Human Performance Engineering, a technical sports apparel company, said it has upgraded its business model to integrate subscription services for its customer base. The company opened its first U.S. storefront in Brentwood, Calif., late last year.
Stylized as “HPE,” the firm was launched in 2013 by Nick Harris, a human performance specialist. Harris’ career, spanning more than 15 years working with Formula One champions, Olympians and Grand Slam winning tennis players, forayed into fashion upon realizing that he could create a new space in the market for apparel that accelerates performance. To date, the company has “not spent a dollar on marketing” — its success was built by word of mouth.
Harris, a former athlete, pivoted to working with athletes after a rugby injury in college. While training with Robert Downey Jr. for the film “Sherlock Holmes” — which featured Formula One racing — Harris was inspired to design an apparel line when the actor said he was “underwhelmed” by men’s sportswear. Harris quickly put together a small capsule collection to start, and Downey immediately asked to buy the prototypes.
HPE’s proprietary material technology, Freshfit, accelerates performance by increasing recovery and reducing inflammation, according to the firm. Freshfit integrates silver technology into the fabric, which in turn enables moisture management, cooling, compression, water-repellency and UV protection, as well as the prevention of bacterial buildup. Its material is breathable and supports quick drying and active movement. Harris said the “ultimate goal is always to manage inflammation,” as inflammation is what ages cells. “If you can sweat less wearing our product, with our fabric, then that is the first main, real benefactor in offsetting inflammation, because hydration ultimately dictates the entire physiology of the body in so many ways.”
The firm also noted that detrimental effects on cognitive and physical performance are proportional to the degree of dehydration, which accounts for 2 percent of all mental functions, including short-term memory, arithmetic efficiency, vasomotor tracking and motor speed.
Shoppers can peruse products via HPE’s “Fabric Lab,” which categorizes its fabric technologies for specific offerings across tops, bottoms, bras and outerwear collections. Each product online features its technical specifications and a terse description of fabric and fit. Its new subscription model offers “Street Styles,” “Essentials” and “All Star” boxes for women and a “Tech” box for men. Subscription prices begin at $38.33 per month for 12 months and $50 per month for 12 months for men’s and women’s apparel, respectively, with a flexible range of options for other types of subscriptions services.
And HPE is a Hollywood favorite, with brand advocates such as Jennifer Aniston, Alessandra Ambrosio, the Kardashians and even former First Lady Michelle Obama, who collectively praised the technical benefits of HPE apparel.
HPE amalgamates shape, fit, yarn, design architecture and print language to differentiate its product in the market. “If the fabric that actually surrounds the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, if that fabric is working against you, then it’s putting a huge amount of stress on the [skin]. And as you begin to sweat, that evaporation and physiological cooling effect doesn’t happen. You overheat, you lose more fluids, hydration, which leads to dehydration, and then so many functional parts of the body stop working in the way they should, and that’s where inflammation really begins,” Harris told WWD.
“When [consumers] put on our product, they feel amazing. They automatically feel as if they’re wearing nothing. They want to go and workout, they feel energized, [and] confident. We believe we can have a very small role to play in helping people find a healthier version of themselves. And if we can help them move little bit more everyday, and recover a little bit quicker, and maybe bit less stress on the body, less inflammation, maybe not lose quite as much fluid, then we can really have a huge impact on overall health.”
Harris concluded that if consumers are “wearing the wrong product that works against you everyday, then all of those [wellness activities] almost become meaningless.”
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