In 2008, Olivia Borlée, Élodie Ouedraogo, Hanna Mariën and Kim Gevaert clinched the Olympic gold in the 4x100 metres relay. In 42.54 seconds, they made history. A decade later, Olivia and Elodie are awarded at the Belgian Fashion Awards for their clothing brand: 42 | 54, as if to forever underline one of the most beautiful exploits of Belgian sport.

Pictures : Mous Lamrabat (unless otherwise stated)
Interview by Kinto

Photo : Olivia with her new Kinto 4306 / personal archive

Parallel to your sports career, you also studied interior architecture and fashion. Elodie's mother is a model maker. In fact, you both already had a step ahead in fashion.

Elodie has always been immersed in fashion; her mom used to make her running clothes. I have always been passionate about fashion and it has naturally created a connection between Elodie and I. That's why we launched our brand two years ago. I had this project in mind since 2012. I started drawing, thinking about the concept, talking about it. In a year and a half, we dropped the first collection.

How to qualify your brand?

We are often categorised as “athleisure”: sportswear worn in other contexts. We don’t really define ourselves like that due to our past, the sporty side remains very important. Yes, we do want to use comfort so that the garment can be worn outside of the sporty context, but the latter remains its primary function: jump, run, do whatever you want in our clothes and if they are cool enough to be worn outside, that means we did our job well.

What specific aspects make your difference?

We try to be ethical as possible by producing in Europe, including in Belgium. We always look for the best in every detail, fabrics, buttons, zipper, etc. We want to offer the best as we have always done in our lives and in sport, by aiming high. We create hybrid clothing, you can remove the skirt that attaches to the leggings and run, then you can put it back to continue your ordinary activities. We want to make the life of an active woman easier in all occasions whether social, familial or professional.

What are your inspirations?

We are inspired by Belgian fashion, sports and our needs. What we missed as athletes. We pay attention to catwalks and the news. We are open minded and we try to project it in our clothes.

You talk about "Belgian fashion", what is it exactly?

There are some famous names like Dries van Noten or Martin Margiela, and also many young people, Belgian or not, who studied at La Cambre or the Antwerpen Academy. The level is high over there. There are also many textile industries that have the know-how and technical skills. The fact of having all of this creates a great emulation and allows us to rise internationally. Saying that we are Belgian is quite the introduction.

What is your assessment of these first years in fashion, especially after having received this price?

This award is a recognition of a sports brand by the world of fashion. It means that we managed to create a bridge between both and that was our goal. Positive energies everywhere.