Looking to respond to decreased sales and dropping stock prices, Gap Inc. launched Hill City, a premium active brand for men, which could be a step toward transformation.
The new brand will consist of versatile, active technical separates for men based on a simple, minimalist aesthetic with a decidedly premium approach to pricing and production. Its initial lineup will consist of cornerstone options that will allow Hill City men to “focus on purchasing fewer, more versatile pieces,” Gap said, and transition through the many moments and occasions in their daily lives, from exercise to office to end-of-week escapes.
Details are scarce about what this new brand may mean for the corporation at large but Hill City’s early design philosophy echoes those of innovative, story-focused startups that have begun to take market share away from billion-dollar brands. The story for Hill City appears to be active technical tops, bottoms and outwear for men that can fit into every facet of their lives.
“Men’s lives are evolving. We no longer want to dress as either an ‘athlete’ or ‘outdoorsman’ or a ‘businessman’—we are all of those, and we’re also fathers, friends, and active members of our communities. We don’t want a different look for each aspect of our lives,” Noah Palmer, general manager of Hill City said in a statement announcing the brand. “That’s why our team set out to rethink men’s apparel with one brand that could fill a man’s entire closet with versatile, high-performance pieces that can take him from a hike to a dinner out, without sacrificing a sense of style.”
Although Gap brands like Athleta and Old Navy have seen some success in recent years, the overall message from Gap Inc. has been struggle. Earlier in the year, its stock fell on the news of lower-than-expected sales for Gap Global and nearly flat growth overall.
Activewear could be the safest bet in the industry right now and Gap Inc. likely sees the trend as an opening to revive its image with its first new brand in more than a decade. What remains to be seen is how consumers will react to the new premium line.
The first Hill City collection, available mid-October on Gap’s website, will include a $248 hooded jacket, a lightweight thermal-lined jacket at $158 and a $98 pair of moisture-resistant trousers, according to Fast Company. Gap Inc. said selects pieces also will be on display at 50 Athleta locations nationwide.
For Art Peck, president and CEO of Gap Inc., premium activewear has become a priority for the company.
“Active is a key growth area for Gap Inc. and Hill City is our response to consistent feedback from customers looking for a premium men’s product that combines highly technical fabrications, performance and style,” Peck said. “Hill City brings a new perspective to men’s apparel that is complementary to our iconic portfolio of brands and leverages the benefits of our uniquely scalable operating platform—from our supply chain, to e-commerce to customer relationships and data.”
The apparel company noted that Hill City is certified as a B Corp brand, the result of its incubation within Athleta, which also has achieved that certification.