Line Combines Sport, Street

Friends Keith Peterson and Jonathan Schwartz have teamed up to launch a sportswear line for women, Splits59.

Friends Keith Peterson and Jonathan Schwartz have teamed up to launch a sportswear line for women, Splits59, rooted in the idea that performance apparel should be stylish and transition to streetwear.

This story first appeared in the July 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The brand made its debut in a new flagship in Brentwood, Calif. The Los Angeles suburb, where jogging trails line the main streets and yoga mats are a trendy accessory, echoes the spirit of the athletic-urban line. It will try to compete with the likes of Adidas by Stella McCartney and other athletic companies that target a fashionable demographic.

“We are a sports company inspired by fashion, not the other way around,” said Schwartz, the son of Barry Schwartz, co-founder of Calvin Klein.

A triathlete who participates in Ironman competitions, Schwartz focused on the market for stylish performance clothing that could withstand the rigors of athletic training and maintain a level of style that would transition from the gym to the street.

Splits59 sponsors Ironman competitor-athlete Hillary Biscay, which helps both the designers and athlete ensure the practicality of the designs.

“A ton of research and development goes into finding fabrics that both perform and feel really luxurious on the body,” Peterson said.

Moisture-absorbing and wicking materials allow the pieces to appear immune to stretching and sweat marks.

Nylon-spandex blends and Supima cotton are among the fabrics in the line that are intended to give it versatility. Colorful staples range from the Ashby tank, retailing for $35, to a fleece cover-up dress for $145.

In addition to selling at the Brentwood store, there is limited distribution among high-end spas and gyms.

Within the next two years, Schwartz and Peterson plan to open two to three more stores in the Southern California market before expanding to out-of-state locations.