Inside the Design Studio: What We’re Working On...and What We’re Wearing While Doing It


I’ve always wanted to be a part of the dance scene. Like fly-on-the-wall status, watching dancer interviews online until late into the night, just hoping to catch a glimpse of anything behind the scenes -in love with the whole production. For over a decade as a ballerina, I got to travel the country, meet extraordinary new colleagues (lots of whom I am still working with in new ways!), and perform my heart out dancing diverse choreography.

Now as a costume designer and apparel manufacturer, I play a most rewarding supporting role for dancers, choreographers, and creative teams crafting their own unique projects. 

Then COVID. 

Initially I had planned to debut Tangentfit in between costuming projects as a brand focused on ballet studio-wear that would bring stage and studio closer together. I’d use my design sensibility for performance and make something more accessible for everyday. The pandemic pushed me to rethink the contexts I aimed to connect. Dancers aren’t in need of leos right now, I thought. They need gear to help them stay fit, and motivated; poised to take up pointe shoes once they’re back in the studio.

“Quarantining has shown me I actually only wear three outfits, ever,” admits Amy Seiwert, Artistic Director of Imagery. Tangentfit's Swoop Short makes that shortlist - comfortable as a go-to, stylish if I need to run to the store, and ready to go if I'm going to do a midday yoga break or need to teach a class on Zoom.”

Which is starting to happen now! We’ve seen dancers working in small pods back in the studio, still lots of rehearsal and performance prep outdoors and online, and generally a sense of excitement about what this new ballet season can bring.

More traditional dancewear prototypes are being tested for the second release which will complement dancers’ return to the studios/performance space. Two leotards, a waist warmer, and a rehearsal skirt with a fresh new color palette make the line-up for the coming collection.


Blurring the lines between traditional ballet and everyday arenas - like studio and living room, or tutu and pajamas (I mean, lots can be done in a baggy T-shirt and sweatpants!) -  is no easy move. But consistently voiced by my peers, is the concern for finding fashion that doesn’t skimp on performance. 

Rachel Speidel Little, freelance artist who dances with SF Opera, opines “Tangentfit surpasses other athletic and dance apparel in its integration of fashion elements. I ALWAYS feel gorgeous in Sue’s creations. The fit feels custom, and the quality stands up to the rigorous demands of high-level athletes and performers.”

Sketchers Sport Squad - Tough Talk in Sage

And more about fit and feel - no matter what you’re doing or where you’re headed, the right footwear matters as much as the outfit. I am in love with these sneakers from Sketchers. We used these for our launch photoshoot and I decided to make these my new go-to work(out) shoe.

Plus, it just feels like the right pairing with the Flex Active Pant (pictured in Jet). I especially like how the hem falls casually on the top of the shoe. It makes me feel sporty, but stylish, too.

With its soft, sporty-knit fabric, high apex front panel, contoured shock-absorbing midsole, and lace-up closure, these feel like a shoe made for dancers. I haven’t strapped on my pointe boots for months, but these sneakers just make me want to do petit allegro (I mean, that’s a powerful shoe!). 

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