Under Armour Looks for Growth in Athletic-Inspired Sportswear Trend

Under Armour Announces New UAS Line

Under Armour launches their newest initiative, UAS or Under Armour Sportswear September 15, at New York Fashion Week for immediate sale at Barney’s, Mr. Porter, their own brick and mortar stores and a dedicated UAS website. This upscale, fashion sportswear product is anything, but performance athletic apparel. The athletic-inspired clothing is targeting “ambitious Millennials” with “modern American sportswear, at home in a professional work place and not on the field.

UAS Under Armour Sportswear

Photo credit Under Armour

Why UAS Makes Sense for Under Armour

Some people may be scratching their heads over this move into sportswear, but it makes perfect sense for a several reasons.

In 1997, Under Armour was a pioneer that introduced expensive, fashion performance apparel to a market used to activewear as thoughtless, cheap basics from footwear companies. They were the first major aspirational athletic brand for men, as Lululemon was for women.

Under Armour created an athletic brand that sold strength, prowess and status in the mind of the wearer and by the way, sold comfortable, performance apparel. Fashion branding is about stirring emotion and they have been squarely in the fashion business, since the beginning. They upped the ante on the whole men’s athletic market.

Under Armour is an epic brand, at a time when it is getting harder to achieve mega-status in a niche-driven, individualist market. The appeal of their brand gives them license to branch out into other categories and price points, upscale, technically-inspired sportswear being one.

Consumers started wearing the higher quality, more stylish and comfortable clothing out of the gym. The use of performance fabrics and athletic details in everyday sportswear has been gaining steam for a while, as a natural extension of this trend.

The market is overflowing with spandex blended fabrics, polyester is no longer considered “low-rent”, performance properties abound and even merino wool has been “recast” as a technical fabric. Apparel startups Kit and Ace (former Lululemon founders) and Ministry (former MIT students) are two examples of this major trend. The new Van Heusen Flex Collection is selling comfort and technical properties to the men’s moderate wear-to-work market.

Sportswear is being inspired by athletic apparel and is experiencing a huge disruptive change to the look, feel and function of these categories.

UAS Under Armour Sportswear for men and women

Photo credit Under Armour

The Athletic Apparel Market Is Extremely Competitive

For more than a decade now athletic apparel has been the big growth story in a lack-luster apparel industry. Athletic startups and existing brand extensions have exploded. There is much less breathing room in the active market right now. Either you innovate, take risks, extend your brand in new categories or stagnate, shrink or die. Puma, Adidas and Nike are all responding to this market shift with collaborations and extensions.

This market explosion has blurred the lines of distribution away from sporting goods to all retail channels, not good news for apparel-dominated sporting goods stores.

Under Armour was born from apparel lineage, so it is an easier transition for them. Many strong athletic footwear or sporting goods brands have yet to even capitalize on the seismic shift that happened in active lifestyle apparel. They are missing a great opportunity and do this at their peril. UAS has now gone beyond athleisure to sportswear.

UAS won’t be Under Armour’s biggest initiative simply because of price points, certainly not the huge opportunity of their new moderate distribution to stores like Kohl’s; but it will allow them to capture the imaginations and wallets of new customers.

 

Some other posts you might enjoy:

Decoding Millennial Shopping Traits & Habits

Are Sporting Goods & Outdoor in a Death Spiral?

7 Common Fashion Brand Management Mistakes

The Dix & Pond Blog, by Stephanie Bernier is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting, a Boston-based, company that consults on business strategy, creative direction, brand experience, trends, product development and merchandising. Clients include retailers, apparel, footwear & consumer companies.  CONTACT US TODAY! 

Thank you for sharing with a friend, if you enjoyed the post! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Post Bankruptcies:What’s Next for Sporting Goods Makers?

Sporting Goods And Retail Space Are Shrinking

By now, most major sporting goods suppliers of apparel, footwear and equipment have taken a significant write-off from the Sports Authority bankruptcy and others, like Vestis Group’s Eastern Mountain Sports and Sports Chalet.

