When Rachel Dillon first set out to start an activewear brand back in 2019, she was met with discouragement because the industry was already deemed over-saturated. Fast forward to 2023, Dillon has built an activewear brand that has amassed what is regarded as a cult-like-following that is ready to click add-to-cart within seconds. Formerly known as Crop Shop Boutique, and now branded as CSB, has nearly 440,000 followers who are so devoted to the brand that new designs and collections consistentl
stently sell out. The growth experienced by CSB can be felt industry-wide as the demand for active apparel in the Australian market proves insatiable. Australia’s sportswear industry is worth $8.5 billion, according to 2020 data that was released in 2022 by GlobalData. The report also predicted that the industry will have a compound annual growth rate of 6 per cent until 2025, forecasting the sportswear market in Australia to reach $11.7 billion by 2025. Australians have been responsible for producing many legacy and breakout activewear labels such as PE Nation, Lorna Jane, 2XU, Running Bare, The Upside, First Base, Nimble, Jaggad and Nagnata, Boody and Saski. Of that predicted $11.7 billion market, $4.3 billion is expected to be generated by women’s sports apparel. CSB looks to be the next breakout star in women’s activewear as it is leading the Australian activewear market in fashionable and functional activewear. For the founder, the fit is everything and her approach to design prioritises form and function. “Our focus is on creating quality products… There’s commercially acceptable and then there’s CSB acceptable,” Dillon explained to Inside Retail. Building a community not just a business The inspiration to launch CSB came from founder Dillon’s frustration trying to find a flattering crop top that would be suitable for weight training. The brand quickly found its target demographic and intends to use its social media platforms to build an empowering community around its product range that extends from size XXS to XXL. The founder explained that she has no interest in vanity metrics and instead wants to use the viral CSB Instagram page to “entertain, educate and bring our community along the journey with us”. CSB has launched a rewards program to thank its returning customers and active community members who leave written, photo and video reviews. Now the e-commerce athleisure brand is taking strides to bring its community offline and into curated shopping spaces. The purpose of the pop-up stores is for the CSB community to “feel the brand in person and feel our mission,” Dillon said. After successful pop-up shops in LA, Sydney, and Gold Coast the founder and CSB team has brought the CSB brand offline for the fourth time to Melbourne’s Chapel Street. “This pop-up store is part of our commitment to interact with our community in person and give them the opportunity to try on our products and help shape the future of our brand and our product,” Dillion in a recent statement. “Nothing means more to me than watching a CSB customer leave the store feeling confident and comfortable”. One of the main attractions of the pop-up store in Melbourne is that it marks the return of the brand’s sold-out CSB X Isabelle Mathers collections. The power of authentic collaboration It has long been a popular strategy within the fashion and activewear industry to collaborate with people of influence. One of CSB’s most coveted collections is the CSB X Isabelle Mathers which it struggles to keep in stock. CSB approached its collection with Mathers not merely as a commercial collaboration but as a creative partner whom the founder felt aligned with the brand’s mission to empower women. “[Collaborations] are powerful when done with the correct person who holds the same values as us,” said Dillon. Dillon’s ethos around design partnerships proved to be true as the initial launch reportedly sold out within mere minutes. “People really undervalue the power of listening to their customer,” added Dillon. CSB’s success is a testament to the power of turning a customer-base into a community by allowing them to help shape the brand. With continuous sellout collections and pop-up stores in the Australian market, CSB is setting its sights on international expansion.