Luxury activewear platform Carbon38 is expanding its offline reach with a permanent bricks-and-mortar store in Palisades Village, a pop-up in Bridgehampton, N.Y., and a retail rollout for its private label line in Neiman Marcus.
The four-year-old, Los Angeles-based company tested pop-ups two years ago in Bridgehampton and on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. “It was amazing to see the community that resulted from having a space. We were able to talk to customers in a way you are not [able to] online,” said chief executive officer and cofounder Katie Warner Johnson, noting that they hope to attract existing and new customers in the new stores.
The 2,500-square-foot Bridgehampton pop-up, opening this summer, will be an indoor-outdoor shopping and gathering space. The 1,141-square-foot permanent store will bow with Caruso’s Palisades Village on Sept. 22, adjacent to Jennifer Meyer’s first store as well as a Cynthia Rowley.
“We’re covering the best of the coasts, and through Neiman Marcus, we are making inroads in the middle of country,” said Warner Johnson, referring to the March 30 rollout of the Carbon38 line in the department store’s Fashion Island, Las Vegas, Michigan Avenue Chicago, Highland Park and Boca Raton doors.
The $15 million minority investment from Foot Locker in January hasn’t changed Carbon38’s expansion strategy, but “it gives us confidence because they’re a 100-year-old brand with 3,300 retail locations and they’re profitable. We can learn best practices,” said Warner Johnson.
Carbon38 wants to offer shoppers a respite experience that includes a coffee bar, dressing rooms with flattering lighting and thoughtful retail flow; both spaces are designed by Montalba Architects.
For the brands it sells, the company’s aim has always been to create a distribution network beyond mom-and-pop Pilates studios. That’s evolved from a curated e-commerce platform into curated physical spaces.
Its in-house line fills the white space instead of competing with the other labels. Its monthly deliveries are runway-inspired and on-trend, from florals to shine to ruffles, and some skew more ready-to-wear than ath-leisure.
“Offline expansion is a big undertaking and will color how we proceed,” said Warner Johnson. “Building profitable retail in a very fickle environment takes all hands on deck and at the same time we’re integrating online and offline by doubling down on the consumer experience in mobile and online.”
As far as expanding into other categories down the road, executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lisa Kraynak said the possibilities were endless. “Developing a relationship around the customer gives us permission to serve her in a lot of areas, wherever she wants to be healthy.”