HanesBrands on Tuesday said it will sell its value-priced C9 Champion performance athleticwear exclusively through Amazon Fashion worldwide as part of a multiyear agreement. Champion already sells flagship items on Amazon Fashion, and the two lines will each have a branded storefront on the site, according to a press release.
More than 100 men's, women's and children's activewear, innerwear and accessories styles from C9 will be sold through Amazon. Workout apparel includes leggings, jackets, T-shirts, shorts, underwear, socks and sports bras. Other items include gloves, hats, bags, shoes, and fitness equipment.
The new C9 tie-up with Amazon presents a test for each of the players: of C9's ability to sell exclusively online, Amazon Fashion's ability to rep C9 as well as Target did, and Target's new label's ability to match C9's prowess.
When Target announced it was dropping C9, some analysts questioned whether its own private label could match the popularity of Champion's budget line, and saw it as a loss for both Champion and Target. CL King analyst Steven Marotta pointed out in a client note back then that C9 at Target generated some $380 million over 12 months, and speculated that Target wanted to boost its gross margin through sales of its own label.
Others at the time were highly skeptical, notably GAMCO Investors analyst Doug Thomas who said on a previously reported conference call with HanesBrands executives that "Target must be really out of touch with maybe their core consumers ... given the success you guys are having in Champion," and suggested that instead Target should "redouble their commitment to Champion."
Working with Amazon Fashion will allow C9 to sell worldwide for the first time, since Target remains a U.S.-only retailer. In a statement, HanesBrands CEO Gerald Evans Jr. touted that new opportunity to sell the brand globally and said he expects C9 "to expand over time."
Meanwhile, Target's private labels, most of them new or revamped in recent years, have undergirded its success, and there's no reason to doubt that its "All In Motion" label will fare just as well. The line, for women, men and kids, features inclusive sizing and sustainably sourced materials, two things that are top of mind for many consumers these days, especially younger ones.