Athleisure Entrepreneurship Women

30Fifteen: Q and A With Founder and Designer Emily Tonkin


I have a confession to make.

To those who know me, I have been a dedicated and lifelong fan of college and NFL football, soccer, baseball, NBA and college basketball and ice hockey. I have to confess to a sports affair I have been having for the better part of 30 years.

That mistresses name is tennis.

It started ever so innocently one late night in 1980’s when I would stay up late to watch the exploits of Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. It would—along with the gradual rise of women’s tennis in watching—coincide during the heyday of the classic Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert, Steffi Graf-Monica Seles classic matchups.

Watching tennis was different than watching other sports, as it was about seeing the power of a strong serve, ferocious backhands and classic rallies and volleys.

I have seen it all.

From Goran Ivanisevic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal to Patrick Rafter on the men’s side to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Mary Pierce, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati and Gigi Fernandez to Venus and Serena Williams, I have always had a strong and passionate love and respect for the sport.

Thanks to the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, tennis has truly become a sport watched by many around the world. With talented and promising up-and-comers such as Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova, Genie Bouchard, Agnieszka Radwanska, Viktoria Azarenka and Sorana Cirstea, the future of women’s tennis is brighter than ever.

And today in the era of social media, marketing and branding, Tennis has become bigger and better than ever. With big name brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Puma sponsoring most of tennis’s top players, you already know what to expect regarding style, optics, and apparel.

One new name to watch is London-based tennis apparel and lifestyle brand, 30Fifteen.

30Fifteen, a play on words of the tennis score 30-15 in a set, is the brainchild of British-born, Los Angeles-educated fashion designer, and 30Fifteen owner Emily Tonkin.

As stated on their website about their mission statement, 30Fifteen’s goal is to provide stylish, affordable tennis, fitness & lifestyle apparel encouraging women to be active & feel confident.

The mission statement would go on to discuss 30Fifteen’s goal of female empowerment regardless of one’s shape or athletic background in stating,

We believe that no matter how old you are, what size or shape you are, or what career you have, being active in some way should be part of every women’s life.

Whether you are a runner, gym enthusiast, tennis player, dancer, yogi, or even a free runner, we believe it is essential that your garments perform, feel good, aid your chosen activity and look great. That way you will too. 

A 2010 graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Manufacturing (FIDM), the 29-year-old Brit has already made a name for herself thanks to 30Fifteen being featured in some of today’s biggest fashion and apparel magazines today.

With four distinct styles of tennis dresses, Sue, Anna, Jane and Alethia all made out of polyester and elastan fabric, the chic and cute tennis dresses contain a moisture wicking finish to absorb sweat and odor.

Per a 2013 interview with Jane Parker from the English-themed blog Angletopia, the four dress style names have a personal meaning as is Sue for her mother, Jane for her middle name, and also her mother’s former tennis partner, Alethia is in memory of a tennis friend of her mother who she used to play tennis with, that passed away from cancer and Anna for Anna Kournikova.

In addition to offering tennis dresses and lifestyle apparel, 30Fifteen also offers yoga classes at their Los Angeles-based yoga studio, 30Fifteen Studio that offers a unique approach to the busy and oversaturated L.A. yoga market.

30Fifteen also offers accessories such as hoodies, t-shirts, tote bags and sweatshirts.

Much like Adidas and their trademark horizontal stripes, the newly-released Anna dress has an X-like cross strap in the back, that is both eye-catching and sexy and the same time.

Not to say that 30Fifteen cannot be the next Adidas anytime soon, but thanks to someone as bright, energetic and talented as Tonkin at the helm, the future does indeed look all aces.

Below is an interview with Ms. Tonkin as we discuss a little tennis, the rise of Athleisure and a little Wimbledon. Cheers!

(Images courtesy of 30Fifteen)
(Images courtesy of 30Fifteen)

R.C. What inspired you to create 30Fifteen?

E.T. “When I began to research active wear in 2011, I saw a gap in the market for affordable, durable and stylish tennis apparel for women. My mum has been a tennis player the majority of my life, and she would always complain about not having anything nice to wear on the courts.

She’d buy a Nike or Adidas skirt, and everyone else at the club would have the same one, because there was such a limit in a product. So I guess the idea was inspired by my mum and her tennis friends.” 

 

R.C. What are your thoughts on the sudden explosion of ‘athleisure’?

E.T. “I have mixed opinions. I think it is MORE than acceptable to wear your workout clothes all day long, however, in some cities this is just not appropriate. I come from a very traditional English home and thus sometimes that mindset.

 Therefore, I am only wearing workout wear when I am working out or if I am about to teach. However, that does sometimes mean I am in workout wear all day depending on my schedule. So, when I have a day off, I like to wear my outfits I don’t get to wear during the week, which rarely includes active wear.”

 

R.C. Do you think this is more of a fitness or fashion trend?

E.T. “It’s a fashion trend.”

 

R.C. Who is your fashion icon/inspiration?

E.T. “Donna Karan.”

 

R.C. Who is your favorite tennis player men’s/women’s 

E.T. “When I was growing up, I was infatuated with Steffi Graf. And I used to LOVE watching Pete Sampras play. These days, Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka.”

 

R.C. What is your favorite tournament to watch?

E.T. “Wimbledon without a doubt!”

(Images courtesy of 30Fifteen)
(Images courtesy of 30Fifteen)

R.C. What do you think is the future of tennis and how do you think it will effect 30Fifteen?

E.T. “I think wearable technology is going to play a huge part in the future for all sports on a professional and non-professional level. The technology of fabrics is advancing so rapidly that this can only begin to be brought into sports too.

 In regards to 30Fifteen and the tennis community, we are working on getting tennis ‘seen’ through some campaigns coming out later this year that shows how social and fun tennis can be as a hobby. It’s great exercise too. Not a lot of girls between the ages of 25-35 play tennis and I want to change that.”

 Special thanks to Emily Tonkin, 30Fifteen and all of those involved. Follow 30Fifteen on Facebook here, on Instagram here. Follow 30FifteenStudio on Facebook here and on Instagram here.  Follow 30Fifteen on Twitter @Team30FifteenUK and 30Fifteen Studio at @30FifteenUSA.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

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