New Activewear Brands

Activewear brands are more successful than ever before. Alongside well-known names like Lululemon, New Balance, Gap Inc’s Athleta and Nike are newer arrivals like British brand Sweaty Betty, multi-brand boutique Bandier and Tory Sport, Tory Burch’s activewear line are taking the spotlight.

Some of the new arrivals are listed below:

OUTDOOR VOICES

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The Story: Founded in 2013 by Parsons School of Design graduate Tyler Haney, Outdoor Voices has fashion industry support — A.P.C.’s Jean Touitouis one of the brand’s strategic investors — as well as venture funding, thanks to its direct-to-consumer strategy. Haney says the company’s focus is on recreational sport, not competition. (Brand signatures include colour-blocking and heathered fabric in minimalist shapes and fashion shades.) “I very much felt there was an opportunity to free fitness from performance, taking every day activity and finding the beauty in it,” Haney said. “We wanted to create product that functions in the same way as that of Nike and Lululemon, but more aesthetically aligned with what I wear day to day, like Acne and A.P.C.” This helps to explain why Haney felt someone like Touitou was important to bring on not only as an investor, but as an advisor. “I wanted to have partners in the mix who have operated businesses in the fashion world.”

YOGASMOGA

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The Story: Founded in 2013 by brother and sister (and Wall Street veterans) Rishi and Tapasya Bali, Yogasmoga’s first collection of US-manufactured athleticwear — even the yarn is bought in the US and fabric developed in California labs — sold out in three weeks. Today, the apparel company has 12 stores in the United States with plans to open 25 more by the end of 2016. In 2015, Yogasmoga — which started with its namesake but now sells clothes for running, spinning and daywear — raised $6.5 million in a Series B finance round at a $74 million valuation. (It is now in the midst of raising its Series C round of funding.) Along with domestic production, another point of differentiation for Yogasmoga is its technical fabric, which the company says is resistant to pilling and offers superior moisture wicking. Dedication to yoga as a lifestyle is a big part of its branding. “It speaks to the consumer who is looking for an American brand that is purpose-oriented,” said chief executive Rishi Bali. “Today, we feel like people are looking for a purpose, not just product.”

CARBON 38

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The Story: Founded in 2013 by ex-ballet dancers and Harvard classmates Katie Warner Johnson and Caroline Gogolak, e-commerce site Carbon 38 features high-fashion, high-end activewear modelled on fitness instructors. (Warner Johnson was one of the first instructors at the popular barre studio Physique 57.) “We realised that there was all of this white space in the market that Lululemon created, and an opportunity to grab some of that market share,” Gogolak said. “There is a lot of room to take a bite out of that.” In 2015, Carbon 38 introduced an in-house label, meant to fill the gap between the activewear it sells on the site — from brands including Lucas Hugh and Alo Yoga — and ready-to-wear. The collection currently makes up just 5 percent of the retailer’s overall sales. “It’s a way to speak to this growing trend of activewear as everyday wear,” Warner Johnson said. “But it’s going to [remain] a small part of the overall story.” The range features basic leggings, but also blazers and coats made from technical fabrics.

KIT AND ACE

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The Story: Founded in 2014 by JJ and Shannon Wilson, with support from father/husband/Lululemon-founder Chip Wilson, the Vancouver, Canada-based company aims to outfit its customers in everyday clothes that perform like athletic apparel. “We saw this as an untapped opportunity to take everything we’ve learned from athletic clothing and then apply it to streetwear,” Shannon Wilson said. “Most people are living what we call these full-contact lives. They’re up and out of the house at 6am and they’re going until 10pm at night, and they really require one set of clothing to take them through that.” Best-selling products include brushed French terry cloth t-shirts and “technical” cashmere, which is preshrunk and machine washable.

While the product’s end use may be different than Lululemon’s, there is certainly customer overlap. About 70 percent of Kit and Ace’s customers are female. “I’m pretty impressed that we have 30 percent men,” said Chip Wilson, whose previous company catered predominantly to women but is now gaining ground in the men’s market. “I think it says a lot about where the market is for this.”

TORY SPORT

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The Story: Founded by Tory Burch in 2015 as a complementary line to her main collection, “We see Tory Sport as a peer to Tory Burch,” the designer said. “We want it to stand on its own because it’s a true performance brand.” The line covers several sport categories often ignored (or at least undervalued) by traditional athleticwear brands, including tennis, golf, and studio. “Activewear is something I have wanted to do for almost six years and we have been working on it for three,” Burch said. “I’m always interested in the idea of designing things that are impossibly hard to find.” Pieces from the first two collections — including accessories and items from the day-wear-focused “Coming and Going” category — have garnered waitlists.

