If like me, you’ve also discovered that what feels like anonymous stretchy stuff when worn in a crowded gym is now revealed as tatty old trousers and a faded t-shirt as I jog around my local park in the bright sunshine, you’ll be furiously scrolling through online sportswear outlets looking for a new kit. And if you’re not like me, you may be just bored with what you’ve been wearing. Whatever, maybe it’s time to do an upgrade.
One of these is Deborah Todd, the woman behind the Manchester-based sportswear brand ZAAZEE. Fans of the label include Sophie Rayworth, Susie Chan and Triathlete Louise Minchin as well as a host of wonderful non famous women who want to rock a bit of activewear sass!
Here Deborah tells VIVA all about ZAAZEE and gives us some tips on how to choose the perfect kit…
Ella top, £30, and Ashley II skort, £50 zaazee.co.uk
Can you tell me a bit of background. When did you set up the company? Why?
ZAAZEE is a small, independently-run sportswear brand created by myself – Deborah Todd – back in 2014. I am passionate about empowering women to get fit and active, and have been for many years.
I moved to Ancoats, Manchester, in 2003 – before it became super trendy. I’ve always LOVED sports, I’d worked in sports PR too, and after the 2012 Olympics, there was a massive shift in the country’s attitude to sport and fitness. I’ve always watched the activewear market and it seemed like a great time to start thinking about empowering women by providing high quality technical fabrics that make them look good and feel great while playing sports and working out.
Manchester is the home of the cotton mills, and the energy got into my blood and I thought it was a good time to create ZAAZEE.
Are you finding more people are buying activewear during lockdown?
We have seen a sales spike during lockdown, which has been amazing. We usually sell a lot via pop-ups, which I love as customers get to try on the gear. My heart is always with selling direct as I love talking to people and finding out what makes them tick. Obviously this isn’t possible in lockdown but our website has seen loads of new customers and increased traffic, and we have new followers on social media which is fantastic.
It’s great to be able to provide a service to people during this difficult time, as exercise and fitness has really helped lots of people with their wellbeing.
Having the stock in my house has also helped as I can nip to the post office myself and get a quick walk in. People have been really impressed with the speedy delivery, so I’m really grateful to the Royal Mail.
Do you need different types of activewear for different activities? i.e. Is what you wear for yoga different from what you’d wear for a run, or can you mix and match?
Yes and no, we mainly find that people just like what they like. For running, everyone has their own pet hates; loose, baggy, short, long, thick material, thin material, so I’m continuing to grow the brand to offer more options, whilst staying true to my core, which is quality, feel good, awesome products that last.
Personally, I like tighter fitting tops and pretty straps showing, I also love running in skorts (a fusion of shorts and a skirt!). I am at an age where shorts don’t suit me, so I created these sporty short skirts, and I’ve got all sorts of sporty celebrity women wearing them. I hate long leggings in the summer, but some people will never show their legs, so our full length leggings sell well all year.
Best selling top, £35, zaazee.co.uk
What should you look for in your activewear?
Pieces that empower you and make you feel great, ones that wash well and last, and technical fabrics that keep you cool, dry well and maintain their comfort, quality and fit.
What should the fit be like?
The fit should be supportive yet comfortable, and give you confidence in whatever sports or activity you are planning to do. Low quality pieces that are too thin mean that you worry about people seeing through the fabric when working out, or even worse, falling down mid run – eek. That’s the last thing I want to be on my mind when working out.
Once customers try ZAAZEE, they keep coming back time and again. We retain a lot of customers, which is testimony to the quality and service we provide.
How often should you wash your kit?
Everyone is different, I wash depending on sweat and length of time. I wear ZAAZEE all day till I’ve been for my run, but my leggings don’t generally need washing every day. It’s best to take a common sense approach.
Our gear washes so well though and can go through the tumble dryer – the pieces always come out really well.
What pieces would you recommend for someone new to exercise?
Great question! The ZARA and ZARA II capri leggings are amazing pieces of kit and, for a runner going out everyday, they are excellent value for money. Mine are still great four years down the line.
All the ZAAZEE tops are great, because you can wear them not just for sports, they are good for just being active generally. They have SPF protection and the bold colours always look great and never go out of style – there’s a colour to suit everyone from much loved black and arctic white, to yellow, neon red and electric purple.