- Robyn Turk |
Gap is launching a new line of menswear, positioned similarly to its womenswear Athleta brand. As consumers became increasingly interested in the transitional clothing options of the athleticwear sector, they are willing to pay more money for better quality and styles of items that can be worn from a workout to work or socializing. According to market research firm NPD Group, sales in activewear increased by 2 percent last year, now representing 22 percent of the apparel industry’s total sales.
Gap saw some struggles in its earnings recently, with sales falling by 5 percent in Q2 findings. The brand realizes that athleticwear is a quickly growing realm within the fashion industry; Hill City General Manager Noah Palmer told CNBC, “There is a lot of really good, technological high-performance stuff on the market that we don't think looks good. Our wish is to bridge that gap and build, essentially, a small closet for ourselves that looks how we want to look. Something that's high-performing but where form meets function."
In a statement on its website, Gap shared that for Hill City, the brand intends to form a Wear Tester community, their version of a focus group to try out products before they launch in order to provide feedback and help the brand to improve consumer satisfaction. The statement read, “The guys who wear our product can have a role in testing, suggesting, making the clothes better, and hopefully getting them a little dirty along the way.”
Hill City will initially launch online next month and some items will be available in select Athleta locations. Before the line’s digital launch, Gap hopes to grow its Wear Tester community to gain new insights and perfect its offerings. The brand has already experienced beneficial feedback from their trial community, sharing that a design changed after a participant’s explained that its waistband seam was uncomfortable. Gap wrote, “Our Wear Testers have a chance to help define Hill City and help us become a more functional and fashionable brand.”