Simone Biles, a 7x Olympic medalist and the most-decorated gymnast in history, wants to give the next generation the ultimate gift: confidence. To do so, she’s expanding on her work with Athleta to offer up a limited line of clothing for girls aged 6-12. This is her first-ever signature line of activewear.
In April 2021, Biles announced she would sponsor her and that a collaborative clothing collection was in the works. This debut is through Athleta Girl, a sister brand launched in 2016.
When ESSENCE asked Biles about why we needed to support young Black girls within the specified age range, she said, “I think they’re at a really vulnerable time when they don’t believe in themselves. So, they need us to believe in them so that it gives them that one up. It makes them believe in themselves even more.”
With diet culture, the inherently comparative nature of social media, and everyday stresses that can come with school, extracurricular activities and life in general, young girls of today can have it tough. A silver lining is that the generations that proceed them no longer just accept these ways of life. The awareness has them pushing for palpable change.
Biles, 25, acknowledges that this isn’t every girl’s experience, but she still wants to be the best spotter she can. “It could be a really exciting time or it could be a really scary time, so that’s why we do what we do, she said. “That’s why we work with these kids and for these girls.”
The new collection comes with 16 pieces, including: a longline bra, shorts, a reversable vest, sweatshirts, scrunchies, a tunic, and a duffle bag. The fabric of the clothes are a mix of matte and shine and prices range from $15 to $95.
“Since its launch in 2016, we’ve strategically scaled Athleta Girl into a powerhouse category for our brand and a key contributor to our plan to reach $2B in net sales by 2023,” said Mary Beth Laughton, president and chief executive officer of Athleta, in a press release. “Simone is the perfect partner for us to help empower girls to find their inner strength in school, sports, and play and we’re thrilled to launch this Athleta Girl collection with her.”
ESSENCE talked with Simone Biles about the details of her clothing with Athleta and her most earnest desire for young girls. Read our conversation below.
ESSENCE: So, talk to us about the apparel line you have with Athleta.
Simone Biles: The apparel line, which launches April 19th, is really to inspire young girls all across the globe. It’s super exciting because we incorporated some love notes, which are hidden mantras that I picked that I’ve used throughout my career. Not only that, but we made the pieces very versatile so that you can go from the gym to school and from school to gym.
We also picked colors that were some of my favorites. We picked those colors and we picked some cool strokes with the fabrics.
How does it feel to work on your first-ever athleticwear collection?
It feels like a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to collaborate with a company and I’m super excited that it’s been with Athleta, because I’ve been a long time fan since I was a little girl. It inspires me to want to work harder and continue to do what I do. But it’s really exciting for the kids, I hope, that I can inspire them in more ways than one.
You have fans of so many ages all over the world, so what made you want to zone in on this demographic specifically?
I think, well, being a gymnast, most of our audience is targeted towards kids because a lot of kids think this sport is unique [and] it’s really fun. They want to imitate what we do, so that’s why I targeted them. I also know that, growing up, I was super inspired by some of the greats that I was watching. I know some of my fan base is kids, so I felt like if they can wear something that Simone would wear or Simone that came out with, or have that little Simone on their shoulder, then they would love that.
I also know you were involved in the design process. What was that experience like for you?
The experience was actually really fun. I feel like most people would say it’s stressful, but we had a lot of mood boards that we went back and forth with. I got to see a lot of the prototypes and then I got to see the collection really come to life, and then have it modeled on a group of kids, which you see in the campaign, which was really exciting for me. So, for me, it was kind of a breeze, but I’m also working with professionals. They’ve done this for so long, so they know what the kids are going to like, what fits the kids the best, and how the clothes should be and should look like.
Can you talk about the size range?
For size, we have 6x all the way to 12. So, I think that’s a great size range for the kids because that’s when they’re growing the most. That’s when they feel almost the most insecure, but these clothes are made to make them feel like they can do anything they put their mind to.
How can people shop the collection?
You can shop it on Athleta or in stores, starting on the 19th.
Lastly, what is your greatest hope for the next generation of Black girls?
My greatest hope is that they feel secure, they feel happy, they feel heard, and they feel comfortable, and confident.
Shop Simone Biles’ collaborative line with Athleta here.