Caroline Gogolak, a former ballerina and Goldman Sachs analyst, wanted an alternative to Lululemon leggings. To her, it was “crazy” to see one brand dominating the market. So she, along with fellow former ballerina Katie Warner Johnson, built an e-commerce platform for premium and luxury brands selling sportswear at a higher price point and in more fashion-forward styles than what was currently available.
But when Carbon38 launched in early 2013, even Gogolak couldn’t anticipate the impending athleisure boom. According to Morgan Stanley, the sports apparel and footwear market grew 42 percent, to $270 billion, in the past seven years, and is projected to grow another 30 percent, or $83 billion, by 2020. Carbon38 grew by 500 percent in 2015, though Gogolak declined to disclose revenue specifics.
“It’s not a fad — it’s here to stay,” said Rachel Conlan, svp and managing director of Havas LuxHub. “Lululemon blew the door wide open, and now, luxury brands have realized that athleisure is really winning with what is the new, lifestyle-obsessed consumer. They see this range as a growth strategy for them.”