The Story Behind the FlowSuit

The idea for all of the ColorFlow Skating products came from many years of skating and a true love for the sport. In this first post, I'll focus on FlowSuits and how they came to life.

As a young child in elementary school, when I wasn’t on the ice, one of my favorite things to do was draw skating dress designs in my notebook. I dreamed of creating the most beautiful dresses for myself and for my friends. I loved to buy plain skating dresses and stone them myself, intricately placing each stone, knowing that all of them together would create something spectacular. I’d envision myself sparking on the ice, feeling proud that the performance I would skate would be enhanced by a dress I made mine and put so much time into.

As my relationship with skating evolved and I joined University of Michigan’s Figure Skating Team, I found a way to continue designing by creating all the artwork for my team’s competition t-shirts, t-shirts that we wore just for teammates and others that the team sold at intercollegiate competitions we hosted. It was a joy to see other skaters wearing my designs. Even though they were simple t-shirts, it felt incredible to see my peers do what they love and feel great doing it, in part by what they were wearing.


 

As much as a I don’t want to admit it, clothing plays a big part of who we are and how we feel. When we're skating and something feels too big, too itchy, or too small, there's a good chance that might make us feel annoyed or sad, making the quality of our skating less than ideal. On the flip-side, think of a time you stepped onto the ice wearing your favorite pair of leggings. You may have felt confident and ready to take on your practice or maybe very comfortable, happy, warm, even on the cold ice.

So many times I stepped onto the ice for practice, wearing dresses I loved and that made me feel good. I grew up skating in a time where everyone wore soft, long sleeve velvet dresses with chiffon skirts, skin-colored footed tights, with bright white skates showing. Some skaters opted for flowy skirts paired with a fluffy white wrap sweater, scattered with sparkling silver crystals. I liked the feeling of getting to pick out my practice dress each day. One of my favorite things about wearing a practice dress was that it was one, smooth, connected piece. I loved the feeling of stretching my arms tall, feeling that my dress was like a part of me, like a second skin. I didn’t need to worry about my shirt flying up or think about tugging my pants - that was never a thought at skating practice while wearing a practice dress.

Over time the styles started to change and skaters started to wear leggings and t-shirts to practice. Although leggings were comfortable and the fabric felt nice, my issue with wearing leggings was that the feeling of a second skin on ice slipped away. Sometimes I’d feel bothered by having to tug my leggings up after doing a sit spin. Paired with a t-shirt, my shirt would often fly up during jumps, which didn't feel as nice as the classic practice dresses.

I felt a bit conflicted. While it was cool and in-style to wear pants and a t-shirt for skating practice, I missed the soft, velvety feel of my skating dresses. I missed the form-fitting long sleeves and the open criss-cross back - so elegant, simple, and functional. Sometimes I wonder why did this style faded away.

Instead of wanting to bring back the old, I realized I wanted to create something even better. A sleek piece of clothing that would embody the old and embrace the new style of skating attire. Allowing us to skate our best, feel incredible, and radiate confidence. The idea for a FlowSuit was born.

Starting with the neckline, I wanted it to adapt to each skaters personal preference. Adding a front zipper allowed for this - skaters can wear it fully zipped up, all the way down, and anything in-between. Leaving it a quarter opened creates a really beautiful neckline, accentuating the neck and all of its intricate movement.I started drawing in my notebook again, just like I was in elementary school again but many many years later. Instead of drawing sparkling skating dresses, I drew gorgeous, one-piece bodysuits - combining the functional features of a practice dress and the confident feel of leggings. I experimented with hundreds of iterations to perfect every part of the FlowSuit, down to every single stitch.

Working my way from top down, next came the decision for a raglan long sleeve cut. I knew I wanted long sleeves; ice rinks are cold and nothing is worse than shivering throughout practice. The decision for the raglan cut was to provide the most optimal range of motion in the arms and shoulders. By placing the shoulder seam on a diagonal versus a straight line, it allows for graceful and strong arms, while minimizing any potential itchiness or rub from the seam during those movements. It’s amazing how much the direction of a seam can change a piece of clothing.

I created the waist in two layers, similar to how a good pair of high-waisted leggings feel. The first band is wider, had elastic sewn in, and is two layers of fabric, meant to hug the lower abs, an area where many of us like some extra compression. The next layer is a band of color. The combination of the two layers provides a flattering look and feel, no matter your body shape or size. The stitch on this section is a special one that allows for compression and true flexibility.

The colored stripes down the leg are a way to add more of a color pop, while keeping it simple and timeless. The color pop extends to the bottom leg opening. This color band along the opening has elastic sewn in, so you can pull the pant leg over the heel of your skate boot - creating a long sleek line plus coverage over your laces, so you don’t need to worry about tucking in your laces or taping over them.

Last but not least, the back of the FlowSuit. I missed the feeling of an open back with gorgeous straps, like I had when I wore practice dresses growing up. The issue with an open back is that you really can't wear a sports bra (unless you like the straps showing). All skaters should be able to wear ANY bra they’d like when skating, so I designed the covered upper back/open lower back feature. The two straps across the lower back are simple and sleek, not too cluttered or complex. In addition to the cooling properties and nice feeling of the air flow against your skin, the beauty of the open lower back is that you can still wear your skating crash pads. It’s easy to slip the pads on or off from the back opening of the FlowSuit.

Throughout the entire design process, I searched for the perfect fabrics to make the FlowSuits from. Success came from attending a fabric sourcing trade show in Los Angeles, California. I spend my days there touching fabric, imagining what each one would feel like it if I was wearing it on the ice. I wanted a fabric with 4-way stretch, a bit of compression, thick enough to keep skaters warm while still form-fitting. The fabric needed to be strong enough to hold up to hard falls on the ice, sweat-wicking, and breathable. I searched for all of these features in a black matte and also in bright pinks, blues, and purples for the accent colors.

The final touches were finding the right zipper and skate charm. Each FlowSuit size corresponds to a different zipper length. I choose each length to allow for the ideal about of opening depending on each torso size of the skater wearing it. It was important for me to have an opening large enough, so it would be easy to take the FlowSuit off and on, while ensuring there wasn’t any unnecessary zipper length. The skate charm is affixed onto the zipper as a final fun touch, a reminder that these FlowSuits were designed for you, a figure skater and to show the world proudly this is your practice. This is what you love and dedicate your time to.

My wish is that your FlowSuit brings you so much joy and confidence on ice. I hope all the love and care that went into this unique design for you shines through.

It’s so special to be a figure skater. Think of all the times you get compliments just for being someone that skates. Putting in the years of dedication is an incredible feat. Throughout your skating journey, you only deserve the best in what you wear on the ice! Skating is tough enough -- having a piece of clothing that supports you through it all is a really nice feeling.

This is only the start to the ColorFlow Skating journey. I have so much love and appreciation for all the skaters, parents, and coaches who trusted me from the start and who have been a part of the beautiful beginning to this growing community.

 

With love & gratitude,

Merrick

CEO & Founder | ColorFlow Skating | Forever a Figure Skater

#colorflowcrew

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