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|Establishment||January 21, 2008|
|Headquarters||Abercrombie & Fitch Co.|
100 Gilly Hicks Way
New Albany, Ohio 43054
|Key people||Michael S. Jeffries, Chairman & CEO|
Bruce Weber, photographer
John Urbano, marketing film director
|Theme||Australia, Down Under|
|Color scheme||Gray, Burgundy & Sepia|
|Target consumer age||18 and up|
|Apparel style||Women's underwear, loungewear, and personal care goods|
|Store locations||United States 15 (as of January 2010)|
Gilly Hicks is a lifestyle brand, from American company Abercrombie & Fitch, specializing in women's "knickers from casual to sexy, relaxed PJ's and beauty things." Marketed for the female consumers of its parent brand, Gilly Hicks is officially labeled as "the Cheeky cousin of Abercrombie & Fitch."
The brand is the fifth from A&F, and was initially known as Concept 5. The Australian theme of Gilly Hicks was originally inspired by the phrase "Down Under". In saying, it is the only brand from Abercrombie & Fitch with a non-American image. The recent brand has been named as one of Mike Jeffries' best new ideas for Abercrombie & Fitch's portfolio of brands.
Like his other Abercrombie & Fitch brands, Mike Jeffries created a story to give more depth and meaning to the image of Gilly Hicks, wrapping together all the elements of the concept in an enticing manner.
The story centers around a fictional English woman, the eponymous Gilly Hicks. Jeffries has his female character, supposedly "born and raised" in England, moving to Paris to study fashion design in her 20's. The fictional Hicks family later emigrates to Sydney, Australia. From France, Gilly follows suit and arrives in Sydney were "she [feels] an instant connection with the culture [and]...her spirited nature [thrives]." In 1932, Gilly opens an underwear shop within her family's 'British colonial-style manor house' in Sydney's Rose Bay neighborhood. The story states that she found success making "comfortable bras" while helping women feel "confident and sexy", and that women flocked from all over Australia to be fitted into and to purchase Gilly's bras and spend time in her house hearing her jokes and stories of travel. After two generations, Gilly's granddaughter returns in modern day to reopen the "renovated" original store in the Hicks' home.
The story is not meant to be taken seriously, but to be enjoyed and to give the shopper a fantasy to live in store. A&F markets the Gilly Hicks brand as "Australian" and being "established" in 1932, and the year is found on GH goods. The stores are designed as a home with multiple rooms, and an idealized "portrait" of the fictitious Gilly hangs in the stores.
Critics argue that the story merely makes the brand fake. There is nothing Australian about it at all, just like its creator Mike Jeffries who prides in American casual fashion. A&F Careers calls the brand American with "Sydney sensibility." Nevertheless, the fabricated Australian image is being used as a factor to attract customers and it is working. Currently, no locations exist outside of the United States.
The idea for Gilly Hicks was inspired by the phrase "Down Under." Development phase began in 2005 with an assembled "strong and talented development team". By 2006 reports of a "Concept Five" from Abercrombie & Fitch began to circulate on the Internet. However A&F remained tight-lipped on their future brand. Furthermore A&F began to trademark the Gilly Hicks name and sea-related logos in the United States and in the United Kingdom. The August Trademarks Journal reported that the UK trade marking was under four 'classes' including footgear, headgear, intimate apparel and imitate apparel accessories, athletic wear and athletic wear accessories, swimwear and swimwear accessories, fashion accessories, bags, fragrances and jewelry. Furthermore, the names "Gilly Hicks" and "Gilly Hicks: Sydney" were filed for protection by A&F, including prototype logos encompassing conch shells, nautilus, scallops, and sand dollars (with the sea shell seen as the potential final logo). By October 2, 2007, select Hollister Co. stores began to promote GH through beauty products.
In the end of 2007, the brand's official homepage was launched as a promotional website, featuring a sepia toned promotional image of five men & one woman all in underwear. By December 26, 2007, the site was made restricted to underage visitors because of its only feature, a racy promotional film.
