Here are a few key things worth noting about Warrior by Danica Patrick, the new collection of athleisure clothing launched earlier this month by one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers:
1. Her exercise/everyday wear isn’t just geared toward “the skinny, skinny, skinny girl” (as designer Amie Freedland puts it) – sizing ranges from extra small to 3X.
2. The pricing is on the lower end of the scale; a pair of Warrior leggings, for instance, runs $30-$40, where more luxe retailers might sell their own tight-fitting stretch pants for two to three times as much.
And 3. These leggings, hoodies, T-shirts, and sports bras, they don’t just have the 34-year-old’s name on them, they also have her fingerprints on them and her sweat on them. Well, figuratively speaking, that is.
“She’s been very, very involved,” says Freedland, the design director of the private label division at G-III Apparel Group. “I speak to her at least three times a week, and she knows what she wants, and she’s not afraid to say it. But that doesn’t mean she’s a diva or a brat or a spoiled celebrity – she’s not any of those things. She’s really enjoyed learning about the business and fabrics and functions and stitches and cuts ... whereas other high-profile people and celebrities I’ve worked with, they could care less. They just want to slap their name on something and get a check and take credit for it. And that’s not what she’s about.”
Patrick has had a passion for fashion since her youth, when on a rainy day one might have found her making her own alterations to her clothes with scissors and a sewing kit. And for the past 10 years or so – basically ever since she solidified her place in the IndyCar Series – she’s toyed with various opportunities to start her own clothing line.
To some degree, frankly, it was annoyance that finally pushed her to take the leap about a year ago.
“I was so frustrated with merchandise sales in NASCAR, because they’re horrible, as in for the drivers – we just make no money off of them,” Patrick says. “I mean, I don’t know who does, but it’s not us.”
So in searching for a partner to collaborate with on racing-related merchandise built on her name, she started talking to G-III, which manufactures and distributes Touch by Alyssa Milano, a female-focused line of NASCAR fan gear (including pieces with Patrick’s name and number).
Quickly, the conversation turned from racing-related products to clothing, and from there, it was a natural evolution that led to zeroing in on the booming athleisure market, since Patrick for years now has made no secret of the fact that she is crazy about yoga, CrossFit and healthy living in general.
Early in the process, the working title for the collection was “Weekend Warrior,” in a more generic sense of the term. But Patrick massaged it into something meaningful.
“I’ve always bought clothes with the word ‘warrior’ on it,” she says. “Actually, I had some sweatpants on the other day that said ‘warrior’ down the leg and someone was like, ‘Oh, are those from your collection?’ I’m like, ‘No, I’ve had these for awhile!’ ”
“ ‘Warrior’ also has kind of got that American Indian tribal feel to it,” adds Patrick, who said she has “a little bit of American Indian” in her ancestry (and who had a big hand in creating her label’s thunderbird logo, which also has a strong Native American vibe). “Anyway, I just thought Warrior was something cleaner and simpler and easier. Plus, the name was available to use as a trademark, which is remarkable, because it seems like everything’s taken.”
To be clear, for the time being, Warrior by Danica Patrick is available exclusively through HSN. The launch – which Patrick appeared in studio for – was on Jan. 4, and new collections will be unveiled in April, July, September and November, G-III’s Freedland says.
It’s possible that down the road, consumers might see her clothing in brick-and-mortar retail stores, or on Patrick’s own website; it’s also possible that the athleisure line will be expanded to other areas of fashion, like handbags or shoes. Much of that is dependent on how successful this first year goes.
But no matter what, as we said, you can bet that Patrick’s involvement, interest and influence will be substantial. Just listen to her talk, for example, about the “flutter sleeves” on her short-sleeve tees.
“That was designed because I told them that T-shirts never fit my arms. In fact, nothing ever fits my arms – jackets, anything – because my arms are very strong,” she says (and if you’ve seen her arms up close, it’s abundantly clear that all that yoga and CrossFit is working). “The body fits, but then I go to bend my arm and I’m like, ‘Nope, that didn’t work.’ So the flutter sleeve was to create more room in the arm and make it cute.
“But I’ve also talked them into making the block – which is the model that’s used to do all the sizing, they call it the block – I’ve also talked them into making the block bigger with the arms. I said, ‘There’s almost never a time that it’s better to have tight arms, is there? So I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t make the block bigger, so that not only does it fit me but it fits most everyone else.’ ”
Yup, it’s official: Danica Patrick the race-car driver is now, also, Danica Patrick the clothing designer.
“At the end of the day,” she says, “I know that there are a lot of people with clothing lines out there. I also don’t know what their involvement is with it. I think that sometimes you can kind of tell who’s really into it and who’s doing stuff, and who’s not. But it’s my project, it’s my name, it’s my vision – so I follow up and do the work.”