not friendly to wear and tear. And it's a challenge finding a comfortable sports bra for people with bigger lats and shoulders. You end up having lat boob. Trust me: you don't want lat boob."
It seemed that the only real solution for Tammi was to make what she and her gym friends couldn't find, which was why Alan reached out to her.
"When Alan asked me to help make a new product line, I was already in discussion with another brand to do the same. The deciding factor was that Alan made me a part of the design process from start to finish."
The Trial and Error of Clothing Design
Once Tammi identified the goal of her clothing, identifying the pieces was easy: a durable sports bra and a pair of leggings. Next came the design process – less than easy.
"There was a lot of back and forth. I didn't even know if my feedback was useful or understandable! I don't know fabrics or cuts or stitches, so I could only describe the kind of feel I wanted and hope the factory team knew what to do with that. In the end, I gave Alan feedback on each batch with video to demonstrate, he talked to the factory, and we both waited for the next prototype."
Of course, there were communication issues. In one instance, there was a plan to create a training shirt. After asking for a "little more stretch" in the cotton, she received what can only be described as a surfing rash guard. They ultimately abandoned the shirt idea altogether.
As the months rolled on, Tammi, Alan, and the factory found their groove and made adjustments every step of the way. Upon reflection, the process of making the right clothing was not different from her gym training. She set her eyes on a goal, made every effort to address weaknesses, took stock of every win and frustration, and repeated as long as the process needed.
When It's Ready
There was never a set end date for Tammi's project. The only goal was to create the clothing she wanted. But after nine months of testing, revision, and redesign, she found her breakthrough.
"There were a lot of drafts that I didn't love. There was always a little problem here or there. I really couldn't see an end to the process until the day I reached for my clothing first. These two pieces are now always at the top of my clothing pile."
Keeping it Real: Who It's For
When it came time to create a name for the line, Tammi wrestled with different themes that embodied her own values. One touched on her wanderlust, while another focused on her identity as a free spirit. But at her core, her genuine attitude guided her decision as always.
"Keeping It Real is 100% me, and I'm proud to see my name on it. These pieces and this name embody me, the clothing, and the whole process. Everyone should be free to be their authentic self. Everyone should feel completely as comfortable in their clothes as they are in their own skin. Everyone should believe in and love what they do. If this is who you are and what you strive to be, we made these clothes for you."