Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez is taking on a new project beyond perfecting her flips and tumbles — she’s become a designer, and she’s given People.com the exclusive first look at her debut line.
The smiley 17-year-old superstar and winner of the season 23 Dancing With the Stars Mirror Ball Trophy, who is currently training to make Team U.S.A. for the Tokyo 2020 games and getting ready to graduate high school in May, teamed up with JCPenney to launch her own capsule collection for the retailer’s new Ob.sess line, created for girls and tweens sizes 7 to 20.
And she’s got one design goal in mind: Be comfortable.
“Gymnastics is all about perfection, but as I grew, I saw my body change in different ways,” she says. “I wanted to make this line about self-love, and full of pieces that make you feel comfortable and confident in who you are.”
Her first collection, which lands online at jcpenney.com on February 26, features dresses and tops in bold prints, a varsity-style bomber jacket in a poppy aqua hue, dressed-up sweats with cutouts and stripes and more, all for $37 to $59.
Hernandez admits she hasn’t always felt comfortable and confident herself, which is why she’s motivated to help others to feel fabulous through their style. “I think it happens with a lot of girls my age and lot of girls who might be younger than me, where they think, ‘Aw, I don’t feel extremely confident in how I look today,’” she says. “I want to make sure that we can look in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, I might not be feeling right today but how can I myself just feel better and how can I make sure to promote self-love?’”
Promoting positivity through style is what drew her design in the first place, she says. “The fact that I can have my own clothing line and I can have an input on how I want things to look, how I want things to feel is so exciting,” she says. “Making sure I can have a line where everybody can feel confident in what they’re wearing because they feel good about themselves is all that really matters.”
For the gymnast, feeling confident goes beyond just putting on a comfortable outfit, too. She also loves face masks from Sephora and listening to music like Tori Kelly and Dua Lipa. “Doing things like that makes me really excited and feel a little bit better,” she says.
So when all of her tumbling is over, does she see a future in fashion? “Maybe! That would be pretty cool.”