The UK’s premier fitness fashion brand is coming to America. Sweaty Betty is a household name across the fitness pond. But here the super chic fitness fashion brand is largely unknown. That’s why they’re planting their flag on Mercer Street, on a prime Soho block, this fall.
It’s deliberate, because Sweaty Betty “belongs in the heart of the fashion district,” says Sweaty Betty creative director and founder Tamara Hill Norton. On her many visits to New York, the Londoner would sit at the Mercer Street Kitchen, watching chic women passing by. She then made it her ambition to bring the brand stateside, so that she could “make these women look as beautiful in their workouts as they do in their day-to-day.”
The company’s been around since 1998, when it opened in London’s Notting Hill, and it’s since created 33 UK stores. But until now, Americans could only purchase Sweaty Betty’s very fashion-forward, very cool workout clothes designed for “sweat, yoga, beach, and snow” online (without putting a stamp in their passport, that is).
Not surprisingly, fitness-loving Americans have been snagging the stylish workout tanks, graphic leggings, and clever lifestyle pieces from the brand’s beginnings. “From that first store we knew Americans not only loved health and fitness, we knew they loved our brand and a USA store would be great,” says Fleur Askey, Sweaty Betty’s brand manager, on behalf of founders Simon and Tamara Norton.
The Sweaty Betty flagship will be located at 77 Mercer Street in Soho, equidistant to Bar Method and Virayoga, and a neighbor to Catherine Malandrino and Lululemon’s Soho boutique on Broadway and Broome.
Who’s the Sweaty Betty woman?
Even though the brand is new to New York, the company is well-versed in the local fitness culture, and who its customer is. She has a busy schedule but always stays at the forefront of both fashion and fitness. “She’ll spin at SoulCycle, do her barre workouts at Exhale Spa, yoga at the Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor with Colleen Saidman Yee, and her triathlon training at Chelsea Piers. She knows what she wants in terms of fashion and function,” says Askey.
And she’s willing to pay for it. Sweaty Betty’s pricing falls somewhere between Lululemon and Michi NY, with workout capris ranging from $60–$110 and tanks $30–$88.
As for the design of the new boutique, the company has taken inspiration from city lofts, dance studios, and traditional gyms “but retained the British feel,” says Askey. At 8,000 square feet, it will be comparable in size to the UK locations. And like Lululemon and Athleta, Sweaty Betty says it will tap local fitness instructors to be brand ambassadors.
A Little Healthy Competition
Sweaty Betty isn’t balking at the competition that awaits them in Manhattan, where there are seven Lululemon stores, two Athletas, and hoodies, tanks, and leggings sold in nearly every fitness studio.
They see themselves as a multisport brand—and it is unusual that you can buy your swimsuit, ski parka, sports bra, and rad yoga pants there. Sweaty Betty also calls out their distinguishing “use of premium fabrics from European mills” and the fact that the brand’s “designed by women for women.”
In fact, Sweaty Betty believes they’re filling a need of New York fitness-lovers. “New Yorkers are at the cutting edge of health and fitness. We expect they will be more demanding in terms of what we they want from us. We’re ready for that challenge.” —Melisse Gelula
Until the store opens in fall, Sweaty Betty will be hosting summer pop-ups in the Hamptons, www.sweatybetty.com
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