Hollister's Gilly Hicks makes a comeback
Gilly Hicks by Hollister, a division of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. on Monday announced the opening of four Gilly Hicks pop-up stores. The locations include Dolphin Mall in Miami, Florida; Los Cerritos Center in Cerritos, California; Baybrook Mall in Friendswood, Texas; and as part of the flexible retail concept BrandBox at Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, Virginia, according to a company press release.
The company relaunched the intimates brand at all U.S. Hollister stores and through Hollister's website, according to a 2017 press release. There are also now two Gilly Hicks standalone locations, in Honolulu and Garden City, New York, according to Monday's release.
In 2013, Abercrombie shuttered Gilly Hicks as a stand-alone brand, closing all its stores and relegating it to Hollister's website.
It looks like Abercrombie & Fitch Co. may have some regret about so drastically scaling back its lingerie brand.
Perhaps the retailer has watched rival American Eagle capture the attention of young women with its Aerie brand, which has managed to steal share from market leader Victoria's Secret as it boosts women's sales in flagship stores. In the years of Gilly Hicks' retreat, Aerie and a slew of online startups, including ThirdLove and Lively, have challenged the segment with marketing and merchandising based on body positivity and comfort.
Gilly Hicks appears to want in on those messages too: Abercombie in its release called the brand "comfortable products with inclusive, dynamic styles allow customers to embrace who they are underneath it all."
Even as it returns the lingerie brand to its own space, however, the retail company is also sticking with the close alignment with its lower-priced Hollister brand. In addition to the new pop-ups, Gilly Hicks plans an Aerie-like expansion, with "side-by-side spaces and carveouts in several Hollister stores," the company said in its release.
The Gilly Hicks pop-up stores "are inspired" by Hollister's "endless summer vibes similar to the overarching Hollister brand but with subtle color shifts and modern touches," the company said Monday, but it may also be inspired by its higher favorability among consumers. Hollister has provided the company with ballast as its namesake brand remains challenged. Overall first quarter net sales were essentially flat, as Abercrombie net sales fell 1% to $306 million and Hollister net sales rose 1% to $428 million. The Abercrombie brand has struggled in its effort to shift away from its teen focus. The company has announced the closure of up to 40 stores across all its brands this year.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly implied which brands could see store closures this year, up to 40 stores will close across all the company's brands. Additionally, language has been updated to clarify references to the parent company versus its namesake brand.