This Activewear Brand Creates Leggings With Built-in Debloating Technology

The company was founded by 23-year-old Swimfluence Network member Emma Vollrath.
Emma Vollrath, founder of Emma Lou.

Emma Vollrath, founder of Emma Lou.

Emma Vollrath is changing the activewear industry one pair of leggings at a time. In 2020, the personal trainer and Pilates instructor noticed that her clients were frequently “complaining about their lower stomach area” and always trying some new debloating technique.

Vollrath herself was bored of her own activewear clothing, finding that it served no purpose other than being more comfortable than jeans.

“I had a wet suit that kept me really warm. And I’d heard of these like sweat bands, they were really bulky and not super cute. So I cut out a chunk of my wet suit  and sewed it into a pair of my old Lululemon biker shorts,” the 23-year-old explains of her genius idea. “They were really hideous, like, would never sell them or want anybody to wear them. But I wore them to a lot of my sessions and I noticed my lower stomach sweat. I too really struggled with bloating but I didn’t want to have to take supplements or anything, I just wanted wear something and help it.”

That’s how Emma Lou was born. The brand creates “performance enhancing” activewear so customers can benefit from even the smallest movements. Each pair of leggings is made with a heat-trapping waistband that safely encourages sweating and water weight-loss.

After months of back and forth shipping and receiving samples in Orange County, Calif., where the Swimfluence Network member lives, Vollrath finally tweaked her design to perfection.

“I worked with a manufacturer, testing and researching and having someone wear the pants and the fabric to make sure it works and it’s safe for you,” she explains. “I landed on a recycled thermoplastic, which is what we use now which is now the ‘glow band.’”

Vollrath adds that she wasn’t expecting such a massively positive reaction to the glow band, but it was a happy turn of events.

“I get emails and DMS and texts all the time that are like ‘I literally have never had pants that do this’ and ‘This is life changing,’” she says. “It’s not targeted towards weight loss. I never want to promote [that]. It’s just for feeling good because bloating is uncomfortable and can make you really self-conscious.”

Vollrath doesn’t buy into slimming fads. She does, however, believe in—and has found success with—debloating by drinking peppermint tea, trying lymphatic drainage and a good old stretching session.

What’s next for Emma Lou? Vollrath is excited to experiment with new styles, colors and cuts. She wants to create versatile pieces that can be worn in the gym, to the mall and out for brunch all while safely and effectively debloating the lower stomach area. She finds inspiration through Tumblr and Depop and is constantly making Pinterest boards with new ideas. She adds that baby tees and cargo pants have been on her mind recently and could be the stars of Emma Lou’s next drop.

The brand’s newest Elle set features a bustier-inspired top and flared bottoms, while the Toby set with a square-neck sports bra and biker shorts is a best-seller.

Sustainability has been difficult as a single-person business, but is a goal of Vollrath’s.

“It’s hard to source recycled fabrics that aren’t super cheap, because a lot of them fall apart, which sucks,” she says. “But I am still working on finding my favorite recycled fabric because that is important to me. Our thermoplastic is recycled which makes me happy. It’s something I’m working on every day, also finding better packaging solutions, stickers, things like that.”

Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.