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Gap Inc.’s Athleta, the Non-Lululemon, Comes to Take Manhattan, Plans 50 Stores by 2013

in Business of Yoga, YD News

50 stores by 2013. mama's bringing the big guns! -photo via Racked

Manhattan’s Upper West Side welcomed it’s very first Athleta store this week (just a few blocks up from Lululemon), and the Upper East Side gets its very own as well. Fancy! If you didn’t know, Athleta a San Francisco based company was snapped up by Gap, Inc. just about 3 years ago and has been gearing up to enter the physical retail market in NY since then.

We don’t know if employees are required to set goals, attend Landmark Forum-esque retreats, subscribe to plastered manifestos or appear impossibly jolly 24/7, but we can tell you the prices are, well, only slightly lower than your favorite Lululemon butt-snuggers. You can nab a pair of yoga capris for about $50, but the other pants are the market usual (we use that term loosely, but it’s true, unfortunately) of about $70 and up. But Athleta isn’t just going for yogis, they’re catering to the entire fitness schema like running, hiking, swimming, gymming also know as erranding, hanging out, sometimes wearing to the office on casual Fridays.

This isn’t Old Navy sucker punching, this is real business. In-store hemming, some kind of futuristic water-resistant skinny jeans, and the insistence that all the clothes are designed by female athletes for women sounds enticing, but probably the biggest selling point for Athleta is that they are the non-lulu. So far there hasn’t been such a major brand push as an alternative to the Lululemon culture and monopoly, to carve their own way into the $31 billion womens active wear market, until now. Planning to open 50 stores by 2013, we’d say Athleta is prepping to be a big player.

We think people will dig the option. A store launch campaign that benefited Bent On Learning doesn’t hurt either. Keep an eye out for the free yoga. You heard it here first.

We actually think there’s room for both, or all – there are “active wear” brands sprouting up every day – but there’s more riding on this, like millions of dollars, and womens lifestyles, for goodness sake and like, the stock market. crikey! Oh man, we just had a vision of the future: every woman wandering around the streets of NY in their yoga leggings, flesh wrapped up in stretchy curve-hugging material accessorized with fanny packs and a blank stare. Stepford Wives of the active wear generation. *shudder*

[Racked; Athleta]



13 comments… add one
  • Samantha

    I have to say I’m very glad that this is happening! Athleta makes clothes in a variety of sizes, even going up to plus sizes. Lululemon stops their sizing for women at a size 10 or 12. In my opinion the fact that Lululemon’s clothes are so popular but can only fit certain yogis reinforces the belief that yoga is only for the young and fit. They may say that this is a financial decision, but Athleta, Prana, Title Nine, and other companies find it financially sound to feature some slightly larger clothes, why not Lululemon?

  • YD

    I think many would agree with you, Samantha! That’s been a gripe about lulu for a while. Glad there is a growing number of options for everyone.

  • devi

    But you do get fit if you do yoga !

  • I think this is a great thing; I practice and teach power yoga, so am pretty fit but Lululemon clothes don’t work for me- mostly because I’m bustier than the average yogini. 😉 I have A LOT of Athleta’s tops for that reason. Personally I think the more choice we have the better. I just wish yoga clothing wasn’t so darned expensive!

  • Yogini5

    MY guru doesn’t think I’M lulu for wanting to go into an Athleta store on New York’s Upper East Side, AND thinking they will have my size right there in the store, AND I could even try it on … because the last item I purchased from Athleta, I tried on in cyberspace …

    Against much probability, judging from my lifelong spotty track record with mail order (particularly when I had been grossly overweight, but less so now) it FIT!

  • Sondra

    Love Athleta, for workout, yoga and everyday. I have the cutest dress that I purchased this spring and get a lot of looks from it. Title Nine is a good company as well. I really don’t believe I will buy Lulu lemon any more, just check out your local outdoors store to see more options like Horny Toad, Mountain Hardware and Prana.
    I guess I could say that karma got to Bikram……….

    • Yogini5

      … yup, what comes around goes around …

  • perhaps i’m biased because i design and sell yoga clothing made only in the usa… but i think that as yogis and yoginis we should always strive for the highest good for humanity, and question large corporations integrity.

    where is athleta and lululemon clothing made, who makes it, and what are the conditions like? i fear the answers are: indo-china, young women that work 18 hour days, and sweaty unventilated tightly packed factories.

    i’m not trying to be judgmental, because sadly it is easy to ignore the source of what we buy (and corporations want to keep it that way!). but, i think in order to live our “yoga” off the mat, we need to make wise choices with the “votes” we have- our $$$…

    i applaud athleta’s diverse range in sizes, but i believe yoga clothes made in the usa, even of organic materials, are our best bet for yogis and for the planet.

  • JeffreyD

    Alternatively, basketball shorts cost $5-$20 and are just as good.

  • Scott

    And the yoga clothes for men that fit bigger guys are where?

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