Alice + Olivia's Stacey Bendet Proves You Don't Have to Sacrifice Style for Comfort

Alice + Olivia's founder and CEO shares her thoughts on pandemic fashion ahead of New York Fashion Week.

By Beth Sobol, Emily Spain Feb 11, 2021 8:49 PMTags
E-comm: Alice & Olivia Activewear

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There's a good chance you have twice as many loungewear and activewear pieces in your closet since the pandemic began. Over the past year, fashion trends have reflected the notion that everyone wants to feel comfortable and cute while spending more time at home. Alice + Olivia founder and CEO Stacey Bendet also realized the need for apparel that accommodated the times we are in. But in true Alice + Olivia fashion, the clothing and accessories had to be bold and empowering.

"As a brand, as a designer, you have to be aware, over last year and even into this year that there is not the same need for clothing and fashion as there was before," Stacey explained to E! News. "The majority of things that your customers shop for from you might not be a priority, so, we had to do a lot of pivoting. We did the leggings, we did the casual sweats, but I also believe that women,  no matter what, still want to look cute. I'm a big believer in the fact that fashion is meant to uplift. It's meant to allow you to express yourself to the world, whether that's out at a party or on a Zoom."

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And while Alice + Olivia is the ultimate destination for fancy clothes and versatile everyday styles, the brand recently launched a line of activewear that you can dress up or down. We caught up with Stacey to hear all about the line and how the pandemic has affected her design process.

What finally prompted a fitness line, why now? 

Stacey: Well, it was really about this moment where, you know, I feel like the way we live and work and do everything that's here has become so much more home- based. And women have just gotten used to sort of being in comfortable clothes, even for work meetings, zooming in pajamas, but like they still want to look cute.  I started doing all the printed sweats, and then Saks came to us and said, "Would you do leggings?" I felt like doing leggings this year that were not just like a boring, black Lululemon thing. I obviously do some yoga and wanted our leggings to be perfect. Even our yoga mats are amazing. They're printed and they're so fun, but they're completely non-slip because a lot of brands will have printed yoga mats, but it's almost dangerous because the printing technique makes the mat slippery. So our mats are amazing, but it was really about appealing to what a woman needs during this time and I've always taken a lot of pride in dressing a woman for every part of her life. This year, that is her life.

Penny Scoop Neck Crop Top

See working out can look and feel amazing! This low scoop neck top is a must for your next yoga class.

Aaron High Waisted Legging

Pair these printed leggings with the Penny top above, and you'll be the best dressed yogi on your Zoom yoga class.

Gloria Yoga Mat

Whether you're practicing yoga, breathwork, or getting your sweat on during a HIIT workout, this cute mat won't slip so you can focus on the task at hand.

For anybody who looks at your videos and kind of feels a world away from being able to do that, can you speak to who this line can be for?

Stacey: Yeah, and also by the way when I do my yoga videos, I'm very aware that I've been practicing for 20 years. I did gymnastics, I danced, like I know that what I'm doing isn't necessarily like everyone's intro. But I also try to share teachers like Eddie Stern, he has an app called Yoga 360, and other people I've worked with over the years that are really great to follow and learn from. And I think that's one of the great things here is that everyone's on zoom and you can take any class anywhere in the world. From the perspective of the clothing, you can wear the leggings to work. You could wear the leggings with a little tank top to work out, and then throw the sweatshirt on and you look super cute to go run around, shop, lunch, whatever it is.

Aaron High Waisted Legging

These bold-hued leggings alone could get us into our home gym to get our sweat on. Plus, they will hold you in and hug you in all the right places!

If you could describe 2020 style in three words or less what would you say?

Stacey: It was about comfort, it was about ease. Fashion was just not the priority in 2020. Like comfort and ease were the priorities. But I think in an odd way fun fashion came out of it. For me, as a designer, I was like, how do I make leggings and sweatpants into fashion and feel cool and fresh, and I had a lot of fun with it. You know I look at our little floral crop sweatshirts and leggings and I'm like "I actually love those." So it was about fashion becoming a function.

Quinlan Floral Cropped Hoodie

We are obsessed with this floral hoodie! It screams spring, and we are so ready to break out our warm weather clothes. Whether you pair it with the matching sweatpants or a pair of leather leggings, you'll look so chic!

NYC Floral Slim Jogger

With an adorable print, side pockets, elasticized ankle cuffs and a high-rise waist, what more could you ask for in a pair of sweatpants!

Can you name your most treasured accessory?

Stacey: Oh my gosh. It's hard to pick one item. I mean, this year my favorite is vegan leather, like these sweatpant-style pants that I have in like three colors. And I wear them every day because they look a little rough and a little cool, but they're easy to run around in. And I've been wearing all our vegan puffer jackets, too. Malibu has been oddly really cold, and we did this vegan pink puffer jacket- I'm obsessed with it. Items that give you a little color and a little fun and items that make you feel dressed up without it being too over the top. And then my favorite non-Alice and Olivia item has been Bottega, they just crushed it on bags this year. And I have a couple of them and I love them!

Pete Vegan Leather Jogger

We could see ourselves wearing these leather joggers every day! You can dress them up for date night or pair them with a graphic tee for a more casual look.

Robinson Vegan Leather Puffer

This adorable puffer jacket comes in three versatile hues to match any outfit. Even better, it's made out of vegan leather!

Can you think of one thing from your closet (because everyone knows you have such a fabulous closet), when life picks up again and when we all start going out, what is the first fabulous thing from your closet that you're gonna put on?

Stacey: Oh my god, I have this vegan green snake ball gown, And I actually brought it to the office to wear today, even though there are only a few of us here. I'm like, I'm just going to dress up for you guys!

Last question, is there any celebrity you're just crushing on right now in terms of their style?

Stacey: I think Katie Holmes full-on won street style this year. And I think Kim Kardashian looks better and better, like she is just so gorgeous this year, and I just have so much respect for her as a mom, and as a businesswoman, and as a woman in navigating everything she's been through this year with such elegance and poise and grace. She's my Instagram icon this week.

For more fabulous Alice + Olivia styles, head over to aliceandolvia.com

And if you need more fashion inspiration, check out Get Ready for Valentine's Day With These Date Night Looks From Revolve!

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