Jan 16, 2017
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House of Fraser in major athleisure store and web launch this spring

Jan 16, 2017

UK department stores giant House of Fraser is to launch a dedicated in-store and online activewear area on March 25 featuring branded and own-label ranges, the company told Fashion Network.

Prices range from £18-£125 and while the offer includes technical sportswear, there is a clear gym-to-street and street-to-home focus designed to capitalise on activewear as a current fashion favourite when outdoors, as well as for relaxing at home.

The House of Fraser athleisure launch includes own brands and big name labels

The own-brand ranges consists of Biba Body and Label Lab Life, each with their own, unique point of difference. Biba Body has been designed with outfit-building in mind so that the customer can easily mix, match and layer her pieces.
An investment in seam-free technology for the yoga range is claimed to allow for maximum comfort and flexibility “while incorporating the Biba logo and brand DNA at every opportunity.” The range features statement animal prints, including jaguar, tiger and zebra.

By contrast, Label Lab Life offers abstract prints and block designs complemented with design features and soft draping. The company said it offers a “cleaner, edgier aesthetic to our athleisure range [with] pops of bright colour [to] bring excitement to an easy and sophisticated neutral colour palette.”

Star items from this range are expected to be the ombré seam-free yoga pieces and the layering styles. These looks are all about back design features, such as soft draping and intricate strapping.

The branded offering includes the launch of nine labels including Ted Baker Fit to a T, Seafolly Active and Bjorn Borg. Each style offers sports-enhancing properties and functionality while featuring key prints such as marble, geometrics and florals. CK and Tommy Hilfiger also have a strong product offering with bold colours and logos “that provide a gentle nod to the sports trend.”

Each collection is complemented with accessories such as backpacks, logo water bottles and yoga mats.
Buyer Jenny Elisha said the retailer is also working with some new brands such as Acai. This has been developed by “a fitness mad couple looking to bring fashion to fitness,” and Dharma Bums, an Australian brand offering a range of printed leggings for a variety of activities. They will be exclusive to the chain’s physical stores in the UK.

The launch comes as the retail giant seeks to exploit one of the key current growth areas in the the women’s fashion sector as part of its five-year turnaround plan.

Athleisure has become a must-have category for many brands and retailers in recent years as the women’s fitness boom gathers pace and as gym-to-street style proves popular, particularly with a younger demographic.

Upscale department store rival Selfridges last year opened its Body Studio as its largest single department. And only last week we heard that Sweaty Betty would open an enlarged Carnaby Street flagship complete with fitness studio, while Jack Wills officially launched its first-ever move into technical sportswear with a women’s only range.

Earlier this month, the retailer reported good Christmas trading figures and hailed the “huge breadth of products and brands we provide.”

Chairman Frank Slevin added that the company has laid the foundations for a “transformation of the business in anticipation of a challenging retail environment, and as we look forward to 2017 and beyond we must continue to adapt as the retail sector evolves.”

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