Founder, Alex Vanthournout
Activewear brand Fashercise is where fitness meets fashion, and it has just opened its first ever store in Seven Dials. Founder and former fashion journalist Alex Vanthournout turned Fashercise from a blog into an online shop selling globally sourced activewear five years ago. She tells us about her first foray into physical retail.
Do you think you hit on the activewear phenomenon at the right time?
I think I was really ahead of the curve and very lucky because of that. As my background was in fashion journalism, I was automatically looking at the sportswear industry from a fashion perspective. The things I was buying for myself were always about how I could make them look good, and whether I could go out for brunch wearing them other than just wearing them in the gym.
What kind of brands do you sell?
My whole vision for Fashercise was having an alternative to the Nikes of the world, so focusing on smaller designers which, at the time, was a very new market. We now sell Khloe Kardashian’s Good American brand, which has its own cult following, Varley and a lot of Australian brands, including L’urv, which does really well, and THE UPSIDE. I’ve also just added adidas by Stella McCartney, even though I’ve always said I wouldn’t have a big brand: that’s an exception to the rule because it’s a collaboration. I’m also going to be having some in-store exclusives, so things that won’t be available online.
What is the Fashercise message?
One of the things I really aim for is diversity and body positivity, so I try to carry standard fits to XL sizes in alot of the brands stocked and, for a couple of brands offering larger sizes, we go right up to 4XL. That’s why Good American decided to launch in the UK with us. Rather than it being a plus-size brand, it’s just a brand that happens to fit every size. We may do a store takeover with a couple of our brands this autumn, where they fill the store with of their entire collection and host an event in collaboration with Fashercise. Good American may be one of them.
What are your key products?
We are very well known for our boxing gloves, and they were even on the front cover the Financial Times ‘How to Spend It’ magazine earlier this year. Boxercise has become quite a fashionable and popular workout these days for women, and so we have a collaboration with a Dutch boxing glove brand called Fab by Fabienne. We also sell lifestyle trainers from a Scandinavian shoe brand called ARKK, which are among our bestsellers. The trainers are not necessarily for working out, but more for everyday life. One of our activewear brands is called Lilybod,which makes great leggings. Another popular brand is On Rise from London, which does beautiful luxury slogan sweatshirts, such as the Wonder Woman sweatshirt.
Why is Seven Dials the right choice for your first shop?
I love the community feel of Seven Dials; it feels like every street is curated and all the shops belong together. Being on our side of Monmouth Street, it’s very focused on women’s apparel, beauty or jewellery brands. It’s very much about independents and individual style too, compared to what we’re used to on the high street. I used to shop at Tatty Devine for their quirky jewellery when I was younger, so it’s lovely to be next door to them now, and I have Le Labo perfume on my other side.
What are you planning in-store?
One of the things I’d like to get going in the shop is a regular yoga class, probably on Sunday mornings before the store open’s, to kick off the day and have some food, coffee and juice. I really want to use the space for our customers to do different things. Other than that, I’d also like to bring back the running club we used to do with Hoxton Hotel, called Girls Gone Running, though if it had been up to me it would have been called ‘The Shit Runners Club!’. It created a community of girls who just wanted
to go for a jog but they didn’t necessarily want to have
a personal best time or run marathons. They just wanted to get out to jog once a week with like-minded people – and then drink some bubbles afterwards. As it turns out, London doesn’t have a running club for people who are terrible runners!
How would you best sum up Fashercise?
I’m not your typical fitness person. I think a lot of women are intimidated by fitness stores and the messaging can sometimes be really scary. Fashercise is the opposite. The shop is not dressed up as a fitness store; it looks like a normal fashion boutique that just happens to sell sportswear. I wanted it to be very inviting and non- threatening. Fashercise is a very relaxed, all-inclusive take on the fitness world.
46 Monmouth Street