Hot Retailers

A women’s lifestyle apparel brand born on the Web, a fast-growing burger eatery, a discount German supermarket chain and a homegrown watchmaker are the 2011 recipients of the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Hot Retailers awards. 

The annual honors, based on a survey of more than 55,000 ICSC members worldwide, are designed to recognize innovative retail concepts. 

Here’s a brief look at this year’s winners:

Athleta: Founded 12 years ago and acquired by Gap Inc. in 2008, Athleta has evolved into a premier women’s active lifestyle brand, with apparel for yoga, running, swim, gym, hiking and skiing. 

Previously available only via catalog and online, Athleta officially entered the retail space early this year, opening in San Francisco’s fashionable Pacific Heights neighborhood. The 5,000-sq.-ft. store has an inviting and comfortable feel, and showcases the brand with inspirational imagery. 

Two additional locations are on tap for this summer, both in New York City, with a goal of 50 stores across North America by 2013. At presstime, Athleta was reportedly on track to open two stor