Zippers, polka dots and a passion for pioneering wildly creative legwear for their kids: That's what reunited high school pals Kristin Ervin and Shelly Chilton.
The moms are the duo behind Oppos, a new line of mix-and-match leggings and capris for girls. Short for "opposites," Oppos let little gals whip up new styles on a whim.
"At this point, we have 54 possible legging combinations," says Shelly, 43, of Lake Orion, whose girls are 9 and 11. "Our leggings allow girls to come up with their own unique look through the simple zipping and unzipping of their leggings."
Adds Kristin, 46, who lives in Beverly Hills, "We're a Michigan-based business" – one that's definitely driven by daughters.
Bringing it together
It began with Josie Ervin. The 11-year-old loved to mix socks and mittens. She made a passing comment about how cool it would be to do the same with leggings.
Her mom and grandpa, Tom, took note. They had the desire and business savvy but lacked the design and fashion-industry experience. That's where Shelly came in.
Kristin reached out to her old friend, who'd earned her stripes in NYC with the Kay Unger design team creating magazine cover looks for celebs like Christina Aguilera and Keri Russell. Now back in metro Detroit, she was all in on Oppos.
The crew secured exclusive rights to a zipper-securing-pants patent from a Florida woman. Then, it was time for the fun: picking prints, colors and patterns.
"We started looking at fashion and prints that were trending and what young celebrities were wearing," Shelly says. The first batch debuted last January.
The gear and girls
Oppos now boasts leggings, hipster tunic tops, reversible headbands and capris in polka dot, zebra, tie-dye and paint-splatter prints, plus solid colors like yellow, fuchsia, black and turquoise. The material is four-way stretch polyester/spandex jersey blend with wicking properties, making it a great active-wear choice.
Beyond fashion and function, though, there's a mission of empowering, too. Shelly loves how Oppos let her girls bring their tastes and creativity to life.
"Greer, my older daughter, is a huge sports fanatic. She'll pair two different-color legs to match the colors of her favorite sports teams," mom explains. "Quinn has a style all her own and often pairs her Oppos with shorts and glittery high tops."
Naturally, the tweens are a primo focus group, too. All three serve as the moms' sounding boards, models and critics for patterns, prints and overall looks.
"It's truly a family affair," says Shelly, who handles all things design. Kristin's dad Tom is an equal partner – and her mother-in-law fulfills orders and manages inventory.
What's next? Branching into retail shops in local gymnastics, ice-skating and dance schools. Plus a Junior SpiritWear collection due to launch in March/April.
"Everywhere we go, my girls are asked where they got their leggings," Shelly says. "They're a fun and unique way for girls to express their personal style."
Snap these mix-and-match leggings and capris for girls (there are 54 possible legging combos). Matching tops and reversible headbands available too.
Leggings/capris run $19/leg or $38/pair (four legs gives you four pairs!). Tops are $19, and headbands are $12 (note: get 20 percent off everything until Dec. 24).
You can buy Oppos at Kiosk at Great Lakes Crossing, 4000 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills, in District 3 next to Gameday Detroit (near Neiman Marcus Last Call), or online.