“The goal is to leave everyone feeling good,” Stacey McCormick, Aerie’s senior vice president of marketing, told WWD. “Positivity and kindness are in Aerie’s DNA. It inspires us; it keeps us all connected. The whole idea about connection and being there for each other and spreading as much kindness as possible is where [the idea for the hotline] all started.”
That’s why, starting Friday through Dec. 25, shoppers can call the AerieReal Kind Hotline at 1-844-KIND-365 (1-844-546-3365) and listen to a recording from kindness advocates — including AerieReal role models Iskra Lawrence, Aly Raisman, Manuela Baron and Tiff McFierce, as well as Aerie friends, like actress Storm Reid and Katherine Schwarzenegger, among others — on how to spread kindness to others, the world, online or learn tips on how to be a little bit kinder to oneself.
The hotline is free and callers can dial in as many times as they like to hear advice in both English and Spanish. That includes Aerie’s global brand president and American Eagle Outfitters chief creative officer Jennifer Foyle, who reminds listeners that words matter, even online. Olympic gymnast Raisman tells callers to be gentle to both others and themselves. Schwarzenegger says practicing forgiveness is a kind thing to do while DJ McFierce recommends saying positive affirmations in the mirror each day as a way to show love for yourself.
Shoppers can also go to ae.com/aerie-real-life/kindness-with-aerie through Nov. 20 to nominate others for a random act of kindness. Aerie will select about 50 people and surprise them with an act of kindness in December.
“It’s all kinds of stuff,” McCormick said. “Like product drops, decorate their house — you know, do a fun light thing for them, deliver meals, buy them coffee, pay their bills. It gives our community a chance to participate. Half of the joy is just seeing people support each other.”
There’s no criteria for kindness nominations, but McCormick said Aerie is looking for “the emotion and the feel-good stories. It’s the ones that need the most dose of kindness that will be the ones that get selected.”
The brand has also partnered with Feeding America in November. Through Nov. 15, Aerie will donate five meals to the nonprofit organization, up to 500,000 meals, for every purchase. And every time a shopper makes a purchase using the company’s Real Rewards credit card through Nov. 25, Aerie will donate 20 meals to the organization, up to 1 million meals.
“I am inspired by the ways our AEO community has come together during a difficult time and how we continue to share a message of optimism,” said Jay Schottenstein, executive chairman of the board and chief executive officer of American Eagle Outfitters. “There is real power in acts of kindness big or small. Together we can make the world a kinder place.”
Meanwhile, Aerie, which was founded in 2006, continues to grow rapidly. In fact, even amid the pandemic, the brand’s e-commerce revenues grew 142 percent year-over-year in the most recent quarter. In July, the company launched an activewear sub-brand called Offline by Aerie and opened its first Offline store outside Nashville, Tenn., in October.
Earlier this month, the brand opened its second Offline store in a shopping center outside of Columbus, Ohio, and has plans to expand both the Aerie and Offline store fleets into other markets. So far consumers are responding well to the redesigned Offline stores, McCormick said, which were made with the active lifestyle in mind, with bright lights, ping pong tables and ballet bars within each space.
“We believe in stores in such a big way,” she said. “It just shows how much opportunity there is to have these stores come in and to have store growth with both the Offline and Aerie brand.”