In 2016, Americans spent more than $44 billion on active wear. By 2020, that figure is projected to leap to $83 billion. For years now, only a handful of companies have dominated the industry. As happens in so many other industries, this monopoly of sorts has worked out well for the companies but not so well for consumers. In 2013, things finally started to change thanks to the debut of Fabletics. Rather than bring yet another uninspired line of active wear to the world, the people behind Fabletics–who include actress Kate Hudson–identified major issues that women experience when shopping for workout clothes and decided to do something about it.
Adam Goldenberg and Don Ressler, owners of TechStyle Fashion Group, came up with a great idea a few years ago. They saw an excellent opportunity in the active wear sector, as the offerings for women tend to be woefully insufficient. Indeed, if you want to buy workout wear for women that is actually colorful and attractive, you’re going to pay a pretty penny. If you don’t fit into standard sizes, your pickings will be abysmally slim. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll have to settle for ill-fitting, unattractive clothes. Who wants that?
Although they own and operate a wildly successful e-commerce company that is valued at more than $1 billion, Ressler and Goldenberg needed help. After all, how seriously are people going to take two guys who claim to want to help women access better athletic wear? They understood the issues objectively, but they’d never experienced them personally. They started brainstorming for a name that would truly help their brand, and Kate Hudson’s sprang instantly to mind. Besides being an actress, Hudson is perceived as being a very active, friendly and relatable person. More importantly, she understands first-hand the unique pressures of being a woman.
Luckily for the men, Hudson was more than receptive to their offer. In fact, she was downright enthusiastic. The actress has long been passionate about staying fit and healthy, and she was drawn to the idea of developing comfortable, attractive, functional athletic clothes for women of all shapes and sizes. Backed up as it is by TechStyle, which has dominated the e-commerce scene for years and which is well-known for its social media marketing savvy, Fabletics undoubtedly had the ingredients for success. With Hudson on board not only being the scenes but front and center, the team knew that they had a winning combination on its hands.
Fabletics was founded in 2013, and it had humble roots as a small startup. There were a few bumps in the road along the way. Right off the bat, the company’s first order for $300,000 worth of inventory had to be sent back to the factory because the quality was too poor to distribute to customers. The last thing that the brand wanted was to debut with low-quality offerings. After all, their plan was to offer “athleisure” wear for women that is of superior quality and durability.
Fabletics adopted a subscription model that anyone can become a member of for free. Those who want access to new items right when they debut and who want personalized recommendations and extra-discounted pricing, however, can become VIP members. This costs around $50 per month. The $50 is then either used to cover the cost of a new set of clothes each month, or it can be saved as store credit indefinitely.
Fabletics has continued to learned a lot from data derived from their consumer base. For example, to compete with pricey brands like Lululemon, Fabletics clothes would have to be far more affordable. However, the team didn’t want to sacrifice quality for affordability. With the membership model, they had another stream of income. As a result, they could more easily afford to offer top-quality items for rock-bottom prices. Many people who have tried many different brands have stated that Fabletics’ clothing is every bit as good–if not even better–than the priciest options.
Another area where Fabletics excelled from the start is with its use of social media and big data. The company uses big data to learn more about its customers. When opening an account, new members are asked to complete a brief quiz. Their answers are used to provide personalized offerings, deals and more. By analyzing users’ reactions to various social media campaigns, Fabletics can get a better feel for overall sentiment. The brand has been able to tap into women’s needs and concerns when it comes to athletic wear, and they’ve used that information effectively.
More recently, Fabletics made an even bigger splash with the announcement that they are expanding into plus sizes. Given how fit she is, it’s easy to assume that Kate Hudson can’t relate to women who struggle to find workout clothes that fit, but she’s faced her share of body shaming in her life too. The actress is passionate about helping women of all sizes look and feel their best. By bringing attractive, comfortable yoga and workout clothes to the market that are also competitively priced, Hudson hopes to inspire more women to assume active lifestyles and to improve their health.
In interviews, Kate Hudson has been asked many times what the secret of her success is–not just as an actress but as a business owner and mother too. Hudson often credits the example that has been set by her mother, Goldie Hawn, who has enjoyed an amazingly successful Hollywood career while also giving back through her organization, the Hawn Foundation. Inspired by her mom, Hudson doesn’t just care about the success of Fabletics for financial reasons. She cares about it for the promise that it holds for women in general–that they can finally access affordable, comfortable, attractive athletic wear that suits their bodies.