Champion has made it stateside, opening its first US retail store this past week in Los Angeles. Long a staple in high school locker rooms, the legacy activewear brand experienced rapid growth in the past few years, buoyed by partnerships with Urban Outfitters and PacSun and collaborations with Vetements and Supreme.
Like other trendy activewear outlets, the store offers on-site customization and specialized products created in partnership with LA-based influencers. For example, its grand opening offered shoppers a personalized tote bag by local artist Stella Blu.
Champion joins lululemon, Nike, and adidas in constructing unique retail formats in competitive urban markets. Lululemon began innovating on its brick-and-mortar retail experience in 2015, opening Manhattan HUB Seventeen as a community-gathering space offering yoga classes; Lululemon now offers yoga at nearly every store, and has expanded its experiential offering with lululemon labs, a designer work space and store, and a men’s location in New York. Similarly, Nike’s SoHo store features a basketball court, soccer trial zone, and smart treadmills that record running performance metrics, and the brand plans to open a new 69,000 square foot flagship store and a members-only floor. Adidas followed suit by opening a four-level concept store in Manhattan that features a personal fitness consultation area and a product customization section.
As activewear brands continue expanding their brick-and-mortar footprints amidst wholesale retailer distress, the next step will be for brands to pair flashy experiential retail with more robust omnichannel fulfillment offerings. Adoption of traditional omnichannel fulfillment features remains sluggish: only 12% of brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear offer Buy Online, Pick Up in Store and just four brands (L.L. Bean, New Balance, Alo Yoga, and Athleta) offer the same functionality for Reserve Online. Such investments would benefit Champion and its fellows, maximizing the impact of both online and offline growth.