LONDON — As Kate Hudson gets ready to mark the five-year milestone of her athleticwear label Fabletics, she recalled how the brand was born from a change of heart.
“I first thought I was going to be doing dresses, but when I sat down and thought about what I could offer to a company and to my partners, athleticwear made a lot of sense,” she said during a talk at Sotheby’s in London, adding that she was on a mission to inject more fashion-forward elements to the category.
“It was about taking away the stigma that you have to be a crazy yogi or an athlete to wear printed leggings. The collections resonated quickly because they brought a sense of fun while still incorporating the right technology.” The talk, a Q&A with Sarah Mower, was organized by the British Fashion Council’s charitable initiative, the Fashion Trust.
The actress and entrepreneur said that she had been looking for a way to get into fashion and the concept of Fabletics — launched in partnership with Adam Goldenberg and Don Ressler of the TechStyle Fashion Group — resonated with her most. She said it was in line with some of her core beliefs, including conscious consumerism, empowering women and maintaining a lifestyle that’s as active and happy as possible.
Fabletics has attracted more than 1.2 million members over the last five years, and now ships to 10 countries. Fabletics’ first U.K. location recently opened at the boutique exercise studio Pop Fit, founded by Hudson’s friend, the Royal Ballet School-trained dancer Stephanie Burrows. “It’s a fun way to launch our first retail presence in London and I’m also supporting women in business,” said Hudson.
The Hollywood star said the business model, based on subscriptions, has been one of the reasons behind the success of the business. Customers can join Fabletics as members and pay a monthly fee redeemable against product, which is replenished every month. They also have the freedom to freeze their membership for the months they don’t plan on shopping. Alternatively, they can just shop at retail if they don’t want to commit to a monthly subscription.
“It became more like a membership, and now the platform offers more flexibility,” said Hudson. “It was confusing at the beginning but we cleared it all up and everyone is now following suit.”
She also pointed to the fact that the model is designed to create the least amount of waste, as it allows the company to gain intimate knowledge of what its customer wants to buy. “It also means we can take more risks than if we were seasonal. We tend to try new designs with small buys and they often end up becoming our bestsellers.”
While Fabletics takes pride in being an inclusive label — its sizes run from 4-30 — Hudson also said that it’s key to make members feel that they are part of an exclusive community, through events with trainers she likes, exclusive prints and curated content.
“As a digitally native brand it’s important to use content to keep customers engaged and motivated,” she added.
Being digitally native is at the core of the label, even as it grows its retail presence with 24 locations across the U.S. Hudson said she believes that “people are more likely to come into the store when there’s a digital presence,” and is staying focused on strategic openings in areas where the brand’s customers are located.
Hudson also turned the conversation to the Time’s Up movement which she has been spearheading alongside a number of other actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Viola Davis, Alicia Vikander and Amy Poehler.
“On the heels of what happened, we got together to see what we can do to create a movement for all women in all workplaces. It’s not just about Hollywood,” she said of the legal defense fund aimed at helping women who cannot afford the legal representation they need. “The justice system is the way to fight a cause.”