WWD Exclusive: Aerie Introduces Activewear Brand OFFLINE by Aerie

The launch marks parent company American Eagle Outfitters’ second new brand launch in under a month.

By Kellie Ell | Link to article

Aerie is getting active. 

The intimates brand, part of the American Eagle Outfitters family, is launching a new sub-brand today called Offline by Aerie.

The activewear line — an extension of Aerie’s popular Chill.Play.Move collection — is made up of more than 250 pieces and includes leggings, sports bras, bike shorts, fleece and accessories, in Flower-Power patterns, animal prints and lots of splashy colors.

“Offline is about you moving,” Jennifer Foyle, Aerie global brand president, told WWD. “You’re an Aerie customer and now we’re going to move with you and take you onto the next level of your journey, whatever it is.”

While the activewear market remains saturated with big names like Nike, Adidas and Lululemon, as well as scores of smaller brands and start-ups, Foyle said what makes Offline special is that it can be worn while incorporating movement into everyday life, however big or small that may be.

“It could be waking up and taking your dogs for a walk,” Foyle said. “I would like to see more journeys with girls that maybe need that help getting off the sofa or [who] are new to working out. I don’t think it should look particularly forced.”

True to form, the brand is also a little bit imperfect. The crooked “i” in the logo is meant to remind shoppers that it’s OK to celebrate flaws, Foyle said. (Aerie was one of the first brands to feature models of different shapes and sizes — sans airbrushing — back in 2014 with its AerieReal campaign.) The success of the AerieReal campaign encouraged Foyle and her team to continue building on that platform.

“We’re a humble brand,” Foyle said. “We always have work to do and are thinking about what more we can deliver to our consumer. We want to embrace the future, a bright future and do things differently.”

That’s why Foyle began conceptualizing the brand more than a year ago, before the pandemic hit and before working-out-from-home became the norm.

“The customer was demanding it,” she said. “COVID-19 has definitely taught us all to think differently, as far as leadership, as far as consumer product offerings, as far as where we’re going. But, as far as when we considered Offline by Aerie, we felt like she wanted more from us. I don’t think [fitness trends] are just [a product of] current times. I think it’s a new lifestyle.”

The activewear launch also marks parent company American Eagle Outfitters’ second new brand launch in less than a month. The retailer opened Unsubscribed, a single store retail concept in The Hamptons that focuses on slow retail, earlier this summer. (American Eagle Outfitters also owns Todd Snyder, in addition to the nameplate brand.)

Foyle said Unsubscribed is off to a good start as many shoppers seek refuge from the city heat in the middle of a pandemic.

Meanwhile, Aerie continues to break records. The intimates brand is the second largest lingerie e-tailer, second only to market share leader Victoria’s Secret, according to the NPD Group. In 2018, Aerie had 3 percent of the U.S. women’s intimate apparel industry, up from 2 percent a year earlier, according to Euromonitor International.

In March, Foyle told WWD that Aerie — then already nearing the $1 billion mark — had its sights set on becoming a $3 billion brand. And despite company losses last quarter as a result of the coronavirus shutdown, digital sales at Aerie surged 75 percent during the quarter. Aerie also continues to open new physical stores as many of its peers close brick-and-mortar locations at alarming rates. The brand opened about 60 new stores last year. Foyle added recently that two Offline by Aerie stores are coming by the end of the year, but was tightlipped about the locations.

“We have not even come close to leveraging what we can do with the Aerie platform,” Foyle said. “There’s so much opportunity.”

Offline by Aerie is available at aerie.com and Aerie stores. The prices range between $15.95 to $64.95, and run in sizes XXS to XXL. Foyle said her team will continue to add to the product assortment, with things like shoes and more sustainable fabrics in the future.

“Offline is not one-dimensional,” Foyle said. “It’s a journey with our customer; it’s how we feel she’s living and the product categories that she needs.”