Hi, everybody! Welcome back to our Magazine of the Week feature.
I’ve been super busy organizing the new Periodicals and Electronic Resources department after the summer’s move, but I’m finally caught up enough to resume writing the Mag of the Week.
So. This week’s magazine, Athleta, is actually a store catalog. We subscribe to a number of these. A lot of American fashion isn’t the expensive, exclusive runway fashion that shows up in magazines like Vogue, and isn’t avant garde enough to be covered in Surface or V, but is still part of the story of what American men and women wear. In addition, having the prices of items with the images of the items themselves provides invaluable cost-of-living data for future researchers.
Athleta was begun 1998 by Scott Kerslake, a cyclist and surfer. He brought his entreprenurial background (development team at an internet startup, founder of Mirival spa in AZ) to a problem he heard repeatedly from his athletic friends: The women he cycled with couldn’t find athletic wear they liked.
Few stores carried active sportswear for women, and what there was was gray or black, and couldn’t be worn to work as well as work out. He hired women and men (but mostly women: the staff was 90% women to begin with) who were runners, cyclists, triathletes, yoga instructors, boxers: all athletes, who used the products as well as designed, marketed, and sold them. The company began as a catalog sales and expanded rapidly into web sales.
The company did so well that it was able to get venture capital in 2002 to expand and update its web offerings. Then in 2008, the Gap bought the company in order to move into the burgeoning althleisure clothing market. By 2011, the Gap opened retail stores in Marin County, California, and San Francisco, epicenters for active, health-conscious consumers.
We started subscribing near the end of 2009. The active sportswear market is an important one in today’s retail mix, and this is a great example of excellent merchandising and niche design.
For more information about this company: