When brands approach celebrities for help, they typically want to cash in on their image and success. Celebrities have been endorsing products and serving as spokespeople for brands seemingly forever, so it makes sense that when Kate Hudson’s name is mentioned in association with athleisure brand Fabletics, people tend to assume that she’s mostly there to promote the brand. In reality, however, Hudson has done far more than lend her considerable star power; she’s actually played an instrumental role in growing it from a small startup into a business with revenues approaching $250 million per year.
When the founders of TechStyle Fashion Group decided to launch a new activewear brand, they had plenty of misgivings. In particular, the market is already incredibly crowded. Was there even room for another brand to thrive? The first thing to understand is the size of the market, which is considerable. In 2016, the activewear industry was valued at around $44 billion. By the year 2020, it is expected to be valued at more than $83 billion. In just a handful of years, then, the market is going to nearly double in size. This means that there is indeed room for new brands–but they need to be creative to compete with behemoths like Nike and Under Armour.
Of course, Fabletics was never really meant to compete directly with those brands. Rather, its more direct competitors include yoga wear line Lululemon. These and other brands are wildly popular with active women, but there are some pretty major drawbacks. First of all, these brands tend to charge high prices. In fact, many women literally can’t afford to buy these brands.
To address this issue, Kate Hudson and Fabletics needed to find a way to make quality clothes that don’t cost an arm and a leg. By eliminating middle men like marketing companies, the brand has been able to keep costs fairly in line. Its subscription model, however, is what really pushed the brand over the edge. A basic Fabletics membership is free, and it entitles members to many perks. By upgrading to a VIP subscription for $50 per month, however, members get first crack at new styles, and they enjoy extra deep discounts on the entire line. Contrary to controversy that was initially stirred up, the subscription fee isn’t just pocketed. It is put toward that month’s purchases. If the member opts not to buy anything, the balance remains in their account indefinitely.
Another issue with other brands is that their styles are often perfectly appropriate for the gym or yoga studio but not really desirable for being out and about. This is where the term “athleisure,” which is used to describe Fabletics’ offerings, comes into play. The Fabletics line is designed to not only function perfectly in environments like the gym but to look great and be comfortable for everyday wear. A woman can don a Fabletics outfit, hit the yoga studio and then head right out the door to take care of other responsibilities without missing a beat.
Yet another opportunity that Hudson and the team identified involved sizing. Higher end brands like Lululemon are especially known for completely ignoring women who don’t fit into standard clothing sizes. Given that the average woman in the U.S. wears a size 14, which is technically a plus size, this is incredibly shortsighted–and very unfair. Early in 2017, Fabletics and Kate Hudson announced the brand’s expansion into plus sizes. All products are now available in sizes XXS through 3X, ensuring that women of all sizes and shapes can have access to affordable, comfortable and functional workout clothes that actually fit.
Fabletics has relied heavily on big data to make its big splashy entrance into the activewear scene. This includes analyzing customer behavior on the website based on geographical location. In this way, the brand can identify which items are popular in which parts of the country, for example, and can then map out the building of its brick-and-mortar retail stores more precisely. This also allows the brand to respond to its inventory needs more effectively by anticipating what will sell based on customer data that has been collected through various online sources.
With its origins as a startup, Fabletics has also employed some interesting techniques to raise brand awareness. For example, the brand asked Kate Hudson to film short videos on her personal iPhone. The videos show Kate behaving not like a famous Hollywood actress but as a busy mom of two who does what she can to maintain an active lifestyle. This is yet another example of the actress’s commitment to taking a hands-on approach to the business. From the start, she threw herself actively into the work at Fabletics, tracking sales information from one week to the next and otherwise immersing herself in making the brand a success.
In interviews, Kate Hudson has also said that you have to take risks to achieve amazing things in life. She clearly practices what she preaches, as she stepped somewhat away from her real passion, acting, to launch Fabletics. Given the wild success of the brand, in fact, many people started wondering whether Hudson would continue acting at all. After all, it certainly seems like she has a knack for getting a great idea off the ground. However, she has insisted that she will never give up acting and that she is happy including both passions in her life.
Anyone who doubts the ongoing success of Fabletics needs to consider a few things. A company that started as a small startup has grown to a value of around $250 million in just a few short years. During that time, the brand has accumulated more than 21 million followers on Twitter alone. With more than 1.2 million monthly members, Fabletics is already a big hit. The brand already launched more than 20 retail stores around the country, and it plans to open around 75 to 100 total by the year 2020. Without a doubt, Kate Hudson will be along for the ride.
Visit Fabletics Twitter account to read more about what’s currently happening at the company.