How Hollister’s new ‘influencer’ brand already is bringing in new customers

Columbus Business First

Abercrombie & Fitch can think of 250 million reasons for doing business with the D’Amelio sisters.

The New Albany-based retailer this month announced a multi-year deal with social media personalities and influencers Charli D’Amelio and Dixie D’Amelio. It’s a relationship that’s already putting its apparel in front of the sisters’ combined 250 million social media followers with exposure only expected to grow from there.

The new Social Tourist brand will be sold online through Hollister and in select stores.

CEO Fran Horowitz told Columbus Business First that the deal gets Hollister direct access to its key customers while attracting new ones as well.

Even at this early stage, the venture has garnered 85 million social media impressions and 25 million views of the launch video. The brand is going to be featured on the D’Amelio’s upcoming Hulu show as well.

One stock analyst on a Wednesday morning call with the company said her two kids already were raving about the brand.

The Social Tourist product plan breaks down into four areas. The true fashion pieces will be those in limited quantity and high demand and sold online only.

“These are exclusive items,” Horowitz said. “The goal is to sell out.”

The graphic merchandise such as branded sweatshirts and T-shirts will be available online and in select stores. Fashion basics will be sold online. Those will be in greater numbers and easier to access. The brand will feature swimwear as well.

The impact of the deal goes beyond just the Social Tourist line though.

“This is an exciting halo for Hollister,” Horowitz said on the analyst call. “We’re already seeing them bring in a new customer base for us.”

The fashion will trickle down through Hollister products as well, starting with the earliest new-trend products at the top of the pyramid.

It’s not the only brand to have potential. The company also continues to build up its Gilly Hicks business of intimates, loungewear and sleepwear. Those sales were up 90% in the quarter.

CFO Scott Lipesky on the call described Gilly Hicks as “a nice growth vehicle.”

Brands such as Social Tourist and Gilly Hicks give the company new avenues of business to grow without the need to invest in traditional storefronts like the classic Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch stores. The products are available in Hollister shops and there are some side-by-side Gilly Hicks locations.

But that isn’t a knock on brick-and-mortar.

Horowitz, in talking to Columbus Business First, reiterated the importance of the physical space.

Meanwhile the two main brands, Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch, have not only seen sales increase but also are seeing more full-price selling which has helped margins improve. That’s one of several positive trends Horowitz noted Wednesday.

For more business headlines, go to ColumbusBusinessFirst.com.

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