SWEATY BETTY

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The Story: Founded in Notting Hill in 1998 by husband and wife duo Tamara and Simon Hill-Norton, Sweaty Betty was originally a multi-brand boutique featuring labels sourced predominantly from Scandinavia and Italy. In 2007, the company pivoted its business model to produce its own label, competing more directly with Lululemon. It now operates more than 40 stores in the United Kingdom, with annual sales upward of $46 million. “We realised that reselling other people’s sportswear brands in a premium location wasn’t going to work. The margin on sportswear is so low, because everyone was doing the high-turnover stores on the high street,” Tamara Hill Norton said in 2014. “We needed to change direction and do our own label. Also, we were beginning to gain awareness and really wanted to push our brand.”

BANDIER

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The Story: Former music executive Jennifer Bandier partnered with her husband, Neil Boyarsky, and Barney’s Co-op founder Jayne Harkness to introduce a multi-brand retailer that carries everything from Mary Katrantzou’s Adidas collection to Monrow and Spiritual Gangster. The company’s Flatiron store, which opened in 2014, features a 3,000-square-foot fitness studio that offers more than 25 classes each week taught by superstar instructors. Like many high-end boutiques, Bandier has negotiated exclusives with the brands it sells, offering styles or colours unique to the retailer. What it hasn’t done is focus its entire efforts on e-commerce, which currently makes up just a quarter of the company’s sales. “We went the other way,” Boyarsky said, referring to the e-commerce-first trend in apparel businesses. The retailer averages 2.4 units per transaction and $1,400 per square foot. (The average cost of an item is about $80.) Sales are up 40 percent year over year.

IVY PARK

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The Story: Beyoncé and Topshop’s Sir Philip Green are equal business partners in this new activewear brand, which will be available in mid-April at 12 retailers across the globe, including Topshop, Nordstrom, and Selfridges. The 200-piece collection, priced between $30 and $200, will not be sold through its own website. “Sir Philip has created some amazing collaborations but I wanted a partnership and a standalone brand,” the entertainer-turned-mogul said in a statement.

TRACKSMITH

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The Story: Founded in 2014 by chief executive Matt Taylor and Luke Scheybeler, the latter of whom also co-founded cycling brand Rapha, the Boston-based Tracksmith is a running-first brand. “The great thing about running specifically is that almost everyone owns a pair of running shoes and shorts, and people will do lots of different activities in those clothes,” Taylor said. “Right now, we are perceived as an apparel brand. But the vision for Tracksmith is a lot grander and much more wrapped around a complete lifestyle. It’s for anyone who is passionate about running.”

Tracksmith has raised $5.7 million in funding with partners including the Pentland Group, a collection of apparel brands with a foothold in the outdoor/performance arena. The brand originally launched with men’s apparel only, introducing women’s nine months later. Currently, the male-female customer ratio is 70 percent to 30 percent, although Taylor predicts that to level off at an even split as more women learn about the product, which aesthetically nods to the collegiate track-star gear of the 1970s and 1980s. While the company will not disclose revenue numbers — and says that previous reports have been inaccurate — Taylor will confirm that sales have doubled year-over-year.

AETHER

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The Story: “When we started Aether in 2009, there were barely a handful of brands doing technically sound outerwear for the urban dweller,” company co-founder Jonah Smith said. “We looked around and if it was technical, it looked like you should be out in the field or on a mountain, and if it was good looking, it probably wasn’t particularly warm or weatherproof.” Smith and co-founder Palmer West set out to do just that, creating a range of gear that is meant to perform in all types of weather and conditions, from water-repellent wind breakers to stretch-ponte leggings. Self-financed, the company operates four standalone stores — Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Aspen, Colorado — alongside e-commerce and has experienced annual growth of an average 40 percent year-over-year for the past four years. “About two years ago, we shut down our entire wholesale business, which was about 150 stores in seven countries, and instead chose to focus on our own stores and a primarily direct-to-consumer model,” Smith said. “We are just now starting to reap the rewards of that significant change.”

Courtesy of Business of Fashion.


