Q&A: Kristin Hildebrand, Wone founder

Behind the former Nike designer’s client-based business model

After spending seven years as a designer at Nike, Kristin Hildebrand left the activewear giant to strike out on her own. Her vision of a superior quality, minimalistic line led her to create Wone this year, a hyper-exclusive brand with a clientele hand-picked by Hildebrand herself. Below, the designer shared with Furthermore what she thinks makes her clothes stand out and how she wears her favorite piece.

What is the rationale behind your decision to sell to only select clients, and what are you looking for in a Wone customer?

The original intent to hand-pick clients was so that I could be more closely connected to everyone, however we are growing faster than I anticipated, and so we’re currently evolving the business model.

How are the products in the Wone line different from the ones you designed for Nike?

It’s hard to compare the two as they are so vastly different in terms of distribution, price point, etcetera.

What makes Wone stand out in the crowded athletic wear space?

It’s easy to stand out in a crowded space when you offer something less noisy with higher quality and superior functional design. You’ll never see us focused on novelty prints, patterns, embroideries, or embellishments as it’s not who we are and ultimately not what matters for the end use of our garments.

How would you describe the signature Wone brand look?

I would describe it as inspired by the Tao Te Ching.

How do you style your personal favorite pieces from your brand?

I love the versatility that each piece has, so it’s really easy to go in any direction with it. My favorite, though, are a pair of patent leather thigh highs with the shorts. So unexpected.

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The designer favors Pilates and horseback riding.

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