This chain wants to take on Lululemon with a new men’s line


On Tuesday the sporting goods’ chain launched a new men’s private-label athleisure brand: VRST. The line, which features pants, joggers, shorts, tees and sweatshirts ranging $30 to $120, is positioned to appeal to the “modern active man who lives life on-the-go.”
Dick’s (DKS) currently sells merchandise from Nike (NKE), Under Armour (UA) and other athletic brands in its stores, but nothing from Lululemon (LULU). It’s launching VRST to capitalize on the popularity of athleisure clothing with shoppers, said Brian Nagel, an Oppenheimer analyst who covers the company.

“The athleisure leisure category has been hot. They see an opportunity to introduce product into that category,” he said.

Nagel also believes that Dick’s, which has thrived during the pandemic, launched its own line to become less reliant on athletic brands. For example, Nike is shifting to sell more of its goods directly to consumers instead of through outside retailers.

“Dick’s is dependent upon companies like Nike and Under Armour,” he said. “If someone like Nike started to not deliver products to Dick’s, Dick’s can say ‘we have our other brand.'”

Dick’s, however, says the VRST line won’t compete with any of the current brands it sells.

“It’s a very different product assortment from what we have with our core vendor partners right now,” CEO Lauren Hobart told analysts on a call last week.

Other retailers, such as Target (TGT) and Kohl’s (KSS), have also launched their own private-label athleisure lines. But Nagel does not see Dick’s and these chains’ lines as a threat to Lululemon.

“Lululemon is an extraordinarily strong brand with a very, very loyal customer base.”

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