Kohl's on Monday announced a tie-up with Eddie Bauer to launch this coming fall.
An assortment of the outdoor brand's seasonal gear and year-round products for women, men and kids will be sold "in as many as 500 stores" and online, according to a company press release.
The partnership furthers the retailer's strategy, announced last year, to grow activewear from 20% to at least 30% of its sales, "which includes driving growth in the outdoor category," per the release.
While other segments of apparel have wilted, sales of activewear and sports gear, including garb for outdoor activities, have thrived as people work from home and look for recreation suitable to the pandemic's distancing requirements.
Private equity-owned Eddie Bauer, a sibling of PacSun, has cycled through owners and bankruptcies over the years, but could get a boost from the current vogue for outdoor activity. As 2021 began, exercising outdoors was the top fitness trend, with 59.1% of active adults choosing outdoor activities like running, training, hiking and walking — up 14.6% from the start of 2020, according to athletic footwear review site Run Repeat. Just over 39% of gym members are switching to running and other outdoor activities this year, the survey found.
Many analysts expect outdoor recreation to endure even after the pandemic no longer warrants it. "The overarching theme driving sales within the outdoor and sporting goods markets continues to revolve around staying fit and active while socially distant," NPD Group Vice President and Senior Industry Advisor Matt Powell said in a recent blog post, adding, "The growth in portable power tells us that consumers are extending their home into their yards and hitting the trails, bringing the modern day essentials along with them."
Eddie Bauer, which runs many of its stores at traditional enclosed malls, could also benefit from Kohl's off-mall placement. Several brands and retailers, from Gap Inc. to Macy's, have followed Kohl's to such locations, which offer more convenient parking and quicker trips for consumers pressed for both time and money.
Kohl's, meanwhile, has been on the hunt for ways to elevate its brand partnerships and private label assortments. The retailer recently partnered with Cole Haan and announced a new private label activewear brand.
"The addition of the Eddie Bauer brand into our portfolio acutely aligns with our ambition to grow our active and outdoor business, and attract new and younger customers to Kohl's," chief merchant Doug Howe said in a statement.