Titika is an emerging company from Toronto that occupies a niche in the active wear market. The product aims to be innovative, functional and, most importantly, stylish.
FAJO caught up with the junior designer and the brand’s spokesperson, Brittany Morris, in Titika’s flagship store on Queen Street West. Brittany was very excited about the new collection and told us about the brand, the lifestyle they are promoting within communities, and the relationship with their customers.
Could you tell us the story behind Titika?
The owner of the company, Eileen Zhang, went to school in Toronto and felt there was a need for well-designed, fashion-forward active wear, especially with a booming health industry.
So, looking at Titika, you can see that as we get into our fall collection, we see tons of cut-outs — we are known for our use of cut-outs and mesh. It’s a big design element for us, but it has a reason: it gives breathability. We use these beautiful mesh inserts, [which] give great airflow when it comes to yoga or running. We use Supplex, which is a blend of Lycra and nylon. It is quick dry, stretchy and has wicking ability.
Where do you source your materials?
From all over [the world]. We go to fabric shows, and meet with fabric technicians. The technology that goes into garments is really important. Taiwan is doing beautiful high-performance fabrics.
Right now, we are working with this fabric called Celliant, which is extremely cool — it is hard to explain, it doesn’t even sound real: minerals within each fiber actually take body heat and change it into infrared energy. It helps to promote blood and oxygen flow, and to control body temperature. Obviously, you want to keep cool while working out. Researching for new fabrics and putting them into a great design is very important to us.
Where does the production take place?
We actually own our production facility in China, and I am very excited to go and see it next month. We have full control of everything, not only the product but also [the staff].
Sustainability is a big issue in the fashion industry. What is Titika’s approach?
[Our approach is that sustainability] goes both ways. We use natural resources, and our yoga-mats are bio-degradable.
For the company as a whole, we are very conscious about what’s going on in the world, and we make sure that people understand who we are. We care about the environment, and we care about production and that our product is of the highest quality.
Can you describe your ideal customer?
We are looking for a socially active woman, the one whose day is extremely busy; that’s why we target that lifestyle. Living in a city and being a city girl, your day is just insane. Maybe she wakes up in the morning, takes a barre class, and maybe she plays volleyball with her girlfriends at night. We also want to take her to the office or for cocktails with friends. We want to be that one-stop shop.
Can you tell us more about the community that you are promoting on your website?
Because we are a lifestyle [brand], we work with different people in the fashion industry and with a lot of people in the active lifestyle community. We have a program, [called] Influential Leaders: we reach out to different trainers and instructors.
Each store works with their local communities. It is very important for the company to reach out to them and give back to whatever [they are] doing.
I noticed that you have gym classes?
We do, we do! [laughs] Some of our stores actually do them right in the store, depending on its size. In our mall locations, we have space within the mall. It’s a free class, and you get a 20 per cent discount afterwards if you want to shop.
So you don’t have to wear Titika to participate?
Oh no, just come! We invite everyone! We promote healthy lifestyle; we want people to get out and get active. We don’t want people to say, “Oh, that’s just yoga.” We try different classes — we’ve done Zumba, we have this cool class called Chick-boxing where you do fun boxing moves, and we’ve done outdoor yoga on paddle boards in Barrie. We encourage people to experience all these activities, which they [might have been] afraid to try.
What cultural factors have influenced this healthy and active lifestyle trend? Why is it so popular now?
I think it was this generation that started realizing what goes into a product [and what we eat and drink]. Those things were hidden from us for so long, but it is becoming widely known now.
And on TV, we see many more health [and food] shows [that educate us on what we eat]. It spurred more than just going to the gym; there is much more we can do to stay healthy. [The active-wear industry] boomed as well; people realized that you don’t have to look like you are in bum gym-clothes — you can still look good while working out.
As your personal approach, do you think active wear belongs at the gym or the streets?
I think it belongs everywhere. The big thing on the runway is [loose pants that are almost like] sweatpants and heels, so I think we’ve been able to pull that whole look together and bridge fashion with active wear.
What are Titika’s biggest challenges?
We are a new company, so obviously we are getting our name out there, having people see our product and know how different we are from other brands. Probably being new is the biggest challenge, but we have a great following right now.
We have seven locations, we sell online and we are going to try the U.S. market, so that would be our next challenge.
And do you plan to expand from your niche market?
We will probably expand our lifestyle a little bit when it comes to accessories, and build on that. There are so many companies we are going up against that we have to bridge the gap between looking good and making sure it actually works when you are working out. When people come to the store, there is always something they gravitate towards — like a jewel sweatshirt. People do not expect to see that when they come to an active-wear store.
Are you going to expand within the community?
Yes, we try to take part in the downtown Toronto community as much as we can; it is such a great and vibrant city. And we have a great communication within our [departments] — we can get customer feedback and it goes right to the owner, Eileen. It is so rare for customers to see that they really have a voice, and that we can get them what they want. We had this one lady who wanted a tank, and we worked with her, making a “Susan Tank.” It’s fun to make things like that. We’ve done some design contests; we want people to give their opinions and be involved. We want people to feel that they have a place within our company.
Read more about healthy living and yoga on paddle boards.