When it came to store locations, Tom Lennox from A&F stated that "having a 'portfolio' of strong brands strengthens Abercrombie's hand when negotiating with mall landlords for space." During the expansion of the upscale wing of Natick Collection, A&F's Concept Five was the first to be arranged an opening on the newly revamped level. Construction of the store soon followed. Employees for the future opening location were required under company policy not to divulge any information they had on the brand to the press or any other entity. They were not even allowed to view the merchandise until two weeks before opening. An employee who requested to remain anonymous mentioned before the opening that "[Abercrombie & Fitch has] done jeans and sweatshirts... The Abercrombie girl needs something for underneath."
Opening and reception
On January 21, 2008, the first Gilly Hicks store opened (measuring 10,000 sq ft (930 m2)) in the upscale wing of Natick Collection with high anticipation. Abercrombie & Fitch analysts were exclusively invited to the event, where Mike Jeffries introduced the brand. He called GH "the Cheeky cousin of Abercrombie & Fitch". Afterwards, the analysts were encouraged to interact with the company's senior management team.
After the event, analysts came out very impressed with the brand's image and merchandise. Analyst Kimberly C. Greenberger enjoyed the "warm and inviting store entrance," the GH bras collection, and called Gilly Hicks's image "cute and sweetly sexy." She further said that Gilly Hicks is a more "wholesome" alternative to Victoria's Secret and that "mothers would not mind taking their 15 year-olds to Gilly Hicks to shop."
After the event, the store became the target of interest for many shoppers. Anticipation that was built before the opening was displayed as the store became full of customers. Center officials of Natick reported an extensive line of customers outside the GH doors that went well into the afternoon. Michael McNaughton, vice president of General Growth (in charge of the expansion of the Natick upscale level and who expressed interest in the GH store at Natick), said that "the opening certainly created a buzz that was so huge on the internet. People from California all the way to Australia were talking about this concept and contemplating coming out to see it."
A retail analyst named Chris Boring warns that Abercrombie & Fitch's brands are a "little more susceptible" should recession hit, because their specialties are premium-priced goods rather than necessities. "But a great brand can overcome that," he said. Boring later commented that the image is smart nevertheless, as Americans are intrigued by the Australian culture.
Overall, Gilly hicks has considerable prospects for the future.
Four days after the opening, the Australian newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald published that GH coincidentally opened three months before the opening of Just Group's Peter Alexander (an underwear store). However, its CEO stated that GH will not be a competition, as both brands offer underwear to a completely different consumer group. The CEO was also curious on A&F's interpretation of Australia as a theme for an underwear store. Gillyhicks.com next became more informative with store locations and email subscriptions.
A total of 5 locations were open by the end of February. In months Gilly Hicks proved to very successful, gaining a great follow-up of customers from the Northeast and Midwest of the United States. The brand began expansion in the West coast on July 19, 2008, with the opening of an 11,000sqft store in Glendale, California's Americana at Brand. Chairman and CEO of Caruso Affiliated and developer of Americana at Brand mentioned, "The Gilly Hicks brand has already created a tremendous buzz ...So we are excited to give West coast consumers the first opportunity to shop in this one-of-a-kind store with its unique ambience and trendy merchandise." In July 2008, a second promotional film was launched. Although 16 stores were planed to open in 2008, only 13 did.
The brand launched its much waited-for online store on January 28, 2009. For Christmas 2009, GH introduced its first calendar for the 2010 year and its entourage of male models visited the stores nationwide.
Website and marketing
Gillyhicks.com first launched as a promotional website. This marketing technique was first implemented on RUEHL No.295 from 2004-2007. Today, Gilly Hicks operates an online store. It is the most sophisticated of the A&F homepages in accourdance with graphics. The brand launched its much waited-for online store on January 28, 2009. GH also operates a careers website.
The same sexual marketing tactics used for the Abercrombie & Fitch brand are also implied on Gilly Hicks marketing. It is considered a "fine line between sexy and soft-core porn." Mike Jeffries has stated that A&F is all about sex, and Gilly Hicks is the perfect concept to embody this aspect through exposing "a lot of skin" in its advertising. Photography is shot by Bruce Weber who does all other A&F brands' photography. Weber has a history of sexually provocative imagery, most notably for Calvin Klein underwear. Unlike most marketing for female-exclusive brands, men also are included to appeal to heterosexual women. The marketing photos are rendered to Sepia tone. For Christmas 2009, a collection of psychadelic-colorful and racy photographs, akin to images from A&F Quarterly, were debuted, featuring a menage-a-trois picture inspired by the pop culture hype generated by Britney Spears' 3.
