Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gap's Big Bet On Athleta And The New Way American Women Dress - BuzzFeed News

Gap's Big Bet On Athleta And The New Way American Women Dress - BuzzFeed News: "Lululemon’s IPO filing back in 2007 noted that founder Chip Wilson had observed “the increasing number of women participating in sports, and specifically yoga,” and saw a lack of style amid functional, comfortable athletic apparel. More importantly, the company believed that people were increasingly wearing technical athletic gear in casual settings “to create a healthy lifestyle perception.” In other words, it was becoming fashionable to give off the vibe, via clothing, that you were active and mindful — particularly among educated women. Whether you really were was another matter entirely.

Lululemon was right on the money on both counts. Gap scooped Athleta up for $150 million in 2008, an acquisition Lululemon briefly considered, when the brand was about 10 years old and only available via catalogs and the internet. Since then, it’s evolved into a private-label clothier with a strong brick-and-mortar foothold, taking quite a few pages out of Lululemon’s playbook. Like Lululemon, Athleta offers discounts to fitness instructors and holds classes in stores. It has also mimicked the company’s “community boards” with “community tables” to give stores a local feel. Athleta only opened its first store in 2011, but it’s quickly ramped up to at least 101 this year.

The desire to look good while working out, or just dress as if you’re about to, comes from a deeper trend: Women really are exercising more, and yoga’s popularity is a big part of that."

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