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Kohl’s Leans on Adidas and Zoe Saldana to Fuel Activewear Push

Kohl’s is leaning into the athleisure movement that has dominated a year marked by coronavirus quarantines.

The department store and Adidas unveiled a new collaboration with Zoe Saldana to launch the adidas x Zoe Saldana collection of active apparel, footwear and accessories for women. The adidas x Zoe Saldana collection will be available on Kohls.com and in nearly 500 Kohl’s stores beginning September 30.

The collection, curated by the actress herself, includes tops, bottoms, jackets, footwear, bags, and hats that will be refreshed every season and includes an array of pastel and bold colors for women, whether they are hanging out at home or exercising on the go.

“As a mother, American Latinx woman and activist for others, I have a passion for empowering others and giving a voice to those who feel unheard and in curating this collection, it was important to me that we met the needs of everyday modern women,” Saldana said in a statement. “I know women will find confidence and strength in these stylish and functional pieces.”

The collection is part of Kohl’s continued push into the athleisure and activewear categories amid their popularity throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with these product groups now driving 20 percent of business.

Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass said during the recent Goldman Sachs annual Global Retailing Conference that activewear can be at least 30 percent of the company’s business. Kohl’s will launch a new line next spring to “fully address the athleisure opportunity,” she added.

Kohl’s is presently in a two-year partnership with Adidas, with the athletic brand operating “shop in shops” in 175 Kohl’s stores.

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“We are excited to partner with adidas—one of the world’s most beloved and innovative active brands—in a new way to bring the adidas x Zoe Saldana collection to Kohl’s customers nationwide,” said Doug Howe, chief merchandising officer at Kohl’s. “As a destination for the active and casual lifestyle, our customers choose Kohl’s for our quality, relevant active and athleisure for the family, and this new collection expands our women’s active offerings and supports our continued efforts to grow our leadership in the active category.”

The pivot to athleisure and activewear has been a shift Kohl’s has been nurturing throughout the pandemic, with the company axing eight “down-trending women’s private brands” earlier this summer in favor of an offering geared toward comfort first. The full list of phased-out brands includes Dana Buchman, Jennifer Lopez, Mudd, Candies, Rock & Republic, Popsugar, Elle and Juicy Couture. In the second-quarter earnings call in August, Gass indicated that the company would expand its athleisure mix with the increase of its Champion offerings.

Although the company is still putting forth the effort to adapt to consumer tastes, its poor market performance in recent years has led Wall Street to lose faith. S&P Dow Jones Indices, the company that operates the S&P 500 stock index, announced that the retailer will no longer be a component of the S&P 500 starting Monday, Sept. 21, before the market opens.

However, the new activewear launch comes as Kohl’s has also revamped its loyalty offering. Kohl’s is launching Kohl’s Rewards, a simplified update of its Yes2You Rewards program that is designed to focus more on the department store’s “Kohl’s Cash” offering.

The program had been in test mode in 13 different markets but is now being rolled out nationally. All 30 million members of Yes2You will automatically be transferred into Kohl’s Rewards. Greg Revelle, chief marketing officer at Kohl’s, referred to the trial as “a successful pilot that resonated so well with our customers.”

As part of the program, members will earn 5 percent Kohl’s Rewards on every purchase, which are then converted into Kohl’s Cash in $5 increments on the first day of the following month. Kohl’s Cash coupons earned through the program are valid for 30 days.

All Kohl’s shoppers will continue to earn $10 for every $50 spent during Kohl’s Cash promotional events.

The department store will leverage personalization capabilities to create unique customer deals and perks, and aims to remind members of their rewards options at more touch points within the shopping experience. For example, customers will see their Kohl’s Rewards balance printed on the shopping receipt and can view digital reminders of available Kohl’s Cash coupons.