Hit the gym with Ankho – a Romanian athleisure line
From here to anywhere is their motto. And that their leggings, T-shirts and sport bras travel, from Romania, where they have been made, to anywhere in the world, to cool and beautiful sporty people passionate of sport and wanted to feel good in the gym and outside. Therefore, goodby uncomfortable texture and too tight pants – welcome to Ankho world, the first luxury Romanian activewear line. And I heard all about the brand, the beginnings and the idea, from Anca Doicaru – Creative Director & Co-founder of Ankho. It is time now to hit the gym with Ankho clothes!
**** #SportDose #Sustenability #MadeInRomania #English
Why a Romanian luxury athleisure line?
The idea came to life in 2018 when I’ve discovered yoga and started to practice it daily. This came with a shopping frenzy for leggings and yoga equipment, and I didn’t find a brand in Romania that combined performance and fashion. I wanted a pair of leggings that felt good on the skin, to be very comfortable and at the same time unique, so I can also wear them outside my yoga sessions. Maybe under a casual dress or with a shirt or an oversized T-shirt. I somehow wanted to prolong that “feel-good” sensation outside the mat. And that’s when it all clicked. I shared my idea with Alex, my husband, and he was very supportive of the entire concept and encouraged me to make the first steps in this direction.
From the early stages of our idea, we were keen on creating beautiful products, using premium fabrics, and having all-around excellence in execution, keeping the entire process eco-friendly. When you want to tick all these boxes, you have to make sure that you partner with the best in the market on each swim lane. And when you do that, the result sits well in the luxury niche.
We were set from the start to stand out, to define very clearly our place in the market. Research done in this area showed that there is an opportunity in this niche, as there are no other brands on the local market. More than that, there is still a lot of room for these types of products in Europe. That’s why, when we set to create Ankho, we thought “worldwide”. We wanted to create a brand with no boundaries and address not only Romanian consumers but international ones as well. Exactly like our motto – From here to anywhere.
When we looked deeper into the local market we saw that more and more women in Romania invest in luxury outfits when going to the gym and wear their gym clothes on the street. Working out, from jogging to yoga is finding more and more enthusiasts especially in big cities. People started to invest more in self-development: personal coaching, therapy, going to conferences, training, etc.
Why is different than any other activewear brands?
When we built Ankho, we wanted to bring in the market something new, innovative, and bold. Our products are made from high-tech fabrics, in superior quality, partly made of recycled fibres with innovative finishing techniques. They come with outstanding designs and can be used for workouts and as streetwear alike. To do this we have merged cutting-edge technology with sustainable fabrics. We’re fair with our clients and our planet. We work with suppliers that share the same values.
Our differentiators come as a combination of the factors mentioned above: the highest standards in quality and design, combined with our environmental mission and the long-term vision.
“We wanted to create a brand with no boundaries and address not only Romanian consumers but international ones as well. When we looked deeper into the local market we saw that more and more women in Romania invest in luxury outfits when going to the gym and wear their gym clothes on the street.”
How important is the sustainability in the process of making Ankho pieces?
Sustainability is one of our core values. We wanted Ankho to be brave and innovative, but also we wanted to build a responsible, conscious brand. We are dreamers, but with a knack for strong, courageous business practices.
We only work with low stock on our products. This helps us stay flexible and exclusive on certain models, but it also reduces waste, which has been our priority from day one. We aim for quality but in a sustainable, palpable way. Our suppliers and manufacturers are not only among the best in the EU but also share our values. They offer respect and fair wages, they cherish our planet and look to the next generations when making their business decisions, using renewable energy, and reducing the consumption of water. Both of our factories are GRS (Global Recycled Standard) and Higg Index (Higg Facility Environmental Module) Certified.
Consequently, our Sheer Active Set collection is made of ECONYL® REGENERATED NYLON that can be recycled infinitely, without ever losing its quality. ECONYL® is 100% regenerated nylon fiber from fishnets and other nylon waste. Moreover, our goal is to use this technology as much as possible – to stay true to high-quality standards as well as our sustainable values. Packaging is important as well. Our products arrive in fully recyclable bags, after which we take it a step further and ship them to our clients in matt white envelopes that are made from natural limestone waste offcuts and recycled resin in a process with zero waste.
How long (and how difficult) was the way from the first design to the final product?
Ankho was born after two and half years of intensive research about fabrics, sports garment construction, and activewear trends. When we decided to develop our first products, we wanted to use world-class materials in our pieces, so it was challenging for us to find the right suppliers, both for the fabrics and for the product execution. It took us a lot of time, effort, and of course, trial and error. Once we found the right partners, we invested in a product development phase, where we paid attention to even the smallest details, in a custom-made process.
From 3D designs to physical prototypes, our products are built with comfort and support in mind. The product development lasted about 9 months and it was an intense co-work between our production factory and us. The initial design sketch was made by me, but for the final tech packs of our models, we collaborated with a specialized 3D activewear designer from LA, USA. We tested and adjusted each piece to deliver a perfect fit.
Name the most important 3 features of an Ankho piece, those 3 that will make anybody to love them (and buy them) at the first sight… Performance. Look. Sustainability.
Now you have 5 pieces in your collection. A peak sneak from the next collection, for me? 🙂
Yes, our first capsule collection is made of five pieces: three models of leggings, one top bra, and one tank top that can be mixed and matched. With this first collection we chose to express the story behind Ankho, “the aim for greatness”/”shooting for the stars”. We wanted that our first pieces to be outstanding, easily recognizable, and bold. We have plans for our next collections and all we can say is that we will continue to create pieces that will always stand out.
How important is the sport in your life?
Sport is very important for all of us. For me in particular it represents my first passion from childhood when I practiced gymnastics, but also a way of being healthy. What I truly believe is that being active it’s not only about the physical part, is also about the mind and the heart. I think that exercise is the most transformative thing that we can do for our bodies, but most importantly for our brains. I started to practice yoga in a moment when I didn’t feel very good. That moment was life-changing for me. Yoga helped me to rediscover my passion for sport and gave me the courage to follow my dream. For Alex, sport is also part of his life. As a teenager, he was a professional handball player, and now as an adult, he practiced calisthenics and he loves playing squash. So yes, sport is very important for both of us.
“Sport is very important for all of us. I think that exercise is the most transformative thing that we can do for our bodies, but most importantly for our brains.”
About Ankho designers and owners we should know (other things that they started an awesome brand and, obviously, love sport :)…
I’ve always had a passion for fashion. When I was in high school I was collecting fashion magazines and studying trends and dreamed of having a clothing brand at some point. As I got older, I’ve switched to more “realistic” dreams and studied Finance & Banking. After getting my master’s degree, I worked in a bank for 8 years, which allowed me to gain, expertise in many areas like retail, sales, customer care, and people management. But deep down, I knew what my first dream was, and in a “now or never” moment I decided to leave all behind and create Ankho. That was the moment when I’ve started to learn more about fashion design, digital marketing, and how to build a brand from scratch. Alex, although still working in a multinational company, has always had a great interest in entrepreneurship. He is very passionate about business strategies and analytics so we make a great team together.