The company, which reported a disappointing 33 percent drop in fourth-quarter profits, as sales dipped from $16.4 billion in 2014 to $15.8 billion in 2015, hopes the new initiative, set to roll out this summer, will help fuel long term growth.
Following the strong performance of current activewear lines at Athleta, Old Navy and Gap, during an earnings call last week, CEO Art Peck explained:
“We are present and accounted for in the mainstream of what is probably the most important ready-to-wear trend that we’ve seen since skinny denim maybe came on the scene.”
However, after a year of transition which saw Gap struggling to reignite growth, the global retailer hopes that becoming even more responsive to the trend will enable the company to consistently deliver on-brand collections in existing and new segments.
Peck, who told investors that Gap is “buying what’s working, rather than guessing what’s going to work,” is committed to this philosophy. The launch of Athleta Girl is one of a number of initiatives the company is implementing in order to stay ahead of the curve.
Featuring similar designs to those found in Athleta’s main collection, Athleta Girl will be stocked in select Athleta stores as well as online, in an attempt to replicate the success of rival brand Ivivva, created by Lululemon.
Ivivva, a fast-growing girls label, launched in 2009 and has nearly doubled its footprint from 22 to 41 stores over the last twelve months and has the potential to be a major growth driver for the company, attracting the next generation of loyal Lululemon customers.
And with an increasing amount of kids jumping on the wellness bandwagon demand for activewear in smaller sizes is set to grow in what’s currently a relatively untapped market.
“It all trickles down,” Saks fashion director Colleen Sherin told the Observer while discussing the trend, and like Lululemon, Gap is getting ready to catch the flow.