The catchphrase "Down Undie(s)", which is a play on "Down Under", also plays a key role in advertisement. GH sent out emails to its subscribers titled Welcome Down Undie and saying "[...] check back [...] to [...] see what we're working on Down Undie." The catphrase I date a Gilly Girl is also used.
Gilly Hicks's first marketing film was restricted to over-age viewers. Nevertheless, it was easy to simply access the video by using a fake name, birthdate, and zipcode. The film featured a large assortment of topless women parading around the beach and home, as well as swimming, in panties. Scenes of naked men, interacting with the women, were scattered around the video as well. The video made a splash on the internet and received much publicity. Ohio State University marketing professor H. Rao Unnava said that "it was like watching a Playboy movie." Journalist Lori Price was surprised about all the nudity involved, not failing to mention that the film did not even market its products properly. She was even in denial about publishing an article about Gilly Hicks, a friend of hers mentioning that that is just what Abercrombie & Fitch wants, to spread the word of their shocking-people-with-sex brands to gather more attention.
The second marketing film made its debut in late July 2008 on the official homepage. It focuses on a young woman who goes horseback riding, attends a Sydney café, enjoys the beach in panties (and bra this time), and sketches a nude male with whom she also flirts around. The only explicit imagery is an instance with her silhouetted/shadowed breasts and a see-through bra. The woman's clothing while horseback riding is what Gilly Hicks wears in her portrait hung in stores, leading to the conclusion that the woman is a modern version of Hicks.
Both films are directed by John Urbano, who also does the films for all other Abercrombie & Fitch brands. In early 2009, a third film debuted which is a somewhat return to the raciness of the first film.
Jeffries called the intimate clothing "underwear, not lingerie." In store, Gilly Hicks brand representatives mention a lot about a "boy-girl tension" with the clothing (and other elements). The character of the merchandise is casual with boyish hints (hence the "boy-girl tension"). Indeed, A&F Careers sums up the merchandise as "classic and vibrant with a little tomboy sexiness." The mix of masculine and feminine design touches extends the store's theme of 'boy-girl tension' which carries over to the design of some of the 'boy style' cotton panties and tank tops," mentioned Vice President of GH. Gilly Hicks merchandise is priced to be affordable to Abercrombie & Fitch shoppers. Cotton underwear sells for $11.50 USD while lace bras are priced at $49.50 USD.
|Look up Appendix:Australian English terms for clothing in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Similar to how Hollister Co. apparel is named after SoCal beaches, GH clothing and fragrance is named after Sydney-neighboring beaches and neighborhoods. All clothing is tagged with a the GH label reading "Gilly Hicks / Sydney."
- The Bra Library
- Hundreds of bras of 40 different styles are placed on display on dark cherry wood shelves in the "Bra Library." This includes a variety of brassieres in an array of colors, silhouettes, and linings. The bras in the Library have proven to be very popular since the opening.
- Down Undies
- This encompasses different thongs, panties, boxers, and boxer briefs.
- Intricately designed traditional lace and vintage-looking silk bras, panties, and camis are separately provided in this area. This was previously named "Fashion".
- Hang Out
- This category includes casual wear. It spans over tops (logo shirts, tanks, hoodies, knits, and sweaters), bottoms (fleeces pants and shorts), sleepwear, dresses, and flip-flops. This was previously named "At Home".
- Body Care
- "Scented body" (Body wash, body lotion, hand & body cream, and body mist), "Eucalyptus" make-up (bronzing powder, bronzing brush, body lotion, gradual tan lotion, lip balm, and lip butter), "Lip" (gloss, color, tint, butter, and balm).
- This carries five fragrances all Eau de Parfume. These are Tamarama, Castlereagh, La Perouse, Kirrawee, and Kissing Point. In sleek bottles with a classic appearance, they are displayed in antiquated glass cabinets.
