Champion is making a move into the more upscale women’s market by tapping designer Todd Snyder to create a female version of his popular Todd Snyder + Champion men’s collection.
The first women’s product will be offered for spring and will be a softer, sexier iteration of the men’s line. It is being called The Boyfriend Collection and will feature around 16 pieces including sweatshirts, T-shirts and sweatpants that have been tweaked in terms of fabrics and silhouette to appeal to a female customer.
“This is the first time Champion women’s has gone out there with a halo strategy,” said Ned Munroe, chief global design officer for Hanesbrands Inc., which owns Champion.
The collection also marks Snyder’s first professional foray into women’s wear.
“I studied women’s design in college and always wanted to do it,” the designer said, “but because I was a guy, they said I should do men’s wear. But I’ve always had an affinity for women’s.”
Snyder said that since fall 2013, when the first Todd Snyder + Champion collection launched, women have been asking for their own version of the pieces. “They’d buy the men’s sweatshirts and customize them,” he said.
Couple that with Champion’s heritage in women’s wear — the brand is credited with creating the first sports bra — and the extension seemed logical. Munroe said the two have been talking about women’s wear for quite some time and with the rise of the ath-leisure movement, this seemed the right moment to pull the trigger.
Snyder said the inaugural collection is intentionally small and simple and “not too built-out. There are supercute, sexy knits, we changed the fabrications, softened the colors and silhouettes and slimmed down the pants. The collection still has the roots of Champion but modernized and feminized.”
Prices are $65 to $75 for tanks and T-shirts; $118 for short-sleeve sweatshirts; $138 for long-sleeve sweatshirts; $105 to $128 for sweatpants; $78 to $88 for shorts, and $595 for leather-tipped varsity jackets.
Blended cottons, soft French terry cloth, slubs and marled finishes are incorporated into the line, Munroe said, and the color palette centers around washed-down grays, blacks and white with splashes of aqua and coral.
“It doesn’t look like you’re wearing an athletic piece,” Munroe said, “but an athletic-inspired piece in sportswear fabrics and styling. It’s modern and fresh.”
The line will be sold initially on the Todd Snyder and Spring Web sites beginning in February and then opened up to specialty stores in the U.S. and Europe for pre-fall and beyond.
“This is not a collaboration, as in a one-time, in-and-out thing,” Munroe stressed. “It’s a collection that is important in the pillar of the Champion brand. Todd takes a sportswear mentality and higher-tier fabrics and puts a spin on it. We’ve built a real business and made some great product.”
The men’s line, which is about four times as large as the initial women’s offering, centers around hoodies, sweatshirts, Henleys, T-shirts, sweatpants and shorts that are based on heritage pieces from Champion’s archives. The brand was founded in 1919.
It has also allowed the brand an entry into more-upscale retailers. The men’s collection is carried in Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and other high-end specialty stores, a distribution strategy Munroe hopes to eventually duplicate with the women’s line.
He said there are no plans to bring the line to American Eagle Outfitters, which last month bought the Todd Snyder designer brand and the designer’s collegiate business, Tailgate.
“The whole purpose of the collaboration with Todd is to stay upstairs,” Munroe said, “so there are no plans to distribute Todd Snyder + Champion to branded stores [such as American Eagle].”
Munroe said women’s wear currently represents around 50 percent of Champion’s sales and its first foray into women’s lifestyle product came in January when Champion teamed with three designers — Timo Weiland, Craig Green and Wood Wood — to create a capsule collection for Urban Outfitters. This gave the brand the incentive to finally offer women’s in the Todd Snyder line.
“We’ve been talking to ‘him’ [the male customer] a lot, but you’re going to see us begin to talk to ‘her’ more than in the past,” Munroe said.