Sports Authority represented about 450 big doors for equipment, shoes and apparel. Under Armour has reported a $23 million dollar charge related to the bankruptcy, one of the largest reported losses. Some will be resurrected by buyers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, but most of these distribution points have gone away forever. This is natural pruning of a diseased tree.

The sporting goods channel is challenged by many factors. They have an over abundance of similar apparel, when the athletic apparel market has exploded in terms of styling, new brands and available outlets to buy. Women no longer need to shop in sporting goods stores for clothes. Young people have lower sports participation rates and more single-sport focus. Millennials are increasingly exercising in specialty fitness clubs like SoulCycle, Flywheel, Orange Theory, Pure Barre, Title Boxing and others, versus traditional sports participation.

Health and wellness are mega-trends, but we just don’t need as much square footage in traditional sporting goods doors. A lot of athletic apparel and footwear has migrated away to other retail doors and we are in a seriously over-stored environment for all types of consumer goods.

Sports & Athletic Manufacturers Must Get Creative

What does a traditional manufacturer of athletic apparel, footwear or equipment do when their available floor or virtual distribution space is shrinking? They have to get creative and take share from competitors. That means business focus, seeking alternative distribution points and sharpening their brand and product offerings. Here are six ways to improve athletic related sales in a diluted market:

Focus Your Strategy – Now more than ever companies cannot afford to dabble in duplicative or pet projects that drain precious resources. This means pruning and consolidating your company’s tree, to concentrate on fewer, but clearly promising categories or businesses.

Find New Distribution Channels – This means potentially selling into a channel, location, market or country that you have never considered before.

Under Armour just announced that they are going to sell the moderate channel starting with Kohl’s. This will help them reach more female, suburban customers. They have around 1100 locations, which could more than make up for the Sports Authority loss.

Sometimes creative distribution creates strange bedfellows, but everyone wins. A great example of this is Nordstrom selling J. Crew’s Madewell product, in their full-line stores. Nordstrom is supporting a retail competitor and J. Crew has become a wholesaler. They both have flipped the script and it is working out very well.

Brainstorm for new opportunities by imagining the mirror opposite of your current strategy and point-of-view. Consider complementary partner brands for co-promotion.

Grow Direct to Consumer –Wholesale brands can no longer count on their traditional retail customers for continued future growth. They need to have a strong direct-to-consumer strategy to sell to or introduce their brands to new consumers. This includes considering every possible format…brick and mortar, pop-ups, retail showrooms for e-commerce, e-commerce, brand ambassador selling, direct mail, shopping trucks, event and festival sales, VIP events, home shopping networks, parties, etc. What are the new ways to bring it to the customer, on their terms?

Think Product First – There is no fooling consumers, they know innovation and creativity when they see it. Marginal product always equals marginal results. Frequently companies pour millions into marketing, when their product doesn’t live up to the hype. Creating growth means product first, as they may never see your marketing messages in a splintered media.

Force Fresh Perspectives and Creative Risk Taking – Stella McCartney, Pharrell Williams and Kanye, put Adidas back on the map. Rihanna is growing Puma’s bottom line. These celebrity or designer collaborations can be game-changing and newsworthy (not always successful) to bring new converts into the brand.

The idea is forcing fresh perspectives and taking creative risks. For instance, this can be done by hiring fashion people to do shoes and shoe people to re-imagine apparel. How do you surprise and delight customers? If you are still working like it’s 2006, you’re probably not on an uphill track.

Great Brand Experience is Key – Clearly defined brands that offer a consistent experience to their customers, will fare best in a lukewarm market. Does you product have an identity that it can be identified without labels? Do your products, stores, website, packaging, marketing and service have a compelling and consistent promise for the target consumer?

When was the last time you went in a sporting goods or retail  store and felt excited to buy? Consumers increasingly want experiences from brick and mortar retail, so stores must innovate with decor, services, restaurants, bars, events, fitting clinics and loyalty programs to attract a consumer bombarded with choices. Own The Moment stores by Bauer is an exciting example of a completely reimagined sporting goods experience.

