These days, being just an actress doesn’t cut it—even if you’re a really, really good one. Hollywood 2.0 is all about the side hustle, whether it’s opening a restaurant, investing in a promising tech startup, or, in Hilary Swank’s case, launching a clothing line that reimagines one of the biggest fashion trends in recent years.
Late last year, the Oscar-winning actress joined the ranks of stars-turned-lifestyle gurus like Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, and Ellen DeGeneres and introduced Mission Statement, an activewear brand that redefines athleisure with pieces that you can wear to the gym and beyond. “I couldn’t find anything to address my needs as a modern woman juggling a million different things,” Swank recently told InStyle. “So I decided to make it myself.” Here, more from Swank about her label and burgeoning lifestyle empire.
Why did you decide to launch Mission Statement?
I wanted clothes that allowed me to go effortlessly throughout my day, be comfortable, and still look chic. With the athleisure trend, there was nothing out there that didn’t look like I was wearing my workout clothes. We’re trying to dissolve the barriers between athletic and leisure, work and working out, day and night.
Do you think athleisure is on its way out?
I think it’s gone as far as it can go and needs its next iteration, which is to be multi-functional while not making you look like you’re about to work out.
Have you always wanted to have your own clothing line?
No, I did not have it in mind at all. It was borne out of necessity and seeing a space for it in the market. I also had a lot of people coming up to me and saying, “You fought for living your dream, and it’s encouraged me to never give up on mine.” The underlying purpose of the brand is to encourage women to take one hour in their 24-hour day to work toward their own personal mission statement. I’m very much inspired by people who persevere through adversity—if we can continue to share stories about where we’ve come from and what we want to achieve, it helps us feel less alone in our insecurities and pushes us to be our greatest selves.
Is making clothes similar to making movies at all?
They parallel each other really closely—someone writes a story, and other people tell the story. For ideas, I go back in time to different decades and eras to see what looked flattering and unique. Architecture is also a huge inspiration for me—seeing how lines and patterns create a pleasant feeling. Essentially, I wanted to create a line of clothing that allows women to dress how they feel.
Did you consult any designers or executives before breaking into the fashion industry?
My co-founder Carolyn Risoli, who was the big brain behind the launch of Marc by Marc Jacobs. She’s been so instrumental in seeing my vision through and understanding the people who help bring it to life.
Who is your ideal customer?
Women who are chic and active and want to dress for how they feel, live, work, and play, whether it’s a mom that is busy taking her kids to school or an entrepreneur that will hit the gym during her lunch break. I’m an avid tennis player, and oftentimes I go straight to dinner in my tennis dress—and no one ever asks, “Oh, did you just play tennis?” That, to me, is super important.
What is your favorite piece from the collection?
The Yummy Track Pants are my biggest go-to because I can pair them with runners, boots, and any type of top. It’s our best-seller.
Any important lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I like to move quickly—if I have an idea, I want to achieve it right away. I’m learning to savor things more, because a day goes by and you’re never going to get it back. But that’s how fashion goes: You always need to be thinking about the next thing.
Do you hope to turn Mission Statement into a full-fledged lifestyle brand one day?
Yes, I would love that eventually. I’m just enjoying the first iteration—I want to build it slowly and right so women can appreciate the artisan work that goes behind it and understand what we have. I’m hoping that shoes are next.
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This interview has been edited and condensed.