• Wall Street Journal
  • Updated February 15, 2013, 3:25 p.m. ET


[Please see Beatle Paul’s Daughter Stella:  On Vegetarianism for more on Stella McCartney]

                60 Seconds With

Stella McCartney’s Sporting Life

The British designer on her ever-growing line for Adidas and her personal fitness regime


Mary McCartney

HAVING A BALL | Stella McCartney

LAUNCHED IN 2005 as a fashionable capsule collection for runners and swimmers, Stella McCartney’s sportswear collaboration with Adidas now lunges into nearly every arena a woman could possibly sweat through—from tennis to paddle-boarding.  This spring, there are leopard-print rash guards for surfers, asymmetrical two pieces for swimmers and windsurfers, metallic shorts with sheer tights for runners and a new range of seamless yoga tops to rival LululemonLULU +0.10%.  Still, Ms. McCartney’s ethos remains the same since those first pieces:  “This range is about not feeling embarrassed if you get caught in workout clothes by someone you know.”

Why did you originally want to do a sports collection?

I felt like there was nothing for women who wanted to look good while they worked out.  And I always had a feeling the women’s category was being taken less seriously than men’s, and that we weren’t getting the technology or the design we deserved.


Models in colorful nylon pieces from her latest collection

Why aren’t more fashion designers doing this?  It takes a lot of work to do a true performance range.  Then to bring in fashion doesn’t come as naturally to sportswear brands—to push those boundaries of a new coloring, or materials that have femininity as well as a technological element.

The floral print on your new tops could easily work on a cocktail dress.

A lot of what I do in my runway collection inspires the [Adidas] collection.  There’s a lot to be done with print in sportswear.  This new floral is very confident.  When you work out, you should feel confident.

Some yoga practitioners are obsessed with your seamless pieces.  Tell us about them.

I am, too.  It’s the side of the collection that I push each season.  On an environmental note, it’s important because they have zero waste.  From a technology standpoint, it’s kind of cool because they have breathability and last forever.  They suck you in in all the right places.  They do their job.

F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

Swim Bikini Top, $70

Workout clothes that work?

Yes.  I’m interested in the idea of chucking your sportswear into a work bag and going to the gym on the way to or from work—building it into your life.  The seamless pieces maintain their body, but pack down really small.  For me, they tick all the boxes.

What do you do for exercise these days?

A bit of everything. I ride my bike around London.  I ride horses on the weekend in the country.  I walk a lot.  I run in the park.  I do dance aerobics and sometimes Tracy Anderson’s workout.  I do yoga.  I play tennis, and I’m a big swimmer.

Have you paddle-boarded before?

Yes, I have.  I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I love it.  It’s a fantastic core body workout.


F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas (3)

From top left:  Knit Shorts, $65; Weekender Tank, $70, Kea Clima Shoes, $130, all available at Adidas Sport Performance, 800-982-9337

The line doesn’t cover horseback riding, one of your passions. Is that in the works?  It’s something we’ve talked about a lot.  But we like to push the boundaries in the categories that Adidas has know-how in.  To be honest, I don’t always wear jodhpurs and chaps when I go riding.  So I can throw something on [from the collection].  As long as you’re warm, wind- and waterproof, you’re fine.

What are your go-to pieces when you work out?   I wear the seamless pieces a lot.   I’ll put a pair of shorts over them.   We’re well known for these cute little shorts.   We do them in nylon, in recycled materials, and it gives you a hit of color.   I’m a big layerer.   I like to sweat when I work out.   I layer and then peel off pieces as I warm up and feel that I’m at the right body temperature.

Does it does depress you that women often stay in exercise clothes all day—even if the designs are yours?  It’s not something I’m opposed to . There are a lot of clothes you can wear in daily life.  But you know, it’s technical sportswear, so it does help if you’re working out.

—                Edited from an interview by J.J. Martin