Saturday, August 13, 2011

Athleta takes New York!

The California based clothing company Athleta has been quite generous to me and this tiny old blog.  They invited me last year to an event called Wake Up, Athleta along with other NYC yoga/running/active lifestyle bloggers.  Aside from a free outfit, free yoga class, and free delicious breakfast, I left having gotten to know a little bit more about this very cool clothing company.

Luckily for me, they were kind enough to include me to the press opening celebrating their first two New York retail stores.  (Me?  Press?  I know.)  They have one Upper West Side store (where the event was held) on 216 Columbus Ave, a stone's throw away from the 1-2-3 trains, and next week they'll open their Upper East Side location at 1517 3rd Avenue near the 4-5-6.

The store itself is really beautifully laid out with all of their different sections flowing together - running, yoga, and what they call their "To-Fro" selection of street clothes (even non-sports bras and underwear!)  Although their prices are comparable to lululemon (i.e....kinda pricey, especially on a humble yoga teacher's budget) their design aesthetic is a little different.  They're much more pattern-y (lots of flower inspiration) where lulu is usually all about solid colors.  They have a similar bright, saturated color palette, however. 

I'd say the main difference between Athleta and lululemon is where they've chosen to expand.  (By the way, I'm only constantly comparing to lulu because I feel like that's what most New York yogis have to compare it to)  Lululemon has been expanding into offering a lot of men's clothing in the last few years, whereas Athleta is all about the ladies.  Athleta has really expanded in the "To-Fro" or everyday clothing items like dresses, jeans, pants, casual tops, sweaters, and underwear.  Athleta also offers products designed by other companies more than lulu does, I think - a lot of California based companies that design jewelry (something else that makes Athleta unique) and other accessories.

My absolute favorite thing about Athleta, which I think sets them apart from a great deal of the major yoga/running clothing stores out there, is that they offer a lot of organic cotton clothing for pretty much the same price as their non-organic clothing.  If you do some searching you may be able to find an organic cotton sweater somewhere in a lulu or lucy store, but you do have to dig.  I stumbled upon plenty of items in Athleta, and it made my hippie heart smile.

Some other great features of the store:  they offer free hemming, they have a great return policy, and there are cool little computer stands that offer in-store access to their website to order if they are out of your size - or to order Petite sizes.  As a petite myself, I was a little annoyed they weren't available in-store, but given that they offer free hemming and that they literally just opened, I can cut some slack.  Also - free shipping when you order in-store.

My own loot that day consisted of a great organic cotton dress which I sadly couldn't find on the website - I think it was an in-store exclusive.  Their extensive dress collection online can be viewed here, however.  I also got something that was kind of different for me - I've seen this type of style from other brands and never thought I could pull it off, but my curiosity and the organic material pushed me to try them.  Organic cotton brahma leggings with a skirt sewed on - I got the Olive color (Asphalt is pictured below).  They seem particularly perfect for teaching adult classes or for going from a day of yoga to an evening consisting of non-yoga people who wear real clothes for their jobs.

Finally, I got a running hat, something I've been meaning to get forever.  This was another in-store exclusive because it wasn't designed by Athleta - it's the Barrier Lite Run Cap by Pearl Izumi in bright yellow.  I finally had a chance to properly try it out yesterday and it's awesome!  Lightweight and breathable, so my scalp doesn't become a sweaty mess, and the sun barrier is fantastic for protecting your skin.

All in all...a very successful trip.  Now I'm off to get pretty and slip into my new dress for dinner and a show!  Hope everyone is having an equally fabulous weekend.

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