What do you do when you’re an avid tennis player and fashionista frustrated by the lack of chic, comfortable, and flattering tennis wear for women over 35? Start your own company designing the exact clothes you want to wear, obviously. That’s Laura Preskin’s story, in a nutshell. The execution of that transition to entrepreneurship is, of course, more complex.
Edgemont’s Laura Preskin
For starters, Preskin, an Edgemont resident, spent many years working in fashion product development, design, sales, and merchandising—most recently as VP of merchandising and design at Danskin—before founding her own luxury tennis and golf brand three years ago. (She also took a career hiatus to raise her children, and spent 10 years as a part-time social worker before returning to fashion.) Titled Yaffa, after Preskin’s great aunt Yaffa, who was a fashion designer in Prague in the 1930s, the brand is “designed to fill a void in the upscale tennis and golf market by producing sleek, chic functional clothing that crosses over to other fitness activities and can be worn all day long,” Preskin explains.
In order to develop garments that met her high standards in fit, fabric, and fashion, Preskin resurrected her design and production team from Danskin, and spent more than two years testing and tweaking the designs before launching the Yaffa e-commerce store this past January. (Yaffa products are also sold at premier country clubs and retail outlets, including Masons, Tennis East in the Hamptons, West Hampton Country Club, Life Time Fitness, Sportech, and other locations in Texas, Florida, California, and New York.) All of Yaffa’s skirts, tanks, tees, leggings, and cover-ups, Preskin notes, have been “court and course-tested on a group of select Yaffa ambassadors—like Lina Litvak, a nationally ranked tennis player—to perfect fit and function.”
Because the line focuses on the 35-and-older market, skirt lengths are a little longer, and tops enhance bust lines and minimize problem areas. “My design objective is to conceal the unwanted and accentuate the positive,” she explains. “Many of our tops have shirring and blousing for troublesome areas and fabrics that are light- weight, breathable, have UPF 50, and feel silky smooth.”
Admittedly, the high-end activewear segment is crowded with competitors ranging from well-known brands like lululemon, MPG, and Athleta to emerging favorites such as Alo and Lorna Jane. So how does Yaffa differentiate itself? Preskin points to the figure-flattering aspect, as well as the high-quality fabric from which each Yaffa product is made. “Our fabric, called Yaffa Luxe, is imported from Europe’s finest mill. Our trims are sourced from all over the world, including Japan and New York City. We obsess over every detail, and once you feel the fabric, you understand the difference,” she says.
Preskin is also counting on the crossover appeal to help boost Yaffa’s success. “Women are staying in their fitness clothes all day long now,” she explains. “I saw with the lululemon phenomenon there was an opportunity for a fashion player in the tennis and golf market. There are many players nibbling at yoga, running, and cycling. But in high-end tennis and golf, there are few players that truly cross over to everyday casual.”