Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, Calif. is home to many upscale boutiques and serves as prime celebrity-watching territory. Now, the fit and the famous will have a new place on the street to look like they just worked out — even if they haven’t been to the gym in years.
Australian-based fitness apparel company 2XU earlier this month unveiled its first North American retail “performance center,” choosing a Santa Monica address to debut what will ultimately become a three-year effort to open 20-25 stores nationwide. There are already more than 20 2XU retail shops in Australia.
2XU products such as compression gear, cycling, running, swim and fitness apparel can typically be found in specialty fitness retailers. According to marketing director Fred Hernandez, the company wants to expand its reach to combat a perception that 2XU may only be suitable for elite athletes. “There’s a more fashion-oriented message that will come across in the stores,” Hernandez said. “People are looking for dual functionality – something they can wear in the gym but looks really good when wearing it out. We’re exposing people to the breadth of the brand and showing there’s a lot more to it than just compression and high-performance apparel.”
In addition to the trusty 2XU products triathletes are accustomed to, the retail stores will carry more general fitness and casual wear. I sampled some new gym shorts with compression liners and a sleeveless tech shirt, and the shorts especially were comfortable yet functional. The more casual wear options are one of the reasons why Hernandez is not concerned that the retail boutiques will take business away from specialty retailers. “Our store isn’t there to compete with (specialty retailers),” Hernandez explained. “This isn’t a tri store. It’s not a cycling store. It’s fitness-oriented and very female friendly to showcase other parts of the brand you won’t find anywhere else.”
Hernandez said the company chose Santa Monica as its first location because the beachfront city is a hub for the Southern California fitness and endurance sports community, making it easier to spread the word about the store. 2XU is already gearing up for its second store launch, this time opening its doors this fall at the posh Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Calif.
2XU is spending approximately $350,000 to open the Santa Monica boutique, including a VIP grand opening party tonight complete with appearances by sponsored 2XU athletes Terenzo Bozzone and Lesley Paterson.
The Santa Monica 2XU store is located at 1512 Montana Avenue. Hernandez said the store would likely offer local run meet-ups and nutrition seminars, and perhaps sponsor local cycling teams.