Abercrombie & Fitch

Gilly Hicks Consumer Research

Consumer Insights and Brand Strategy 

A shift in brand direction that focuses on inclusivity and encouragement.

Consumer research and strategic positioning for the teen intimates line from A&F, Gilly Hicks.

The team at Hollister was looking to further define and strategically position their teen intimates brand, Gilly Hicks, at the time, a major shift in messaging was taking place in the space. As female empowerment movements like Me Too were dominating the cultural conversation, many brands, including direct competitors, were anchoring their positions on encouraging concepts like strength, confidence and bravery. Gilly Hicks need to carve out its own space in the conversation, while still aligning with the positive, upbeat nature of its sister brand, Hollister.

Our Approach

Archrival kicked off an extensive custom research project that included both qualitative and quantitative methods to better understand how female-identifying teens were interpreting messages of empowerment that were so common at the time. Our goal was to uncover what these teens were feeling and thinking in relation to the space that no one else was saying.

The results surprised us. The most universal theme that emerged from the data was one we labeled, pressure”. Teens were expressing to us that they felt just as much pressure from messages telling them to be strong, confident and successful, as they were from messages considered more traditional in the space — around being beautiful or thin. To them it seemed, it was all the same — society was telling them who and how to be.


Gen Z females have felt just as much pressure to be strong, confident and intelligent as they have to meet a standard of physical beauty. At their core, they feel frustrated by a lack of freedom to just be — whatever that means to them.

This massive insight became the cornerstone of Gilly Hick’s new brand position. All messaging and creative would be crafted in a way that allowed its target audience the space to think, feel and identify for themselves. All imagery and all messaging would steer clear of using any gender-specific pronouns to ensure anyone who needed or wanted to use the product could feel safe and secure doing so. 

In the end, Archrival delivered a full brand strategy that included a manifesto and tag, Wildly Undefined”, later used in brand creative.


A shift in brand direction that focuses on inclusivity and encouragement of consumers to interpret, own and express what it means to be an individual.