Russell Athletic Has an Eye on Retailing

After 117 years in business, Russell Athletic has become receptive to the possibilities of brick-and-mortar retail. The first Russell Athletic pop-up opened in SoHo on Thursday to raise the brand profile, expose the range of products in a three-dimensional way, and offer some new services. It also raises the question of whether Russell moves more aggressively into the retail space next year. “We might be onto something big here,” Ricardo Aranda, general manager of Russell Athletic, told WWD on Thursday. “In the last year alone we have picked up so much consumer interest in the brand that we needed to plant a flag and open the door to a live, full Russell Athletic experience.” Asked if the pop-up is a prelude to permanent retail, Aranda replied: “We hope that it is. We are learning our way.” The 2,500-square-foot pop-up, located at 449 Broadway between Howard and Grand Streets, opened Thursday and will operate through Oct. 26. The pop-up seems an attempt to catch up to competitors already with stores such as Champion, which has a shop nearby at 434 Broadway, among its 27 locations around the country. Adidas, Puma and Nike also have store networks. Russell’s collection of T-shirts, shorts, hoodies, sweatshirts and footwear is sold

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