Gilly Hicks

Abercrombie & Fitch brand

name = Gilly Hicks
bgcolor = #3D2B1F
fgcolor = #79443B
type = Subsidiary
establishment = January 21, 2008
headquarters = Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
6301 Fitch Path
New Albany, Ohio 43054
key people = Michael S. Jeffries, Chairman & CEO
apparel type = Women's underwear, loungewear, and personal care goods
initials = GH
theme = Australia, Down Under
color scheme = Burgundy & Sepia
areas served = USA
store locations = 10 (September 2008)
revenue =
net income =
employees =
website = []

Gilly Hicks is a lifestyle brand,cite press release |url=|title=Abercrombie & Fitch Gets Intimate: The Preppie Pros Launch New Lingerie Line|first=Pheb|last=Hunnicutt|publisher=Stylelist|accessdate=2008-03-27] from American company Abercrombie & Fitch, specializing in women's "intimate apparel from casual to sexy, relaxed loungewear and personal care products." [ SCT - Shopping Centers Today Online ] ] Marketed for the female consumers of it's parent brand, Gilly Hicks is officially labled as "the Cheeky cousin of Abercrombie & Fitch."cite web|url=|title=Our Brands|publisher=Abercrombie & Fitch Co.|accessdate=October 8, 2008

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.cite news |url= |title=Abercrombie & Fitch: Not just all-American |first=Jeffrey |last=Sheban |date=2007-06-14 |publisher=Columbus Dispatch |accessdate=2007-06-14] The rescent brand has been named as one of Mike Jeffries' best new ideas for Abercrombie & Fitch's portfolio of brands.

GH is primarily set to compete with large lingerie chains Victoria's Secret, Frederick's of Hollywood and Aerie.cite press release |url=|title=Gilly Hicks Sydney: Underwear For Those Who Don't Appear To Wear It|first=Tom|last=Barlow|date=2008-03-10|publisher=Luxist|accessdate=2008-03-27] [ [ Bra-wls: Abercrombie Declares Lingerie War On Victoria's Secret ] ]



Fictional background

Gilly Hicks was based on a fictional background developed by A&F Chairman and CEO Mike Jeffries. Intended to complete the image of the brand, the story is as follows: "In 1932 the English family 'Hicks' immigrated to Sydney, Australia. In their 'British colonial-style manor house' the daughter of the Hicks, Gilly, opened an underwear shop.cite news |url= |title=Rival hops in on eve of Just's US launch |first=Vanda |last=Carson |date=2008-01-25 |publisher=Sydney Morning Herald |accessdate=2008-02-09] In the 'living room' of every store hangs a supposed "portrait" of Gilly Hicks.

Critics claim that this "Gilly Hicks:Sydney" and fictional background simply make the brand fake. There is nothing Australian about it at all, just like its creator Mike Jeffries who prides in American casual fashion. However, the fact that the brand and its products are inspired by Australia is being used as a factor to attract customers.

The name of the brand coincides with Colin 'Gilly' Hicks, who resides in Southern England. 'Gilly' is a nickname that was given to him when he was young for his ability to 'drink like a fish'. [cite web|url=|title=Accidental Mascot for Retail Chain? Abercrombie's hush-hush new concept may share name with Brit Gilly Hicks|accessdate=2008-03-27]


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".cite web |url= |title=Four Iconic Businesses: One "BRAND" |format=PDF |accessdate=2008-02-09] 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.cite press release |url=|title=Gilly Hicks Sydney: An Australian Themed Lingerie Brand from Abercrombie & Fitch|publisher=The Fashion Spot|accessdate=2008-03-27] 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, featuring a sepia toned promotional image of five men and one woman all in underwear. By December 26, 2007, the site was deemed restricted to underage visitors because of its only feature, its provocative promotional film.

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. [ CCFC News - Would Hannah Montana wear it? ] ] 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 Co. have] done jeans and sweatshirts... The Abercrombie girl needs something for underneath."

Investment figures on Gilly Hicks stand at $7.5 million USD in 2006 and up to $15 million USD in 2007.

Opening and reaction

On January 21 2008, the first Gilly Hicks store opened (measuring 10,000ft2) in the upscale wing of Natick Collection with high anticipation.cite web|url=|title=Gilly Hicks Bares It All: New Abercrombie chain uses skin and story to market intimate apparel, loungewear to women|publisher=Trading Markets|accessdate=2008-03-27] 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.cite press release |url= |title=Abercrombie & Fitch Hosts Investor Tour at its first Gilly Hicks Store |location= NEW ALBANY, Ohio |date=2008-01-17 |publisher=Abercrombie & Fitch Co. |accessdate=08-01-17]

After the event, analysts came out very impressed with the brand's image and merchandise.cite press release |url=|title=Gilly Hicks Bares It All|first=Marla|last=Rose|date=2008-01-25|publisher=The Columbus Dispatch|accessdate=2008-03-27] 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 report 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 conplemplating 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. However, Lennox from A&F says that "having a 'portfolio' of strong brands strengthens Abercrombie's hand when negotiating with mall landlords for space." Boring later commented that the image is smart, as Americans are intrigued by Australian culture.


On 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.

Over all, the opening time for Gilly Hicks is seen as a good fit for its future. Both Victoria's Secret and aerie have seen significant drops in shares and store sales, potential competitors against GH.

Gilly Hicks has proven very successful, and it has already gained 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 this one-of-a-kind store with its unique ambience and trendy merchandise." Southwestern locations will roll out by late 2008, and Southeastern by early 2009 (see: "Expansion plans").


