Gap Inc. is launching a new online-only men’s athleisure brand called Hill City.
The e-commerce site, HillCity.com, is expected to launch in mid-October, and the site currently has a countdown until its official launch.
Hill City will sell men’s active apparel for workouts, work and the weekend, akin to Gap’s Athleta brand that sells similar apparel for women. Athleta is one of Gap’s “growth brands” and continues to, “excel in engaging and connecting with new and existing customer,” said Art Peck, president and CEO of Gap, in a call with investors, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
“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,” said Peck in a release about the new brand.
“The Gap brand delivers great men’s clothes. We believe Hill City fulfills a different need for him, by being a premium performance-first product,” adds a Gap spokeswoman.
Some of Hill City’s products will be on “show racks” at 50 Athleta locations, so shoppers can look and feel the Hill City products, although shoppers cannot purchase them at the Athleta stores, a Gap spokeswoman says.
This is not the first time Gap Inc. has launched an online-only brand. It launched shoe and accessories site Piperlime.com in 2006, opened one Piperlime store in 2012, and closed all Piperlime operations in early 2016. At the time of its closure, Piperlime.com contributed less than $100 million in annual revenue, less than 1% of Gap’s total revenue at that time.
Hill City is a designated benefit corporation, or “B Corp.” Hill City has “integrated sustainability” into its products, such as using renewable, recycled fabrics to create its performance fabrics, Gap says. Gap’s Athleta brand also is a certified B Corporation.
Hill City “leverages the benefits of our uniquely scalable operating platform—from our supply chain, to e-commerce to customer relationships and data,” Peck said.
Gap has 8,000 global supply chain employees and delivers more than 60 million e-commerce packages a year. As an online-only brand, Hill City will benefit from Gap’s converted fulfillment centers. Over the past few years, Gap Inc. has made changes to its warehousing operations in order to better fulfill online orders in addition to replenishing store inventory. Gap’s omnichannel warehouses use more automated machinery, such as machine-learning arms for sorting, that reduce or cut out manual work.
Recently, Gap converted its warehouse in Fresno, California, into an omnichannel fulfillment center, after previously only being used to replenish store products.
Like many retail chains, online sales are growing faster for Gap Inc. than its store sales. A month ago, Gap reported that its 2018 online sales are expected to hit $3.5 billion, which is a 12.9% year-over-year increase in e-commerce sales. Meanwhile, its total retail sales for its fiscal second quarter ended Aug. 4 grew 7.5%. (Gap did not break out e-commerce sales for Q2.)
Gap is No. 20 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500.