Don’t expect to see any stick figures in the windows at Athleta’s new Georgetown store. The activewear company insisted that its mannequins have defined calves and muscular butts, so shoppers could more easily imagine themselves in the clothing.
It’s an example of the attention to detail that’s helped the brand connect with women since it launched as a catalog in 1998. Now owned by Gap Inc., Athleta is rolling out stores across the country, including a location at 3229 M St. that opened its doors last week.
Customers are greeted by the two most popular categories when they enter the nearly 5,000-square-foot space: yoga clothes on the right and the run/gym section on the left. The former includes pieces by Pink Lotus, one of a handful of outside vendors Athleta considers compatible (the store also stocks a ton of Smartwool tights and socks and Camelbak products). For runners, the current selection is designed to keep wearers warm, with windproof panels and sleeves with thumb holes.
Also seasonally appropriate is the snow sports apparel, along with a wide array of après-ski sweaters and long-sleeved dresses. During warmer months, those racks will hold bathing suits and lighter options for wearing after activities.
You’ll have to trek past the accessories (jewelry, scarves, hats), the equestrian gear (including tops with stretchy panels on the sides to allow more movement and jodhpur-esque jeans) and hiking clothes to get to the sports bras. They’re tucked away behind a wall by the dressing rooms to allow for privacy.
All staffers are trained in how to size bras, and in how to take customers’ measurements. (Hemming of pants and sleeves is complimentary.) Another benefit of visiting the brick-and-mortar — and reclaimed wood — store is that Athleta can offer free shipping on items not in stock, including a broader range of sizes and footwear.
The company hopes to engage customers more by offering free classes and seminars. It’s up to each store to determine what makes sense for the location, and general manager Gina Nelson says there’s no better launchpad for adventures than Georgetown. “We don’t need to confine ourselves to the typical store environment. We can take advantage of the trails and river nearby,” she says. “It’s not going to be the same old run club and yoga class.”
No matter what activities end up on the calendar, chances are they’ll lead to defined calves.