TAKING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — Trying to stay out of the shadows of the big brand names that dominate the activewear field with their pro athlete endorsements and flashy ad campaigns, some lesser-known labels are turning to more creative tactics.
Burton has developed a coffee-table book loaded with some 400 images of the colorful lifestyle of snowboarders. It’s a chance for Burton, a 25-year veteran in the snowboarding business, to tout its roots.
Titled “Blower,” the coffee table book bows in several hundred specialty stores. Published by the British firm Booth Clibborn, the $50 tome has 256 pages of photos, illustrations, design and prose — not all snowboard-oriented. There are plenty of quirky images, like the shot of a few Gen Xers lounging in a laundromat that looks as though it was photographed from the inside of a washing machine.
The aim is to show snowboarding as a lifestyle — not just as a sport — without blaring the Burton name, said Scott Rivers, director of marketing. That strategy has helped Burton build a strong following, especially with fickle teens who tend to be disinterested with big brand names.
“Blower” does give the brand some play in a roundabout way. There are a few photos where the Burton name is clearly printed on the base of an airborne rider’s board. One page has an image of a dissected frog that Burton first used as a trade show invitation in 1993.
Crunch Fitness has launched a bi-annual magazine to be sold on newsstands and offered for free at its 19 health clubs. With a soon-to-be-relaunched activewear line and a magazine in the works, Crunch is trying to give its image an upgrade.
In November, Crunch magazine, a mix of photography, gossip, celebrity interviews, sex advice, music reviews and fitness tips, will debut. As a bonus, Crunch’s “Every Other Day Annual Calendar for Lazy People” will be offered with the magazine.
Crunch founder Doug Levine said, “This magazine gives the Crunch brand a voice. It allows us to take our ‘No Judgements’ philosophy and our unconventional sense of humor to the next level.”
On the apparel front, Crunch has upgraded its collection to appeal to more stylish gymgoers by adding looks such as a long madras skirt, poncho, hipster pants with cutouts on the knees and a cross-front bra. Manrico Holding SpA, Crunch’s partner in this joint venture, is an Italian firm that also is a contractor for such high-end firms as Prada.
Nuala, Christy Turlington’s yoga-inspired line produced by Puma, is taking a more wholistic approach. For the next year, the brand has developed footwear with magnetic inserts placed in the soles at energy zones. The magnets are supposed to help stimulate circulation and improve energy levels. The placement adheres to reflexology, an ancient practice designed to alleviate energy blocks in the body.
A Nuala concept shop will be part of the makeup when Puma opens its third free-standing store in the U.S. — a New York unit on Broadway in SoHo, said Rebecca Dobrick, sales and marketing director. There is also an in-store shop in Puma’s new San Francisco store.
Nuala has also secured third-floor space at Henri Bendel for another concept shop and plans are being made for Turlington to host a “Girl’s Night Out” there in October, Dobrick said.
New Balance, a label that got a major kickstart a few years back when club kids started wearing vintage styles in London, will reach out to yoga enthusiasts with its fall 2002 line. For the first time, the brand is offering a nine-style yoga-inspired group in its crosstraining apparel.
Nancy Desrosiers, product manager for apparel, said, “The yoga trend has made another appearance. Now we have clothing with a bit of trendiness for that customer. We want to offer product to those people who don’t run.”
That means using soft colors like cornflower blue, cappuccino and mocha instead of primary tones favored by runners. Other nontraditional athletic looks include flared pants with a V-shaped waistband and a hooded top.
Taking another approach is Vans, a brand that caters to core sports enthusiasts such as skateboarders, surfers and wakeboarders, which has signed a three-year deal with Xbox, Microsoft’s new video game system that bows in the U.S. in November.
As part of the deal, Xbox will be the title sponsor for three events at Vans triple Crown Series, a televised sports competition. XBox will also have a booth at this and other Vans events to give away promotional material, a Vans spokeswoman said.