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NEW YORK -- Move over athletes and make way for everyone else.
That seems to be the unofficial mantra that activewear companies have adopted to try to revitalize the $16.6 billion business. While they haven't abandoned tried-and-true gym-goers, they are turning their attention to stylish women, saucy teenagers and active moms in their ads and in-store displays.
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association expects this year's sales to finish only slightly ahead of last year. In these unsteady times, brands are playing up the practicality and affordability of their collections, especially versatile basics to attract new customers.
"People are buying what they need, as opposed to what they want," said Fran Errico, national buyer of Equinox Energywear, a 17-store operation.
Tough times call for shrewd business decisions, which might explain why many firms have hired or promoted key executives to focus on their respective women's divisions. In September, Pentland Brands recruited Maria Stefan, who was executive director and vice president of global business development of the SGMA to become president of its Ellesse USA division.
At Adidas America, Jolynn Ovington, a 12-year company veteran, has been promoted to lead its women's business. She calls the shots for a …