 

Some other posts you might enjoy:

Decoding Millennial Shopping Traits & Habits

Are Sporting Goods & Outdoor in a Death Spiral?

The New Definition of Athletic Apparel

The Dix & Pond Blog, by Stephanie Bernier is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting, a Boston-based, company that consults on business strategy, creative direction, brand experience, trends, product development and merchandising. Clients include retailers, apparel, footwear & consumer companies.  CONTACT US TODAY! 

Thank you for sharing with a friend, if you enjoyed the post! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Sporting Goods & Outdoor in a Death Spiral?

Vestis Retail Group Files for Bankruptcy

Another one bites the dust. The Vestis Retail Group, owner of  Eastern Mountain Sports, Sport Chalet and Bob’s Stores of Meriden, CT is filing for bankruptcy. This follows the high-profile bankruptcy filing of Sports Authority of Englewood, CO and the recent closure of Boston-based City Sports stores. Prediction, the sporting goods graveyard will have more big-name corpses by year-end.

I also believe the outdoor, wood beam and hunter green team, Cabela’s, Bass Pro ShopsL.L. Bean and Dick’s Sporting Goods are seriously challenged these days. Because of the uniformity and proliferation of these outdoor/active mega stores, they are no longer the hot destination stores they once were. They’re surely feeling competitive headwinds from many directions. Dick’s will benefit from Sports Authority closures, but you can’t really say you’re a good student, just because the class average goes down.

In my view, the outdoor and sporting goods channels have reached saturation point and every niche has a ceiling. They will have to get smaller and find serious points of differentiation to thrive.

They also have an aging demographic and won’t have the same appeal to Millennials. 45% of this important demographic belong to a minority group (according to the US Census) unlike the Boomers and Generation X before them. The Millennial generation has more varied taste and less money to spend on apparel and accessories.

Apparel on clearance at EMS.

Apparel on clearance at EMS

What’s Happening in The Sporting Goods Channel?

Why is this happening in the sporting goods channel when sneakers are red-hot and athletic apparel has been biggest bright spot in apparel for almost a decade?

1. Amazon is an elephant in the room. According to a Slice Intelligence survey of 3.5 million consumers Amazon had a 43% share of all online sales last November and December. Their enormous selection, comparative deals, fast speed and free shipping are hard to compete with. According to Cowen & Co They are also on track to become the largest seller of apparel in the US, probably beating Macy’s by next year.

2. Sporting goods stores are no longer a key destination for women to buy athletic apparel. As the “athleisure trend” grew, so did the sources women and men have to buy these looks. Lululemon and Under Armour were the pioneers that challenged the category with fashion, quality and higher prices. Now the competition is fierce with traditional retailers increasing their assortments, specialty retailers like Athleta, brand-owned stores, online specialists and many wholesalers adding active to their assortments. Since women buy 80% of all consumer purchases, there is lot less traffic in sporting goods stores.

3. “Athletic inspired”, lifestyle apparel is far more important than performance apparel. The big expansion of active is wearing these clothes out of the gym. Many sporting goods stores and some apparel brands seem to think it is primarily about functionality and sweat reduction, not fashion and compelling design. Frequently, their lifestyle apparel offering is only the classic “outdoor” brands.

Many sporting goods stores devote enormous square footage to apparel and they generally don’t have the fashion chops to compete in a brutally competitive, rapidly changing apparel sector. Who needs another purple mock half-zip?

4. Sporting goods stores used to be the preferred place to buy sneakers. Performance sneakers,” sport-inspired” vulcanized cousins and fashion variations are the trending casual footwear today. Sporting goods retailers have not kept up with sneaker specialists and have treated the category as important as golf equipment. Women can buy “athletic-inspired” footwear from any of their favorite retailers from Forever 21 to Nordstrom today.

5. Youth participation is down trending for many sports. See this chart from Sports Business Journal in August 2015. There are many things going on here from the cost participation, fear of injuries, lack of interest, over specialization in one sport, etc. The drop in participation naturally creates less demand for equipment and related apparel:Youth sports participation rates.

