Upscale department store Neiman Marcus is rolling out a new “Active” collection that aims to make it the store of choice for hypebeasts and Soulcycle fanatics alike.
The collection, which is available on the store’s site and is being launched in stores throughout the U.S., is being billed as “everything you need to stay fashionable on the move.”
So along with usual activewear suspects like Stella McCartney, Neiman shoppers can now find Fenty Puma sneakers in orange and oatmeal, a collection of suede sneakers by streetwear darling Common Projects and New Balance originals, as well as graphic t-shirts by Off-White and jogger pants by Public School.
The trend is another bit of proof that streetwear has entered the mainstream. Once the domain of brand loyalists who tended to shop at underground stores, streetwear has gained widespread exposure on social media. Today it’s just as possible that a midwest mom would be into Fenty Puma by Rihanna as anyone else.
At the same time, there’s athleisure’s tenacious grip. Not only does the trend refuse to die, it is by all accounts continuing to grow: A research note by Deutsche Bank shows that athletic apparel is on the rise, boosting the industry 4.1 percent in the last six years. (Non-athletic apparel was up only 0.2 percent in that timeframe.)
And with the general lifestyle shift toward casual wear, the lines between the runway and the street are blurring. Rihanna showed her Fenty Puma line at Paris Fashion Week this season — and it’s no longer incongruous to have streetwear nestled between high end brands, whether on a runway, in stores or on websites.
“Streetwear is now considered elevated to near couture status,” said Tim Nolan, ecd at Huge and former Hypebeast writer, said that streetwear is no longer “oddball” or underground.
Five years ago, Neiman tried to launch an “active” collection, according to Liza Kazor, svp and general merchandise manager for Neiman. But it took a pause. About 18 months ago, after already seeing how much more interest there was in “casualization” in its denim clothing, it decided to try again. “We wanted to strike back at what Active meant as a customer,” said Kazor. For its existing customers, it’s about “studio to carpool to street,” she said.
Neiman-owned Bergdorf is also tapping into the streetwear hype. As Complex reported earlier this month, the store now carries Kith and Fenty Puma, hoping to tap into a clientele beyond “Upper East Side housewives.”
But for Kazor, it’s not just about exposing Neiman to new customers or some sort of shift in who the Neiman customer really is. It’s about offering existing customers new styles they’re interested in, presumably so they don’t head to Kith looking for them.
Which is a very real risk. Neiman recorded a loss of $400 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, widening from a loss of $32.9 million in the same period last year.
“We’ve seen a demand from our core customer and her lifestyle has evolved, so this is fully in response to her lifestyle,” said Kazor. And with streetwear now appealing beyond its typical customer, there’s more to mine. Kazor said she and her daughter both bought, for example, Adidas’ red and white limited edition sneakers. “We have to go beyond the gym.”