This post is an interview with nuud activewear’s founder Anneli Hallik, and an excuse to showcase the lovely pictures @ray.marsh took of me wearing nuud’s polewear at her photography studio, The Pole Nook.
About nuud activewear
nuud activewear is a pole dance and yoga wear brand on a mission to create “circular clothes,” or clothes that are as ethical and environmentally friendly as possible from the design stage to the product’s end-of-life. To prevent their products from ending up in landfill, nuud take them back once they’re worn out, either for repair or to redesign them into new items.
Founded by Anneli Hallik, who hails from Estonia and has a background in clothing technology, production and resource management as well as a Master’s degree in sustainability, nuud is pretty much a one-woman brand. “I do almost everything myself – design, pattern development, initial samples, product development, sourcing, marketing, accounting etc.” Anneli says. Because of this, making things happen may take a little longer, but this way she gets to work with everyone directly, from meeting her models to choosing suppliers and photographers.
The word ‘nüüd’ means ‘now’ in Estonian, and it was chosen as a brand name because Anneli thinks now is the best time – both “to move more, and to take action regarding the environmental and social issues in the fashion industry.” As a slow fashion brand nuud don’t follow the traditional fashion calendar: they create small collections, and launch them when they believe they are ready.
Anneli got into pole dancing five years ago, at a time when she used to struggle with her body image. She says: “Pole dancing helped me to understand how incredible, strong and beautiful our bodies are, regardless of their shapes and sizes. It made me feel like I could fly. And I love how supportive the pole dancing community is – literally lifting your bum [to spot you in moves]!”
As soon as she became addicted to pole, she started making her own pole clothes, toying with the idea of creating her own brand. “When I officially founded the company, I already had a few initial designs/ patterns to work with,” she says. Now, she mainly takes pre-recorded online classes in the little time she has between building nuud and raising a two-year-old. But through nuud, she can now make clothes to allow people to move freely and feel good, doing something that makes them happy without a heavy environmental impact.
What does nuud activewear look and feel like?
I was lucky enough to try and shoot with nuud activewear this week at The Pole Nook in Hackney, and I was blown away by the quality of the items Anneli brought for me to try.
I tried a selection of skimpy pole sets, more ‘conservative’ looks as well as leggings, and even though ‘nuud’ means ‘now,’ I can honestly said I felt naked in the best way when wearing Anneli’s designs. They didn’t feel constrictive or heavy – they felt like second skin, or like dancing and moving in my own skin not limited by clothing.
Even the skimpiest of nuud’s designs, like the black set above or the stunning, Baywatch vibes red set below, allowed me to move freely and to even perform my nemesis moves like a brass bridge or a cupid. This red number in particular is still under development and I got to try it first – so exciting! Made in Italy, the bikini’s fabric is a unique mix of muscular compression and comfort, sort of like me lol.
The more conservative black set looked classy and fun and felt like a hug – something you could wear during pole choreo or yoga classes, and something perfect for beginners who are still getting accustomed to the nakedness in the pole world.
I was also very impressed by nuud’s leggings and biker shorts, which fit like a glove and made my body feel embraced rather than covered. Doing floor shapes and splits while wearing these leggings was extremely comfortable, and I’d recommend them to anyone looking for slick workout wear perfect for stretch classes, splits classes or yoga, as well as choreo.
nuud was born to tackle some of what Anneli sees as the biggest issues in the fashion industry: environmental impact, low wages, child labour, health and safety risks, animal cruelty, overconsumption, diversity, inclusivity and body image issues. Yep. there’s a lot going on. Everything from her logo to her brand’s ethos is a nod to trying to not waste, and create a cycle of infinite reusability for her items.
The activewear industry in particular has for her struggled to find end-of-life solutions for garments, even when these are made out of recycled materials, because of its reliance on elastane. She says that most activewear items are blend of polyamide / polyester and elastane, which makes garments fit better and last longer, but which is harder to recycle. This is why nuud choose to take worn garments back for them to be either repaired or redesigned.
nuud’s main fabric is a blend of Q-NOVA® (sustainable polyamide made from regenerated raw materials) and ROICA™ (recycled elastomer, with more than 58% deriving from post-industrial waste). This fabric meets the Global Recycled Standard for recyclability and has been certified to not contain or release harmful substances.
Making ethical activewear
Anneli has tried to keep nuud’s production within Europe, to reduce the environmental impact of shipping. The brand’s fabric supplier, for instance, is based in Italy and has been chosen for its shared focus on sustainability, shown through its uses of solar panels to power production and sites. nuud’s items’ threads are made in Portugal and the rubber needed for their leggings and strappy bras comes from Spain, all from centres and factories that have secured sustainability certifications. To physically make the clothes, Anneli works with a manufacturer in Estonia that has nearly 30 years of experience in making dance wear and that allows her to produce items on a small scale.
Only limited elements of garments are made outside Europe (in China and Japan), but they come from certified sustainable manufacturers. Anneli says: “Besides the natural rubber elastic, which I source through a wholesaler in the UK, I source everything directly from the factories, meaning that I know who they are and how they work. Ideally I would get all of my supplies from Europe.”
Making ethical activewear also means making sure that all customers can see themselves represented in your brand. Because of this, Anneli has been striving to choose models that reflect the diversity of the pole community, and to ‘keep it real’ during her advertising campaigns. “We never retouch our models,” she says. “We only use Photoshop just for background, colour correction, and if the clothes or pole needs to be cleaned a bit.”
“We believe that it’s important that our models represent our pole and yoga communities. Just like you’ll see different people from different backgrounds, sizes and levels in your classes, you’ll find them in our collaborations and campaigns.”Anneli Hallik, nuud activewear
What’s next for nuud
nuud activewear’s website is launching this weekend, and the brand’s lovely sets will be available to purchase from early next week. As it grows, nuud’s next steps will be to add more innovative sustainable fabrics and create more styles. As a one-woman powerhouse, Anneli is also looking to expand her network of collaborators and is open to receiving collaboration requests. She says: “Entrepreneurship can be a lonely place, so I love meetings with my stakeholders – suppliers and manufacturers, photographers and models, and other entrepreneurs.”