Gone are the days of 6-inch heels, creaking dress shoes and restrictive button-downs — dressing for comfort is officially the new black. The trend toward comfortable fashion is a blissful marriage of design and cosiness, allowing wearers to look and feel their best even when they’re doing absolutely nothing.
What started as the often-ridiculed movement of over-wearing activewear (such as watching TV in yoga tights) has evolved into the widely accepted trend we see today. Think butter-soft tracksuits in earthy and pastel tones, exquisite pyjama sets worn to restaurants and sneakers completing practically any outfit.
The trend has been emerging slowly over the past few years, but the events of 2020 and the mass migration to working from home have resulted in countless fashion houses releasing luxe loungewear collections and a swathe of new brands entering the market.
Brisbane-based brand, Christina Stephens, is the epitome of this trend — uber comfortable clothing which can be styled up or down, depending on the occasion.
We spoke to Julie and Jessie, the passionate women behind the label, to discover the inspiration behind Christina Stephens.
Tell us the story behind Christina Stephens?
“Christina Stephens is a Brisbane-based inclusive fashion label that we launched in March 2020 with a mission to provide women with short and long-term disabilities a ‘choice’. A choice in fashion. A choice to be included. A choice to be heard. We pride ourselves on three business and design pillars: Inclusive, Adaptive, Sustainable.”
“The Christina Stephens concept was seeded after my mum had a fall some years back and damaged her elbows. The injury prevented her — a very fashion-forward and health-conscious woman — from dressing with ease and in her usual classy and understated style. Since then, and unrelated, she has developed arthritis in her shoulders, which, even when managed, impacts the ease in which she gets dressed.”
“After researching the fashion available in the market for style-conscious women with short or long-term physical challenges, I realised there was a social and business opportunity in front of me.”
“The entire CS Inclusive Collection has been designed for women living with movement and dexterity restrictions, as well as reduced vision. The entire collection is free from buttons, zips and hard trims and crafted in soft, breathable, natural fabrics. We’ve thought of small things like repositioning labels to the side seam rather than the neck to prevent irritation.”
“The journey to create and develop Christina Stephens took over 18 months and a team of determined, hard-working, creative, problem-solving, supportive and inspirational women in Australia and overseas. Our designs have been created with the help of our amazing women in our design groups by sharing their stories, experiences and daily challenges with clothing.”
Comfortable fashion was on the rise before COVID-19 — why do you think this was?
“Women want to look good, feel good and be comfortable as much at home as they do when they go out. Feeling good in fashion inspires confidence at home or when you’re out and about."
"At Christina Stephens, we’ve made a commitment to creating a sustainable clothing brand. One where our collections can easily be styled up or down to make the most out of your wardrobe.”
What is your personal approach to style?
“I think my first collection reflects my own style. I like a classic look and colours that can be accessorised to suit my mood or occasion. The outfit must be fuss-free to wear. I don’t like frills and bits that you have to constantly re-adjust. I value quality over quantity and would rather spend a little more on a piece of clothing that I know will last and maintain its currency beyond trends and seasons.”
Shop the full Christina Stephens collection of inclusive fashion for women at Averee now.