Haute Body: Gritty, Sexy, Elevated Activewear

We interviewed Raquel McMorrow—founder and designer of Haute Body—and learned why her activewear line is taking the LA fitness world by storm.

Q&A WITH RAQUEL MCMORROW

1. How did you start Haute Body? 

In 2015, I was chosen to participate in Phoenix Fashion Week, and my official launch was January 1st of 2016. I had been a member at Equinox and it’s just such an obsessive lifestyle—the fitness industry. I would get up at 5 or 5:30 in the morning in order to work out before going to work, and I noticed that I was more motivated to get out of bed if I had a new outfit. I didn’t always have a chance to throw together a gym bag, so I liked wearing something I could run errands in after the gym, or if I had to finish a little work – it had to be not only different but, something that would dry quickly. I also didn’t like wearing the same thing as everyone else. There’s nothing worse than walking into a class and seeing someone in the same outfit—you just cringe. So I wanted to create something with more of a boutique offering—something made in the U.S. and with a different vibe than what was already out there…a little more gritty, a little more sexy, and just so functional.

2. What were you doing before you decided to “go for it”?

I’ve been in the fashion industry on and off since 2000. I’d been a tee shirt designer, and before that I dabbled in shoe design and men’s & women’s golf performance wear before leaving the industry for a little while. So I had experience and confidence but no direction. But Equinox, that’s what sparked the fire. That atmosphere inspired me to go back to fashion and create something more unique than what was out there.

3. Did you begin with a single product?
I started out trying to create the perfect high waist leggings in 2015, before the high waist was the trend it is now. And people just couldn’t understand it, I couldn’t get the fit right, and so I did other things – a mid-rise, a low-rise. The answer is, I tried to start out with one thing. But being a woman who loves to shop and a consumer who loves options, I ended up launching with about a dozen styles – 3 to 4 colors per style. That’s a LOT! I’ve become more focused since then. And that style that I first tried to start with – my quest for the perfect high waist leggings—it took me about a year. I never let it go, I never gave up on it, and now, it’s actually the Olivia Legging. I don’t believe in producing something until it’s as perfect as it can be. So even though the Olivia Legging was my first style in development, it was one of my most recent styles to come out – it’s kind of funny that it took that long, but I think it was worth the wait. The zipper just added something a little more special and unique. And the fabric lasts forever! I have a pair from 2014 that has been through the wringer and they still feel amazing. The color is still very black. There’s no sign of pilling. I’m super picky about my fabric, because I really feel like you buy with your eyes, but you buy again because of the quality, and you pick it out of your drawer because of how you feel when you put it on.
 
4. What makes you the next hot activewear brand?

I want to first answer it from what other people have said. I’ve recently been called a “gritty, sexy, elevated” activewear brand. And for someone to say it’s gritty, that’s a different sort of compliment. But from my perspective, I think that what sets us apart is in the details. For example, there’s a tiny pocket in my Daily Bra, and when I’m spinning or in a difficult class – you know how they have mints at the door? Well, I tuck a mint in this baby pocket and half way through class, I reach for it and it gives me that second wind. If I’m walking my dogs at night, my house key goes in that pocket. I’m always trying to think of the little details. What is my customer doing when she’s wearing this? I always design a new style with a certain customer and lifestyle in mind. That’s what sets our brand apart. Oh yeah, speaking of details, I spent WAY too much on the zippers for the Olivia Legging. They were so beautiful I had to! But, like who is going to notice those?! 

5. What does a typical day look like for you?

If I’m getting ready for a trade show, I’m usually up and at the factory by 6:30, coffee in hand. My factories are 40-45 min away so it’s an early start. Whether I’m in sample / development stage or production, I must see my sewing teams every day. There’s always something that needs troubleshooting. I’ve never had a major issue (knock on wood) and I’m always checking details—there are so many details. That takes at least 4 hours out of my day. Afterward, there’s always paperwork or website updates, often sample cutting, store or customer shipping, and planning the next photo shoot. I usually spend about 30 minutes on social media engagement in the morning or at night. I absolutely love when people tag the brand – I’ve seen it in Germany, Taiwan, Japan, Iceland, London, and it’s so cool to see on a personal level where my product is going and what people are doing in it. 

6. Favorite things to do in LA?
There are so many things to do in LA! If it’s nighttime, definitely getting a drink with my husband or girlfriends – for sure. During the day, honestly, I love my morning or midday workout classes – Pilates or spin. If I don’t get it done early, my afternoon workouts end up being one of those “I showed up workouts”…and those don’t really count. I’m also pretty obsessed with my customers, so I like to see what she’s doing and wearing to classes.

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