What Should Brands do to Survive in This Climate?

What is an apparel, footwear brand or store to do in this highly competitive market? It demands creating real brand value, innovation, differentiation, targeting and understanding your competitive advantage in the market.

Competing just on price is a fool’s game. Fashion is emotionally driven by fantasy, hope or self-fulfillment, not just technical features or price. Wearable tech optimists, be warned.

Consumers want simple and exciting shopping experiences from brick and mortar or online stores. It’s time for the sporting goods and outdoor retailers to reimagine their stores for today, with nothing being off-the-table. Well conceived and executed brand experiences will turn this negative outlook positive.

 

You might enjoy these previous posts:

The New Definition of Athletic Apparel

Sports Authority Teeters on Bankruptcy- See The Reasons

Decoding  Millennial Shopping Traits & Habits

 

The Dix & Pond Blog is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting,  a Boston-based, company that consults on trends and creative direction, brand experience, business strategy, product development, merchandising and provides executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer companies.  CONTACT US TODAY! 

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post! 

The New Definition of Athletic Apparel

Athletic Apparel Has Been Permanently Disrupted

Remember when athletic apparel was mostly made by footwear and sports equipment companies? It was budget-priced, logo-driven basic tees, sweats and shorts, sold primarily in sporting goods stores, for working out and active sports. It was the ugly step child to the primary businesses.

Market disruption started about 10 years ago when higher-value athletic apparel started to hit the market by fashion and price pioneers, Under Armour and Lululemon. They were innovators with more costly, functional fabrics, fashion-driven styling and unique branding; think of Under Armour’s powerful mannequins and Lululemon’s yoga cult brand experience.

Their flattering and comfortable styles, outperformed and outlasted their cheaper competitors. Customers found emotional value paying for creative, sexy and fashionable looks at a higher price and started wearing them in and out of the gym. They created “aspirational status” athletic brands.

The athleisure trend took off and has been the biggest trend in apparel for more than 5 years. Active and casual apparel blurred into a new category. The genie is out of the bottle and it is never going back.

Athleta pushes urban lifestyle products.
Athleta pushes urban lifestyle products.

Competition in Athletic Apparel Has Gotten Fierce

As athleisure has grown, the competition for market share has gotten fierce. Many non-athletic brands including Tory Burch (Torysport) and Free People (FP Movement) now offer their own active apparel. Footwear companies like Nike really upped their fashion game and companies are doing designer collaborations like Stella McCartney and Kayne West’s Yeezy for Adidas.

High-end, ecommerce specialists like Carbon 38, and Bandier (online and opening stores), have sprouted up, carrying ediger brands, like Michi and Heroine Sport. Designer ecommerce company Net-A-Porter started Net-A-Sporter.

Lululemon is seriously challenged lately by Gap’s Athleta. Athleta fully understands the blurring of the category with their combination of performance and sophisticated street wear looks (they used to only carry bright colors and the cliché “zen-like” NorCal prints). Lululemon has recently vowed to double-down on market-leading innovation and put a greater focus on performance athletes, in a recent article with Bloomberg.

Lululemon is pushing market-leading innovation.

Lululemon is pushing market-leading innovation.

Retailers like Target, Kohl’s and JC Penney greatly improved their active offerings. Macy’s, late to the athleisure party, now has a big selection in 700+ stores and online. Victoria’s Secret has an growing sports bra and athletic business. In fact, the sport bra  business has seriously dented fashion bras. Fast-fashion stores like Primark, have large active assortments at rock bottom prices.

Primark has rock-bottom prices, like $10 pants.

Primark has rock-bottom prices, like $10 pants.

Active Apparel Distribution Has Been Diluted

Distribution has been widely diluted across all retail channels. Sporting goods stores are no longer where most women buy their athletic apparel. Footwear and sports equipment companies have to sell direct to consumer and forge forward-thinking relationships beyond the sporting goods channel to regain market share.

