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Athleta Launches Fitness Platform AthletaWell

Athleta Launches Fitness Platform AthletaWell

Athleta is upping its fitness game.
The women’s athletic apparel- and accessories-maker, which is owned by Gap Inc., has launched a new social platform called AthletaWell. 
“At its core, AthletaWell is really providing a safe space for women to navigate the complexities of modern-day womanhood and get expert advice on topics all rooted in female wellbeing,” Kim Waldmann, Athleta’s chief digital officer, told WWD. “[Topics] we’re afraid to ask for fear of embarrassment, or maybe they’re taboo, or we don’t want to look like we’re different than everybody else. Like, what are tips for sleep? Or fertility. Or even simple things, like I’m a DD, is there a good bra that doesn’t chafe endlessly?”

The platform also includes interest-based groups, where members can join in conversations or start their own; access to Athleta “guides,” or experts, such as yoga teachers, medical doctors, mediation guides, strength trainers, dietitians, physical therapists and motivational speakers, and links to events, both virtual and in-person around the country, such as run clubs and exercise classes, helping Athleta shoppers create community. 

AthletaWell, Athleta’s new fitness and wellness platform, is available by way of desktop and mobile devices and includes a section with Athleta “Guides,” or experts in various fitness and wellness areas. 
Courtesy Photo

“At Athleta, we really think about it in an omnichannel kind of way, to meet the customer wherever she wants to be and wherever she wants to be,” Waldmann said. “We know that there’s so much value in driving brand loyalty and deepening our engagement without customers. We know that our loyalty program customers spend over two times more with us than our non-loyalty member customers. So, for us to be able to offer [AthletaWell] as sort of a benefit of the loyalty program, it will drive more loyalty participation. And those individuals who are much more engaged with the brand spend more with the brand.” 

And Athleta has no shortage of loyal fans. The rapidly growing brand had revenues of $978 million in 2020 and roughly 200 stores around the nation. In January, Athleta set a new goal: $2 billion in revenues by 2023 and plans to open between 20 and 30 more stores a year. Three months later, the San Francisco-based business said it was also moving to Canada, launching an e-commerce site there. 
For the launch of AthletaWell, Athleta is also partnering with Obé Fitness, a digital fitness platform. Athleta Rewards members will be able to access exclusive 10-minute Obé Fitness workout videos for free on AthletaWell. 
“We know being active is an important part of our customers’ overall wellbeing, so we are thrilled to invest in and partner with Obé and offer the Athleta community access to this like-minded partner,” said Mary Beth Laughton, president and chief executive officer of Athleta. “As our brand continues to grow, this investment creates a unique engagement opportunity for our customers and helps us build even more loyalty over time.” 
Waldmann added that the partnership will help Athleta reach a wider audience. 
“What we were really attracted to with Obé was just how democratic it is,” she explained. “The fact that you can get these incredible high-quality workouts, but you can watch it on your laptop, your phone, whatever screen. You don’t have to buy a really expensive piece of equipment or hardware to be able to participate. And for us at Athleta, that’s so core to our brand values. 

“Obé is really the anchor partner for the fitness experience,” Waldmann continued. “But I think what you’ll see from us as we continue to build out this platform is we will continue to partner with like-minded brands that are best-in-class in their fields across the full spectrum of female wellbeing.” 
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of competition in the activewear market, which continues to expand at full speed.  
In fact, during the pandemic, everyone from Target Corp. to American Eagle Outfitters Inc.’s Aerie to Madewell to Danielle Bernstein’s WeWoreWhat, was trying to find their place in the world of athleisure, performance wear and wellness. On Tuesday, Lululemon revealed plans to partner with Wysdom, an artificial intelligence firm, for a digital wellbeing platform that is set to launch sometime in 2022. Even Rihanna may be getting into the game soon. 
Waldmann said AthletaWell is unique in that it brings together various elements of fitness, apparel and wellbeing in one place for free. 
“There are Q&A platforms out there; there are blogs on fertility and yoga. And there are plenty of fitness apps,” she said. “But there really isn’t a place for women to get access to vetted experts across the whole spectrum of female well-being. AthletaWell is about physical well-being. But Athleta is also interested in mental well-being, emotional well-being and environmental well-being.” 
Athleta Rewards loyalty members have access to AthletaWell by way of athleta.com. (Shoppers can sign up for the loyalty program for free by providing an email address.) Waldmann said the brand will also introduce an AthletaWell “native app experience” within the Athleta app later this year.

