“We’ve designed these pieces to be complementary to our collection,” Nicole Bischofer, head of women’s wear design at Cos, told WWD. “It’s something we want to offer customers alongside the women’s wear collection, as an extension of our already existing leisure collection. It’s important that we offer the complete wardrobe.”
In fact, Cos’ women’s wear assortment offers most everything else: ready-to-wear, outerwear, leisurewear (think oversize T-shirt, flowy denim dresses and hoodies), innerwear and accessories. The 12-piece activewear line adds things like knitted leggings, cycling shorts, sports bras, fitted T-shirts, sweatshirts and a parka to the mix.
“It’s kind of a versatile collection with different aspects of when you can wear it or when you’re active,” Bischofer said. “It’s really good if you’re going out, if you’re going from home to the gym, or going from work to your workout space.
“We also wanted to integrate the Cos DNA into the pieces: timeless, easy elegance, minimal in a way,” Bischofer said. “It’s quite tactile; it has pure fabrications. And it has a lot of attention to detail.”
Those details include elements like quick-dry and moisture-absorbent fabrics, seamless stitching and materials that conform to support the body. In addition, Bischofer said the entire collection is made from sustainable fabrics, including organic cottons and recycled polyesters, nylons and polyamides.
“Since the beginning, we’ve always put longevity first and we’ve created a timeless assortment regardless of passing trends,” Bischofer said. “Every piece should have a long lifespan.” (The brand is aiming for 100 percent use of recycled or sustainably-sourced materials across every collection, including men’s, women’s and children’s, by 2030.)
In the meantime, the first activewear collection, which ranges in price from $45 to $190 and comes in sizes XS to L, will be available only in women’s. But Bischofer said the brand hopes to launch its men’s activewear collection later this year, possibly in the fall. (Cos has been hard at work on it for more than a year.)
The activewear collection is available online, but will roll out to some larger format Cos stores — locations that already offer leisurewear — later this year.
“We’re launching it online now as a little teaser,” Bischofer said.
But moving activewear online might be a hard sell with many stores currently closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Pre-pandemic, about 80 percent of activewear was sold in stores, according to Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for sports at the NPD Group. Powell said that’s because consumers like to touch, feel and try on the pieces they’re planning on working out in before they buy.
With stores closed, e-commerce apparel sales have been performing better than usual across all categories, Powell said. (As of early May, Cos stores throughout the U.S., the U.K. and most of western Europe remain closed.) Still, the online sales are not enough to offset the losses from store closures.
Activewear sales at physical stores in particular were flat in February, according to the NPD Group, and down 40 percent in March as stores in the west began to close. For the few stores that remained open in April, Powell expects the numbers to be the same or worse.
“I think people are spending money on other essentials,” Powell said.