Simulacra Review: A Thoughtful New Athleisure Line Straight Out of Brooklyn

If there is one thing I learned from my winter fashion capsule challenge, it’s that athleisure has become my sartorial default. For better or worse, I live in my workout clothes — which makes it easy to get to and from the gym. (No excuses!)

But of course, there’s another side of me that values sustainability and elevated timeless design, which is why you also see plenty of Everlane in my wardrobe. So when I heard about Simulacra — a new independent athleisure line out of Brooklyn made with sustainable materials and labor practices — naturally I took notice. A way to combine athleisure with conscious and sustainable fashion? Yes, please!

When Simulacra founder Christine Yao kindly sent me a few items to review, I pounced. Because, after all, athleisure too often focuses on the “leisure” part of the equation and doesn’t quite work for the “athletic” component of the term — or the other way around. I don’t expect the strongest technical performance from athleisure clothes, but I do want to feel free to move, work, play and more without fussing with my outfit. I also want it, of course, to look good, in and out of the studio or gym.

Does Simulacra fit the bill? The answer is “yes” — the items I reviewed are thoughtfully designed, and the materials are pretty delectable — and the fact that they’re made in the US with a commitment to sustainable labor practices really does make me feel genuinely good. These items do work — they’re extremely functional and can endure all kinds of workouts. And they look great: modern, citified, sophisticated but still able to play well with other aesthetics.

Tank Top

A tank is a tank is a tank, right? Not really. It’s amazing how an ill-fitting, weird-feeling tank top can ruin a workout, either because it inhibits performance or induces self-consciousness. Mostly the latter for me — I’ve mentioned before that my bustline changed with nursing my baby, and now I’m super, super picky about how my tops are cut.

Happily, this tank top delivers in multiple ways. The fabric — a sustainable organic cotton/bamboo viscose blend — is buttery soft. But what I love is the cut and design. It’s neither too short nor too long, the straps are nicely balanced and are neither too thin or too thick, and the back is unique and cool — and very flattering and sexy for wearing beyond the gym. Not to mention, the design inherently keeps you cool, because the back is open yet modest, especially when paired with a good sports bra. The darts in the front shape the garment so that it isn’t entirely straight but not form-fitting either — everything falls pretty nicely.

I plan on wearing this a lot not just to the gym — so far I’ve run in this, and done HIIT, dance and yoga in it — but in the summer as well as just a tank to kick around in. There are occasions when I do like a longer tank but this is a great length for casual wear — it looks great tucked or untucked.

Sleeveless Hoodie

I’ve been looking for a quick coverup like Simulacra’s sleeveless hoodie for some time — just something sleeveless to throw over a tank top during a warm-up before you really get going with cardio.

So when I got this, I was very excited, especially since it wasn’t your typical “sleeveless hoodie that looks like a hoodie with its sleeves hacked off.” Instead, it has an artisanal West Coast feel in its design, with the thick-seamed edging around the hood and neck — almost like handmade and thoughtful. It’s slightly oversized, so it layers really well over tanks and sports bras — and the armholes are cut low to show off these elements, though thankfully not on a sloppy, bulk-adding way. The material — made of organic cotton and recycled terry — is the most distinguishing feature: it’s very, very thick and plushy.

The length is hip-length, but not quick tunic-level long — it just barely covers most of my butt. (Sorry, I didn’t get a good back view of it in the pics — feeling a little self-conscious about showing my butt! #fashionbloggerfail) I do wish it were slightly longer, but it’s still doable — and less a design flaw than a personal preference. (My sweetheart once accused me of wanting to turn every top into some kind of mini-dress, which is true. Minidresses for everything!) It’s a great studio piece — and I got a lot of compliments on it at my gym — and I’m looking forward to wearing it in warmer weather, too,

If I were to analyze Simulacra’s place in the market, I would say it’s almost for Everlane people looking for more athleisure options perfect for hanging out or a gentle yoga class — and with a slightly warmer, artisanal touch in the aesthetics. (I know Everlane has sweatshirts and sweatpants and such, but they definitely emphasize the fashion over the function for most of these items.) Simulacra is a great line for people committed not just to sustainable materials and labor practices, but also to simplicity and minimalism — neutrals are the name of the game here, and you won’t find any overly busy or bright prints, or an overwhelming number of options. The operating values seem to be clarity and consciousness in the company, and a clean modern yet artful ease in the design and aesthetics.

Right now it appears Simulacra focuses on tops, offering just some jogger pants and terry trouers for their bottoms. I’m planning on ordering the black muscle tank for warmer weather, so I might add it to this little article in the future — keep your eyes peeled perhaps! I also hope Simulacra expands their line just a little, — minidress, please? — because it would be great to combine my love of athleisure with my appreciation for sustainability — a sometimes rare intersection that I hope gains momentum in the future.

Thanks again to Simulacra for sending me these items to review! Also, I should mention that these pics were snapped after a sleepless night of a toddler getting his second-year molars in…so I look TIRED!

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