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Anne Curtis and Isabelle Daza launch an activewear brand that empowers all movement

By MARBBIE TAGABUCBA, The Philippine Star Published Dec 03, 2020 1:05 pm

Anne Curtis, Isabelle Daza, Roxanne Farillas and Paulina Ortega partner up for a lifestyle brand that’s a ‘recess from life.’

 The irony of activewear is that you are not always performing 100 percent while wearing it. We can’t help it. Leggings are just so comfy. There’s a brand slogan that eggs me on to “Just Do It,” when really, the most I’m doing on most days is a brisk walk to the lobby to pick up some packages.

And Recess just gets that. Led by partners Anne Curtis, Isabelle Daza, Roxanne Farillas and Paulina Ortega, it’s the newest lifestyle brand conceptualized as a “recess from life.”

 Recess founders (clockwise from top left) Anne Curtis, Roxanne Farillas, Paulina Ortega, and Isabelle Daza

“We’re in a hyper-productive, hyper-driven society, and the main thing that we kept having to remind ourselves to do is take a moment for yourself, carve that space, step back,” says Paulina, the brand's creative director, over an intimate Zoom call to showcase their 29-piece maiden collection. “It’s a brand for the well-rounded woman created by women for women and for anyone who wants to wear our product. We like to say we are zero-pressure activewear for when your full potential needs a break,” says Isabelle.

One of the brands that Anne famously endorses is Plains & Prints, and Roxanne is the woman behind the womenswear brand, bringing in 26 years of experience in creating apparel.

But Recess posed a different kind of challenge for Roxanne. “We don’t buy anything from the market. We started from scratch, really,” Roxanne admits. “Creating an activewear line is very different and more difficult from what I used to do.”

 The Tricolor Athlete bra's colorful piping is made out of leftover fabric scraps/retasos from the leggings.

It’s four women with different needs, different dress sensibilities, coordinating from three places around the world: Roxanne from the Philippines, Isabelle in Hong Kong, and Anne and Paulina in Australia. Beginning conceptualization during the first quarter of 2019, the launch was pushed back this year due to the pandemic. The brand created an Instagram community before they released any product. Behind the scenes, they were able to take the time to performance-test everything as well as make sure the brand was inclusive.

“Inclusivity is a huge thing we want to live up to every day, but it is a process for us,” says Paulina. Recess’ sizing goes from a more neutral 1 to 6, not XS to XXL. The bras accommodate cup sizes AA-DD.

“One thing that kept coming up was when women’s bodies were going through changes, as our bodies always do, we kept getting feedback from people saying it was almost a deterrent for them to put a pair of leggings on because their size changed. We want to eliminate every barrier we could find for you to put a pair of leggings on and snap into the mindset of ‘I want to do something good for me.’

 The Personal Best set have lightweight medium-to-high compression for more endurance- and strength-focused activities featuring a heat-pressed two-ply waistband for added support to the core.

“In terms of the length, we started with one length of leggings which we perfected to the average height of the Filipina which is 5’2”. If you’re taller you can wear it a little cropped,” she shares, having had to tailor store-bought leggings in the past to fit her height.

Recess’ clean-cut, neutral-to-bright designs accommodate a spectrum of movement, from light physical activity to a challenging workout, offering medium-to-high compression while keeping the same soft second-skin feel in lightweight sweat-wicking fabric for an intense workout, as well as breathable and cottony gentle compression for when you just want to relax.

In a conscious move to be low-impact wherever possible, Recess uses biodegradable and compostable packaging, doing away with cloth tags on the garments themselves, to coming up with a use for excess fabric, resulting to the medium support Tricolor Athlete bra. Its colorful piping is made out of leftover fabric scraps/retasos from the leggings.

 The Future is Here is poised to become the perfect maternity legging with the right amount of support.

The Come At Me bra is a V-neck with light to medium support with adjustable straps and removable pads. This feature also makes the bra easier to wash.

Like its name suggests, the Going Places crop is a scoop-neck crop top that can be worn at the gym or for going out. All bras have a velvety garter that gives no-slide support that feels nice against the skin. The Do Everything legging is the athleisure legging, with a gentle compression that seamlessly transitions from lounge to activewear.

One of the changes that Anne had to go through while planning Recess was pregnancy. Isabelle had difficulty finding a maternity legging while she was pregnant, so she had to have The Future is Here in the product lineup, poised to become the perfect maternity legging.

“I was able to test our leggings throughout the journey. It’s so comfortable and gives you the right amount of support when you’re carrying a little one,” attests Anne.

 The WLB jacket is the work-life-balance companion for traveling, errands, or as a pre-, during, or post-workout topper, or even Zoom calls.

One of the first to test the maternity leggings was womenswear designer Vania Romoff who had asked Isabelle about the V-cut detail in the back. “It’s to support the bump. But also, when you’re pregnant, you don’t feel at your sexiest, so it gives you a little of that sexy back,” says Isabelle.

The Team Player bra and Personal Best leggings both have lightweight medium-to-high compression for more endurance- and strength-focused activities. In the Personal Best leggings, complementing the medium compression in the leg is a heat-pressed two-ply waistband for added support to the core.

“It’s like wearing a very, very, very light sauna strap,” says Roxanne of her favorite piece. “It gives you the right compression and support for your core and for your back. When you want to do endurance and strength workout, it’s perfect for you. The entire legging fits like second skin. It feels light and soft to the skin even as it gives you that compression.”

“It took us so long to develop the two-ply fabric that gives us the right compression. It sucks our puson in,” says Isabelle.

There are also two tops in 100-percent cotton: the Halfway There tee and the Easy tank. Last is the WLB, made with a bit of weight for traveling, errands, or as a pre-, during, or post-workout topper. And when you’re just staying in, it works, too. Paulina quips, “It’s something we’ve thrown on to look more put-together in our video calls.”

Recess is anything that allows you a quick break, and this lineup of thoughtfully considered activewear gives back meaningful time from having one less thing to worry about. Nothing tugs, nothing hikes up or slides down. Everything matches.

Reasonable pricing is also included in its inclusivity goal: P1,398 to P1,598 for bras, P1,798 to P1,898 for leggings, P898 and P998 for shirts, and P2,698 for jackets.

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Recess is available in Zalora and on its website by Dec. 10. Follow @our.recess on Instagram for updates.

Banner caption: Recess’ inclusive sizing goes from 1 to 6, not XS to XXL, while the bras accommodate cup sizes AA-DD.