Shona Joy launches first-ever athleisure range

SJ Sport is the Sydney label’s first foray into athleisure.
SJ Sport is the Sydney label’s first foray into athleisure.

Sydney fashion brand Shona Joy on Sunday launched a 22-piece collection of sporty and subtly branded tees, tanks and sweats in a palette of soft neutrals.

At first glance, the new collection seems to be a dramatic departure from the brand’s bread and butter, which is bridesmaid dresses.

Marketing manager Danielle Millar confirmed that SJ Sport is the brand’s first foray into athleisure, a market set to be worth more than $257.1 billion globally by 2026, according to Reportlinker.

But the move to offer more everyday looks is not entirely new for the designer fashion label.

“We released a capsule of SJ Basics […] earlier in the year and were blown away by the response,” Millar told Inside Retail.

That collection included knits tops and dresses in neutral colours and was designed to be styled with fashion pieces from the core offering.

Shona Joy is a market leader in the occasionwear category, but has recently evolved to offer more everyday looks.

The development of the SJ Basics and SJ Sport collections now appears to be an extremely prescient decision, given the impact of the global pandemic on formal events like weddings, nights out on the town and even working in offices.

For many people working remotely and limiting their socialising, there’s no longer a reason to dress up, and comfort is king.

“[W]ith demand for loungewear and effortless daytime pieces growing, we definitely see this becoming a key element of our brand,” Millar said.

But in fact, Shona Joy has gradually been expanding its offering beyond occasionwear for several years.

“Over the past five years, the growth in our e-commerce business has allowed us to really come into our own,” Millar said.

“Our use of natural fibres and the growth in our resort category has seen the evolution and elevation of the brand.”

While the 20-year-old brand may still be best known for its simple, bias-cut, silk-touch dresses favoured by modern bridesmaids, Shona Joy has a broader vision to offer aspirational day and night looks that reference key international trends, while remaining true to its uniquely modern, yet bohemian and feminine aesthetic, according to Millar.

For every item in the 22-piece collection purchased, Shona Joy will donate $5 to Women Sport Australia.

Another way the SJ Sport collection fits in with the broader brand ethos is its focus on supporting women beyond fashion.

For every garment sold from the 22-piece collection, Shona Joy will donate $5 to Women Sport Australia to support the organisation’s campaign for gender equity for women in sport.

The brand will also be using its channels to amplify the voice of WSA and share the stories of some of Australia’s incredible female athletes with the hope of inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

“We have some wonderful sports women in our team and have been looking for a way to show our support to the voices campaigning toward gender equality for women in sport in Australia,” Millar explained.

“Our SJ Sport collection has been in the works for some time and we thought this collection presented a great opportunity to create a meaningful partnership with WSA.”

Shona Joy has partnered with Dress for Success, a charity focused on empowering women to become financially independent, for several years, and recently it started working with Plan, a global organisation focused on keeping girls in school, Across Australia, a shelter for women at risk of domestic violence, and UN Women, an arm of the United Nations that promotes gender equality. Shona Joy is supporting its efforts to end violence against women in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

In addition, the brand supports female-focused charities and initiatives through the I=Change platform.

“As a brand and as a team, we’re committed to operating with people and the planet at the forefront of our minds and have been passionate about ensuring we’re using our voices to support other women,” Millar said.

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