The spot between Indigo and Sephora on Robson Street is prime real estate.
Previously occupied by a Miniso and Canadian footwear brand Little Burgundy, the spot has now been claimed by Gap Inc.'s sustainable athleisure brand Athleta as part of the brand's aggressive Canadian expansion plan.
The store is the second Athleta location in Metro Vancouver, with the first being at Park Royal shopping centre in West Vancouver, and it is one of five new Athleta stores opening in Canada this year.
The other four will be opening in Alberta and Ontario at the West Edmonton Mall, Chinook Centre (Calgary), Sherway Gardens (Etobicoke, On) and Mapleview Centre (Burlington, On). The new stores also join an existing location in Toronto's Yorkdale mall.The Athleta storefronts follow the introduction of a Canadian-specific E-commerce platform that launched in August 2021.
Athleta was founded in 1998 and acquired by Gap in 2008 but has always touted itself as a "purpose-led" brand. Over the years they have made improvements to their mandates and secured the status of a certified B-corp in 2018. Athleta repurposes plastic bottles into recycled fabrics, diverts waste from landfills, and uses certified fair trade factories, which is something they had previously received criticism for by the fashion watchdog platform Good On You (it should be noted Good On You hasn't updated its entry on Athleta since 2020).
The clothing selection is massive and ranges from standard yoga and running attire to casual dresses and rompers, with a swimwear, outerwear, sleepwear and children's line as well. The common thread, is that all of the designs are effortless throw-on pieces. Think soft fabrics and utility.
The brand has reported a large interest in Canada and it will be interesting to see how that plays out on such a popular shopping street. Especially given increasing competition from both local (Lululemon and small businesses) and international (All Birds is opening a flagship in Kits) competition.