Champion Athleticwear is expanding its physical retail footprint with a second U.S. location opening Aug. 25 in New York City's SoHo neighborhood. In step with the brand's return to footwear this year, the 4,900-square-foot store will have a dedicated sneaker wall with suede, leather, knit and retro-inspired shoes from its fall line, according to a company press release
The store will also feature on-site customization, including a service where customers can design embroidery and patches to be made on demand, the company said. Some products will be exclusive to that store, including an ongoing collaboration with designer Todd Snyder, regional collections inspired by New York, and styles, colors and partnerships with local artists like Andre Trenier.
The move follows the opening of the company's first U.S. store in the La Brea shopping district in Los Angeles in April. Most of the company's stores are in Europe and, increasingly, Asia.
Champion has become a centerpiece of Hanesbrands' growth strategy as sales of retro and street styles continue to outpace performance athletic wear.
"[W]e're seeing an ongoing convergence of casual and performance apparel and the consumers are demanding brands with athletic authenticity," Hanesbrands CEO Gerald W. Evans Jr. told analysts last month, according to a conference call transcript from Seeking Alpha. "We have reunited the brand globally, allowing us to coordinate product design around the world."
That's prompted the opening of more locations worldwide, and, for the first time, in the U.S. Global Champion sales in constant currency have grown at a mid- to high-teens rate in each of the past four quarters, with all of the growth coming from outside the U.S. mass channel, Evans said. (Excluding the U.S. mass channel, Champion's growth has been in the high-20% to low-30% range over the last four quarters, he added.) But in the U.S., the brand's growth in the period accelerated to over 70%, up from 50% in the first quarter and 40% in the second half of last year.
This is what has made Target's exit from the brand a head-scratcher for many analysts. Earlier this month the merchant said it won't renew its contract for the exclusive line of C9 by Champion activewear apparel when it expires at the end of January 2020.
"It's surprising that given the global kind of momentum and strength behind the parent Champion brand at this current moment that it's the time when Target would choose to kind of walk away from that growing halo around it and move in another direction," said Omar Saad, Evercore Senior Managing Director, who leads the firm's softlines, luxury and department stores team, according to Seeking Alpha's transcript.