The latest endeavor by the Olympic Gold Medal figure skater and Dancing With the Stars winner is Tsa.ya, a women’s active wear line that draws on Yamaguchi’s training as an athlete, life as a mom and passion for childhood literacy.
One of Kristi Yamaguchi’s favorite aspects of figure skating has always been the costumes. She still loves the iconic black and gold sequined outfit that she was wearing when she won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics when she was only 20 years old.
“I wasn’t planning to wear it because all year, I had worn a pink dress with short sleeves,” she remembers. “I got superstitious and wanted to wear the pink one again. But I’m glad my mom encouraged me to wear the gold one because it was so much more elegant. The look is so ’90s, and we had costume restrictions back then, so it’s more conservative than what you see now. But I still like it!”
Fashion was an early passion for Yamaguchi. She was not only involved in designing her skating costumes, but post-Olympics, she was the official spokesperson for the apparel fiber company Celanese Acetate’s fashion campaign, where she was able to work with designers including Tadashi, Carolina Herrera and Carmen Marc Valvo. Years later, she slipped back into a number of beautiful, extravagant costumes for her 2008 winning run on the TV reality competition Dancing With the Stars, her favorite being the gold evening gown she wore while dancing the foxtrot with partner Mark Ballas.
When Yamaguchi decided to launch her own product line Tsu.ya in 2012, active wear was a natural choice. She wanted to create fashionable clothing that could transition easily from exercise to everyday life, which was especially important to her as an on-the-go mom.
“I knew there was a way to create fun, trendy active wear that was comfortable,” says Yamaguchi. “To be different, I like to add pieces with ruffles and things to make it more feminine than what typical active wear looks like. I’m designing for a certain demographic that might like our mesh panel on the waistband for extra support, relaxed shapes in certain tops, ruching in areas to flatter the feminine figure.”
Yamaguchi is intimately involved in the design and development of a brand that bears not just her middle name but also the moniker of her grandmother. “It’s a nod to my family and our Japanese heritage,” she explains. “The literal translation is ‘shiny,’ so Tsu.ya encourages women to shine and find the spark of brilliance in all that they do.”
The personal connections don’t stop there. The “Keara” keyhole tee is named after her daughter, and a portion of all Tsu.ya proceeds go to Yamaguchi’s charity, the Always Dream Foundation, which focuses on childhood literacy.
Yamaguchi says she’s excited for the fall 2014 line, which features color-ways in teal, raspberry, heathered grey and, of course, black and white.
“There’s a beautiful, strappy active tank, mesh details, flattering silhouettes, a comfy wrap and a fun moto jacket,” she says. Indeed, the moto jacket, called “Mica,” is all style and all comfort, made of soft French terry and detailed with trendy gunmetal zippers. Other standout pieces include the perfectly slouchy “Lori” capri pant and the “Julia” jacket, a stylish mesh zip-up with extra long sleeves and thumb holes. Check out the entire line at tsuyabrand.com.
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here.