Tommy Hilfiger Appoints Alegra O’Hare as Chief Marketing Officer

Tommy Hilfiger Appoints Alegra O’Hare as Chief Marketing Officer

 Alegra O’Hare has been named chief marketing officer of Tommy Hilfiger Global, effective April 12.
She succeeds Michael Scheiner, who exited the company in October and will report to Avery Baker, president and chief brand officer of Tommy Hilfiger Global.
O’Hare is based in New York, but will relocate to Hilfiger headquarters in Amsterdam this summer. Hilfiger is owned by PVH Corp.
In her new role, O’Hare will oversee the brand’s marketing, helping to develop and execute global strategies to reach and engage consumers.
“Alegra’s appointment is a crucial next step in this new era for Tommy Hilfiger,” Baker said. “She will be a driving force in bringing our new brand vision to life through world-class creative, digital and omnichannel marketing strategies. Her deep connection to culture and proven experience in growing both relevance and business with global consumers will be a great asset. I am very excited to have Alegra join our team to play a leading role in building the next generation of Tommy fans.”

O’Hare brings more than 25 years of marketing experience to the job, having worked with such brands as Adidas, Bang & Olufsen, Champion, Lee and Wrangler. Up until 2020, she was chief marketing officer at Gap for a year, leading the global marketing team, including communications, retail, digital, social media and public relations, through digital-first marketing and an omnichannel retail approach. Earlier she spent 11 years at Adidas, including leading marketing for the Adidas Originals brand, where she was responsible for all brand campaigns, collaborations with partners such as Pharrell Williams, Alexander Wang and Childish Gambino, and all marketing communications globally. Earlier in her career she was marketing manager for VF Corp.

“Tommy Hilfiger has always been a brand that’s ahead of the curve, and I’m excited to embark on this new journey with the team amid a drastically changed consumer landscape,” O’Hare said. “Together, we will meet these new realities head on, with a focus on creating engaging and surprising brand experiences for all consumers, further evolving our position as world class marketers by pushing cultural and creative boundaries.”
In building what’s become a $9.9 billion retail business, Hilfiger has capitalized on a constant flow of celebrities, music and entertainment to keep the label current. The company’s see-now-buy-now initiative, which featured codesigners Gigi Hadid, Zendaya and Lewis Hamilton, proved to be a big win for the brand, which also has pushed forward with initiatives such as 3D design, artificial intelligence, gamification, digital showrooms, and sustainability and diversity practices.

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Empowering Women on International Women’s Day and Beyond

Empowering Women on International Women’s Day and Beyond

Beyond the more expected limited-run T-shirts and somewhat self-serving social media campaigns, two leading companies are using International Women’s Day to springboard yearlong ventures to strengthen women-owned businesses.
In honor of IWD and Women’s History Month, H&M USA has started a 12-month partnership with Buy From a Black Woman, a nonprofit that connects more than 500 Black women-owned businesses nationwide. Meanwhile, Tory Burch has unveiled the “Empowered Women” campaign with Upworthy, a platform that celebrates women who are creating an impact in their communities.
Although Tory Burch and H&M USA have embarked on yearlong initiatives, numerous other companies are also championing IWD and WHM. Kate Hudson and Fabletics, for example, have partnered with Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation initiative to encourage girls’ leadership and gender equality around the world. Gap has released limited-edition T-shirts with messages of empowerment and is donating $25,000 to the nonprofit Girls Inc. Banana Republic is donating to the International Center for Research on Women. Through the end of the month, the retailer will donate $20 for each “Notorious Necklace” sold to the ICRW up to $250,000. And UGG is continuing its partnership with HerProject and #PoweredByHer campaign by recognizing such individuals as Meena Harris. Through March 14, the company will donate $25 per pair of the campaign’s featured style with a minimum guaranteed donation.