It’s no wonder retailers like Sports Authority and defunct City Sports didn’t capitalize on this mega-trend. Sporting goods stores have to do more than display apparel in cavernous spaces and start competing head-on with real apparel merchants. They must be discerning, take brand risks and edit out the so-so.

Adidas at Urban Outfitters.

Adidas at Urban Outfitters.

2016’s Definition of Active Apparel

Athletic apparel is two-pronged. A smaller percentage is worn for true performance sports, but the lions’ share is used as casual, lifestyle clothing. Shorts designed for running, are a teenager’s summer staple. Sports bras are worn all day. Leggings and sweats are paired with Uggs for school. Hoodies are everywhere.

Design teams must understand the bulk of their products will never be worn for active sports. Personally, I own at least a dozen Lululemon tops and have never even tried yoga. Active designers simply can’t assign cursory importance to the “lifestyle” part of their business.

The definition of athletic apparel in 2016 is predominantly knit-driven, fitness inspired, comfortable casual apparel that is made of functional and innovative fabrics that can be worn for range of casual uses, including sports activities.

Fierce competition in the women’s and men’s apparel and accessories markets requires real innovation in styling and function. I’m not just talking “anti-stink” here, but unique and compelling designs as trend relevant as the underlying brand. The emotional connection to an active lifestyle is more important than the intended use of the clothes.

The world doesn’t need another ordinary half-zip. If the label was removed would anyone recognize your brand? What’s compelling about your products? The innovative brands will have pricing power, the copy-cats will experience significant mark downs and price deflation.

 

The Dix & Pond Blog is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting,  a Boston-based, company that consults on trend and creative direction, brand experience and business strategy, product development, merchandising and provides executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer products companies.  CONTACT US TODAY!  or call 617.733.7411

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post!  Follow me to get the latest posts!

No Surprise, Sports Authority Teeters on Bankruptcy

Sports Authority misses interest payment

Update. Since this post was written, Sports Authority has since filed for bankruptcy protection…

Sports Authority, the Englewood, Colorado based sporting goods apparel and equipment mega-store has missed an interest payment on debt and bankruptcy is rumored. I can’t say this news surprises me.

What blows me away is that they are in the two hottest sectors of the apparel and footwear industries, athletic apparel and sneakers and couldn’t capitalize on it. We are in a multi-year athleisure trend, the wearing of sports apparel in and out of the gym, disrupting casual apparel and knocking even the venerable jeans business down a peg or two.

What’s wrong at Sports Authority?

Sports Authority is a big store with an enormous selection of sporting goods and apparel. The stores are dimly lit and cavernous, sort of like a warehouse club without the bright lighting, wide aisles and good deals. A visit to Sports Authority means walking long distances through a sea of me-too sweats and hoodies. There are no clear paths or sight lines. They are located in suburban settings, not particularly convenient for those key Millennial shoppers without easy transportation.

For a carrying products that consumers use in the happiest times of their lives, this store is seriously, no fun. They have tons of stuff, allowing little room for discovery. Great retail is emotional theater and Sports Authority falls flat. Bad music, poor lighting, safe selections, old technology and no creative displays. You are on a self-guided tour of a depressing warehouse. They try to be everything to everybody. They are water on the camp fire.

They could benefit from about 50% less SKUS and some focus on the hottest lines and equipment. Too much inventory and no foot traffic = missed loan payment. This store gives equal billing to down-trending golf product as red-hot sneaker lines. Their relatively small sneaker assortment in relation to their size, abdicates the business to mall competitors like Champs and Foot Locker.

The apparel assortment is the retail equivalent of safe-sex, run of the mill products from most of the usual suspects. Why not take a chance on some of the upstart creative athletic brands, mostly found online? Why not an area for discovery of new brands? How about some exclusives? Champion looks way better at Target. “Move on folks, nothing to see here.”

Where’s the creativity to drive traffic? How about fitness demonstrations, classes and athlete appearances? Healthy free snacks? Basketball half-court? Equipment testing areas? Contests? New lighting?  Hip music? You get the picture. Give up some SKUS to free up the dollars for the fun quotient. Tug at my emotions.

