With an expanding network of retail stores, rapid growth in men's activewear and Lizzo-loving shapewear, Fabletics is proving it can stretch far beyond its subscription-only roots. The latest success? The launch of Scrubs, a line for the medical community, which blasted past initial expectations. Ilona Aman, Fabletics' chief marketing officer, gives D2C Insider an update.
D2C Insider: You've been Fabletics' CMO for about nine months and came from Adidas and Nike. How do you describe the brand to people?
Ilona Aman: We have over 2 million community members within our ecosystem, and these individuals are our eyes, ears and ambassadors. They truly live the brand.
Many brands have entered this space, but our point of difference is, we're not trying to be anyone else. We're championing the everyday person and are partnering with the everyday person -- our community members -- to accelerate whatever is important to them. We're a high-energy brand. We're located in Southern California, and that's part of our DNA.
D2C Insider: Those 2 million people are subscribers, so that's one business model. People can also shop without a subscription, so that's another. You've also got 96 stores, which is different. And then you do pop-ups. What's the marketing umbrella for all that?
Aman: How you engage with the brand physically is quite different from how you engage with the brand digitally. And so our focus is how to constantly create the right space. Both digital and physical have limitations. For retail, we have to be really curated. Our mission is to expand in retail, and 2024 will be an aggressive year for us. I love the retail sandbox, creating experiences in places where your senses are ignited.
When someone walks into our stores, we have a limited time to communicate and make them feel they're a part of our brand. We know how people scroll so fast through digital pages all day, and today, they do that same thing in stores. They walk in while looking at their phones. They're looking down, not around them. That means we have to create immersive, inviting and disarming spaces. We have to tell stories.
D2C Insider: Who is your core market?
Aman: Our sweet spot, on men's and women's, is about 27 to 32 years old. They're living the everyday life of being active and thoughtful about health and wellness. And one thing that has changed since COVID is the accelerated access to culture through the digital footprint. People use digital to absorb what's new. We're leaning into that at the intersection of sport and culture.
D2C Insider: How do you communicate that to consumers?
Aman: We have a strong influencer program. These partners bring collaborations to life across sports, fashion, and entertainment. We're keeping up with the pace of social, with so many platforms evolving daily.
D2C Insider: For example?
Aman: Scrubs. We launched in February, and we have a strong partnership with our Facebook group. We're constantly talking to the medical community to drive and inform. We want to serve that community in the most authentic way. For our women's business, we're hyper-focused on TikTok and Instagram. For men, Twitter and experiences are at the top.
D2C Insider: Fabletics has about $700 million in annual sales. What's the gender breakdown?
Aman: We're about 70/30 women to men, sometimes 65/35. It shifts by season. We aim to grow men's exponentially to get closer to a 60/40 model. Men's is in high demand, and we've been very methodical about developing solutions. We know there are many options, and the space is so saturated.
D2C Insider: Yes, for activewear, there are so many competitors, including Lululemon, which has a very similar women's-to-men sales ratio. What about Scrubs, which competes mainly with Figs?
Aman: It launched in February and has been a rocket ship in the best possible way. We all anticipated it being a rocketship but didn't see how quickly that dial would be turned up.
Our point of differentiation is that we believe the medical community is more physically active. So our focus is that Scrubs should be your uniform, the chassis you build on. That's true whether you're in the ER or an aesthetician. You're not sitting at a desk, and we want to be in service of that. Scrubs is their armor, and we want it to look and feel good.
D2C Insider: What other areas are growing fast?
Aman: We're growing with new subcategories, like pickleball. And swim is accelerating rapidly, too.
D2C Insider: Fabletics launched Yitty about a year ago,
partnering with Lizzo for this shapewear line. Fabletics already has inclusive styling. Does Yitty bring in new customers? Or are they crossing over?
Aman: The line is doing well because that team is focused on creating products specific to what is important to Lizzo, which validates it. People know it's not just a fad. We also sell Yitty in 10 stores and get plenty of positive feedback. We're getting a ton of crossover and cross-pollination because our range goes from extra small to 4X. And online, people can experience both brands pretty seamlessly.
D2C Insider: Lizzo is such a significant personality. Fabletics, famously, was co-founded by actor Kate Hudson, and Kevin Hart is now a spokesperson. How important are these famous faces to your marketing mojo?
Aman: We look for like-minded values. It's not about just slapping on an endorsement. That doesn't feels genuine. I've been at brands that work with collaborators, so I've had the pleasure and the life lessons of knowing that when celebrity deals aren’t authentic, there's a backlash. Consumers figure it out quickly.
So for us, every partnership goes through a pretty strenuous process: How will this benefit the consumer? What are they going to get out of this? When that's the starting point, like with Lizzo, it creates organic energy.
D2C Insider: You've been partnering with ThredUp for resale. People sweat in their workout clothes, which makes them not such a natural for circular fashion. How is that going?
Aman: Sustainability has been an important pillar of the brand, and ThredUp has been a great partnership because it gives products a second life. Our consumer has been super receptive to it. They're not offended by buying a resold product or selling theirs. ThredUp is quite a known brand, and they see the partnership as mutually beneficial.