The Gym King: How Jay Parker transformed the athleisure market

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Who started the Gym King?

The Gym King was started in April 2014, and incorporated in March 2015. This makes it one of the long-standing athleisure streetwear brands in the UK. Set up by James Parker and Carl Carnett with a straight 50/50 split, the latter left in 2017 giving Jay the full ownership, making him the only Gym King owner until JD sports bought shares in July 2021.

This was rare in streetwear clothing to have it still fully owned by the person who set it up, which makes Gym King’s rise even more impressive considering by their own admission they don’t follow trends and churn out core products. But it’s an urban athleisure business model that has seen success, regardless of who owns Gym King.


Who is Jay Parker?

James Parker was 24 when he set up Gym King, and the former personal trainer saw a gap in the athleisure market for normal colours for those that wanted to look good but not stand out. They were already producing stringer vests with the brand name to a small marketplace, but Jay saw opportunities to develop this further to open up to buy for the mass market.

He personally financed the initial AW14 production run of the game-changing Gym King tracksuits with just 3 colourways and used social media to great effect to bring brand awareness, and used his PT connections to have sponsored athletes who were social influencers and brand ambassadors.

They went mainstream with the help of the usual celebrity endorsements on Geordie Shore and brand ambassadors. This additional exposure saw them quickly take their market share of Gym Wear.

Clothing brand owners can either hide in the shadows or go full-on social media personality presence. Jay Parker has a strong Instagram following which is impressive when you consider his profile beforehand and that he is not Wikipedia famous. His path is more Sik Silk than 11 Degrees.

the Gym King

How did Gym King clothing become so big?

The Gym Kings success is down to the timing of the launch; the athleisure market was ripe for a stylish clothing brand and James Parker was in the perfect position to deliver to his fitness clients. For any fashion label, early sales are crucial to momentum.

Being fully independently owned also created close relationships with those they worked with, with the loyalty mutual. This played its part in the social media takeover supernova making the brand highly sought after and continued relationships even when others tried to take the space. The Gym King stockists put the brand at the forefront which drove good sales, which kept the high presence for that self-fulfilling prophecy.

Gym King made quick inroads to the big urban wear retailers which built the foundations for success, driving 88% of stock sales through the wholesale route. Footasylum came on board early, which gave the athleisure brand an entry point to ASOS and JD Sports. The key was they had a product the fitness fans wanted but only The Gym King were producing, and the big retailers were the platform to deliver.

International breakthrough across Europe and Asia, and working closely with JD Sports, the clothing brand aim to breakthrough in America.

A lot of credit has to be given to the designer team as well, as good marketing only goes far unless the product quality is high and the designs are on point.

Gym King clothing

gym king tracksuit

Gym King provides clothing for men and women, and the gym king tracksuit is probably their most well-known item. Other than their famed gymwear they sell hoodies, sweatshirts, joggers, t-shirts, jackets, shorts, shirts, denim, twin sets, leggings, dresses, and co-ords. They have the performance range for the active and the lounge collection for loungewear.

Is Gym King a good brand?

The Gym King is a great brand and very popular with kids. There are many positive reviews on Trustpilot, which usually means that is the just the one linked to the website firing out automatic emails.

Like all brands, they are mostly good reviews and the occasional complaints about quality and customer service which are part and parcel of the fashion industry in all honesty, people are less inspired to leave a legit positive review.

The fact many big retailers stock the brand shows that they are a strong player in the athleisure and streetwear market.

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Is there a Black Friday Sale?

In 2019 and 2020 the Gym King Black Friday sale saw up to 75% off retail prices, and it will likely be the same in 2021. Those wanting a Tracksuit for the Gymnasium should follow the brand on their social media channel to keep updated on any sales launches.

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Chloé Safilo
Chloé Saffio is our resident Fast Fashion Expert for the UK Urban and Streetwear scene. Her eyes have been constantly glued to social media for the last 10 years giving her an unrivalled insight. In her spare time, she used to like shopping and lying in the sunshine and making the pilgrimage to Ibiza. Now, she is a tired and grumpy new mother and back from maternity leave as the full time FFN writer. Chloe lives in London where she completed her journalism degree at the University of Roehampton. She lives in a small flat Putney with her fiancée Christian, daughter Sofia, and their French Bulldog Coco. And she's on the look out for a nice house and garden at a bargain price,