Bologna, Italy-based designer Simona Finelli launched No Ka’Oi as a way of marrying her decades of experience in high fashion with her love of yoga. The collection prides itself on construction and quality, while still creating playful, colorful styles that feel fresh and fashion-forward. Below, we check in with Finelli about what sets her distinctive take on “athluxury” apart from the pack.
The Window: What does the name mean?
Simona Finelli: Literally speaking, No Ka‘Oi means “the best” in native Hawaiian tongue. On a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, I fell in love with the powerful nature of the land, so when this name was suggested to me, I loved it. Also, I really enjoy the sound of the word, which is commonly used there. So, I chose to personify its traits by using the best materials, craftsmanship, and style in my collections.
How do you go about marrying fashion and activewear in a way that makes sense?
We mix technical fabrics with high fashion ones, and apply atelier-level construction and stitching, which comes directly from couture. I’m inspired by the details from the history of couture and fashion, so I apply these elements to technical fabrics and silhouettes. The way my team and I combine them is what feels new, and we never sacrifice on either performance or style. Each garment requires a lot of time and attention. We have leggings that are made of 50 different pattern pieces. We manipulate fabrics that are more often found in couture—like velvet, for example—to change the way they function, so it adds an unexpected element.
Why do you think athleisure is having such a moment?
I see that women are caring more about wellness, but are still focused on stye and beauty. It’s about being mindfully grounded and stylish at the same time. Also, a woman’s lifestyle is changing—we often don’t have time to go home and change between activities. That’s why I wanted to create a collection that allows women to go from class to café and beyond.
Tell us about the collection currently at Barneys—was there a specific inspiration?
The fall collection draws on the powerful unity of opposites. I was inspired by the contradicting elements that exist in life, and I went deep on expressing them with a mix-and-match approach to fabrics on jackets, unexpected lines of embroidery on cocktail leggings, and a mix of color palettes on sporty separates. This season, I chose to set aside the typical energy associated with activewear and challenge it by providing a new outlook.