Back in 2014, as activewear brands were flooding the market, filling our worlds with cute yoga pants and high-performing sports bras, Jennifer Bandier decided it was time to launch a retail store to help customers navigate this sea of products. Her vision was to create the Barneys of sportswear, where she would curate the most stylish looks and collaborate with the latest designers on exclusive collections.
Her plan worked. For the last three years, Bandier has flourished. In addition to a thriving e-commerce store, Bandier has five brick-and-mortar stores in New York and Texas, with two more stores coming this year in Los Angeles and Noho. At the flagship location, customers can take classes with popular instructors in a space called Studio B. Over the last few years, brands like Nike have chosen to launch their newest collections and products at the Bandier store.
But today is a special day for Bandier because it is launching its very own in-house line, which is called We Over Me, stylized as We/Me.
Having sold millions of leggings from hundreds of brands, Bandier has a wealth of insights about what customer want from their activewear. And what they want is simple: They want soft. The We/Me collection is light, stretchy, moisture-wicking, but the most obvious thing about it is that it feels soft and cottony on your skin. The line is priced between $68 and $105 per item, which is on par with premium activewear, and some pieces, like the sports bra, are reversible. The garments come in sizes from XS to XXL, which is a much more inclusive range than many other brands on the market.
Neil Boyarsky, Bandier’s cofounder and CEO (and husband of Jennifer Bandier), explains that Bandier has an in-house design team that has worked closely with other brands to help design exclusive lines. As they began working on We/Me, they obsessed over the material. “When it comes to activewear, it always begins with the fabric,” Boyarsky explains. “We worked hard to come up with this brushed heather material that feels good.”
The new products—which include sports bras, leggings, and a hoodie and jogger pant combo—are all designed for lighter activities, like yoga and mat-based exercises, but through wear tests, they have proven to perform well in more intense workouts as well.
“I wouldn’t recommend that someone run a marathon in these, but we think that for 90% of the workouts you do, these will perform very well,” Boyarsky says. “But they’re also so comfortable that you can wear them all day before you head to the gym or studio class, and feel great in them.”
In terms of the design, We/Me’s first collection comes in a gentle, calming palette of green and pinks, light and dark blues, and gray. Rather than featuring patterns, the outfits feature color blocking. Boyarsky says that it isn’t necessarily designed to look too edgy or urban, but rather give off a more peaceful, neutral aesthetic.
Given that Bandier is a multi-brand store, the company had to be careful with launching an in-house label. It has chosen to house the new collection under this new brand, We/Me, so that the products can sit on the shelves alongside other third-party brands. “We are always going to be a multi-brand retailer,” Boyarsky says. “This collection is just something we thought we could contribute to the market.”
In a fascinating strategy, Bandier is partnering with Net-A-Porter, the multi-brand luxury e-tailer, to release the new collection. It is one of the first times that two e-commerce businesses have collaborated on a launch. In some ways, the partnership makes sense. Net-A-Porter is not a direct competitor to Bandier, although they do sometimes overlap when it comes to high-end designer activewear, sold through Net-A-Sporter. But launching the new line on both retail platforms make sense, because it cross-pollinates between two engaged customer bases.
Net-A-Porter has been invested in getting the word out about We Over Me, reaching out to influencers—like model Bella Hadid—who have already shown excitement about the brand.
“It’s a brave new world out there in the e-commerce world,” says Boyarsky. “Brick-and-mortar businesses are continuing to struggle and people continue to shop online. So retailers need to be creative about joining forces to drive traffic and brand awareness.”