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Up until now, everyone (including us) has likened the openings of two Athleta stores in Manhattan to an assault into Lululemon territory, but that's not completely accurate. After a preview of the much-anticipated Columbus Avenue Athleta outpost, which opens to the public tomorrow, it's clear that the Gap-owned brand—offering women's yoga, running, hiking, general exercise apparel, and accessories—is interested in dressing customers both in and out of the gym.
The UWS Athleta offers a bounteous range of the requisite workout-wear. As Tess Roering, Athleta's vice president of marketing, explained, everything is designed by female athletes for women. So there are lots of thoughtful details and absolutely no pants with wide elastic waist bands (seriously, big athletic brands, there's no reason for pants to give anyone muffin top and bottom.)
Pieces that caught our eye included an array of color-combo slouchy tanks with built-in sports bras, loose cover-up dresses (which we can totally picture on errand-running UWS stroller moms), tough and zen-inspired jewelry, and, interestingly enough, a line of water-resistant boot-cut and skinny jeans, super-soft corduroys, and modern cargos (starting at $148 and unique to the Athleta brand). Even if you never plan on actually setting foot on a hiking trail, wouldn't these come in handy on one of those brutal stormy New York days when the rain pounds sideways? Just a thought.
The corner shop, which is accented with dark wood and lined with exposed brick, also offers some thoughtful in-house amenities (yes, like Lululemon). First, there's Uniqlo-style free hemming with an estimated "few days" turnaround time. If shoppers can't find a style that they're looking for in either the UWS or UES shops, they can order directly from the Athleta site on two handy iMac kiosks located in-store. Shipping directly to the store is free of charge. Both Athleta outposts will also work with local health instructors to hold complimentary classes. (All the displays in the store are mounted on wheels for easy transition into studio space). There will also be running clubs at some point to totally take advantage of the close proximity to Central Park.
One last thing we need to mention: There are eight wood-paneled, mood-lit, and cabana-like fitting rooms that feature a full-length mirror set-up with two adjustable-side mirrors. So basically, you can judge how those tight yoga pants fit from every angle. You can see for yourself when the Athleta on Columbus Avenue and 70th Street officially opens tomorrow, with the Upper East Side location on Third Avenue (between 85th and 86th Streets) following on Thursday.
· All Athleta Coverage [Racked NY]
· Athleta [Official Site]