Allyson Felix Talks Athleta Partnership, Year-End Takeaways & Teases New Running Sneaker

Allyson Felix greeted fans at the Athleta store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood on Friday as she celebrated the launch of her latest collaborative collection with the Gap-owned athletic brand.

The 10-piece collection, which sat next to sneaker styles from Felix’s Saysh brand, includes a range of jackets, tops, tights and a onesie designed for athletes seeking to train in the cold weather this winter. Most items come sized between XXS and 3X and retail between $99 and $349.

In an interview with FN at the event, the Olympic track star turned footwear designer noted that this cold weather-driven capsule is her fifth collection with Athleta. “This collection is all about being able to train in the cold,” Felix told FN on Friday. “It’s been really fun to bring my expertise from the track to create clothes that are really functional and fashionable.”

Allyson Felix, Athleta, Saysh
Athleta’s SoHo store in NYC.
CREDIT: Todd Midler

Reflecting on the past year, Felix told FN that being able to see her product out in public and interacting with Saysh’s customers were a highlight in 2022. “I am always looking at what’s on people’s feet,” Felix said. “I was recently in the airport, and I saw a woman wearing our shoes. I was able to speak with her, and she told me everything that she loved about the product, which was great to hear.”

Asked what her lesson for the year, Felix added that she is learning how to weather the many external headwinds most businesses have had to face this year. “There is always going to be challenges, especially for a new business,” she said. “We felt supply chain issues, especially this year. My biggest lesson is just learning how to weather the storm right now.”

Felix’s newest collection marks the latest in an ongoing partnership between the Olympian and Athleta. Felix’s relationship with Athleta extends back to 2019, when she signed on as the brand’s first athlete partner after leaving Nike due to frustration with the Swoosh’s policies for pregnant women and mothers.

Allyson Felix, Athleta, Saysh
Allyson Felix greets fans at Athleta’s SoHo store in NYC.
CREDIT: Todd Midler

Since then, the decorated runner collaborated with Athleta on several fitness apparel collections, but when preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, she found herself without sneakers to run in. That led Felix to launch Saysh in June 2021, a “by women, for women” shoe brand that is focused on community building. Shortly after Saysh’s launch, they partnered to offer a collection of athletic wear, as well as offering an exclusive Rose colorway version of the Saysh One on Athleta.com.

That same year, Athleta and Felix partnered to launch The Power of She Fund: Child Care Grants, a first-of-its-kind grant program that committed $200,000 to help fund childcare costs for professional mom-athletes traveling to competitions, including six who participated in the Tokyo Olympics. During her final games, the Olympian sported Athleta attire and Saysh Spikes to become the most decorated track-and-field athlete in history.

More recently, Saysh closed a $8 million Series A round of financing led by Athleta and consumer fund IRIS along with Redpoint Ventures and Springbank Collective in June. According to Saysh, the funding is being used to scale its branded eCommerce, wholesale distribution, and community-based retail footprint.

Asked for what’s next, Felix confirmed to FN that Saysh’s first running sneaker will launch for fall 2023. “We are working on a runner for everyday women,” Felix said. “It will not be for the record-breaking star or marathon runner, but for a woman who just wants to work out.”

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