Expanding fitness fashion boutique Bandier recently moved its Flatiron shop into a Fifth Avenue Manhattan flagship, where it will soon be operating much more than an athleisure destination—it has a dedicated (and splashy) workout studio featuring classes with top brands and instructors and a space for musical performances.
Yes, you can book your workouts and, soon, check out a new band where you score your sweet printed leggings.
"My goal is to create community and to provide customers with a unique, exciting experience at Bandier," says founder Jennifer Bandier, who has serious music industry cred (including managing the band TLC before getting into fashion). "You can now spend all day at the store—you can shop, take fitness classes, and spend time in our lounge where we will have different pop-up experiences and music programming."
Of course, athleisure retailers like Lululemon have been hosting in-store workout classes and events for a long time, but typically they take place among the clothing racks (which are pushed to the side) and are less frequent and typically free. Athleta expanded that model recently when it opened a dedicated fitness studio beneath its Flatiron store, but even there, classes are free. Bandier is taking the concept to the next level by essentially allowing the fitness brands to operate their businesses in the space.
And it could be a concept that grows quickly, given the pace of the brand's upcoming expansions. An Upper East Side store opened in December, and, big news, they'll open in Los Angeles this year. "We are opening four new stores in 2016 and will consider replicating the flagship model in key cities," Bandier says.
Here's what you need to know about the New York City flagship, now:
From Nesh to Nike
The ground floor is the store, stocked with a curated selection of cool pieces from all of the top athleisure brands, like Alala, Olympia, Michi, and countless others. Wild leggings are in the back by the fitting rooms, FYI, and there's a nice selection of super stylish Nike kicks, plus some modern couches in the middle of the action for lounging.
A stairwell in the back left corner of the boutique is painted with some very colorful, graffiti-like hearts, by artist James Goldcrown, and it leads you to...
Music on the Mezzanine
Halfway up the stairs, you reach a landing, which is where the music part of the equation comes in. "All of our stores have listening stations, but we decided to use the mezzanine area of the flagship to create an immersive music experience with programming and events," explains Bandier. "We will host monthly Bandier Sessions, featuring live performances from emerging artists."
The top floor is home to the super impressive Studio B, a spacious workout studio with room for about 75 sweaty class-goers. One wall is all mirrors, another features inspirational quotes painted by Nick Onken, and floor-to-ceiling windows form the third, which looks out over Fifth Avenue. There's a bathroom and two small changing rooms with lockers.
Bandier expects to host four to give classes per day, with a current line-up that includes Nicole Winhoffer's NW Method, popular SoulCycle instructor Akin Akman doing his own Akin's Army thing, Yoga for Bad People flow classes, and IntenSati. Each fitness instructor or brand will charge their own rates for classes (and they'll each use their own sites for booking).
There's a cherry on top: Studio B challenges that reward you for attending classes with store discounts. You may have to start closing your eyes at the bottom of the stairs to keep your Lycra obsession in check. —Lisa Elaine Held
Athleisure is heating up. Read about the brick-and-mortar battle to become the next big thing in fitness fashion, next.
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