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Express Aims for Millennial Makeover With New Wellness-Themed DTC Brand

Express Inc. is following the millennial playbook to a T.

As its flagship brand looks to rebuild after a few quarters of declining revenue, the fast-fashion firm launched a new own-brand on Thursday: UpWest, a wellness-oriented DTC lifestyle brand built for the comfort-seeking millennial.

UpWest will debut with a selection of apparel and home products, including wellness products like CBD oils, essential oils and crystals. Its initial apparel selection will include casual wear, loungewear and sleepwear for both men and women, all designed in-house, although the home goods and wellness products will be licensed from third parties.

In true DTC style, UpWest’s initial offering will be available only through e-commerce, with products ranging from $12 to $188.

Calling itself a “purpose-driven” brand, UpWest has also already pledged to contribute 1 percent of its sales, up to $1 million, to philanthropic organizations through The UpWest Foundation—starting with Freedom Dogs of America, Mental Health America and Random Acts.

“UpWest is a brand targeting millennial consumers who are intentional about their journey to find a greater sense of peace and calm in a chaotic world,” Jamie Schisler, senior vice president and chief comfort officer of UpWest, said in a statement. “UpWest aims to provide comfort for the body, mind and spirit by creating a purposeful brand rooted in product solutions, helpful content and philanthropy.”

As a way of getting the brand off the ground, UpWest will embark on a regional pop-up tour featuring “The UpWest Cabin,” which will also double as a “relaxation experience event.” The tour will land in heartland cities like Columbus, Chicago, Nashville, Denver and Austin, eschewing the hustle and bustle of coastal enclaves.

Visitors to the UpWest Cabin can experience programming such as mindful meditations and yoga along with other unannounced activations. Additionally, UpWest and Random Acts will partner to deliver “Comfort Cases” full of products and goods for the less fortunate to local charities throughout the tour.

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Express launches wellness-oriented DTC apparel brand, Upwest
Upwest has aimed its sights directly at millennials obsessed with comfort and wellness.

Although the past several quarters have been difficult for Express Inc., the brand said that UpWest should be a fresh offering for the apparel market with the potential to be the tide that raises all boats.

“While our primary focus remains on returning the Express business to long-term, profitable growth, UpWest brings something new and exciting to the market,” CEO of Express Tim Baxter explained. “Jamie and the UpWest team have created something unique within the rapidly expanding lifestyle segment and we believe this will be a compelling entry.”

In August, Express Inc. reported a 6 percent loss in revenue and a loss of 13 cents per share, both better than expected but negative results regardless. Baxter was appointed to the chief executive role in May following the ouster of previous CEO David Kornberg. Since then, Baxter has said that one of his main goals was to take “immediate action” to change the trajectory of the business.

With the introduction of CBD products and its clear slant toward comfort, Baxter and Express seem to be banking on the fact that, according to consumers, comfort is still king.