Gigi Hadid For Topshop

Things keep getting better for 20-year-old Gigi Hadid. The California model has been announced as the face of Topshop’s Fall campaign, launching in stores, online, and in print this month. Shot by Tyrone Lebon and styled by Topshop creative director Kate Phelan, the photographs feature Hadid looking casually cool in the latest wares by the high-street retailer.

Hadid’s appointment comes after two seasons of ads fronted by Cara Delevingne. For the retailer, choosing the American model is more than just a social media play—don’t forget Hadid has 4.8 million Instagram followers—but also a way to expand its international reach. Topshop has stores in the works in the Middle East, Germany, Canada, Panama, and New Zealand, in addition to new third-party retailers in Southeast Asia, the Netherlands, and across Europe for 2016. By choosing a non-British model of mixed ethnicity, the brand sheds a little bit of its British heritage but positions itself as a retailer for cool women everywhere of every race.

“Working with Gigi Hadid on this campaign continues to strengthen our international vision for the Topshop brand,” said Sir Philip Green. “We are continually developing our footprint across all markets with ambitious plans both in the U.K. and internationally, and I feel like Gigi is an ideal ambassador to underpin these efforts.”

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Spring/Summer 2015 Topshop Unique

  Topshop unveiled it’s new show space, an urban warehouse complete with a Beauty Pit Stop, inviting show goers to ‘park up and perk up’ for complimentary mini make overs, all under a grimy corrugated roof on WC1’s Grays Inn Road – a long way away from the British seaside, the scene that Topshop Unique took it’s cue from for spring.

If that’s starting to sound deckchair-stripe corny, it wasn’t. Cara Delevingne opened the show (just moments after her mother, Pandora took her seat; she whooped and punched the air as her daughter glided by). This was a young, spirited collection that pulsated with bold sporty brights. Retro cycling jerseys in red, bordeaux and sky blue popped against stark white A-line skirts, or frilly mini hot pants in navy blue. Abbreviated hooded anoraks were tossed over it all, further communicating the sportif vibe.

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 What joy to hear Fun Boy Three’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” on the soundtrack of a show that, season after season, manages to pin down a particular English knack for the now. Yes, the song is a golden oldie, but how right it sounded in the context of the golden girls of modelling—Cara and Jourdan, the leaders of the pack—parading up and down in a youth cult collection whose latest manifestation was, according to the show notes, “the faded glamour of the British seaside.” Sheer ghastliness if you’ve ever been on one of the beaches, but a hell of a night out if you got to one of the discos. And that, thankfully, was what this new Unique collection was celebrating: irrepressible, primary-colored, boy-nip energy.

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No beach scene is complete without a dancehall on the pier. Come night, a Topshop girl will dazzle in knife pleated silver lame skirts and ruffled, slip-of-nothing dresses decorated in a smattering of Swarovski crystals.

A change in direction was noted here this afternoon, in past seasons the high street giant seemed intent on spearheading a more grown up approach, this collection felt considerably younger.

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My First Week

After feeling slightly overhwelmed I’ve somehow survived my first week in Paris.

After getting settled into my apartment I started at my school IFA Paris – International Fashion Academy.

As I entered the building I had absolutely no idea where I was meant to go or what I was meant to expect but when I eventually entered the correct room I was welcome but a whole group of friendly faces. Once the whole class had arrived we went round and each introduced ourselves. It’s was absolutely amazing, every single person was from a different country wth a completely different story and reason how they had eventually landed in this class to start a masters in Fashion and Business.

From what I can remember there was a girl from: France, Italy, Germany, Costa Rica, Thailand, Belgium, California, Argentina, India, South Africa, Brazil and Russia….

After all the introductions we got given our timetable wich look so interesting. With half our lecture in Fashion and the other half in Business there is a real mixture of what we will be learning. the Fashion of course sounds the most exciting to me with each lecture actually doing what they are teaching as their profession, for example – my lecture in Buying is given by a lady who is a buyer for Gallery Lafayette, the Selfridges of Paris!!

Although classes aren’t always all day they still are everyday some being in the morning some being in the afternoon, so far the classes are great fun and so much more relaxed than university although I feel that soon it will change and the real work will begin.

So at the end of my first week I am very happy, completely exhausted from making friends, exploring and constantly getting lost in Paris, not to mention attempting to speak French at any given moment.

I’m very happy, I think it’s going to be a great year!

For my first day at IFA I wore my new black patent loafers from John Lewis and got lots of compliments. Click below to shop more loafers that I would just absolutely love to have: