- Hollister Co., the surf-themed retailer owned by Abercrombie & Fitch, appointed its first "chief gaming scout" and released limited-edition gaming apparel, per a press release.
- Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf, an 18-year-old world champion Fortnite player with 4.8 million Twitch followers, will assume the role. As part of his first contribution, Bugha helped craft a hoodie and sweatpants set specifically designed for gamers, with a large zip pocket for storing snacks and an oversized hood to fit over a headset. The apparel will be available at www.hollisterco.com and in select Hollister stores while supplies last.
- Bugha will also help to lead Team Hollister, the brand's gamer training program focused on developing up-and-coming streamers. The combined efforts see the retailer making its first big dive into a space increasingly inhabited by teen audiences.
Hollister is angling to meet Gen Z consumers by going all in on gamer culture. Teenagers — the clothing brand's target audience — are heavily interested in video games and video game streaming, especially Fortnite, which Bugha professionally plays. By appointing him chief gaming scout, the brand could demonstrate to consumers that it has a long-term interest in the space while drawing from Bugha's large pool of young followers.
"We're always focused on meeting our Gen Z customers where they are, and gaming continues to be a rising area of interest for global teens," Kristin Scott, global brand president at Abercrombie & Fitch Co., said in the release.
With the release of a gamer apparel set, Hollister is capitalizing on its position to serve Gen Z consumers their top wallet priority. The practical features of the hoodie and sweatpant set — which were designed via vote by Bugha's Instagram followers — could make the apparel more attractive to gamers. A secret message written in Morse code is also included on the hoodie, as well as Bugha's pug, Zoey — a nod to the gamer's personal brand that could appeal to diehard fans.
Rounding out the campaign, Bugha will lead the selection process for Team Hollister, the brand's gamer training program that signals a renewed commitment to the space via a Twitch partnership. Through livestreamed training sessions — including a charity livestream on Giving Tuesday — monthly mentorship and a $10,000 sponsorship for each gamer, Hollister could ingratiate itself with the next generation of popular streamers and their followings — a strategic move seeing that the brand has lost favor with segments of Gen Z in recent years.
The step toward gaming reflects other moves from parent company Abercrombie & Fitch to meet consumers in an increasingly online world. The retailer in July appointed its first chief digital and technology officer, who will oversee the digital experience across each portfolio brand. On the marketing side, the company has made several attempts to align itself more closely with social media, including an IGTV miniseries on LGBTQ mental health last year and standalone teen influencer-inspired brand Social Tourist in May.
Correction: A previous version of this brief incorrectly stated Social Tourist's role within Abercrombie & Fitch Co. It is a standalone brand under the retailer's umbrella.