NEW YORK — When Cynthia Rowley moves into her new headquarters on Morton Street in two months, she plans to offer fitness classes after work, during lunch hour and on the weekends to anyone in the West Village neighborhood.
That, she expects, will be a perfect way to “road test” her new fitness collection called, simply, Rowley.
“We’ll have the space,” said Rowley, who bought a three-story mechanic’s garage. “It’s important to build the lifestyle with the core team and experience it.” With the full launch of her new fitness collection for fall (it was quietly launched for spring), she hopes to have both her employees and their friends get firsthand experience wearing the line.
The fitness line grew organically from the wet suits that Rowley introduced five years ago. That business has grown into a surf and swim collection.
The fitness line also comes at a time when the ath-leisure and fitness markets are booming. Brands from Under Armour to Tory Burch are seeking to either break into the category or expand their women’s offerings, while other brands — such as Rebecca Minkoff, Ramy Brook and Elie Tahari — have introduced activewear lines. Even Beyoncé has formed a venture, with Topshop, to produce an athletic streetwear brand due out later this year.
For spring, Rowley introduced a capsule fitness collection of 15 stockkeeping units that includes leggings, tank tops, sports bras, little shorts and T-shirts “but reimagined with our design aesthetic,” she said. Retailers such as Carbon38, Net-a-sporter and Bandier bought the line and will start carrying it this week. The collection is produced in China and Taiwan.
For fall, Rowley has expanded the collection to 35 sku’s. She has added more pieces, such as a quilted puffer vest, cozy fleece-lined jackets and a puffer jacket, as well as circular knits made in Italy. The line is functional but can also be worn pre- and post-workout. Colorful, lively prints — which include hearts, florals, color blocks and black-gold foil — are designed by Rowley’s team.
In the tops, for example, the pockets have copper lining that deflects radiation from one’s devices. The luxe printed leggings have such features as wider waistbands and sweat-wicking properties. The line runs the gamut from printed sport bras, cropped leggings and printed racer tanks to print nylon sweatshirts, heart-on-the-sleeve T-shirts, a patchwork hoodie and faux-fur hoodie jackets. Fabrics include nylon and spandex. Wholesale prices range from $40 to $95, with some more expensive pieces, such as an oversize down coat, in white or black, wholesaling for $225.
In addition to the current roster of accounts, the fall line has been picked up by Bloomingdale’s, where it will be housed near collections such as Stella McCartney for Adidas, Koral and Michi. “A lot of majors are carving out areas” for ath-leisure and fitness lines, Rowley said. She expects that the fitness collection will be worn by the same woman who wears her ready-to-wear collection, as well as a new audience of fitness enthusiasts. It will be available on Rowley’s Web site next month. In the fall, the fitness collection could be spun out to its own Web site. She declined to reveal a first-year wholesale volume.
In collaboration with its handbag license, Highline, Rowley also created a gym bag that can carry a yoga mat, water bottle and shoes. It wholesales for $80. Several of her licensees will add a fitness element, such as a sporty selection of eyewear from its eyewear licensee, and socks and legwear from her legwear licensee.
Rowley has 60 stores throughout the world, seven of which are in the U.S. The company is carving out space in all its stores to carry the fitness collection, “and we’re considering possibly opening freestanding stores” for the fitness line in the future, she said. Rowley will offer two collections of fitness apparel a year.
The fitness launch will also have a strong social media element.
“What’s interesting about this is there’s a whole new audience in social media. There are fitness bloggers, fitness experts and girls styling themselves for the gym. It’s a whole world that’s unexplored,” Rowley said.