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After a year where women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Burch is using her global platform to share inspirational stories and encourage others to find a way to make a difference. The New York-based company has launched an Empowering Women section on its site. The international campaign was unveiled by showcasing the work of five women. Throughout the year, the campaign will celebrate one woman every month, who will also receive a $5,000 donation from the Tory Burch Foundation to give to the nonprofit of her choice.
In a video unveiling the program, Burch said she looked forward to hearing about “the women in your lives, who are changing the world.”
Tory Burch  Courtesy of Tory Burch

“Black Gals Livin’” podcast cofounder Victoria Sanusi, The Spread the Joy Foundation and Open the Joy founder Shalini Samtani, The Black Fairy Godmother founder Simone Gordon, Equity Generations Lawyers’ 18-year-old paralegal Varsha Yajman and Global Gateway Logistics and Gateway for Good creator Caitlin Murphy are the five women being recognized by Burch.
Burch said in a statement that she hopes “the resilience and creativity of these women and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me.”
Upworthy vice president Lucia Knell noted in a statement that the company celebrates “barrier breaking stories especially from women, the LGBTQIA-plus community and BIPOC.”
Meanwhile, H&M USA is striving to strengthen Black women-owned businesses. Black women have been starting their own businesses at an increasing rate, but annual sales for Black women business owners are five times smaller than women-owned businesses in general.

The alliance will include sponsorships and activities. For a kickoff, H&M USA has introduced Buy From a Black Woman to the 16 million customers who are members of H&M’s loyalty program. During its annual “Member Days” activation, which started Friday and ran through Sunday, a portion of sales was donated to the nonprofit. This summer the retailer will sponsor the group’s Black Women Inspire Tour, using H&M’s channels to highlight Black women-owned businesses. This fall H&M USA will sponsor the organization’s Black Woman Business Accelerator program. A 10-week course, the training features online curriculum led by authorities who offer insights about expansion and providing an opportunity for funding access. In addition, internally H&M USA will sponsor eligible colleagues who wish to join the Buy From a Black Woman online directory and network. There are also plans to showcase the nonprofit’s businesses to the retailer’s employees throughout the year.
In an interview Friday, Buy From a Black Woman founder Nikki Porcher said the ultimate goal is to encourage consumers to buy from Black women, but the aim also involves being a true example of what allyship looks like, as opposed to being a catch phrase, trend or something that is hot for the season. She started a blog five years ago after attending a makers’ event, where she was the only Black woman. Early on as part of her Buy From a Black Woman challenge, she would buy a product from a Black woman-owned business and blog about it. After people found out about the blog and shared it on social media, others contacted Porcher to ask if she would plug their products (she explained no, that she had to buy it) and some offered to send money to help support her work. With a background in nonprofits, her own nonprofit developed into a community, directory and educational resources.
Porcher said, “Last summer we saw so many businesses and organizations say, ‘Hey, we’re going to amplify Black voices. We’re going to do our part, use our resources.’ Then it just faded away after August.”
After discussing with H&M how they could have the most effective impact, both parties agreed that using the retailer’s tools and resources will lead to Black women-owned businesses being amplified, supported and purchased from. Following coronavirus safety precautions, this summer’s tour will include stops in major cities to host pop-ups, offer information and improve awareness.
While smaller-scale initiatives have been done at other corporations through monetary donations to different organizations, the H&M USA model is a new one, she said. “This is where a known name is going to bring in these small Black women businesses and amplify that. This is probably going to set the precedent for a lot of other businesses to partner with organizations on this scale,” Porcher said. “This is going to be game changing, marketing changing, business changing, partnership changing — a lot of changing.”
More than 70 percent of the leaders at H&M are women, including global chief executive officer Helena Helmersson, according to Carlos Duarte, president of H&M Region America’s. Helmersson took on that role — a first for the company — last year.

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