Founder's Wardrobe Series | Ashlea Holdsworth

We sat down with lifestyle design guru and activewear innovator, Ashlea Holdsworth from THE UPSIDE to discuss what inspires her and how she’s helping shape a brand for the better. Discover the outtakes here.

1. Beyond your career and leading role as Designer at THE UPSIDE, tell us who you are.

I am a creative, wife and mother of two children. I’m passionate about staying active, I live near the beach so love to spend time outdoors and take walks with my dog, Magic, in the mornings.

2. You’ve been with THE UPSIDE for a number of years now. How have you evolved the brand and how much of yourself do you see in the brand?

I’ve actually been with the brand since it started just ten years ago but had a brief break to raise my two children when they were little -  I’ve been back for two years now.

I see a lot of myself in the brand. I think our designs are ageless, so even though we’ve ‘grown up’ over time, and our collections offer more seasonal pieces, the essence of the brand is still the same. Therefore I like to think no matter where you are on your journey in life, you can always find something to add to your wardrobe in a considerate way.

The brand is an activewear brand first and foremost but always with fashion at the core. We want people to be able to sport their style no matter what they get up to. Whether that is down by the beach for a picnic when meeting with friends or to the farmers market to pick up some fresh produce, after a session in the studio, or even picking up their children from school.

We ultimately want them to look and feel, their best, and be inspired when they are transitioning from their active space into where their life takes them.

3. Could you share your approach to creating a new collection and give insight into your design ethos?

Creating a new collection would generally start with a design trip for inspiration. As I’m writing this I’m in Paris on the first trip post-covid!

A design trip is great to get out from behind the computer, trawl through vintage stores and markets, people-watch, and just get out to be inspired by a place.

I connect with my team and we chat through what we are loving, look at prints, start a plan for colours, fabrications and trims.

I still start hand sketching ideas on paper when I design, and then they get drawn up in illustrator - the collections just grow from there.

4. How does the circular economy feed into your design process?

Our garments are designed and made to be loved, with classic silhouettes and colours that can live beyond the season they are designed in.  

I still have the legwear pieces we designed in our very first collection almost 10 years ago in my own wardrobe that I wear now which is a testament to the quality of the fabric and the timelessness of the pieces.

Our pieces are designed to last, be loved, and are built for the circular economy.

5. We love your Recycled Peached line. Are there any other collection launches or new innovations you’ve been working on that you could share with us?

Thank you, it’s the most buttery soft fabric that is made from 75% recycled fibres. The fabric is comfortable but still built for performance, I love hearing the feedback we get on this style because it really stands up in workouts. 

In terms of innovations, we always spend years perfecting our fabrics, particularly our performance legwear fabrics, so keep an eye on this space.

6. Where would you like to see the brand go both creatively and sustainably?

Creatively evolving with our fabric choices and each collection being better and even more sustainable than the last.

7. What is your advice for emerging designers who will need to be more conscious than previous generations?

The future designers are already thinking and consuming in a different way - they already re-sell and rent so they already see this urgency for change.

My advice is to always design mindfully and keep the quality of the fabric in mind.