- American Eagle Outfitters brand Aerie is rallying New York City’s “hidden gem” local businesses for a one-day pop-up event celebrating its fall 2023 collection, per details shared with Marketing Dive.
- The event, dubbed the Hidden Gems Marketplace, is being held Aug. 15 in the Meatpacking District and will feature free items from participating vendors along with the chance to win prizes. Attendees can also donate a previously worn bra to be fitted for a free, new bra.
- The effort features a charitable component, with donated bras going to Free the Girls, a nonprofit advocating for sex trafficking survivors. The effort arrives as Aerie strategizes a “reintroduction” of its intimate apparel business, according to CMO Stacey McCormick.
Aerie is on a mission to “make boobs happy” this fall, per release details, bringing together a slew of local businesses for an expansive pop-up event celebrating the retailer’s fall assortment. The effort — the first-of-its-kind for the brand — arrives as part of a larger push by Aerie to elevate its intimate apparel business, a category that, despite its popularity, has struggled to gain visibility with newer customers, including Gen Z, according to McCormick.
“It's interesting doing the research and really digging into our customer [base], which is what we do all the time, we've learned that even though we've built an incredible base of customers over the past few years, a lot of them don't know that we have intimates, and those that are new to the brand don't know at all that we have intimates,” McCormick said.
In hopes of changing the narrative, Aerie’s Hidden Gems Marketplace will feature the retailer's “It List” of products from its fall assortment, including a slew of “cozy and comfy” items along with selections from the brand’s four bra collections, per release details. The event, which is being held from 12-6 p.m. ET in Gansevoort Plaza, will also include offerings like an Aerie-branded newspaper and the chance to win prizes through a prize wheel.
Also in attendance will be other “hidden gems,” or businesses local to NYC, that Aerie hand-selected based on shared values around positivity. Among participants are Brooklyn Blooms, a floral boutique rooted in the idea that everyone deserves custom-tailored florals, and Mikey Likes It, an artisanal ice cream shop inspired by pop culture. Other attendees will include: Inked by Dani, Kobrick Coffee Co., Palace One Eleven, PopUp Bagels, Schmackary’s, Sunday Forever and Tom’s Perfect 10.
In a push to bring its bras center-focus, Aerie at the event is also offering the option for guests to “break up with their bra” by donating previously worn styles, which can come from any brand. After donating, participants can be fitted for a free bra from Aerie’s fall collection by an on-site brand specialist. In total, Aerie will give away 500 free bras at the event. The retailer is also offering a similar trade-in event at all Aerie stores from Aug. 24-27 to allow consumers to trade in a used bra in exchange for a discounted $20 replacement, and for Aerie credit card holders, the bra will be free.
“We wanted to set out this fall and make sure that people understood that we are the O.G. comfy bra spot, that we are famous for intimates,” McCormick said. “We've sold over 100 million bras — we know what we're doing here and we want to make sure that we turn people on to it.”
All donations from the Hidden Gems Marketplace and in-store trade-in events will benefit nonprofit Free the Girls, which utilizes new and gently used bras to provide economic opportunity for survivors of sex trafficking. The nonprofit tie-up is supported by the Aerie Real Foundation, the brand’s philanthropic component founded last October. Since its inception, the foundation has given nearly $850,000 in grants, according to McCormick. A charitable component for the event could help Aerie shore up a stronger connection to Gen Z, a cohort known for being cause-driven.
The latest push by Aerie follows a strong start to the year for the brand, which in the first quarter saw a 12% year-over-year revenue gain for a total of $359 million, according to an earnings statement from parent AEO. While the company isn’t expected to share its second quarter earnings until September, AEO on Aug. 3 raised its guidance for the period to reflect better-than-expected results.