Design and concept
The Gilly Hicks store prototype is designed as a colonial-style manor house. However, the stores resemble more of a combination between that and a beach house. The interior is large with many varying-in-size rooms including fireplaces, chandeliers, and couches. Sofas are shabby-chic, the flooring is of oak, and the merchandise tables are of mahogany. Dressing rooms are designed spacious with an antique-styled cabinet filled with an array of sizes of the five anticipated top selling bras. A sign near the cabinet reads, "While your top is off, check out our drawers." Stores have unique "Bra Libraries." The library at Natick alone measures in at 200 sq ft (19 m2). In regards to the display of the items, Senior Vice President of Gilly Hicks commented that "the bras [in the Library] are on pegs, not hangers, because it's more irreverent." The "Living Room", which features comfortable sofas, end tables, and other residential furniture, measures at 1,000 sq ft (93 m2). Fragrance, lotions, and bath & body products are kept in glass cases in the center of the "Living Room" Also, the "At Home" area of the store is made to look laid-back and is home to loungewear offerings. Gilly Hicks stores are dimly lit within and loud music is blasted instore (a mix of the genres that play in Abercrombie & Fitch and RUEHL No.925 with and an inclusion of classics from 60s, 70s, 80s such as Michael Jackson, The Carpenters, and The Bangles).
The first four stores opened (see store listings) measure at 10,000 sq ft (930 m2). However, Abercrombie & Fitch will begin rolling out 7,000 sq ft (650 m2) locations by the end of 2008. The 10,000 sq ft (930 m2) stores encompass a dozen rooms. However, a 11,000sqft location was opened in July 2008 at Americana at Brand. Analysts see the expense of the stores as a drawback in the expanse of profitability.
Michael McNaughton stated that Abercrombie & Fitch has "created a store that inspires people to want to explore...people shopping for intimate apparel probably enjoy the discreet, closed setting. The lack of windows affords customers privacy, and that fact that the store isn't laid out in one giant room probably goes a long way in making a shopper feel comfortable." (See RUEHL No.925 for economical/customer issues involving no windows.)
Thirty-nine stores are reported to open by the end of 2010. A&F roughly estimates a long-term potential for 800 Gilly stores in the United States. Opportunities for international and/or flagship store openings have not been released. Nevertheless, international expansion for the brand is seen as a possibility because all other A&F brands have embarked on that endeavor. A&F CFO Michael W. Kramer said in a conference call with investors that "because our brands are not intended to appeal to everyone, an important characteristic of our business model is that we recognize its limits, how much we can grow each of our brands. We think we can open [Gilly Hicks] in every place Hollister does." Hollister also has a potential for 800 locations.
There are no current plans for Gilly Hicks to open in Easton Town Center (close to A&F Headquarters) which houses all other A&F brands. Easton Town Center released their expansion plans for 2010, which do not include Gilly Hicks for its 2010 expansion.
Stores expected to open are:
- Buffalo, New York / Walden Galleria, Spring 2010 (In former RUEHL store)
- McLean, Virginia / Tysons Corner Center, Spring 2010 (In former RUEHL store)
- Paramus, New Jersey / Garden State Plaza, Spring 2010 (In former RUEHL store)
- Honolulu, Hawaii / Ala Moana Center, Spring 2010 (In former RUEHL store)
- Roseville, California / Westfield Galleria at Roseville, Summer 2010
- Garden City, New York / Roosevelt Field Mall, Summer 2010 (In former RUEHL store)
- King of Prussia, Pennsylvania / King of Prussia Mall, Summer 2010
A complete list of Gilly Hicks locations.
