Athleisure Isn’t Booming for Everyone — Gap to Shutter Hill City Activewear Brand After Just Two Years

As it looks to recover following the coronavirus pandemic, Gap Inc. announced Friday its plans to wind down its men’s activewear brand, Hill City.

The label launched in fall 2018 as a men’s-focused alternative to Gap’s Athleta. Gap said it plans to “apply learnings and talent” from Hill City across its portfolio — including implementing the brand’s styles and fits at other owned labels, including Banana Republic.

“We are living in unprecedented times with unprecedented consequences.  I am so proud of the Hill City team and what we accomplished in such a short time,” said Hill City head Noah Palmer. “From all of us at Hill City, and from the deepest parts of our hearts, thank you for being a loyal customer, supporter and friend, and helping us build our dream product and brand.”

According to a statement posted on the Hill City Instagram, the brand employs a team of about 20 persons. The socially responsible label launched as a certified B-corporation and built a “wear tester” base of roughly 1,400 customers. Hill City plans to wind down operations over the course of the year, with returns to continue to be accepted in the coming months. Best-selling styles will continue to be restocked for now, and there are still new styles that will drop. The brand said everything will be on sale “to ensure that we move through the rest of our inventory responsibly.”

Gap’s decision to shut down Hill City comes as the athleisure category continues to experience growth, making it a persistent growth area for athletic brands such as Nike, Adidas and Lululemon. According to an Allied Market Research report, the global athleisure market was worth $163.7 million in 2019 and is predicted to hit at $257.1 million by 2026, representing an annual growth rate of 6.7%.

But Gap has faced numerous challenges amid the coronavirus crisis — with first-quarter revenue tumbling 43 year-over-year with net losses totaling $932 million. The company ceased paying rent amid coronavirus-induced store closures and warned that it could permanently close some outposts. As it looks to recover, Gap is focusing its efforts on larger brands, such as Banana Republic and Old Navy.

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