Why Top Athletic Brands Are Taking Over NYC’s Luxe Fifth Avenue

Puma is the latest athletic giant to have a store on Fifth Avenue in New York, announcing yesterday it will soon open a 24,000-square-foot space across from Saks Fifth Avenue. The brand will now sit alongside some of its competitors, which include Adidas and Asics.

“For the past several years, Puma has been focused on becoming the fastest sports brand in the world, and we feel now is the perfect time to show the world who we are,” CEO Bjorn Gulden said in a statement.

But what makes Fifth Avenue, the main retail drag in Midtown long dominated by luxury labels and retailers such as Gucci and Ferragamo, so appealing to Puma and the rest of the athletic market? Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for sports at The NPD Group Inc., said it’s the association with the best high fashion has to offer.

“To be next to some of the most prestigious names in the industry really elevates the prestige of the athletic brands,” Powell told FN.

Specific to Puma, Powell believes coming to the avenue is representative of the brand’s health and rising stature in the marketplace.

“The brand is in a good place right now, and I think it’s an opportunity for them to leverage their coolness with the consumer,” Powell said. “It’s also an opportunity for foreign tourists to see the brand in its full expression. This plays very well to the international community.”

Adidas NYC flagship
The new Adidas NYC flagship.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Adidas.

While Adidas and Asics are already on Fifth Avenue, athletic brands aside from Puma that will soon join them include Under Armour and Nike. (Also on the street is the NBA Store, which boasts a floor stocked with basketball sneakers, and a door from outdoor standout The North Face.)

Powell believes while the stores sell footwear, the primary mission of any brand’s Fifth Avenue location isn’t to make money.

“It’s the crossroads of the world, a great place to market your brand to consumers from all around America and the globe,” Powell said. “Everybody who visits New York wants to walk the walk and see all these amazing retailers. I think outside of Soho, it’s the most visited part of New York City.”

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