SNEWS Qs: The North Face's Kevin Joyce talks yoga

Yoga category has proven fruitful for The North Face.
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While The North Face is focusing on getting its “trail cred” back — according to this story in Bloomberg, anyway — it’s also been branching out to activities like yoga.

With yoga continuing to gain popularity, we’re seeing more yoga products from traditional outdoor companies, and more yoga companies exhibiting at outdoor trade shows.

Yoga Journal’s 2012 Yoga in America Market Study showed that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, a 29 percent increase from the 2008 study. Plus, 44.4 percent of people surveyed call themselves “aspirational yogis” which means they are interested in trying the activity.

SNEWS posed some questions to Kevin Joyce, director of performance apparel for The North Face, about its yoga business and how it’s helped the brand overall. Plus, he addresses the potential overcrowding of the yoga apparel category.

When did the North Face begin to offer yoga apparel and accessories?
Women's active and training apparel has been a part of the performance line for quite a while, but we launched yoga-specific apparel in 2010 to address one of the many ways we find our athletes train for their sports.

TNFYoga

What was the reason behind this move?
We make apparel for our athletes when they're doing their sports, but our training collections, including yoga, are designed to take care of them when they're training for their sports. We wanted our athletes to have the best possible training apparel and footwear as well. We found many of our athletes use yoga, among other activities, for strength training, to improve balance and core strength and stretching in between workouts. We've always said yoga makes you a stronger athlete.

How has the yoga business been for the company? How has it grown since launched?
The yoga collection has grown since we first launched in 2010, and we're continuing to grow women's active training apparel in general. We know that both women and men are looking for versatility in their training apparel, so we've been expanding women's active to include apparel designed for yoga and other activities that require durable, active stretch construction and fabrics.

Do you think the yoga apparel category is getting crowded?
There is a big opportunity in training and yoga both. Our perspective is that there is always room for the best-in-class apparel.

How have you seen the number of yoga-related companies at OR grow over the years?
There are definitely more companies showing their yoga product at Outdoor Retailer, but they aren't necessarily new companies, just new to OR.

In the past, if climbers wanted to get better at climbing, they would climb more. If a runner wanted to run further or faster, they would just run more. Now, most professional outdoor athletes use a combination of training techniques to avoid injury and improve performance. We've found the apparel that exists on the market, particularly for men, just isn't cutting it. We've seen a big opportunity to offer technology-driven and purpose-built training apparel, and that's why we've launched Mountain Athletics, the next evolution of technical training apparel and footwear.

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