- Arcadia, California / Westfield Santa Anita (opened August 7, 2008)
- Glendale, California / Americana at Brand (opened July 19, 2008)
- Farmington, Connecticut / Westfarms Mall (opened February 28, 2008)
- Miami, Florida / Aventura Mall (opened July 2008)
- Aurora, Illinois / Westfield Fox Valley (opened February 10, 2008)
- Orland Park, Illinois / Orland Square Mall (opened October 2008)
- Schaumburg, Illinois / Woodfield Mall (opened October 2008)
- Natick, Massachusetts / Natick Collection (opened January 21, 2008)
- Bloomington, Minnesota / Mall of America (opened February 2, 2008)
- Elizabeth, New Jersey / Jersey Gardens (Outlet; opened early 2009)
- Lake Grove, New York / Smith Haven Mall (opened February 2, 2008)
- West Nyack, New York / Palisades Center (opened January 29, 2009)
- Houston, Texas / The Galleria
- Plano, Texas / The Shops at Willow Bend (opened September 2008)
- San Antonio, Texas / The Shops at La Cantera (opened October 23, 2008)
- Tukwila, Washington / Westfield Southcenter (opened July 25, 2008)
- ^ a b Welcome Down Undie from Gilly Hicks, Sydney. November 11, 2008. Full text: "Welcome to Gilly Hicks. Thanks for signing up to receive email announcements from Gilly Hicks, Sydney. Our online shop opens in January. Be sure to check back often to see our film and what we're working on Down Undie."
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- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "The Americana at Brand Celebrates Much Anticipated Grand Opening of First Gilly Hicks in California, Saturday, July 19". Market Watch. 2008-07-17. http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/americana-brand-celebrates-much-anticipated/story.aspx?guid=%7B5E3C977E-BED5-4670-AD81-3F198F72F9EB%7D&dist=hppr. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m SCT - Shopping Centers Today Online
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- ^ Bra-wls: Abercrombie Declares Lingerie War On Victoria's Secret
- ^ a b c d e f "Brand History: get to know each brand's identity". Abercrombie & Fitch. https://associate.anfcorp.com/anf/webdav/site/extranet/shared/docs/New%20Store%20Associate/Brand%20history.pdf. Retrieved September 8, 2009.
- ^ a b c d e f Carson, Vanda (2008-01-25). "Rival hops in on eve of Just's US launch". Sydney Morning Herald. http://business.smh.com.au/rival-hops-in-on-eve-of-justs-us-launch/20080124-1nz3.html. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
- ^ a b c d e "Gilly Hicks Bares It All: New Abercrombie chain uses skin and story to market intimate apparel, loungewear to women". Trading Markets. http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/1030809/. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- ^ a b c d e f Sauder, Abram (2008-03-24). "Gilly Hicks: Sydney flashers". Brand Channel. http://www.brandchannel.com/features_webwatch.asp?ww_id=373. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
- ^ "At Mall, A Dark Cave of Underwear". http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/commentary/hc-plcbarone1130.artnov30,0,4370553.story. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
- ^ a b "Four Iconic Businesses: One "BRAND"" (PDF). http://library.corporate-ir.net/library/61/617/61701/items/249197/Piper_June_2007.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
- ^ a b The Fashion Spot. "Gilly Hicks Sydney: An Australian Themed Lingerie Brand from Abercrombie & Fitch". Press release. http://www.thefashionspot.com/forums/f60/gilly-hicks-sydney-australian-themed-lingerie-brand-abercrombie-fitch-63666.html. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m The Columbus Dispatch (2008-01-25). "Gilly Hicks Bares It All". Press release. http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/business/stories/2008/01/25/GILLY_HICKS.ART_ART_01-25-08_C8_FA95FGJ.html?sid=101. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- ^ a b c CCFC News - Would Hannah Montana wear it?
- ^ Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (2008-01-17). "Abercrombie & Fitch Hosts Investor Tour at its first Gilly Hicks Store". Press release. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=61701&p=irol-newsArticle_print&ID=1097699&highlight=. Retrieved 08-01-17.
- ^ a b c "Abercrombie Slips Into Something New". Blogging Stocks. http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2008/02/27/abercrombie-and-finch-slips-into-something-more-comfortable/. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- ^ Abercrombie & Fitch Co. - Investor Relations - News Release
- ^ Gilly Hicks | Store Employment Application
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- ^ Gilly Hicks Sydney goes Manage a Trois in its new campaign
- ^ Abercrombie catalog reborn for Europe
- ^ Blog.Jasoline.com (2008-01-10). "A&F Gets Naked With Gilly Hicks Line". Press release. http://blogs.jsonline.com/fashion/archive/2008/01/10/gilly-hicks.aspx. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- ^ a b Gilly Hicks Takes on VS, Aerie | Clipmarks
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