When you get off a phone call to Chloe Wickman, you can’t help but feel happy and inspired. The phenomenal kiwi gal behind the growing New Zealand activewear brand which seems to be building an almost cult-like status among colour enthusiasts has a special something about her that just exudes happiness.
As the Owner and Founder of Zeenya Clothing, her official title is ‘Head of Colour’ and it couldn’t be better chosen. 35-year-old Chloe is bright, fun, vibrant and it’s immediately clear why women all over New Zealand immediately love her brand as soon as they find it – it’s meeting a demand for vivacious colour wearers everywhere, and it’s a market that was pretty much completely uncatered for seven years ago when Chloe launched the brand.
With a background in sports, Wickman is also a super passionate trail runner. Before launching Zeenya she spent seven years specialising in the field of disability sport as the Executive Officer of Parafed Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and she also volunteered at the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Zeenya Clothing was founded in 2014, after a girl’s trip to visit the vibrant and body-confident Brazil. The trip really opened her eyes to a market back home that was completely starved of colour.
“Brazilian women really know how to celebrate themselves, celebrate each other, and have fun in the process,” says Wickman. “I was so inspired by their love of vibrant colour, their zest for embracing life and for their adoration and acceptance of their shape and curves, they’re so body positive, it’s inspirational, so I wanted to bottle that essentially and bring it home to the women of New Zealand to enjoy as well”.
Wickman did indeed manage to bottle that magic and soon released her own Brazilian inspired clothing brand back home in New Zealand. Zeenya (pronounced Zeen-yah) is Brazilian slang added to the end of friend’s names as a term of endearment.
It’s also coincidentally a Greek name that means ‘Welcoming’ making it the perfect fit for the brand that seeks to inspire women to ditch the black and wear the joy and promote a sense of community and connection through a love of turning up the volume on life, a love of joyful colour.
For Tauranga based Wickman, the growth of the brand has been steady since she launched it, but since the pandemic, demand has grown exponentially. She attributes it to an increase in women wearing activewear whilst being at home, but also there’s a likely connection to be made on a deeper level.
Just like sales of bright red lipstick increase during times of uncertainty, there’s something about wearing colour that lightens our mood, brightens and lifts our day and perhaps on a subconscious level, demand has also been increasing due to that as well.
Whatever the reason for the increased appetite for colour in New Zealand women’s activewear wardrobe, one thing is for sure, looking through the Zeenya website empowers even monochrome stalwarts to step out of their comfort zone and embrace life through colour!
“Our Activewear is not made to blend in, nor is it mass-produced. When it comes to fashion, we don’t do ‘fast’ (unless you’re out for a run). We make mindful choice part of our business by working with companies who share our values. We choose eco-friendly fabrics, creating limited editions to reduce excess and always knowing exactly who made each piece. Zeenya is about enjoying getting out into nature, not ruining it,” says Wickman.
The collection comes in two ranges with her third launching next month.
The first range is her New Zealand made, or Core Range which is made from the world’s first biodegradable nylon; Amni Sol Eco®. Whilst prioritising comfort via smooth, soft waistbands and minimal seams, Wickman also wanted to prioritise the planet, and the range is made from 100% biodegradable fabric, but not at the expense of great fit, comfort and quality.
Zeenya’s Core Range boasts brightly patterned full length and Capri length leggings, shorts and crops in two different styles, plus the addition of branded sweatshirts and t-shirts.
The second range is Zeenya’s Sport Range which is made mindfully in Brazil. The sport range has more seams to ensure elite function and a perfect fit that comes with the demands of increased movement, and specially placed pockets so you can take your phone, cards and keys with you.
The Sport Range boasts brightly patterned full length and Capri length running or walking leggings, running shorts and sport skirts. The range features waistbands in compression fabric that sit high around the waist, a diamond gusset, flat stitching and incredibly soft fabric that moves with you and will stretch to fit your shape.
The unique material retains its original fit and shape whilst providing mild compression to aid in muscle recovery and performance, and is antibacterial, odour minimising, thermal control and quick drying.
A third range is due for release next month and is a collaboration with well-known New Zealand artists who have created special, limited edition prints for the range that is currently in production.
Priced from $59.90 – $134.90, Zeenya is not an inexpensive, fast fashion range but rather a high quality, highly coveted range that devotees wear due to its ethos, craftsmanship and unique prints and patterns that set it apart.