Athletic leisure wear a natural fit for Danica Patrick's clothing line
Fashion has been an important part of Danica Patrick's life since her childhood, but it wasn't until a decade ago that the popular NASCAR driver began dreaming about having her own clothing line.
On Wednesday, Patrick's dream becomes reality when her athleisure collection, Warrior by Danica Patrick, makes its debut on HSN.
Designed for all ages and body types, Patrick's first apparel collection includes leggings, joggers, hoodies, tanks, tees, jackets, sports bras and more. The sizes range from extra small to 3X, and prices are from $29.99 to $79.99.
"It's athleisure with an edge. It's performance with an edge," Amie Freedland, design director for the private label division of G-III Apparel Group, said Tuesday in describing Patrick's clothing collection. "It's functional. It's original. It's affordable. It kind of represents modern femininity.
"I wear these clothes, and my mom is looking forward to wearing these clothes. My mom is 65, and I'm 41. We like to say it's about an attitude and not an age."
Another phase of the collection is scheduled to air on HSN in July, with the third coming in either September or October. A winter show also is possible.
"The July show will be an extension of the January collection," Freedland said. "The great thing about the collection is every single piece ... works together, the color pallet and the fabrics. It's all about layering and lifestyle."
Patrick's relationship with G-III Apparel Group began near the end of January 2016, when she met with the corporation about merchandising at the race track and how to approach it in a more profitable manner.
"The in-person sit down we did at their office really evolved into me telling them how much I like clothes, how much I've always wanted a clothing line and my interest beyond a race car and a T-shirt," Patrick said Tuesday. "It developed into this whole bigger plan when they saw my interest and passion outside the basics."
After that meeting, G-III created a lookbook with different ideas and genres of clothing, and Patrick fine-tuned the categories. When the question of where to market the apparel arose, G-III representatives and Patrick flew to Tampa, Florida, and pitched it to HSN.
"They loved the athleisure category, and it's so great that they did because it's what I wear on a daily basis and what I feel like I have the most opinions about because I do wear it," the 33-year-old Patrick said. "I'm really testing the durability, testing the working resistance, testing all kinds of different things because I'm wearing it in so many environments."
When G-III made its initial proposal to Patrick, the name of the clothing line was Weekend Warrior. Patrick wanted the "Weekend" dropped, Freedland said, because "she didn't want people to think they could only wear the clothing on the weekends." Next came designing the brand label. Once again, Patrick was hands-on, making the original sketches.
"I started searching American Indian symbols, tribal symbols. I actually am a tiny bit American Indian," Patrick said. "I thought the thunderbird was cool. It also means unlimited happiness. I think it's really nice when something has meaning. I thought the thunderbird was a great logo, so we went from there. I also wanted to incorporate the W from Warrior into it, so the thunderbird would stand for Warrior instead of just being a thunderbird."
Patrick has been heavily involved in the clothing line's development. The details of things she would like to change for the next collection range from rise issues or cuts to the stretch of the fabric, its weight and the compression. She noted that the initial collection was heavy on athleisure, functional clothing, and she wants to incorporate some performance items in the next one.
"I'm pretty opinionated with it all," Patrick said. "I've told them the things I really like and the things I want to improve on moving forward. I think I annoy them."
Freedland disagreed. She praised Patrick's involvement.
I'm pretty opinionated with it all. I've told them the things I really like and the things I want to improve on moving forward. I think I annoy them.Danica Patrick
"I've been doing this for 20 years. I've worked with a lot of high-profile people, and I have to say, this is the first time the celebrity has actually cared and been involved like this," Freedland said. "Most people in her position have a great name, they can make a business out of it, and they just don't really want to do the work that goes along with it, and she really does. She really enjoys creating, designing and learning about fabrics. She's just a real person -- not a phony, baloney celebrity. Don't get me wrong, she's not easy. She's got a very strong opinion, and I like that about her. She's definitely got a great edge to her. She's very confident."
Freedland said Patrick wanted to be sure the clothing line was more about form and function -- not just about appearance.
"She is really about things fitting correctly, working for all different body types, being able to move and be comfortable," Freedland said. "It's not just about looking great. It's about it feeling great as well and truly functioning."
Patrick said she has always been a fashion-conscious person. In her school days, she wore leopard prints, peplum waist belts and pencil skirts. She said she had her mother braid her hair at night so it would be kinky the next morning, and she liked the choker necklaces that were popular when she attended school in the 1990s.
"I have been known to cut my clothes up when I was a kid and make them look the way I wanted," Patrick said with a laugh. "Probably six or eight years ago, I got a sewing machine and learned how to do simple things. I went to one Jo-Ann Fabrics sewing 101 class. I made some shirts."
Now that Patrick's dream of having her own clothing line is a reality, she has already moved beyond that thought.
"I'm not really thinking about the very moment itself," Patrick said. "I'm thinking about how to make it better and how to continue to evolve and excel, figure out how to be the best. That's my goal with everything I do. How do I do it better than anyone else?"
Deb Williams is a North Carolina-based writer and former editor. She has covered auto racing for United Press International, USA Today and The Charlotte Observer.