All retailers exist in a highly competitive environment today. Consumers are seeking the best experiences for their dollar. Whether it is a simple transaction on Amazon or a red-carpet experience at Neiman’s. They seek rewarding and entertaining retail experiences.

Bauer “Own The Moment” Experience Store

Sadly for Sports Authority, today was the day I decided to visit the new Own The Moment Hockey Experience Store by Bauer (Performance Sports Group, Exeter, NH), in Burlington, MA. My advice to any hockey store within a 100 mile radius, it’s time to retire. This store is state-of-the art retail theater at it’s finest. I see a lot of retail stores and this one takes my breath away. In fact, I just may learn to skate.

There is a huge selection of thoughtfully placed equipment and apparel in beautiful displays with spot halogen lighting. Halogen has a way of making things more precious. It’s like a futuristic hockey museum, with wide spacious aisles from front to back and in between. Everything is precisely displayed. You are intrigued to wander around corners, each area more enticing than the last.  In addition to a big open video viewing area, they even have an in-store ice rink for testing the latest equipment. They offer everything hockey for men, women and kids.

They truly capture the powerful athleticism of the sport. The testosterone soaked displays, images and edgy mannequins, got my heart racing. Who is that bearded guy anyway? Who knew hockey equipment could be so damn compelling?

A destination to visit, this store is an outstanding example of retail as entertainment.

The Dix & Pond Blog is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting,  a Boston-based, company that consults on trend and creative direction, brand experience and business strategy, product development, merchandising and provides executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer products companies.  CONTACT US TODAY!  or call 617.733.7411

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post!  Follow me to get the latest posts!

 

Twelve Hot Design Trends in Athletic Apparel

If you still think of women’s active apparel as polar fleece and half-zip poly jackets you’re living in a time warp. Fashion athletic apparel has disrupted and blurred casual lifestyle apparel, like Uber has to transportation. We aren’t going back to formulaic tees and jeans any time soon, as the dominant uniform of women’s weekend casual.

This seismic shift started when market disruptor Lululemon questioned the assumptions that women didn’t want fashion and were not willing to pay for style, comfort and quality in athletic apparel. Until then women’s activewear was an identical twin to men’s, in equally dismal fabrics and devoid of fashion. Under Armour began pushing the envelope in men’s at the same time as Lululemon. Both of these innovative brands were born from a fashion point-of-view, not the footwear industry that used to drive the category.

Dix & Pond Athletic Apparel Trends

Athleisure was born. Women have adopted the fashion, quality performance fabrics and comfort to wear in and out of the gym, at the expense of the traditional jeans and tee businesses.

As one of  the few bright spots in women’s apparel, competition is rising dramatically. Everyone is getting into the game. Athleta, Gap’s active division has elevated themselves from dated “new-age” California looks to a more urban vibe with a wide range of lifestyle items. Tory Burch, Kate Spade and many startup brands have entered the game. The competitive stakes are much higher now, and only “brand relevant” innovators will win. If your company is following, not innovating, your going to feel the squeeze.

Here are twelve significant trends in women’s athletic apparel design. Did your company see them coming?

Sheer madness. Sheer insets and translucent fabrics add cool functionality and peek-a-boo sex appeal, to everything from tops, legging to outerwear.

Under & over. Highly-evolved sports bras are a key classification to be worn layered and alone. Matching “no-show” undies from leaders such as Lululemon, Under Armour, Moving Comfort and others complete the look.

Self reflection. Playful and highly creative, reflective detailing adds function and fun-factor, to all categories of running apparel.

Printed matters. Hip, urban, abstract and geometric prints are driving legging, capris and short sales. Spiritual, “zen-like” yoga wear prints are now soooo 2010.

Back story. Naughty or nice? Back interest…cut outs, layering, lingerie detailing, halters and criss-cross backs, have been heating up top sales.

Booty call. Design and functional back details and shorts are the ultimate “booty call” and driving bottom sales.

