If you own leggings with mesh panels, a crop top that can go from the studio to cinq à sept, or a strappy sports bra that wouldn’t look out of place on Fifty Shades of Grey, even if it’s not by Michi, you can thank Michelle Watson. With her trend-leading luxury athleisure, she’s influencing not just what her loyal fans wear, but also how other brands design. She’s the Karl Lagerfeld of the fitness world. And with good reason.
The Calgary native was living in New York, working on the design team for RLX Ralph Lauren, when she realized she needed activewear as fashionable as the rest of her wardrobe. “I was doing a wide variety of workouts, and it was convenient to wear the same clothes to and from the gym, as well as from one workout to the next,” says Watson. “I also wanted these workout pieces to have crossover potential, to seamlessly style with my regular clothing.” So in 2010, in New York City, Michi was born (the label is now based in Toronto).
For the Spring 2018 collection, the Michi palette is bolder and brighter, with fire red, deep-sea navy, and cool whites with a bluish undertone. Wearing an entire Michi outfit makes us feel like a varsity athlete (if barre class were a team sport!).
“The theme of this collection is the effect of colour on performance,” Watson tells us. “Colours have been shown to have psychological properties that can be harnessed by the wearer to motivate physical and mental well-being.” The red is energizing, for instance, while the blue increases calming and clear thinking. Of course, Michi’s signature elements, such as compressive fabric, the three-inch shaper waistband, slimming design lines, mesh inserts, cut-outs, lace-up details and lattice trim, are still there, too.
So where does the always-on-the-move fashion designer work out, eat out and zone out? We asked Watson to share her go-to destinations in her two favourite cities, Toronto and New York.
Favourite Healthy Lunch Spot
1221 Bay Street, Toronto, 647.348.7000, plantarestaurants.com
“The dishes are refreshing, with amazing flavours. I feel so energized after eating there. I also love the interior design, with the Beverly Hills Hotel–style leaf wallpaper, plants coming out of the walls, and art deco wellness aesthetic.”
NEW YORK: The Butcher’s Daughter
19 Kenmare Street (Nolita), New York, 212.219.3434, and 581 Hudson Street (West Village), New York, 917.388.2132, thebutchersdaughter.com
“The ingredients are sourced locally, and there’s a huge variety of healthy options that taste really fresh.”
Favourite Drop-in Fitness Class
TORONTO: The Megaformer class at Studio Lagree
788 King Street West, Toronto, 416.901.4788, studiolagree.com
“I end up working muscles I never knew I had, and I’m sore for days. It’s the best core workout.”
NEW YORK: Boxing at Aerospace High Performance Center
121 West 27th Street, New York, 212.929.1640, aerospacenyc.com
“The classes are intense. I love hitting pads with the instructors, who are great.”
Favourite Spot in the City that Doesn’t Feel Like the City
TORONTO: The Scarborough Bluffs
“The lake is so blue, it looks like the sea. The cliffs make it feel private and cut off from the city.”
NEW YORK: A quiet area of Central Park on a weekday
“It’s a great way to get away from the chaos of the concrete jungle. You feel almost like you’re in a countryside woodland.”
Favourite Urban Hike
TORONTO: High Park
“It has a lot of great walking and biking trails, with beautiful gardens and wooded areas.”
NEW YORK: Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge from Dumbo to Manhattan
“It’s an iconic NYC walk and the view of Manhattan is incredible, not to mention the architecture of the bridge is amazing.”
TORONTO: A cold-pressed juice from Greenhouse Juice Co.
5 Macpherson Avenue, Toronto, 416.546.1719, and other locations, greenhousejuice.com
“I feel energized after a fresh-pressed juice or juice shot. I love all the flavours.”
NEW YORK: De Pabellón Arepa from Caracas Arepa Bar
91 East 7th Street, New York, 212.228.5062, caracasarepabar.com
“The combination of the meat, plantain, cheese and arepa is irresistible.”
Favourite Place to People-Watch
“I’ll usually see people with more of a high-end, sophisticated European style, plus streetwear looks, too.”
NEW YORK: Howard Street in Soho near Opening Ceremony and Rick Owens
“The cool kids—in terms of style—all work, shop or line up for sneaker drops in the area, and I’m always fascinated to see what they’re wearing.”