The activewear brand Active Truth is the result of an experience most of us can relate to: an online shopping disappointment. “I had my heart set on this leopard-print pair of tights from a very fashionable brand, and I went for a run and they kept falling down,” says co-founder Nadia Tucker. “I thought, ‘There must be a product out there that is functional and doesn’t just look beautiful.’ So that’s where we started.”
The business launched in 2016 with a range of activewear that prioritises compression in all the right places for comfort and support for the legs, core, back and hips. The waistband has a double layer of fabric that provides core support and will stay put – top of the priority list for Tucker was making sure her leggings would stay up, and the bellyband wouldn’t roll down. Tucker also guarantees the tights are 100 per cent “squat proof”: they won’t go sheer when you bend. The fabric draws sweat away, is breathable and has UV protection.
The label started making maternity-specific tights to add to the regular range just after the business launched. The idea came about when Tucker complained to a colleague that she was tired of wearing her husband’s shorts to accommodate her preggo belly when she was doing exercise. They drew up a rough pattern for the design that same day.
The full Active Truth range includes tights (regular and maternity) in three lengths, T-shirts, and crop tops (regular and with breastfeeding clasps). The pieces come in black and navy (“midnight”) and limited-release prints (it has just re-released its best-selling grey leopard print). It’s also about to release a petite range.
“It’s a group that has trouble finding activewear that doesn’t bunch down at their ankles,” says Tucker. Active Truth also just launched a “recovery” version of its tights for wear postpartum, with tighter and higher belly compression. There is free express shipping on all orders, and free returns.
All Active Truth pieces are made from the same shape-retaining compression fabric. It has a light sheen but is not shiny. It’s a polyester-elastane blend, which retains shape and, in the case of the maternity tights, has a bellyband that will grow with you. The only difference between the maternity tights and the regular tights is the waist; they have the same fit and compression around the hips and legs. The pair of tights you wear through your pregnancy will have you covered in the months after bub is born, too, thanks to the way the fabric moulds to what the body needs.
The tights’ design was tested on women of different shapes and sizes and was done in consultation with experts in garment construction, and with physios, midwives and personal trainers.
“When we launched online all we were seeing were women with thigh gaps and six packs, and it was all very ‘inspirational’. I didn’t find that very inspirational or aspirational – it actually didn’t resonate with me at all and it made me feel bad about myself,” says Tucker. “So we decided we were going to make activewear for women from size 6 to 26 on our full range – not just our bestsellers or a handful of products.”
Tucker says that none of Active Truth’s imagery is ever photoshopped. “The brand is about exercising for health, happiness and mental health, as opposed to reducing your body to a certain dress size or a number on a scale,” she says.
And Active Truth has addressed a design omission we have all at some point lamented when heading out in leggings: all versions of the tights come with the option of pockets. “Once you go pockets you never go back,” says Tucker, adding that they’re deep enough for an iPhone.
The crop top is like a sports bra, and the breastfeeding version has larger than usual magnetic clips instead of the usual small and fiddly plastic hook-and-eye malarky this writer and breastfeeding mum wrestles with regularly.
“It’s the convenience of being able to feed and then slap your chest and it’s done up, and bub can’t pull it off,” says Tucker. The clips are so secure Tucker says it may take a day to learn how to flick them off with one hand, but once you do you’ll probably be wearing this bra day-to-day and not just for exercise. Tucker also says it won’t dig in when breasts swell before a feed, and it won’t be baggy when bub’s full.
“If you can solve even a small problem for a mum, it can be life-changing,” says Tucker.
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This article was updated on June 24, 2020, to reflect that Active Truth's size range goes to size 26 not size 36.