Most would agree that the feeling of squeezing into a pair of skin-tight pants after enjoying a meal with friends is less than ideal. A night can be ruined over a size-too-small pair of jeans that you were certain fit yesterday. Why is it that in an attempt to “look cute” externally, consumers must compromise their comfort and confidence? It wasn’t until 2017 that fashion brands discovered there are solutions to encourage fashion-forward individuals to elevate their style without sacrificing comfort.
I.AM.GIA was first launched in Australia by sisters Alana and Stevie Pallister, with Alana Pallister as the brains behind the entire operation. The model and social media personality oversees everything from design to marketing, public relations, and creative direction and has generated a brand with a net revenue estimated between $10M-$25M. Alana attributes part of the drastic rise of the company to its presence on social media, which has played a formative role in helping to create an “ultra-elusive, luxury label for the masses.” I.AM.GIA has capitalized on its social media platforms to create a community of individuals that eagerly await the brand's next moves. With an Instagram account that has accumulated over 1.2 million followers, much of its customer loyalty derives from its online fanbase.
The brand first made fashion headlines after Bella Hadid featured her pair of ‘Cobain’ pants in an unsponsored Instagram post. Pallister revealed in an interview that Hadid was the first “it-girl” to rock I.AM.GIA.
She recalls, "At that point we didn’t have a large following on Instagram, and we didn’t have many ambassadors wearing the product.” Then, Bella Hadid rocked (and was photographed in) I.AM.GIA pieces. Pallister continues, "From that point it was a snowball effect in terms of sales because Gia had gained attention. People within the industry were talking about her and wondering where she had come from."
But beyond their ability to attract customers using “it girls” of our generation for promotion, I.AM.GIA’s distinctive designs and comfortable pieces set it apart from other top-selling clothing brands in the industry. The brand produces comfort-focused clothes that still nail the trends and provide their own flair. When starting I.AM.GIA, the Pallister sisters saw an open space within the industry - the need for stylish clothes that remain comfortable - and filled it. Especially since the pandemic, the average person struggles to be “on” all the time; I.AM.GIA recognized this and caters to individuals who would rather forgo throwing on a pair of jeans in the morning. Consumers are willing to pay more for quality comfort pieces that are versatile and require minimal effort while still looking chic. Fashion sites such as Princess Polly and Edikted have even imitated I.AM.GIA with cheaper alternatives, demonstrating the widespread impact the brand has made within the fashion industry. Almost identical flare pants can be found for $44 on the Edikted site vs I.AM.GIA’s pair which retails for $70. Lower-priced substitutes that resemble I.AM.GIA further exemplify the clear market gap which Alana Pallister effectively filled.
Besides I.AM.GIA, consumers seek go-to comfort-chic outfits from underground brands such as Sami Miro Vintage and Cherry LA. Sami Miro Vintage designs one-of-a-kind sustainable clothing, using upcycled materials and reconstructing them. This designer is a fan-favorite of the Jenners, the Hadids, Hailey Bieber, and Selena Gomez, as well as many other A-list names. First spotted on model Kaia Gerber, Cherry LA is another brand capitalizing on comfortable yet chic pieces. The L.A.-based brand produces trendy comfort clothes, including sweatshirts and sweatpants, and has made a name for itself for its streetwear. The increased demand for comfortable clothes and streetwear has opened up a whole new market trend for companies like Sami Miro Vintage, Cherry LA, and others like Madhappy and Sporty & Rich.
As a young girl, I grew up hearing the phrase, “Beauty is pain.” The idea that style meant discomfort became a fashion norm for me, as it was all I ever knew. Brands like I.AM.GIA, Sami Miro Vintage, and Cherry LA have shattered these norms and I hope they will continue to change what fashion should be. And, as society continues to push these boundaries, the notion of style being synonymous with discomfort will become less of a reality and like any trend, fade into a thing of the past.