Tracksmith channels Rapha with new ‘Trackhouse’ running hub.

BOSTON — Tracksmith has told us that they’re opening up a their first permanent retail location today, and they’re hoping the concept — which is eerily reminiscent of another well-known independent sportswear brand (more on that below) — becomes more to Tracksmith fans and Boston’s running community than just a place to buy their clothes.

More than just a store, they’ve built out this new space to act as a central communal hub and haven. The quick details:

  • The official name: The Trackhouse.
  • The square footage: 1,400 sq ft. retail space.
  • The idea: There will be a runner’s lounge, live race streaming, training groups, and a library. More from Tracksmith: “The Trackhouse will offer runners several services including product testing, gear storage and a racing library stocked with performance-based literature. Runners will have the opportunity to interface with the brand’s product team, and to join them for daily runs. Inspired by the legendary Eliot Lounge, Boston’s iconic running bar, the Trackhouse will also host social and cultural events for the running community.”
  • This sounds like: Rapha’s Cycling Club concept, whose locations, scattered globally, act as community hubs for Rapha members and cycling fans. This makes sense given Tracksmith’s connection to Rapha: co-founder Luke Scheybeler (no longer active), is a Rapha co-founder as well.

Exciting news for Tracksmith, and we’d be remiss to not bring up our prediction from the Lean Luxe 2017 Modern Luxury Forecast back in January…

Prediction: Venture-backed MLCs really start to ramp up permanent retail:
We’ve already seen Glossier, Away, Parachute, and Outdoor Voices, among others use investment funds to open up new stand-alone locations. Even Tracksmith was raring to do so in 2015 — before its lead investor Pentland, suggested they slow down. Smart move, at the time, but could Tracksmith finally open their first location this year? We shall see. What’s certain, generally speaking, is that the direct-to-consumer model is battle tested — but as MLCs progress, they understand that it’s not only about online sales. There’s real value in the monobrand showroom, and people still like to test out clothes in person. Both the brands (and their investors) fully grasp this.

We love being right, but we’re kicking ourselves for not placing a bet on that one. We did, however, get in touch with CEO Matt Taylor who helped shed some light on the new location. Two key points worth mentioning:

1. A previous pop-up at the same location in 2015 helped set the template.

“2015 was our first foray into physical retail. And it was a short one at that – we were only open one week. But we learned a lot from that pop up in terms of the kind of experiential programming that resonated with our customers – we hosted live podcasts from the space, had an amateur press conference and did morning runs. The Trackhouse builds and expands on the 2015 experiment.”

2. It’s likely they’ll use the Trackhouse template as the go-to retail concept in other cities.

“This idea of creating a hub for runner’s in key cities is certainly one that we’d like to explore. That might not always mean permanent retail spaces – but how can we take the community aspect we build at the Trackhouse and expand that to other cities and communities?”

Why this matters: Smart DTC brands continue to treat their retail spaces as more than places for transactions. Sales are important at these locations, but the fact that the vast majority of their revenues happen online — in many cases 90 – 95% of total revenues — they can afford to experiment with stores and create gathering places in this mold.

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