Town down. Regular and micro down filled outerwear vests, parkas, anoraks and baseball jackets are ubiquitous and go uptown in styling. Try this, count how many Barbour, Canada Goose and Moncler jackets you see in 30 minutes on an East Coast city street on a December day.

Dress up. One piece ease and comfort, knit dresses are layered over gym clothes, swimwear or worn alone. This hot category is the ultimate multi-tasker from gym to street.

Metro techno. Unique knit and woven technical fabrics with performance properties such as SPF 50, wicking, anti-stink, water resistance, etc. are used in fashion forward, modern styling. Outerwear is a stand-out category, in new fabrications.

Short & sweet. Short-shorts, boy shorts, gym and bikes shorts layered and worn solo are driving sweet sales.

Walk the talk. Graphic typography plays to the mega-trend for self-expression and individualism. Edgy, motivational and descriptive words, quotes and sayings are on tees, tops, jackets and bottoms.

Tony trousers. The market has gone way beyond yoga pants and leggings to drawstring gym pants, knit jeans and “city pants” in comfortable and durable functional knits and techno wovens.

How did your company do?

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting, Boston-based, product development, creative, branding, business consulting and executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer products companies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Thank you for liking and sharing this if you enjoyed the post!

Street Smarts – Red Hot Athletic Style

It is survival of the fittest in the urban jungle. Fitness is power. Women are increasingly turning to power workouts such as CrossFit, strength training and boxing. There is also an empowering trend in athletic apparel. It is urban inspired, edgy and sexy. I call it Street Smarts.

The lines are blurred between what was once strictly apparel for the gym and casual sportswear. Men and women are mixing the two in a sporty mélange that goes in and out of the gym. “Athleisure” is the new normal in casual; because it is comfortable, durable and empowering. Lululemon and Under Armour were the birth parents, but now it’s pervasive.

Edgy, urban styling is trending in athletic apparel.

Edgy, urban styling is trending in athletic apparel.

Street Smarts mixes lounging tomboy with hormone-charged bad girl. It is feminine and masculine. Think retro boxing gym.

Body conscious leggings and comfy sweats are the key bottoms. Look for “townie bad boy” outerwear like hoodies and baseball jackets. Important details on tops are radical back interest, sheer and mesh insets. Knit dresses are a key element of Street Smarts worn with leggings. Neoprene, metallics and zipper details add a structured, modern city touch.

Graphics include assertive text and smoky abstract prints. Footwear includes high-top and retro sneakers and combat boots, such as Dr. Marten’s. Backpacks, retro gym bags, baseball caps and headbands complete the look.

The color is grounded by sooty black, heather greys and white, but can be popped with an extroverted color like hot pink or citrine or softened with a pastel like blush or lilac.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

A Letter To Mickey Drexler – What Happened To J.Crew?

Dear Mickey,

We need to talk. I thought you were “the one”. I consider myself a classic girl, the type you can bring home to mother, with an individualist fashion sensibility. After a very long loving relationship with J. Crew, I feel we’re drifting apart. You showed me the love, always wanted to please and surprise me. I gave you loads of attention and spent a lot of money on you. Lately our relationship has gotten repetitive, lost its color and doesn’t fulfill my needs. I’m not faithful to you anymore. Let me be specific on where our relationship lost its way:

1. You missed the athleisure trend. No, I don’t do downward dogs, but am very active at 2 gyms. I have blurred the lines between gym clothes and ones “formerly known as casual” in my wardrobe. Lately, I’m tired of shapeless cotton tees, that get little holes at the waist. I’m buying more substantial, expensive, inventive and sexy athletic tops for everyday use. You continue pushing twill cropped pants, when I am buying knit pants that look like jeans and sweats. I’ve never seen a comfortable knit dress in J.Crew.

I had a big crush on Lululemon, but find myself stalking a new love named Athleta. I’m loving athletic inspired outerwear, too. Who would have thought 2 years ago, I would buy a $500 leather/French terry moto jacket from my new crush?

Great outerwear is dominating athleisure apparel.

Great outerwear is dominating athleisure apparel.

