Since 2013 e-commerce boutique Mode Sportif has been pioneering the booming athleisure trend in Australia. Last Thursday it opened its first stand-alone concept store on the coveted strip of The Intersection, Paddington.

In just seven years the global activewear industry has leapt 42 per cent to $270 billion dollars. And while Australia accounts for just $2 billion dollars of that figure, athleisure has become synonomous with coastal havens such as Bondi, where the beach is a way of life and the locals are mostly bronzed and lithe. In the context of Australia, is Sydney the spiritual home of the athleisure movement?

“It totally is,” says Mode Sportif’s founder and director Deborah Symond as she flicks through the racks at the brand’s first concept store. From the meticulously merchandised hanging system she plucks a floor-length cotton dress by Israeli designer Dodo Bar Or and holds it next to a pair of grey Nike Flyknits. It’s the ultimate example of what the athleisure look is all about: a polished blend of resort wear and workout gear that favours comfort and mobility as much as it does style.

“The idea for Mode Sportif was born from the growing athleisure trend, which was becoming a really big deal at the time [in 2012], and I found that a few of the key activewear labels and designer pieces that we stock now were really interesting, but you couldn’t really buy them all in the one place,” says Symond.

The transition from e-commerce hub to a bricks-and-mortar store had always been a part of the Mode Sportif business plan, and it is something Symond prefers to look at as a natural evolution that subverts the traditional retail model.

“I had always dreamt of having a boutique, and starting online was something I definitely wanted to do to cater to the international market,” says Symond. “I guess in that sense we’ve reverse-retailed, but it always has been a dream of mine to have a shopfront.”

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The boutique, designed by Charlotte and Poppy O’Neil of Poco Designs, is an effortless extension of the digital brand. You’ll find a tightly edited selection of current season must-haves, from 3.1 Phillip, Iro and T by Alexander Wang, to Être Cécile and The Upside.

The opening of the store will be a godsend for those who value getting a feel for fabric and fit.

Mode Sportif
24 Glenmore Road, Paddington

Mon to Fri 10am–5.30pm
Sat 10am–5pm
Sun 10am–4pm