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Made in Italy: How innovative luxury activewear brand Varenna is challenging the status quo

By LLM Reporters  |  April 7, 2021

Italy has long been seen as the home of luxury fashion, having produced some of the biggest designer brands, including Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino, Versace and Armani. This romantic nation is about much more than just the rich history and culture, breath-taking scenery and great food that many associate it with. It has been at the forefront of fashion design since the 11th century. 

Today, cities such as Milan and Florence are home to numerous designer boutiques and stores, and Italy continues to set many of the trends we see around the world each year. We are also witnessing a flurry of modern and innovative brands taking centre stage – not least, luxury Italian activewear brand Varenna.

Established in 2020, this new and innovative brand has been making waves on the Italian fashion scene and worldwide, with its fashion and sustainable garments ‘born out of a desire to create clothing using conscious design methods and minimal waste’. Varenna is the first brand that has brought patterns, colours and the latest trends in fashion into running, fitness and yoga in quite an impactful way. Its garments combine elegance with the highest technical performance to transform the way we work out.

If you’ve ever been of the opinion that it’s impossible to look good while working out, then prepare to have that belief challenged. We sat down with Arantxa Gandini, founder of Varenna, to find out more about this up-and-coming new brand.

Varenna luxury activewear
This activewear brand is fashionable and highly versatile

Why did you create Varenna?

“For a long time, I had been wanting to find a way to feel beautiful and elegant while training – whether outdoors or at the gym – but at the time, it just didn’t seem to be something that existing brands could offer. Most of the activewear out there focused solely on practicality, and as I chatted to friends and began to realise that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, it became clear to me that there was a gap in the market.

“So, I decided to fill it. Fusing two of my biggest passions – sport and fashion – I set about creating a brand that would meet the desires and requirements of women just like me -and along with my business partner, we brought the dream to life. We had a clear goal in mind in doing so, which was to contribute to the happiness of people and create an environment where wellness, elegance and beauty are at the heart of everything we do – and this ethos remains central to the Varenna brand today.”

Varenna luxury activewear
Varenna is thought to be the first brand to bring fashion trends into yoga, fitness and running activewear

Where did your inspiration come from?

“Our story starts from the evocative town of Como, where as a child, I made some unforgettable memories while holidaying each summer with my mother. For me, Lake Como and the surrounding town has always been the highest expression of the Italian cult of beauty, a magical place where the elegance of the villas blends with the beauty of nature. It is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting, from its crystalline waters and pretty coloured buildings to the verdant landscapes based in the sunshine.

“Our main inspiration is the natural world in all its forms. From its lights, prints, colours and geometries, collections that embody the graphic quality of nature have been born, capturing the stark symmetry and giving life to the magic that often occurs when the natural world meets wise human hands.”

Varenna luxury activewear
Varenna uses sustainable suppliers for minimal impact

Describe your brand in three words.

“Fashion. Sustainable. Made-in-Italy.

“Our mission is as ambitious as it is simple: we aim to combine comfort – an essential feature of sportswear – with glamour, which has always ruled in the field of fashion. Through our collections, we seek to redefine and revamp the concept of the ‘sporty’ wardrobe – which instead of being simply casual and practical, is with Vernazza now elegant, sophisticated and fun.

“Design, performance and versatility are the keywords that distinguish our minimal and refined aesthetic vision, and we believe that our activewear has now become an expression of contemporary elegance in a way that it has never been before.

 “But it’s not just about helping people to look and feel their best while working out. We are also always looking for low-impact solutions in terms of natural resources and energy. Today’s consumers are beginning to demand that brands take a more sustainable approach to the entire process of bringing products to market, and at Varenna we believe that we can further this desire to make better choices by making better choices here in-house, too. It is our hope that doing so will inspire an improvement in broader consumer behaviours, which will ultimately result in a more minimal impact on our planet and a healthier future for all.”

Varenna luxury activewear
Varenna is redefining the concept of a ‘sporty’ wardrobe by creating elegant pieces

“For this reason, the way we select our suppliers is sustainable: we take great care to ensure that nothing goes to waste, choosing recycled and biodegradable textiles from the conversion of PET bottles as our fabrics of choice. Our materials are sourced and our products manufactured through a carefully selected network of suppliers located in northern Italy, many of which we have been working with since the brand was founded. 

“Varenna Fashion is the first luxury activewear brand that is entirely ‘Made in Italy’, and that aims to reaffirm and confirm the leadership of Italian fashion abroad. Our use of fine and recycled Italian fabrics, combined with the control we take over the entire production chain – from fabric choices and design, to the cutting and assembly – are the ways in which we ensure the high-performance, fashionable garments we produce are of the utmost in quality. We produce our items on a small scale, taking the utmost in care and attention to detail to each and every piece.

“Tradition, innovation and passion are three adjectives that perfectly describe our collections, which are all rigorously designed, and made and packaged in Italy.”

Varenna luxury activewear
Varenna is thought to be the first luxury activewear brand made entirely in Italy

What are your future goals for your brand?

“Our main goal is to continue producing mindful, fashionable activewear – with a strong focus always on the design. We truly believe that in this day and age, brands must go above and beyond for their customers, which is why at Varenna, we are developing a 360° universe that includes fashion, sport and wellness in general. 

“We aim to transform our flagship stores into exclusive clubs, where, whilst shopping, customers can take some time out to take care of their bodies and minds by taking part in a yoga or pilates sessions or pampering themselves with typical Italian gourmet food, revisited in a healthier and more modern way.

“We are also working on signing partnerships that will allow us to organise real Yoga Escapes in the most exclusive luxury resorts – so watch this space.”