You are the master of the casual playlist, taking classic pieces and pairing them in a hipper way. Somehow you missed the macro trend of mixing quality sport-inspired items into one’s everyday wardrobe.

2. You used take me on quality dates. Lately, you seem to be cheaping out, taking me to “fast-fashion ” places. I would rather pay more for a good meal. Why did the fabric qualities go down hill? I’d rather pay $98 at Lululemon for a relationship that will last, than $58 for a quick hook-up.

J. Crew stores lost the sharp focus of Madewell and became cluttered with junk food. Are you distracted by the Zara and Forever 21 effect? They aren’t your competition.

3. I thought you loved tall girls? Many of your clothes don’t fit me. I’m on the tall side (5’9″) and physically fit. Many of your specs are either too short or cut really small. Your customers aren’t all 24, 5′ 4″ and a size 0.

4. You don’t give me the attention you used to. I would never “trash” your catalogs, and always took your calls. The catalogs arouse me, causing emotionally driven online behavior. I would always buy more than needed. I get fewer catalogs now, so you  stopped “playing me” with your enticing images.

A look from J Crew for Spring 2015.

A look from J Crew for Spring 2015.

5.  Something changed. I trusted you to color my world. Some of the colors got very repetitive and harshly un-wearable. Dirty ochre anyone?

Mickey, I will never forget the good times. I’m definitely willing to give us another chance. I think about you often and still drive by your house. I need you to be the reliable source for key items like tees, shirts and sweaters, but mixed with more exciting quality pieces. You have a special place in the mall. You just got in with the wrong crowd.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Blue Color Worker Spring/Summer 2015

Looking at 25″ of snow outside, I’m big-time craving the blue skies of spring and summer 2015. One consolation is that we will be seeing a lot of blue in fashion over the next few months. The “Blue Color Worker” is the backbone of America in deepest navy, Air Force blue, royal, periwinkle, tender baby and blue tint.

The perennial favorite color will be front and center in fashion on everything from handbags, tops, sweaters, dresses, jeans, outerwear, active apparel, accessories, swimwear, shoes, etc. There will be a range of denim washes from light to very dark as well as solid dyed twills.

As MVP of the color spectrum, it can morph sharply nautical, softly sensual or boho seventies. Versatile blue is a power player, the king of casual and an intoxicating pastel.

Pair blues tonally or use navy as a neutral foil against bright primaries, such as navy and citrusy yellow. Navy with tinted pastels are chic and sexy. Combine the spectrum of blues with shades of grey, khaki or optic white.

Blue is the hardest working color family for spring/summer 2015.

Blue is the hardest working color family for spring/summer 2015.

For color seasonal color forecasts, see COLORSCOOP.

 Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Sweet Things – Fall Fashion Power Trend

The pleasure of fashion is the ability to transport the wearer and captivate the observer. Fashion is a game, played well, by a scarce few who understand its incredible power.  Fashion choices can help one transcend mere mortal status. Think of the ability of black leather to dominate, a Navy uniform to officiate or all white to glamorize.

Nothing is so sensual, so alluring, so downright sexy as the “Sweet Things” trending in fall fashion. These girly, fitted, ruffly, lacy, pleated, cropped, sheer, sequined and embellished items have the ability to bring men to their knees.  Women get caught in their emotional web and can’t resist the impulse. Think legal nudity.

Power trend: Sweet and sexy blush items for fall.

Power trend: Sweet and sexy blush items for fall.

Most often, these trouble-making tops, dresses, handbags, shoes, sweaters, active wear, bras, panties and skirts are in delicate shades of blush pink.  Look for these delicate colors in beauty lines, as well.

Caution, there can be too much of a good thing. Wear them tonally or in single servings. Pair sweet pieces with edgier ones like jeans or leather jacket. Pair with grey, navy or maroon. Head-to-toe blush pink can lead to a matronly sugar rush.

Look to Herve Lerger, Ted Baker, Tory Burch, Club Monaco, BCBG, Zara, La Perla, Athleta, etc. for some of the best Sweet Things.

 

For color seasonal color forecasts, see COLORSCOOP.

 Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

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