‘Athleisure’ store opens on Ponsonby Rd

5:00 AM Wednesday August 24, 2016 Colin Taylor

The new Stirling Women store at 161 Ponsonby Rd.

Stirling Women is the latest addition to a growing cluster of fashion retailers positioning themselves in the vicinity of Ponsonby Central on Ponsonby Road and near the new Vinegar Lane development.

Sarah Boles, Bayleys’ Auckland retail specialist has leased 190sq m of ground floor space at 161 Ponsonby Rd to the new Stirling Sports sister brand which specialises in  active wear for women. It is the second Stirling Women store to open and follows the successful launch of the brand at the Sylvia Park shopping mall earlier this year.

Andrew Marinovich, who co owns the Ponsonby store with Keri Ireton, says Stirling Women is a natural progression of the “rebirth” of Stirling Sports over the last few years.

“Women’s active wear, or ‘sports luxe’ as we refer to it, has been a growing part of the Stirling Sports business and the global apparel industry in general. So the next logical step has been to open dedicated stores which bring together all the best brands for achieving that sports luxe look,” he says.  

“We’ve looked to provide a comfortable and inspiring environment for women to shop in as well as an extended range of products for them to choose from in this sector of the market.”

Boles says ‘athleisure’ wear - clothes that can transition from the gym to the street - are the current big thing in women’s fashion driven by a focus on healthy living and an active lifestyle. ‘Athleisure’ has even been added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary where it is defined as “casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use” while Nike CEO Mark Parker has declared that “leggings are the new denim”.

Global sales of this style of apparel have climbed from around US$197 billion in 2007 to $267 billion in 2014, according to data compiled by Euro Monitor, with predictions they could reach US$350 billion by 2019.

True Commercial - 161 Ponsonby Rd - Stirling Women store - interior.jpg

Interior view with the new Stirling Women store in Ponsonby. 

“Women now want casual clothing that is both functional and stylish and is suited to a wide range of different activities,” says Boles. “It’s a case of ‘less is more’, particularly among the millennial consumer group, who are very mobile and don’t want to be carrying a whole lot of garments around.”

Marinovich says the buzz of Ponsonby Road, and the surrounding population demographic, made it the ideal location for a Stirling Women store. It is situated just south of the Franklin Road intersection, with the premises chosen, he says, because of the high profile offered to passing traffic, with floor to ceiling glazing, as well as easier parking than some other parts of Ponsonby Road.

He says the shop stocks all of the most sought after sports-inspired brands and it has also opened up access to higher end products from the likes of Nike and Adidas. Other suppliers include Calvin Klein, Lorna Jane, Jaggad, Puma, Stella Sport and 2XU as well as smaller, niche brands.

“The fit out has been designed to create an enjoyable and social shopping experience where friends or family can sit down on a couch and read a magazine while customers are trying things on. The shop is also being supported by a comprehensive web site and social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.

Boles says Stirling Women is part of a growing segmentation trend in retailing which is resulting in something of a shake up in the apparel sector. “Medium sized clothing stores have struggled to compete with the increasing influence of online retailing and a number have gone out of business. The retailers that are doing well are those that have scale like Cotton On, which almost has stores within a store, or boutique operators which specialise in certain segments of the market.”

Boles says there also changing trends in retail patterns in Ponsonby with a southward migration of premium clothing fashion tenants in particular from the Three Lamps retail precinct towards Ponsonby Central. She also leased 144sq m of space at 33 Ponsonby Rd to Australian women’s retailer Decjuba for its New Zealand flagship store. It has a second outlet store at 109 Ponsonby which it uses for garments that are on sale.

“The Ponsonby Central redevelopment has revitalised this part of Ponsonby Rd and lifted the calibre of nearby tenants. The ongoing Vinegar Lane mixed use development is injecting further life into the area which is becoming one of Auckland’s major fashion retail and food and beverage precincts.”