Athleta and Simone Biles are going back to school.
The women’s athletic apparel and accessories brand is continuing its courtship with the Olympic gold medalist by way of a limited-edition girls apparel collection, along with a new activation in the metaverse.
The 15-piece Athleta Girls activewear collection was designed in collaboration with Biles and includes pieces for young girl aged six to 12 to help them “feel inspired and confident wherever the new school year takes them,” according to a company statement.
Lindsay Ferstandig, head of strategy for Athleta, added: “As part of our long-term growth strategy, we’re investing in new access points to reach new customers and expand our community of empowered women and girls. Athleta Girl has clear points of differentiation from our competition, offering our customers a one-of-a-kind product assortment that’s thoughtfully designed to not only empower girls’ active lifestyles, but also support them through life milestones like puberty and adolescence.”
The latest assortment marks Athleta’s third major campaign with the Olympic athlete. The brand first announced plans for an apparel partnership with Biles in April of last year, after the gymnast’s previous deal with Nike came to a close. The Athleta partnership made Biles the brand’s exclusive apparel partner, allowing her to help design her own activewear line, while also creating multiple capsule collections for Athleta Girl. The venture was also the first time Athleta — which is owned by Gap Inc. — had joined forces with a gymnast.
“Using my voice has been very empowering for me and I’m grateful to embark on this new journey with Athleta to inspire young girls and women to do the same,” Biles said in 2021. “The opportunity to encourage young girls to reach their full potential and be a force for change is incredibly powerful. I admire Athleta for their commitment to recognize and support women’s individual and collective strength and, together, I believe we can help girls to confidently and passionately take on the world in their athletic endeavors and beyond.”
This year, Biles will add to the partnership by creating back–to-school “confidence-building videos,” articles and other activities for young girls that will be available on the AthletaWell platform.
The campaign will also be featured in the metaverse by way of Roblox and the “Athleta Girl x Simone Biles experience” in Livetopia, a popular game on the Roblox platform. The virtual activation will include Athleta Girl x Simone Biles billboards, a Biles avatar dressed in Athleta Girl apparel, a digital storefront featuring clothes from the collection and an interactive obstacle course called “Limitless You.”
Athleta Girl — a subbrand launched by Athleta in 2016 — features activewear and lifestyle apparel for girls aged six to 14. Since its launch, the assortment has acted as a growth driver for the greater Athleta business, nearly doubling revenues in Athleta Girl business since 2020 — or an almost 90 percent sales increase during the parent company’s 2021 fiscal year.
“Our Athleta Girl assortment is a powerful growth driver for our brand and our unique girls assortment is strategically designed to seamlessly transition with girls as they reach their teen years,” Ferstandig said. “If you walk into one of our stores today, about 40 percent of the product you’ll see in our girls category has a corresponding style in our women’s collection, allowing Athleta Girls to continue to shop their tried-and-true favorites as they transition out of girls sizing.”
The brand added that Athleta Girl is one of the top entry points for new customers entering the Athleta brand. Biles’ first co-created product — a limited-edition ‘In Your Element’ hoodie, which debuted last fall— was one of the brand’s most viewed items on athleta.com within hours of its launch. In addition, on average, Athleta Girl shoppers spend roughly two times more with the brand annually.
The latest Athleta Girl x Simone Biles collection is available in Athleta stores and the brand’s e-commerce shop, starting today. The back-to-school assortment ranges in size from XS to XL, or girls sizes 6 to 16, and is priced between $15 to $99 each piece.
Meanwhile, the larger Athleta brand continues to grow. Earlier this month, it revealed the location of two new outlets: Chicago and Virginia. The San Francisco-based retailer has also said it would like to grow its retail fleet by 30 to 40 new stores during Gap Inc.’s fiscal 2022 year. The news comes off the back of Athleta’s previous plans to grow its revenue stream to $2 billion by 2023 — up from $978 million in 2020 — while also opening more stores and expanding into the Canadian market. So far, Athleta has opened roughly a dozen stores to date while also increasing net sales 4 percent in the most recent quarter.