As part of my week involves cycling to work in a shared office, I like versatile clothing that’s easy to wear but won’t look out of place at an impromptu coffee meeting. Developing a wardrobe that works in this kind of multifunctional way is the concept behind new athleisure brand Phvlo (pronounced “flow”). “The aim is to have a selective wardrobe that works with a busy schedule, so the wearer feels like they have an extra hour in the day to slow down and do something they love, like go for a walk,” says Phvlo’s founder, British-Chinese designer Johanna Ho. Count me in.
Months of fabric research and development see garments made of creaseproof, lightweight, sustainable materials that are equally good for the office, travel or exercise – reflecting how the way we work has evolved over the past decade. The ruffled waist jacket (£325) is a cross between a tailored jacket and a bomber and demonstrates how luxury sportswear has been sneaking into business class. Rainproof jackets (£380) come with convertible sleeves “for casual day and cutting-edge evening” – drawstring cuffs transform a minimal gilet by creating puffed sleeves for a more dramatic silhouette. More utilitarian padded jackets (from £490) are made of a breathable and hypoallergenic “3M Thinsulate” fabric rather than the usual goose down, with detachable sections for changeable weather. The woven, rainproof “Minotech” fabric is based on an 1880s method for thatching Japanese cottages, with the aim of avoiding modern chemical coatings.
Ho studied fashion at Central Saint Martins under the late Louise Wilson, before running a retail business across China and Japan for 15 years. She has based her new business model around the idea of a collective, going back to Saint Martins to collaborate with MA students and “create a cooperative of like-minded people”. Sustainability is at the label’s heart, she says: “The message is buy less, buy quality and consider the impact on the planet.”