Website and marketing

The same sexual marketing tactics used for the Abercrombie & Fitch brand are also implied on Gilly Hicks marketing. The marketing 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.cite web|url=|title=Gilly Hicks: Sydney flashers|publisher=Brand Channel|date=2008-24-03|accessdate=2008-19-07|first=Abram|last=Sauder] [cite web|url= |title=The Man Behind Abercrombie & Fitch |last=Denizet-Lewis |first=Benoit | |accessdate=2007-12-08]

The first advertisement film was launched with an under-age restriction. Despite this, it was easy to simply access the video by using a fake name, birthdate, and zipcode. The "GH 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.cite web|url=|title=Gilly Hicks: Sydney website|publisher=Abercrombie & Fitch Co.|accessdate=2007-12-27] Ohio State University marketing professor H. Rao Unnava said that "it was like watching a Playboy movie." [ [ Abercrombie catalog reborn for Europe] ] The video made a splash on the internet and received much publicity by journalists. Journalist Lori Price herself was surprised about all the nudity involved, not failing to mention that the film did not even market its products properly.cite press release |url=|title=A&F Gets Naked With Gilly Hicks Line|first=Lori|last=Price|date=2008-01-10||accessdate=2008-03-27] 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 mainly centers on a young woman sketching a nude male form and also horseback riding while enjoying natural features of Australia. The website now offers store listings, email subscription, privacy policies. GH as well operates a careers website. [ [ Gilly Hicks | Store Employment Application ] ] The Company plans on launching an online retail store in the near future (possibly with something similar to Abercrombie & Fitch).


Jeffries called the intimate clothing "underwear, not lingerie." [ Gilly Hicks Takes on VS, Aerie | Clipmarks ] ] 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, the company 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.

Items include hip underwear, bras, panties, thongs, boxers, boxer briefs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, pajama pants, summery tank tops, and swimsuits. The apparel is suited to every taste from skimpy to full coverage in a variety of colors. Traditional lace and vintage-looking silk underwear is also provided in a separate area. The brand also carries perfume, whose container is designed with an antique look, and is displayed in antiquated glass cabinets. They also carry many lotions, body mists, and body washes. Hundreds of bras of 40 different stylescite web|url=|title=Abercrombie Slips Into Something New|publisher=Blogging Stocks|accessdate=2008-03-27] are placed on display on dark cherry wood shelves in the "Bra Library." In regards to the display of the items, Senior Vice President of Gilly Hicks commented that "the bras are on pegs, not hangers, because it's more irreverent." The bras in the Library have proven to be very popular since the opening.cite web|url=|title=The Americana at Brand Celebrates Much Anticipated Grand Opening of First Gilly Hicks in California, Saturday, July 19|date=2008-17-07|accessdate=2008-19-07|publisher=Market Watch] Fragrance, lotions, and bath & body products are kept in the "Living Room" 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."

Photography books by Bruce Weber (photographer for Abercrombie & Fitch) and by other male-form appraising photographers are even on sale, meant to draw the attention of heterosexual women.



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 huge 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 200ft2. The "Living Room", which features comfortable sofas, end tables, and other residential furniture, measures at 1,000ft2.cite web|url=|title=Gilly Hicks|publisher=Fashion Club|accessdate=2008-03-27] 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.

The first four stores opened ("see below") measure at 10,000ft2. However, Abercrombie & Fitch will begin rolling out 7,000ft2 locations by the end of 2008. The 10,000ft2 stores encompass a dozen rooms. However, a 11,000sqft location was opened in July 2008 at Americana at Brand. 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 Abercrombie and Fitch for economical/customer issues involving no windows.") The expense of the stores, however, is seen as a drawback in the expanse of profitability.

Expansion plans

A&F plans on opening sixteen GH stores by the end of 2008 [ Abercrombie & Fitch Co. - Investor Relations - News Release ] ] , five of which opened by the end of February. The company has said they plan on opening 39 stores through 2010, and that it predicts a long-term potential for 800 Gilly stores. In regards to international or flagship store opportunities, nothing has been discussed publicly on the matter. However, international expansion for the brand is seen as a possibility. CFO of A&F, 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."

Even though Easton Town Center near the A&F Home Office houses every A&F brand, there are no plans yet to open a store there. A possible opening in 2009 could well be at the upscale Lenox Square in Atlanta, Georgia. [ R&R Watch ATL: New Abercrombie Concept, "Gilly Hicks" May Be In Atlanta In 2009 ] ]

tore listings

Current stores:
*Natick, Massachusetts / Natick Collection, opened January 21, 2008
*Bloomington, Minnesota / Mall of America, opened February 2, 2008
*Lake Grove, New York / Smith Haven Mall, opened February 2, 2008
*Aurora, Illinois / Westfield Fox Valley, opened February 10, 2008
*Farmington, Connecticut / Westfarms Mall, opened February 28, 2008
*Glendale, California / Americana at Brand, opened July 19, 2008
*Miami, Florida / Aventura Mall, opened July 2008
*Tukwila, Washington / Westfield Southcenter, opened July 25, 2008
*Arcadia, California / Westfield Santa Anita, opened August 7, 2008
*Plano, Texas / The Shops at Willow Bend, opened September 2008

Upcoming store openings :cite web |url= |title=Gilly Hicks: Sydney website / "Stores" feature |publisher=Abercrombie & Fitch Co. |accessdate=2007-12-27]
*Orland Park, Illinois / Orland Square Mall Fall 2008
*Schaumburg, Illinois / Woodfield Mall, Fall 2008
*West Nyack, New York / Palisades Center, Fall 2008
*Buffalo, New York / Walden Galleria, Feb. 2009
*McLean, Virginia / Tysons Corner Center, Opening Date TBD


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