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Athleta to Expand REI Footprint

REI members will soon be able to purchase athleisure staples from Gap Inc.-owned Athleta at many of the co-op’s retail locations.

The two brands announced Wednesday that they are expanding their wholesale partnership—which began with a curated selection of Athleta activewear at five of the retailer’s nationwide locations—to 135 REI stores plus e-commerce.

According to Athleta, the move is part of its growth plan to reach $2 billion in net sales by 2023. The brand, which operates about 200 retail stores in the U.S. and is largely responsible for helping propel Gap Inc.’s Q2 online sales by 65 percent over 2019, is investing in new touchpoints, like wholesale channels, to help acquire new shoppers. In the quarter ending July 31, Athleta’s net sales were up 35 percent versus 2019, likely due to the casualization of consumer wardrobes amid the pandemic.

Athleta’s offerings at REI will include select premium performance and lifestyle options, from hiking and yoga bottoms to tops and accessories. Following the brand’s commitment to size inclusivity, REI will carry select extended sizing options in sizes 0-26 across hiking and fitness clothing in one-quarter of its stores and online.

“We’re constantly looking at new ways to bring Athleta to more customers and meet her where she is, which is an important component of our growth strategy,” Mary Beth Laughton, Athleta’s president and CEO, said of the wholesale relationship. “This expanded partnership with REI is an example of how we can extend our reach through a like-minded brand and empower a new community of active women consumers.”

The brands noted that the partnership is strengthened by the fact that both entities are purpose-driven and believe in sustainable business practices and empowering women. Currently, 70 percent of Athleta’s products are made with sustainable materials.

“We are thrilled to offer a wider selection of Athleta options, in more locations, to our customers,” Krista Hildebrand, REI senior merchandising manager, added. “Athleta is an amazing brand offering many versatile apparel choices so customers can focus on enjoying the outdoors.”

In May, Gap Inc. cracked the $4 billion sales mark, with Athleta and Old Navy driving much of its gains. The firm’s 2023 Power Plan calls for 100 more Athleta stores nationwide while diversifying its wholesale channels. At the end of Q1 2021, Old Navy and Athleta represented 66 percent of the company’s sales. Gap Inc. expects the brands will power 70 percent of its business by the end of 2023.