For many consumers, workout apparel is often plebeian.
But put cofounder and actress Kate Hudson’s face on the brand and come up with some quirky advertising poking a little fun at the more expensive, ultraserious activewear brands out there, and it is transformed into Fabletics.
The company, which has ramped up advertising and will also continue last year’s delve into rolling out bricks-and-mortar, will open its next door at the Mall of America this spring.
The El Segundo, Calif.-based brand part of e-tailer JustFab Inc. — which operates its namesake e-commerce company along with ShoeDazzle and FabKids — is eyeing a late May opening in Minnesota with a 2,000-square-foot store selling athletic garb and accessories for women’s and men’s, the latter of which is branded FL2 and sells outfits starting at $49.95 for VIP members.
Mall of America will be the first store to open this year with more deals in the works, according to Fabletics president of retail Gregg Throgmartin. As to whether the growth would focus only on the U.S., he said, “We’re still working on that.”
“We’ve got a fantastic online business that is growing incredibly fast and so the physical stores are just there, really, to augment the business so we’re going to do locations that are great deals that are great for our customers and great for our business,” he said.
Mall of America, with more than 40 million people passing through the doors each year, should give the Fabletics brand exposure to a wide range of not just locals but tourist traffic.
“The Minnesota/St. Paul area is a very nice sized DMA, a very healthy market [and] a very stable market,” Throgmartin said. “So we will get a lot of locals but we will get a lot of tourists. The mix has yet to be determined but for us it doesn’t really matter. The customers know us.”
Which helps, but Fabletics is also a data-cruncher.
The company, which launched in 2013, has been analyzing data it gets from the online sales since its start, and has been opening doors based on where its existing customer base is located and then merchandising and tailoring stores based on information gleaned from the e-commerce side of the business.
Still, brick-and-mortar allows the company to continue to refine just how much it understands about its customer. “We’ve taken it to an even deeper level by having the stores,” Throgmartin said. “There’s a certain amount of feedback you can get by having a dialogue with the customer [in store].”
Take accessories, for example. The six Fabletics stores currently open have seen sales that are double what is done online. Throgmartin even pointed to company employees who, when they saw something like a Fabletics bag in store, ended up buying the bag despite knowing the company has the same product online.
“We have great accessories, clearly,” he said. “So there are findings we can take from our stores and flow back up to our site.”
In-store shoppers are also big on the separates and buying up bras — the redesigned bras that Throgmartin coined “bra 2.0” that “we do a good job of online but we’re doing a great job in stores.”
Men’s sales have been brisk, which has been a surprise for company executives, according to Throgmartin. FL2 online sales have mostly been from women buying for the men in their lives. Sales in store are from men purchasing for themselves. FL2 currently comprises 15 percent to 20 percent of floor space in existing stores.
As advertising, featuring Hudson herself, continues to ramp up — the company on Monday was shooting her for a future campaign — highlighting the store openings in those marketing efforts may also increase, Throgmartin said. But the company is taking a measured approach.
“We want to stay very committed to being omnichannel,” he said. “We do not want to try to influence [customers] to go down one path or another [to shop]. So far, what we’re seeing is a lot of our customers even in markets where we have a store, they like the blend. They want that flexibility.”