EXCLUSIVE: Athleta Launches Workout Clothes Specifically for Rigorous Exercise

Gap Inc.-owned Athleta, most recently closely associated with activities like yoga and pilates, is broadening its focus by introducing a collection specifically for intense workouts.

After three years in the making, the Train collection officially launched Tuesday. Geared for high-impact exercise such as cross-training, the eight-piece line is rooted in Athleta’s new proprietary “PowerMove” fabric, which is 77 percent made with recycled polyester sourced from used plastic bottles. Executives said the PowerMove fabric, with its interlock construction, has several features for better workouts, including supportive stretch and quick drying. The fabric breathes, and waistbands are designed with adhesive technology for better fit and so the clothes don’t shift on the body during exercise.

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Fleece items are made with a new proprietary mid-weight fabric called Flex Fleece. It’s made with recycled polyester fiber and spandex for stretch, softness, wicking, quick drying and breathability.

Among the items in Train: the interval tight, the interval stash capri, the interval stash tight, the interval stash short, an interval jacket, and “unstoppable fleece.” Prices range from $69 for the stash short to $135 for the interval jacket.

The interval jacket from Athleta’s Train collection.
The interval jacket from Athleta’s Train collection.

“A lot of fabric development work went into this collection,” Katherine Chow, Athleta’s director of fabric research and development, told WWD. “We really wanted lighter and more breathable workout wear for higher-intensity activities, like boot camp or intensive weight training, and to provide women with good support and coverage.” Train, said Chow, has a more compressive fabric to give support during deep movement and still allow for flexibility.”

Athleta’s new fabric is, Chow added, “the latest iteration taken from the learnings we had. We knew what problems we had to solve.”

“Our design and fit teams worked closely with the fabric development team to make sure the details were not superfluous,” said Casey Schumacher, Athleta’s senior director of design. “We were very thoughtful about the approach. We made sure we gave her pockets – we call them stash pockets. She can fit her phone, her keys, a card, or a snack in the pockets. On the tights, for example, the pockets are ergonomically placed to be the least distracting as possible with movement.

“A lot of tights ride down when you’re running or jumping. So we designed a tight that would not fall down,” Schumacher said. “We put an adhesive layer in the waistband that gives her a bit more support. It’s like an interlining in the waistband. When the body warms, the adhesive warms so it shapes around your form in an organic way. At first it might seem a little tight, but as soon as it warms to your body, it molds to your form.…There’s also an internal cinch cord. It’s flat to the body, and discrete.”

Schumacher said the performance fleece sweatshirts and pants are “comfortable, lightweight and stretchy, thinner than typical fleece, and better for breathability and mobility.” After reviewing Athleta’s approach to fleece, “We realized we didn’t have anything specific for training that was warm, quick drying and breathable — something truly performance.”

Athleta executives emphasized the Train collection was “designed by women, for women” and was put through eight rigorous, comprehensive wear tests with more than 180 people, ranging from professional athletes to everyday consumers with hundreds of hours of fit sessions.

On Tuesday Train will launch in all Athleta stores and on the brand’s website. Olympic triathlete Katie Zaferes, who signed on as part of Athleta’s Power of She Collective formed in March, is the face of Train. Zaferes is part of Athleta’s “collective” of athletes, called The Power of She, who partner on innovating performance products, mentoring and purpose-driven programs for women.

Athleta, a division of Gap Inc., through Train and other strategies, is working to reverse recent negative selling trends in 2023 partly due to elevated results the year before.

Athleta’s Train collection.
Athleta’s Train collection.

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