Inspired by ski and snowboard culture, Après Actif is a minimalist lifestyle apparel brand, which started as the pursuit of a better state of mind
Founded by Lauren Kurtz, Après Actif strives to create monochromatic and minimalist apparel that can weather many seasons, whiling inspiring the community to do the same.
“We push ourselves out of our comfort zones and celebrate the small wins on a daily basis. Chasing the after-sport endorphin rush to experience the Après lifestyle.”
We caught up with Founder Lauren Kurtz to chat about the brand, the lifestyle, what’s coming, and everything in between.
Tell me a little about yourself and why you founded Après Actif.
I grew up ski racing and eventually transitioned into snowboarding. I’ve also always had an interest in branding and went to Guelph for marketing.
Growing up, I always found myself wandering over to the men’s section for ski and snowboard apparel. They always had more muted tones and were more monochromatic than the women’s lines. That’s where the idea was born. I decided I was going to create something more gender-neutral—perhaps even a little more masculine—but also really high quality.
As an entrepreneur, being able to combine those passions of mine—skiing, snowboarding and marketing—has been incredibly fulfilling.
What differentiates your brand from other Canadian clothing brands
I think the number one thing is that as a female founded brand we’re a little more edgy and more masculine than the standard loungewear out there right now. There’s a lot of Scandinavian-inspired design and the fabrics are high-quality and heavy weight. You don’t typically find this at our price point. Additionally, the colour palettes are all thoughtfully curated so that they work together. This means you can create a more sustainable wardrobe because everything can be mixed and matched.
You work with female-owned and operated factories internationally, have minimum wage requirements, and maintain an ethical and sustainable supply chain, can you tell us how social and environmental issues have played a part in shaping the ethos of Après Actif?
To be a more sustainable brand is an overarching goal in the fashion industry right now and is obviously very on-trend. For me, it’s something at the core of what I want to do and who I want to be as an entrepreneur. To be able to be eco-friendly and have no waste with our packaging was essential, so we work with a company called No Issue. They do biodegradable bags and eco-friendly tissue paper and stickers. We also include a reusable nylon bag with every item. This is a beautiful black bag, which you can bring with you when you travel to throw your laundry in there, or whatever you need to do. But all these things completely eliminates plastic from our packaging, which was incredibly important to me.
What is the Après lifestyle? What does “Après” culture mean to you?
Growing up, après-ski was basically finishing up at the ski hill and heading down for some drinks with friends. Really just hanging out. However, for me, over time it evolved into just celebrating that active day. The act of slipping to something that sparks a state of calm. Now, I try to focus more on gratitude and celebrating those small wins and focusing on what I can control, like being able to relax and being grateful for what has been accomplished.
Why is fashionable minimalism so important in our consumer driver society?
I think people are really opening their eyes now to not only shopping more intentionally, but learning to take care of their garments so that they last longer. This is something that is really great for us. The garments are made to last, but it’s so important for people to care for them properly too.
Minimalism comes into play when you’re trying to build a wardrobe that can all mix and match together. Where all those pieces can transcend whatever trends come and go. Our line strives to accomplish that.
What’s your staple piece?
For me it’s the black hoodie and jogger set! All black everything—that’s my closet.
What direction do you see you taking this brand? Do you see the brand expanding into other types of garments? Outerwear?
Right now we’re developing the Actif Collection.
Currently, what we have on the market is what I would classify as the Après Collection, which is the athleisure-vibe loungewear. Now we’re getting into the more active side where we’re going to be introducing some leggings, crop top sets, sports bras, and all that good stuff—with a little more focus on the spring and summer offseason training apparel. Then we’ll be expanding into the accessories, which will be more sport-specific items, specifically for skiing. The website will be divided into two collections, the Après and the Actif.
What’s next for Après Actif?
The long term play would be to expand into the E.U. and the United
States. I’m actually a dual citizen of Canada and Ireland, so luckily I have the E.U. passport and the ability to go over there and open up shop, at some point.