After opening its new "Pants Studio" online earlier this month, Nike will also carve out space for the workout-specific designs for women in 5,000 of its stores worldwide Nov. 1, according to an announcement on the company's website.
The line was derived from intense market research and is part of Nike's push to maximize the potential of the women's market, executives said, according to Investors Day transcripts and materials. "This $7 billion business will continue to be fueled by more women engaging in sport, wellness and activity," Nike brand president Trevor Edwards told investors, according to a transcript from Nike. "In fact, our growth in our women's business is outpacing our men's business and will continue to do so."
The move is widely seen as a challenge to performance-wear maker Lululemon, which runs actual yoga sessions and other workouts in many of its spaces. Gap Inc. earlier this year also said that its Athleta women's performance brand is a major part of its new growth strategy.
The athleisure market has dominated sports gear makers' efforts in recent years, but Nike's pants studio line is a decided move to provide serious athletes with performance wear geared to specific workouts.
"We know that many women do different types of workouts, and for each workout, there is something they need functionally from their tight or pant that isn't the same across all the activities," Jamie Lee, senior design director for Nike Women's Training, said in a statement on the company's product page. "So, now we have styles that are more for the studio, for traditional training workouts and even a team-oriented tight."
In those materials, Nike also said that it's already number one "globally in the bottoms market, but we aren't satisfied, so we talked with women around the world and heard a common theme…make product by activity."
That speaks to the intensity of competition among the big three athletic-wear makers. Adidas recently took back its second place position from Under Armour, with a successful push in streetwear styles — a category that so far is eluding Nike, which is failing to resonate with fashionable teenagers, according to research from investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray.
While Nike and Adidas are moving to boost women's sales, Lululemon has focused on men recently, last month launching its first advertising campaign aimed at that demographic. Sales of the Lululemon's menswear department grew 23% in its second quarter and CEO Laurent Potdevin told analysts that the category is "still one of our best kept secrets."
As Nike pushes to boost women's sales, the focus isn't just on the U.S. market. Nike President of Geographies & Integrated Marketplace Elliott Hill told investors that in the Asia Pacific region, as well as in Latin America, women represent the "biggest opportunity" and the "fastest-growing category," according to meeting day materials provided by Nike.