Some top names in authentic activewear are going after the department store and apparel specialty store market with separate collections or packages with more of a lifestyle approach. Whether or not they have made a formal division between authentic and unauthentic classifications, activewear manufacturers in general say they are paying more attention to the women’s end of their business.
The trend reflects the inclination of the stores to move their activewear departments away from the authentic mode of the sporting goods retailer. Of course, the manufacturers are continuing to cater to sporting goods specialists with authentic activewear.
Reebok International is a major name breaking into dual distribution with its fall products. It is launching a collection for fall called Reebok Sport, which is a more contemporary weekend apparel line aimed at department and specialty stores, said Doug Arbetman, president of Reebok Apparel. It is also offering true performance Reebock apparel, which is aimed at athletic store specialists.
Arbetman said Reebok Sport uses bright colors in such items as French terry sweatshirts, sweater knits and fleece and sweater knit combinations. For fall, the average wholesale price is about $20.
Among the key looks are shoulder-padded mock turtlenecks with zippers; cardigans; pants with color-tipping, and even leather jackets, wholesaling for $92.50, said Arbetman. The entire line will carry the Reebok Sport logo.
The authentic Reebok line includes T-shirts, wholesaling from $7 to $10; fleece tops at $15; fleece sets from $25 to $55, and bottoms from $25 to $30. This collection includes items for activities such as aerobics and jogging, and has a separate sales force, said Arbetman.
The company plans to do 50 percent of its activewear business with the Reebok line for sporting goods specialists, Arbetman said, and 50 percent with Reebok Sport for department and specialty stores.
He said all Reebock apparel lines should garner $16 million in wholesale volume. Half the sales are expected to come from the women’s area. Reebok International recently agreed to acquire Avia Group International, which will operate as an autonomous subsidiary.
Recognizing the dual marketplace, Le Coq Sportif has created a separate sportswear design team to address the women’s market, said Pete Mahmet, president. He said the business had been just classifications, but is growing into a collection business. “They’re not just buying one warmup in 10 colors,” he said. Mahmet said he has created a whole package of tennis and golf apparel, which is being called La Vie Sportif. These products include tops and bottoms, wholesaling from $19 to $22.50; sweaters, wholesaling at $30, and jackets and pants, wholesaling at $24. “It’s going to department stores,” said Mahmet.
Meanwhile, a new subbrand for the firm is Cross Training, which Le Coq Sportif will identify with the logo, X Training. The brand includes apparel used for various exercises, such as aerobics, stationary bicycling and running on treadmills. This group consists of tight-fitting Lycra spandex bottoms with coordinating T-shirts with an X on them, representing “blood, sweat and tears,” said Mahmet. “It’s a neat graffiti look,” he said, and the pieces can be intermingled for various activities. Another subbrand is for cycling.
Mahmet said women’s apparel had accounted for 40 percent of the business, but is moving closer to 50 percent. “By the end of 1987 it should be 60 percent women’s and 40 percent men’s,” he said. “The women’s business is faster turning, and the buyers make decisions faster.
“We’re looking for a 28 percent increase for transition, because of X Training and Cycling,” said Mahmet. Transition is shipped May 15, and consists of the summer and fall lines together.
At Nike, 50 percent of the women’s business is aimed at the authentic exercise market and the remainder is spectator merchandise, said Leslie Grant, women’s marketing manager. She said the spectator pieces are generally sold to department and specialty stores. The authentic workout clothes generally go to sporting goods specialists.
Grant said one feature of the women’s line is component packages that give the feeling of “authenticity.” The packages consist of apparel a woman can wear to work out and then wear after the workout. For fall, the line, which carries a patch label reading Nike, includes a French terry group of pullovers and terry pants. Twenty percent of Nike’s business comes from women’s apparel, “but it’s growing,” said Grant. She said the company redirected its line this spring, and for the first time started aiming part of its advertising at women.
“Cross-training is the buzz word,” she noted, adding, “Women are aerobicizing, working with weights and riding the bicycles and they want pieces that can work for a variety of activities. It’s a real plus for us.” The cross-training group includes tights for jogging or gym work and bicycle shorts.
Adidas plans to do 30 percent of its business with department stores, said Joseph Kirchner, vice president and general manager. He said he offers one line that is built for different customers. A good part of the line is authentic, designed for running and tennis, and other sports themes are field hockey and rowing. In spectator apparel, fleece separates is the buzz word, he said. Items with embroidery, printing and the Adidas logo are being offered. An extended wovens offering, including textured warmup suits, also is important.