Hilary Swank’s Athleisure Gamble
Here’s how you can measure the state of the modern movie star: having not one but TWO Oscars in your early 40s doesn’t mean job security.
That is the only reason I can explain Hilary Swank’s lifestyle push. In a new interview with InStyle, she talks about her athleisure line, Mission Statement. It’s clothes you can wear to the gym to the office to dinner to tennis (why you would ever want to wear the same clothes for all of those activities, I don’t know). This idea that women are too busy to dress themselves is a bit inane, no? Some people like simple, mix-and-match wardrobes, some people like putting together complex outfits, but I don’t know a single person who is literally too busy to get dressed.
I guess the point of this is to be ready at all times, for anything. OK, fine. That’s why athleisure (or as Vogue calls it, athluxury, which much better reflects the price point) is so popular. I wear a lot of Alexander Wang but don’t wear it when I (occasionally) work out; I just like the look. There’s a lot of competition in this category, like Stella McCartney collaborates with Adidas, FILA is super popular again, Rihanna works with Puma, Lululemon, Kit and Ace, Y-3 – you get the idea. There’s no shortage of fancy sweatpants in several price points.
So what does Mission Statement bring to the table? Hilary’s co-founder Carolyn Risoli was integral to the Marc by Marc Jacobs launch, so it’s definitely not amateur hour. The pieces are nice – but $450 for a tennis dress is hardly accessible to most people. And it looks like it tops out at size 8, which is really limiting, too. So it’s on the expensive size and for 0-8. Hilary Swank wants to dress Hilary Swank, I guess.
Most commerce-drive lifestyle companies (like Draper James and goop) are modelled after their founder, so it makes sense that this is what Hilary is making. But looking at the big picture, why is she making anything? She has spent years being quite private and choosing her products carefully. We don’t know a lot about Hilary Swank, which is great for her as an actress, but not so great for a lifestyle brand.
Now she has to go out and sell cashmere jumpers at $495 a pop. And she needs to push a narrative around the company and justify why she thinks this is “reinventing athleisure.” But she has no base to start from – we knew Reese was Southern and we knew Gwyneth was snobby, so their brand launches made sense. What do we know about Hilary Swank, besides the Oscars and forgetting her ex in her acceptance speech? Not much. In terms of branding, she’s actually lagging behind most because she’s been an actress first and foremost.
The work tied into lifestyle, probably because it’s largely tied to women, is underestimated, as is the competition and expense. I’m curious as to how this brand evolves because I think she’ll find that selling $145 “ethereal” tank tops will be even more of a hustle than an Oscar campaign.