From Architecture to Accessories, Behind the Design With Athleta’s Director of Accessories Design, Adam Davidson

by Gap Inc.


February 13, 2023

For the last year, Adam Davidson dedicated his time and energy to helping create Athleta’s first-ever branded yoga mat, block, and bag. The Flow Freely Yoga collection is grounded in our beauty, innovation, and impact design pillars. It is our most significant presence of yoga offerings to hit stores and online. Adam sat down to answer a few questions about his career path, the yoga launch, and what it means to work for Athleta. 

Q. How did you get into design, and what do you love about it?

I got into accessories design through the back door. I studied and worked in architecture but launched my line of bags while living in New York City. That led to full-time work designing leather goods and sports accessories. I transitioned from architecture to accessories design because I liked the immediacy of the design process: making mockups and seeing an idea take form before my eyes. I still value making things with my hands and encourage my team to do the same. 

Q. As a designer, what is unique about working at Athleta?

I was drawn to Athleta because of its commitment to sustainability. I try to reduce the impact as much as possible with everything I design.

Q. Speaking of a commitment to sustainability, the Flow Freely Yoga collection has sustainable components to its design. Can you talk to us about that?

The entire collection was designed with reduced impact in mind. The mat was born in collaboration with Yulex, a company dedicated to innovating with natural rubber. We had initially started working with them because of the wetsuit they developed with Patagonia. A modified version of this material is found in our Revive bags. When they mentioned they had been experimenting with yoga mats, we jumped at the opportunity to collaborate. The mat is 70% Yulex natural rubber, and through our use of natural ingredients, we created a comfy mat that lacks the strong chemical smell of competitive products. Likewise, the block is made with 51% renewable sugarcane plants, and the yoga bag is made with 100% recycled polyester ripstop fabric. 

Q. What was the design process like to develop the yoga mat?

We started discussing the mat in the Summer of 2021, so it took over a year to develop. Yulex provided us with some very promising mat samples. Our Product Engineering team then connected them with our mat and block manufacturer, and they worked out the formula and process collaboratively. They went through MANY rounds before getting the formula right. Our marketing team created the pattern engraved on the mat and blocks. We call it “Dynamic Chi,” which our store associates probably recognize from the holiday store décor. We decided to offer gear in a signature Athleta tonal color palette rather than direct match-backs, allowing the customer to mix and match as they see fit. 

Q. What’s something you learned in the design process of making the mat?

Creating a yoga mat is way more complicated than it looks.

Q. What do you personally love about the mat?

I like the sensory experience of the mat — the colors, texture, and smell are all soothing to me.

Q. And finally, what does product innovation mean to you as a brand that focuses on innovation?

It means pushing against the constraints of the industry – not accepting the status quo–and working collaboratively toward a common goal.

Enjoyed learning about Adam and his latest work? Check them out in person—Athleta's Flow Freely Yoga Collection is available online and in stores.

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