With a background as a champion high school swimmer and gymnast, an Instagram chock full of fitspo, and some of her most memorable roles involving her athleticism, you might expect Hilary Swank to launch an activewear line.
What you might not expect is the innovation, attention to detail and versatility of that activewear line. Launching today, Mission Statement is a collection of clothes that can take a woman from the gym to her work day and even to some after-work cocktails.
"I found that, just like any other modern-day woman, I was really trying to do a lot in my day," the two-time Oscar winner said recently. "So I wanted to go from my workout, into my day but not look like I was in my workout clothes. I couldn't find that anywhere. Even though there's this whole kind of trend right now with this athletic leisurewear, I found that no one was really hitting the mark because it still looked like people were in their workout clothes."
Standing in her New York City apartment in the West Village, Swank explained the details and features of her line with more precision and enthusiasm than a Home Shopping Network host, often taking on and off layers to demonstrate.
There's sports bras made in an Italian lingerie factory that run in actual cup sizes, reversible tennis dresses made of heat-fused technical fabric, a comfy jacket that includes a zip-off peplum that doubles as a pocket (Swank prefers to keep treats for her dogs in hers), wedgie proof tennis shorts, and "tushy-lifting" leggings that can be worn either with sneakers or heels.
The line also includes luxe touches like leather pants and cashmere layering pieces meant to take the clothing from the gym into the day.
"One of the things that people worked on in the '20s, '40s and '30s was cashmere, because it wicks away moisture," Swank said. "It doesn't smell. It breathes. It's just the perfect type of fabric for crossover."
The cashmere touches might be the only nod to vintage inspiration in the line. Everything else keeps the lifestyle of a thoroughly modern woman in mind, including the maintenance. Each piece is machine-washable, including the leather and cashmere. "I tested everything in my own washing machine," said Swank. Mission Statement is also available direct-to-consumer on the brand's website and items start at $115.
Swank has had the idea for the line for about a decade, but couldn't find time to bring the line to fruition until family issues temporarily put her Hollywood career on hold.
"Just recently my dad got a lung transplant, and I was taking care of him and helping him heal through that, " she said. "I wasn't making movies, I wasn't able to travel, so I really had some focused time to see this through."
So in her downtime she began making cold calls, looking for collaborators to bring Mission Statement into reality.
"It's super interesting in how it parallels making movies," Swank said of the process. "Making movies starts with an idea and then you have to get a group of artisans together, and collaborate together to see the final product come to fruition."
Since then Swank has thrown herself into the project, even visiting the factories were the garment of made and testing the garments out herself during her own workout activities. She tries to get in at least six hours of tennis a week and two days in the gym but also likes to mix it up with swimming, hiking, and rock climbing.
Soon, however, Hilary Swank will return to screens big and small. She's recently wrapped work on 55 Steps, a legal drama that focuses on the rights of the mentally ill in which she'll star alongside Helena Bonham Carter. She has a part in Logan Lucky, Steven Soderbergh's anticipated return to moviemaking after a temporary retirement. Most intriguingly is her part in Oscar-winner director's Alejandro Iñárritu's upcoming TV series The One Percent. Though Swank prefers moviemaking, she jumped at the chance to be part of the project that will see Iñárritu reteam with the rest of the creative staff of Birdman. "Alejandro calls, you're like of course," she said.
For now, though she's fully focused on the launch of Mission Statement and hopes the versatile offerings enable women to more easily take time for themselves.
"One of the things that inspires me more than anything is people that push through adversity," she said. "It is so moving and it inspires me to work harder, to be more, to never give up. So I thought the name of the brand should be Mission Statement because I want to encourage women to take an hour for themselves out of our 24 hour day to work towards their full potential."