With its sights firmly set on disrupting the athleisure apparel sector and rapid expansion across the country, Gap label Athleta has just opened its first Canadian location.
Set at Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver, the new 5,000-square-foot Athleta outpost is the brand’s first foray into bricks and mortar north of the border since its successful e-commerce launch in Canada just over a month ago.
The store opened its doors to the public Tuesday.
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The sub-label of Gap, which focuses on performance lifestyle apparel for women and girls, currently operates more than 200 stores across the US.
The certified B. corp company has a strong focus on female empowerment, women supporting women, and creating a community for women and girls.
With a strong e-commerce base in Canada, Jenelle Sheridan, VP & GM of Growth Businesses at Athleta, tells Daily Hive that venturing into storefronts is a natural progression that “makes a lot of sense.”
“Our customers have been asking for us to come here for quite some time,” she says.
With offerings including yoga tights and bras, as well as performance and lifestyle outerwear, the brand sees Vancouver as the right first stop as it expands across the country and tries to take on established athleisure brands with a foothold in the city, like lululemon.
“I think this market is such a great fit for our brand and what our products have to offer. It’s super versatile for hiking, biking, running, riding your bike — plus great swimwear,” says Sheridan.
The store itself is sectioned off by zones based on activities. One area focuses on its “core bottoms,” versatile tights and leggings that serve a multitude of functions and can be used for a variety of exercises.
There’s a “performance lifestyle” section with knitwear, quilted vests and jackets and crew necks. And a section for what the brand would consider “true performance” cardio apparel, which includes gear made for higher intensity activities like running and HIIT workouts.
That section is anchored by workout tights, and there’s a separate section with selections more suitable for yoga, studio, barre and pilates.
There’s also two breakout zones for its Sleep and Athleta Girl offerings.
Athleta offers inclusive sizing from XXS to 3X in 500 different styles. Customer feedback and shopping experience was key to growing this side of the brand. So there is purposefully no “inclusive size area” in the store, per se, and all sizes are together on the rack.
“Everything is on the rack through those sizes and we also have our mannequins that represent our range of body types that our customers represent,” Sheridan tells Daily Hive.
The company has a strategic growth plan to double net sales by 2023, with the Vancouver area store the first new “in real life” access point to reaching customers outside the United States.
Athleta’s second Canadian store is set to open at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in North York, Ontario, this fall, although a hard opening date has not been announced.
Orders for Canadian outposts will be fulfilled by the Gap Distribution Centre in Brampton, Ontario.