When I first see Karlie Kloss on my screen, she’s a pixelated, slightly delayed version of the model/Kode With Klossy founder/Project Runway host the world knows. “I’ve been having some WiFi troubles today…” she tells me, springing into action just as I offer to switch my own connection. It’s one of the all-too-common scenes filling our days in 2020, as technical difficulties impede our ability to connect.
But after a few virtual adjustments, it becomes clear that not even a weak WiFi connection will be tampering Kloss’s excitement. She’s here to introduce her new collection with Adidas, a spring/summer 2021 athleisure line designed alongside Adidas Design VP Jo Aberg. “It’s a dream come true to be creating and launching this collection with Adidas. Long before my day job being a model, I really have always identified as an athlete,” Kloss recalls. “Growing up, I played every sport in the book. I loved the role that sports had and continue to have in my life. It’s such a core part of how I connect to my body and my mind and how I feel my best.”
That same spirit is evident in her streetwear-inspired output with Adidas, an orange-accented activewear line featuring high-performance workout bras, leggings, shorts, and outerwear. The collection utilizes recyclable material and AEROREADY fabric technology to create a sustainable, but sporty experience for consumers. “This collection we wanted to create was really a culmination of so many things that I love,” Kloss explains. “Empowering young women to take part in sports, but also the fashion aspect of it—creating pieces that are functional and fashionable and the best-in-class performance gear.”
Two women that embody this mission are Alexis Williams and Elysha Ang—both alums of Kode With Klossy, a coding program for women founded by Kloss. They’re featured front and center in the Adidas campaign and are products of the model’s mentorship. Inspiring women in the sports and tech spaces is a topic Kloss admits she can’t “stop rambling” about. When asked about the origins of her passion, she begins, “Well, I mean I grew up in the Midwest,” stopping so that we can bond over shared knowledge of the University of Missouri. “Did you go to the J-school? You probably know all of my neighbors and cousins and friends,” she jokes.
Kloss grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, one of three sisters with parents who encouraged them to embrace their dreams without limitations. “Just because we happen to be young women doesn’t mean that we are not capable of anything that the boys are capable of. I think I had that mentality, in sports in particular,” she says. “I was always the girl at recess playing kickball, outplaying the boys. So I think I’ve always had that competitive drive, but also the communal aspect of a strong sisterhood—literally with my sisters, but also with friends in my hometown of St. Louis and in the fashion community.”
Some of those relationships were cultivated last year when Kloss joined Project Runway as its new host. In addition to missing judge and ELLE Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia, Kloss says she’s feeling grateful for the design opportunities the show provided her. “Being able to be a part of the creative process as a producer on Project Runway has been such an educational experience as well,” she says. “Probably since I’m 13 years old, I have been a part of this industry and learning from so many incredible creatives. Being able to bring these visions to life, not only as a model, to be a part of the creative process in a very involved way has been such an incredible evolution of how I get to do my job.”
These days, Kloss admits her previously fast-paced lifestyle has been replaced with trips from the living room to the kitchen and back again. “For the last, I don’t know, more than a decade of my life, I’ve been on an airplane,” Kloss explains. “I’ve been running around, just crazy kind of days, and taking on so many different things, which I love.” But she admits, “Not traveling so much has actually been a blessing in disguise to be more present and connected to my loved ones, and connected to myself. I think for me it just kind of put into perspective what matters most.”
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Like many of us, Kloss is adjusting to the new normal by investing in a new set of hobbies. “I caught up on basically 10 years worth of TV in the last eight months,” she laughs. “I also have been pleasantly surprised by how much I love virtual workouts. That’s one thing that I didn’t really ever do before quarantine. I have been cooking a lot more than I ever, ever did. I find that really meditative, and also it’s important because it was a skillset that I never invested in before, and now I feel like I’ve come a long way.”
Kloss is also looking ahead to 2021, a year poised for major changes. If all goes according to plan, she wants to run in the New York City marathon (for a second time). New Adidas product drops are in the works. There’s also that one personal project she’s keeping to her Instagram grid for now. No matter what the next phase holds, Kloss wants women to feel as empowered to embrace every part of themselves as she is. “I don’t identify as just one thing. Yes, I’m a model, but I also consider myself and treat my body and my mind like an athlete. Yes, I’m a student. Yes, I love computer science. Yes, I’m an entrepreneur and a founder of Kode with Klossy,” she says, wistfully deciding, “I don’t know, I have all these various aspects of who I am.”
Karlie Kloss’s Adidas collection is available to shop on December 1.
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