My first experience with Title Nine was via a catalog left behind by a coworker. As I thumbed through the pages of gorgeous activewear in come-hither colors, what appealed to me most were the models. No fragile, haughty clotheshorses, these were real women, with kids, jobs and worries, who still managed to lead strong, adventurous lives - kayakers, climbers, surfers, skiers, bikers.
I eagerly snatched each catalog after that. I was hooked. So I was delighted when I heard that Title Nine had opened a store at Hilldale Shopping Center.
Tucked between Anthropologie and Pasqual's, the store, while small, is nicely organized, and nothing feels crowded. And the clothes, oh, the clothes. Tank tops, T-shirts, shorts, yoga pants, sporty dresses, bikewear and totes, in aquas, corals, ivories and tangerines. In addition to familiar brands such as Mountain Hardwear, Horny Toad and Moving Comfort, Title Nine carries a solid store brand. There's a line of functional mix-and-match swimsuit separates and coverups by Carve Designs in fun and flattering patterns. The company also works with small, woman-owned companies such as Queen Bee, which has a line of charming handbags.
The store boasts an expansive lineup of sports bras (under signs reading "Home for unruly girls" and "No bouncing zone"), graded on a one-to-four-barbell system according to support. It holds periodic evening fittings. (Six members of the UW softball team recently came in for one such occasion.)
According to sales associate Kathi Wielgus, while most of the store's clientele are women in their 30s and 40s, she gets a lot of mother-daughter pairings, and a number of men coming in to buy for their active significant others. She says Title Nine prides itself on its community involvement and good-to-the-earth attitude. Gently used returns are donated to charity, and the company supports woman-centric organizations such as Girls on the Run - not surprising for a store whose name derives from the Title IX education amendment that brought equality to women in sports at the high school and college level.
All this girl fun doesn't come cheap, but prices are in line with other sports clothes outlets (swim separates are in the $40-$50 range, tank dresses $50, crop pants $60), and the clothes' functionality assures that you'll get your money's worth.