SGB sat down with Freelance Designer & Production Director at Opedix Kinetic Health Gear Lisa Hadley for an insider look at the scientific world behind Opedix designs.
By Jahla Seppanen
Lisa Hadley has been developing apparel for the outdoor, action sports and ski industries for more than 15 years. Her flair for taking technical garments from concept to factory, along with a record of strong relationships with factories, fabric and trim vendors around the world has made Hadley a sought after designer for prominent brands such as Horny Toad Activewear, Outdoor Research, Mountain Hardwear, Flylow, Marmot and Opedix.
In her freelance work with kinetic health gear company Opedix, which has blown the top off scientifically engineered performance wear, Hadley has been collaborating for three years with the company to transform the vision of science-driven, performance-optimal apparel into a wearable reality. Most recently, Hadley used her design skills in partnership with Dr. Michael Decker, Ph.D., to produce apparel that is a hybrid of style and science in the purest sense of the words.
How do Opedix designers differ from ordinary activewear designers? It certainly would have helped to have a background in anatomy or science, but I work very closely with Dr. Michael Decker, Ph.D., who is a senior scientist at the Human Dynamics Laboratory at Denver University. His knowledge of biomechanics and human movement and my experience in apparel design and textile applications have been a great combination.
What is it like collaborating with scientists on apparel? It’s imperative. Collaborating with Dr. Decker was like going back to school. I thought I knew everything about making activewear until I started working on the Opedix line. The Opedix products are like nothing else on the marketplace. They are truly based on science first and foremost. I have learned so much about the human body and biomechanics in order to develop products that can actually change a person’s alignment and movement patterns.
“There is a lot of talk about “smart apparel” with integrated sensors and systems for performance feedback, but Opedix is really the only product out there that can actually correct alignment and movement patterns simply by putting it on.” – Lisa Hadley
Is it difficult to make kinetically optimal and fashion-forward pieces? Once we figured out the patterning and appropriate fabric tensions to achieve the functional result we were looking for, making the product fashionable wasn’t that difficult. After all, that’s my expertise. With so many interesting textiles available these days, it was fairly easy to achieve the desired look. Over time, we hope to add more variety from a design perspective, but for now we went for a timeless look.
Opedix has a tight line of offerings. Does this change the regular design process? Each product was designed to address specific components of the kinetic chain, which is why the base line is fairly small right now. It all began with the Knee-Tec Tights, focused on the lower extremities, and then we developed the Core-Tec Shorts to address the core and hips. The Dual-Tec Tights were designed to combine the technology used in the Knee-Tec Tights and Core-Tec Shorts, and now we have moved onto the upper kinetic chain with the introduction of the Blade-Tec Shirt. Over time, we plan to extend the line to include variations of these products with different fabric weights, feature sets, color schemes, etc.
What is the next big design trend in performance wear? I think products like Opedix are right on the cutting edge of apparel innovation. There is a lot of talk about “smart apparel” with integrated sensors and systems for performance feedback, but Opedix is really the only product out there that can actually correct alignment and movement patterns simply by putting it on. The product increases sensory input and improves neuromuscular function, leading to better movement, without the user even having to think about it.
“Opedix products…are truly based on science first and foremost.” -Lisa Hadley
Break down the new Blade-Tec 2.0 Shirt. What isn’t immediately obvious to the wearer? The whole design is pretty cool and quite subtle. While other shirts on the market utilize primarily mechanical tension or “pulling” to correct shoulder alignment or posture, the Blade-Tec 2.0 Shirt, just like other Opedix products, focuses on improving neuromuscular function to correct alignment or posture. The load distribution ring in the center back of the shirt is a key component that most people might not recognize for its importance. It effectively anchors the other bands and helps promote muscular balance by providing just the right amount of tension when your body is out of alignment.