New York City-based athletic wear brand YogaSmoga is looking to enter the Canadian market as it grows rapidly in the United States. The company was founded in 2013 and anticipates sales of $1 billion over the next five to 10 years.
Founded by brother-sister team Rishi and Tapasya Bali, YogaSmoga stocks its own branded products sporting its own fabrics, fabric colours and features, including pill-resistance, shrink- and fade-proof qualities, and the use of eco-friendly procedures. Products are direct–to-consumer, technology-driven, and are designed and manufactured in the United States. It shares the same vertical integration model as companies such as Warby Parker and Everlane. The company focuses equally on men’s and women’s apparel, with pricepoints about $10 per unit higher, on average, than competitor Lululemon.
Co-founder Rishi Bali, a former Goldman Sachs banker, told Women’s Wear Daily that he has sights on Canada as part of YogaSmoga’s rapid worldwide expansion. The company’s first two stores opened last year and it’s on track to have as many as 12 U.S. locations by the end of this year, with sales in excess of U.S. $10 million. Stores are in the 1,200 to 3,000+ square foot range and are located in upscale shopping areas such as Beverly Hills, Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA and The Mall at Short Hills, NJ. The company features a mix of streetfront and shopping centre units.
Remarkably, the company plans to open 25 locations in 2016 with plans to operate approximately 100 stores by the year 2018. As well, its e-commerce business is booming, having doubled since last year, and now accounts for 25% to 30% of sales.
Besides Vancouver-based Lululemon, YogaSmoga will compete with Montreal-based athletic wear brand Lolë, which is continuing its aggressive international store expansion with an anticipated 75 new stores set to open over the next three years. As well, Australian athletic wear brand Lorna Jane plans to enter the Canadian market early next year with flagships in Vancouver and Toronto. Canadian retailer Reitmans recently launched it’s women’s brand Hyba which includes yogawear, though at a considerably lower pricepoint than YogaSmoga.
Farla Efros, President of leading retail consultancy HRC Advisory, said that YogaSmoga’s expansion isn’t surprising, considering how in the United States, sales of women’s activewear soared 21% to $18.5 billion in the year ending June 2015. She said that the athleisure trend doesn’t seem to be showing signs of slowing, and that the yoga pant as taken the market by storm and is now the ‘new black pant’ acceptable for wearing outside of the gym. Ms. Efros noted that the market could become saturated quite quickly as Canada’s population growth slows and new competitors continue to enter the market.