Jack Wills launches technical sportswear, CEO hails strong response
UK youth retailer Jack Wills launched its first ever technical sportswear collection Thursday morning with a women’s-only offer full of performance pieces such as a sports bra, racer back tank top, leggings and sweats.
They were made using technical fabrics by Portugal’s P&R Texteis, one of the biggest European names in technical sportswear production.
Currently available only at the Covent Garden, London flagship and online, the pieces are priced in the medium range and despite their active sports profile have also been designed as a gym-to-street collection.
Jack Wills is clearly putting a heavy commitment behind the launch with the entire upper floor of the Covent Garden store converted into a store-cum-gym look complete with punchbags and weights.
It will take the fitness theme further with promotional ideas like the Plank Challenge where shoppers who can hold a plank for two minutes get 10% off sportswear and if they make it onto the leader board, they get 20% off.
Jack Wills founder Peter Williams told Fashion Network that the line was launched in response to overwhelming customer demand.
“For many years our customer has been saying, ‘we want to wear your stuff to the gym’ but my philosophy has been that as we didn’t have the technical expertise in-house and we only want to do stuff that’s really good, we didn’t want to do it yet,” he said. “It took us quite a long time to get that expertise and find the right supply base. We’ve now got one of the best suppliers in the world. They make the best, most premium technical sportswear for the best, most premium technical sportswear brands.”
Asked why the brand decided to launch women’s sports first, rather than men’s he admitted that “maybe women have been shouting a bit louder… It seemed like a very natural thing for us to do.”
But men’s is on the agenda with Williams saying “we’ll see what the reaction to this is like to decide whether we do men’s.”
So far that reaction appears to have been very positive. “The early response has been really good. We put some of it online over Christmas and traffic was very busy,” Williams told us. “That gave us strong early indicators and we have high hopes for it.”
The decision to offer the collection in one physical store is very much about controlling the message and also being able to gauge response. “We want to be able to offer a very comprehensive offer, as we have here, and not suffer from fragmentation,” Williams said. “If you put it in all the stores it can get fragmented quite quickly and you don’t really know whether it’s worked or not.”
But he added that the collection includes “a very comprehensive” offer online, which is key as “our web business is amazing.” He added: “Web is big for us and growing fast. We ship to 130 countries so there’s nobody who won’t be able to get this line globally.”
Will it be in other stores in the future? Probably. “In many ways this store is the showroom and we will sell a lot of product from here but if it’s successful and we get momentum then we will roll it out to further stores,” Williams said.
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