London-based premium activewear brand Sweaty Betty is growing its footprint in California. On a recent visit to Los Angeles to see her four stores here, founder and creative director Tamara Hill-Norton talked about the Palo Alto store opening this month and the one on Union Street in San Francisco opening in July.
“We are partnering in San Francisco with the Body Image Movement for a big event in May, and one in New York in October,” she said of the organization. Since founding the company in 1998, Hill-Norton has kept a female-led executive and design team and has grown the “sports luxe” brand from selling other lines into its own branded running, snow sports, yoga and swim gear as well as pieces beyond fitness.
While 35 percent of Sweaty Betty’s sales are in leggings, with an average price point of $135, Hill-Norton is looking to grow her dressier gym-to-dinner collections as well. Half of the pieces are sourced in Taiwan, where Hill-Norton said the best technical fabrics are, and half are from Europe, while most are made in Asia.
“It’s changing the way women dress, particularly in the U.K., where ath-leisure is still a newer category.
Hill-Norton’s father was on the British Navy ski team, so she grew up on the slopes and in the city, where she soon realized there was a dearth of options for women seeking fashionable workout clothes. While the market is more developed in the U.S., customers have responded to her performance and fashion-driven designs despite the higher price points.
While in Southern California, she hosted a “yoga and yachting” event for influencers at the Lido store in Newport Beach. The affluent local retail center has attracted a cadre of like-minded, upscale brands for people living an active, casual lifestyle.
She also met with Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon to work on a collaboration for a future store event. “I love coming to California because this is where so many food and fitness trends are born. I’m trying the boxing class next,” she said.