Finish Line gets feminine with Paiva

Realizing they weren’t serving a key customer — the active woman — executives at Indianapolis-based athletic gear merchant Finish Line spent the past two years figuring out how to cater to that audience. The result of their labors is Paiva, a multichannel brand launched last month.

Finish Line mailed Paiva catalogs to 200,000 customers and prospects, says senior vice president of marketing Kevin Flynn. The Paiva Website went live last month as well, while the first Paiva store opened April 14 in Austin, TX. Four more stores are expected to open this spring.

Paiva targets “young, active upscale women looking for a blend of sport performance and style,” Flynn says. It will offer footwear, swimsuits, tennis apparel, and dancewear from athletic brands such as Nike, Adidas, Asics, Danskin, and Speedo, along with designer brands such as Adidas by Stella McCartney, Biella, and Nuala. The product mix also includes casualwear brands such as Marika, Mari Dade, and Three Dots.

“In addition, we will have a private-label collection called Paiva Essentials that includes fashion fitness basics,” Flynn says. “The prices range from $16 to $625, giving us price points for every consumer.”

Finish Line conducted market research and, says Flynn, “met with, visited, and discussed this with many of the players who are already in this business, including our brand partners, in order to learn as much as we could before we even opened our first store. What we discovered is that this is a very underserved market.”

Several niche merchants have been catering to female athletes for years, notably catalogers Title 9 Sports (founded in 1989) and Athleta (founded in 1997). More recently Road Runner Sports joined the field with its Activa spin-off in 2003. Lucy, founded as in 1999, was almost felled by the dot-com crash but during the past few years has enjoyed a retail and online comeback, though it has yet to relaunch its print catalog.

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