How Peloton Could Beat Nike and Lululemon at Apparel

The Four Percent

Off Brand is a thrice-monthly column that delves into trends in fashion and beauty.

TO TRICK-OR-TREAT with her family this Halloween, Natalie Sanderson donned a fishtail braid, headset, shimmery chartreuse animal-print leggings and a tank top emblazoned with the word “Peloton,” the fitness brand. To any casual onlooker in her Portland, Ore., neighborhood, the 37-year-old resembled a particularly motivational mermaid. To those in the know, however, Ms. Sanderson was clearly dressed as the beloved Peloton instructor Robin Arzón.

Ms. Arzón, a former lawyer who’s now a vice president and head instructor at the connected-fitness company, is one of 33 flashy teachers who have earned ardent followings among the 3-million-plus members of the Peloton community. (“Members” include both those who own a coveted Peloton exercise bike or treadmill, and anyone who just uses the exercise-class app.)

There’s Alex Toussaint, the military-school alum who pedals in tights under shorts with a thick gold chain around his neck. And Jess King, the redhead whose feathered and spangled getups can look more Mardi Gras than Monday-morning spin class. Though these modern-day gods and goddesses are primarily adored for their Instagram-age inspirational adages (such as: “elevate your thoughts”), they’re also becoming sweaty fashion influencers, perfect models for Peloton-branded clothing. The brand’s look, insofar as there is one, is a hodgepodge of shiny spandex pieces, logos and statement hairstyles. It’s inclusive, and a bit all over the place—by design.

Style, once secondary for a company that was built on tech-y convenience, has come to the fore at Peloton. As it rides high on the success of its biggest year yet—in September, the 8-year-old company posted its first profit, with revenue for the 2020 fiscal year topping $1.8 billion—it is looking for ways to grow even further. To be perceived as a “lifestyle brand” rather than just a bike purveyor, it must expand its reach through clothing. While the company does not disclose what proportion of its business is apparel, co-founder and CEO John Foley delegated the apparel business to his wife and vice president Jill Foley. She now has 24 people working under her. “Just this year I hired eight more people because of our growth and I think the greater Peloton brand realized, ‘Oh, geez, we need to invest more in this apparel,” said Ms. Foley. “They’re selling like hot cakes.”

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