Champion Athleticwear on Saturday opened its first U.S. store, in the La Brea shopping district in Los Angeles.
The store will feature on-site customization and specialized product assortments, including some products inspired by its Southern California location or designed through partnerships with local influencers, which will only be available at that location, according to a company press release.
The brand has helped parent Hanesbrands return to growth — the company in November reported organic sales growth for the first time in eight quarters. Fourth quarter sales rose more than 4%, online sales rose 22% over last year and global Champion sales rose 15%, the company said in February, according to a conference call transcript from Seeking Alpha.
Hanesbrands has long been mostly a wholesaler of underwear, basics and activewear, but is increasingly moving to sell directly to customers, especially in Europe. The company's activewear segment, where revenue increased 9% in the fourth quarter, is particularly strong and its organic revenue increase of over 4% was driven by the Champion and sports apparel businesses.
The company's owned stores are mainly found in Europe and, increasingly, Asia, but with the Champion store in Los Angeles, the brand has arrived in the U.S.
"The global sphere of influence in Los Angeles with regard to fashion, art, sports and entertainment culture make it the perfect place for Champion to bring its iconic heritage and product stories to life," Champion President Susan Hennike said in a statement. "In today's retail landscape, it's vital to create a direct connection with our consumers. The need to provide a seamless customer experience across all channels makes this exactly the right time and place for Champion to launch this exciting retail concept in the United States."
Key materials used throughout the store, like reclaimed basketball court hardwoods, gym lockers and metal mesh resembling Champion's own proprietary mesh fabric are a nod to the brand's athleticwear positioning, the company said. On Saturday the first 500 customers who arrived at the store received a canvas tote bag with art designed by local artist Stella Blu.