Lululemon, Lorna Jane, The Upside -- there is no doubt women’s active wear is flooding the market right now. And for good reason too, women love it and the stuff sells.
But it’s not just the cool and comfy styles these brands provide that have helped them achieve global status -- it’s the philosophy driven by the culture and community behind them.
And now, two young Australian men are using the women’s fitness apparel market as a benchmark for what they hope to achieve with their startup -- a men’s active wear brand called WPN which they launched on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter last month.
“The idea came to me when I arrived home in Perth after a six-month stint in the States wanting to get back into the gym,” co-founder Dan Jones told The Huffington Post Australia.
“I couldn’t find any training gear that was comfortable -- or if it happened to be comfortable the designs were just so in your face,”Jones said.
Having already founded a casual streetwear label with business partner Darren Nankivell which came to a head a few years prior, the pair reconnected with their manufacturing contacts to see if they could create their own range of fitness apparel.
“There was no market for exclusively men’s active wear that really had a focus on not only style but performance,” Jones said.
“It had one or the other, if it had really good functionality usually it was a little bit daggy -- and if it had a cool style, it was cheap material that never lasted."
Darren and Dan, the duo behind start-up WPN.
It wasn’t just a stylised product they wanted to create -- but a sense of culture behind the brand that represented a certain type of lifestyle that customers felt a part of.
“You don’t get that in men’s sportswear,” Jones said.
“Sure, these bigger brands sell an image and it’s motivating to see their athletes on the ads -- but at no point do you really feel like you’re part of it -- or growing with it."
Enter women’s active wear labels Lululemon and Lorna Jane -- who have both successfully built a community by involving their customers in things like in-store yoga classes and workshops.
“The males love that community side as well, it just hasn’t been done yet,” Jones said.
“We’re not saying there aren’t guys that like wearing their half-ripped t-shirt and an old pair of footy shorts to the gym -- but there are also guys that want to look half decent and be able to go from the gym to lunch and not look daggy -- and that’s the guy we want to cater for."