LONDON, United Kingdom — Sweaty Betty is stepping up its investment in the experience economy.
The British athleisure brand — which has 61 stores worldwide — is to open a new London flagship that will plug into the trend for enhanced customer experience. The 3,800-square-foot on Soho's Carnaby Street will include a cafe, a blow-dry bar and a fitness studio. It will be the brand's first permanent dip into experiential retail — if successful, the concept will be rolled out to other locations.
“I wanted it to be a place where you could socialise with your friends, go for a class, get a cocktail and your hair done all under one roof,” the label’s founder and creative director Tamara Hill-Norton tells BoF.
The Instagram-friendly space, which opens on September 7, is clearly designed to target millennial consumers, with fluffy chairs, marble coffee tables and plants. The cafe will be run by Portobello Road favourite Farm Girl, the blow dry bar by Duck & Dry, and the studio will host popular boutique workouts from the likes of Gymclass, Paola's Body Barre and Frame.
“We’ve curated a space where you can shop our new collection, work out daily with London’s hottest studios and eat the best healthy food in town,” Hill-Norton explains.
The new concept store comes as millennial consumers are shifting spend from stuff to experience, and Sweaty Betty is not alone in working to retain that demographic by offering something beyond a retail transaction.
The brand has already seen success with its previous experience-focused endeavours. It has held free fitness classes in its stores for over a decade, with 600 women working out with the brand every week. Meanwhile, the Sweaty Betty Live festival, introduced in London in 2016, has grown threefold in its second year, hosting 3,500 paying attendees. Now, the event is set to be introduced to other territories worldwide.
“Providing an experience is the way forward. As exciting as flagship stores like ours are, developing a genuine relationship with the customer is really important,” says Hill-Norton. “I think being active has become so much more cool... It’s just part of everybody’s lives and not a separate little box that you have to do in order to stay fit and look good.”