An Ath­leisure Em­pire Gets Phys­i­cal

Fast Company - - Most Innovative Companies - —CD

High-end ac­tivewear re­tailer Bandier de­buted its first in-house ap­parel brand with the launch, in Jan­uary, of a brightly hued work­out-ba­sics col­lec­tion called We Over Me. Sold on Bandier’s site and through its brick-and­mor­tar stores, as well as via lux­ury e-tailer Net-a-porter, We Over Me sig­nals the com­pany’s readi­ness to take ad­van­tage of its ath­leisure ex­per­tise to cre­ate its own prod­ucts. “[We have] our fin­ger on the pulse of ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pen­ing from a fab­ric and fit per­spec­tive,” says Bandier CEO Neil Bo­yarsky. “We have in­sight into what works.”

With its color-block pat­terns and soft, durable fab­rics, We Over Me’s 14-piece col­lec­tion bears a re­sem­blance to other ath­leisure lines. Com­peti­tor Out­door Voices, for one, has com­plained that the de­signs are “nearly ex­act copies” of its own styles. But Bandier’s com­mit­ment to in­clu­sive siz­ing sets the col­lec­tion apart: Ev­ery­thing runs up to 2XL, and the com­pany wants to ex­tend the range even fur­ther. Thanks to five na­tional re­tail stores, and new ones open­ing in West Hol­ly­wood and New York later this year, Bandier has un­par­al­leled ac­cess to how cus­tomers use its prod­ucts, since the spa­ces of­ten in­clude fit­ness stu­dios (the New York flag­ship hosts 30 classes a week). Bo­yarsky calls its in-store classes “the best test­ing ground we could pos­si­bly have.” (Brands like Nike also use the stu­dios for sneaker re­search.) “We sit in the mid­dle of this trend to­ward ac­tivewear and fash­ion com­ing to­gether,” says Bo­yarsky. “As re­tail­ers, we have to con­stantly chal­lenge the op­er­at­ing model. These are new times.”

Mile­stones Bandier’s first Cal­i­for­nia store, in West Hol­ly­wood, will be mod­eled af­ter the New York flag­ship, with stu­dios, food ven­dors, and a larger sneaker se­lec­tion. Chal­lenges As it de­vel­ops more pri­vate la­bels, Bandier will have to stake out new de­sign ter­ri­tory to avoid bump­ing up against its morethan-40 ex­ist­ing brand part­ners. Buzz

Bandier’s new We Over Me col­lec­tion, its first pri­vate brand, fea­tures hood­ies, jog­gers, crop tops, and those ubiq­ui­tous leg­gings.

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