Summer bodies — as the adage goes — are made in winter. This is a truism that most people know on some level when they are signing up en masse for gym memberships in early January, but have completely forgotten by the time mid-February rolls around.
The average American consumer can always find a reason to not go to the gym, particularly during a snowy winter. Other excuses include being too tired, too busy, feeling icky, not in the mood to sweat or — the classic — nothing to wear to the gym.
That last reason may sound made up but, atmosphere as well as feeling unattractive and out of shape in comparison to others exercising around them do, in fact, come up often as reasons for people to start skipping the gym. People go to the gym to get in shape and improve their appearance, but if going to the gym makes people feel bad about the way they look, they stop wanting go.
Here is where the team at SweatStyle comes in. They can’t give customers more willpower, time or enthusiasm for hitting the treadmill. If they could, they would already be the most successful company in the history of mankind. As for the self-consciousness part, and the desire to look good while working out, they are offering a remedy in the form of a subscription box intended to help customers inject a bit of style into their workout ritual.
“Our mission,” SweatStyle noted in an email with PYMNTS, “is to take a lot of the pain out of purchasing activewear so our customers can focus on getting fit.”
How It Works
Like most subscription boxes, the first move a customer makes is filling out a profile as part of the “getting to know you” process with the site. In that profile, they include their basic physical details — height, weight, size — and are matched according to their user style details, including any workout type, branding, design or pricing preferences they may have.
Using that data, the SweatStyle team (a combined effort of human “sweat stylists” and algorithms) creates a custom box for the user with a variety of pieces — a mix of leggings, sports bras, tops, and outerwear. Once an order is in and the user has been charged the $20 “sweat fee,” the box of goods comes to the buyer's door in about two weeks from the date they created their profile.
The customer, upon receipt of the clothes, has five days to decide what they want to keep and what they want to return. The “sweat fee” they already paid is applied to any of the items they decide to keep, though almost everything in the box actually has a higher price than $20. According to SweatStyle, tops range from $35 to $125, bottoms go for $55 to $140, sports bras cost from $35 to $100 and outerwear is from $50 to $250.
“Our prices are similar to what you would pay in high-end boutique athletic wear shops and we generally stick to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price,” SweatStyle noted.
Who It Helps
The problem with the modern athleisure market, according to the firm’s CEO and Co-founder Helena Cawley, is that discovery is difficult unless one happens to be a fashion fitness aficionado.
“There seemed to be a disconnect between the designers, the new brands they were creating and the women who wanted to wear them, because there wasn’t a lot of access to these new designers,” Cawley explained about her drive to push lesser-known and newer labels.
Moreover, Cawley noted, the SweatStyle customer isn’t just dressing for the gym anymore: They are looking for clothes that cross over into regular life — being errands, brunch or just relaxing at home watching Netflix. It is a transition to which Cawley has had a front row seat as the CEO and co-founder of Uplift Studios, a boutique fitness destination in Manhattan's Flatiron District.
“I saw the transformation over the past several years, of activewear becoming the new casual wardrobe for New York women,” Cawley noted.
It’s a transformation that her business is rushing to meet, because athleisure wearers don’t just want to look good in the gym, they want to look good on the street when they leave the gym — and they don’t want to have to change first.
Sweat Style hopes to offer them a product that means not only will they not have change, but they’ll never have to shop for the clothes either.