Fabletics, the popular athletic wear company co-founded by Kate Hudson, has made major waves in the world of affordable, stylish workout gear since its launch in 2013. With its signature monthly membership model that offers big discounts on designer activewear, Fabletics has amassed over 2 million members and expanded into new categories like dresses, swimwear, and accessories. But could scrubs be next on Fabletics’ list? Here’s an in-depth look at whether Fabletics is getting into the medical apparel business.
The Growth of Fabletics
In just under a decade, Fabletics has experienced meteoric growth, leveraging a subscription model, social media marketing, and celebrity founder Kate Hudson. The company generated over $300 million in revenue in 2016 alone. Fabletics has also expanded from selling just leggings and sports bras in the beginning to offering a wide range of athleisure apparel, shoes, and accessories. The company has even moved into building a network of brick-and-mortar retail stores, with over 50 locations across the U.S.
Fabletics has also gotten into more categories beyond just activewear, like dresses, swimsuits, and men’s apparel. The company is clearly interested in dominating all areas of affordable on-trend casualwear. This push into new areas outside strict athleisurewear has led some to speculate that Fabletics may next venture into more unexpected categories like medical scrubs.
The Growing Scrubs Market
The market for medical scrubs and uniforms is substantial and expanding. The global medical apparel market was valued at $86.15 billion USD in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.0% from 2022 to 2030, reaching over $150 billion USD. Scrubs and other medical uniforms make up a significant segment of this market, as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other medical facilities purchase scrubs in bulk for their staff.
Moreover, much like activewear, scrubs have also been undergoing a stylistic change. Hospital staff today want their scrubs to not only be functional and hygienic but also comfortable and stylish. This presents an opportunity for athletic and lifestyle brands to disrupt the market.
|Global Medical Apparel Market Size
|$92.36 billion (projected)
|$150.83 billion (projected)
As a company accustomed to making on-trend athleticwear, Fabletics could leverage their design experience and fabrics knowledge to create fashionable scrubs that would stand out in the healthcare environment.
Fabletics’ Possible Advantages in Scrubs
If Fabletics were to enter the healthcare apparel space, the brand would have several advantages:
- Established supply chain – Fabletics already has an established system for sourcing quality fabrics and manufacturing clothing efficiently at scale.
- In-house design team – Fabletics’ designers know how to make stylish, comfortable performance wear that stands up to activity and washing.
- Loyal membership base – Fabletics’ 2+ million members provide a ready audience to market new products like scrubs to.
- Brand awareness – Fabletics has an internationally recognized brand name thanks to its marketing and Kate Hudson’s celebrity status.
- Vertical integration – Fabletics’ parent company TechStyle Fashion Group also owns online fashion retailer JustFab, giving Fabletics insight into dressier styles.
Leveraging these strengths, Fabletics could produce better-designed, more affordable scrubs than traditional uniform companies using its athleticwear knowledge and membership model. Especially as younger generations enter healthcare fields, they may be drawn to stylish scrub brands they recognize like Fabletics.
Potential Challenges Fabletics May Face
However, Fabletics could also face hurdles launching into medical apparel:
- New manufacturing/materials requirements – Scrubs have different durability, washability, and safety requirements than typical athleticwear.
- Regulations – Medical apparel has stricter regulatory requirements, which Fabletics would need to meet.
- New customers – Healthcare organizations have lengthy sales cycles and approval processes that differ from individual consumer purchases.
- Competition – Fabletics would face competition from established uniform brands like Cherokee, Dickies, Landau, and others.
- Negative press – Past controversies about Fabletics’ membership model and fabric quality caused PR struggles.
Fabletics would need to invest significant resources into understanding and adapting to the healthcare apparel industry’s unique needs and standards. The company would also have to convince risk-averse healthcare buyers to take a chance on its scrubs over proven options. And Fabletics’ branding still suffers from past claims about deceptive marketing and poor quality, which healthcare organizations may be reluctant to associate with.
Fabletics’ Forays into New Categories
Looking at how Fabletics has expanded into other new product areas in the past could indicate how the company might approach entering medical apparel:
In 2017, Fabletics unveiled a swim and beachwear line, expanding from just activewear into swim styles. To make its swim launch successful, Fabletics:
- Used proprietary fabrics designed to be chlorine-resistant, shape-retaining, and with UV protection
- Focused on bikinis and one-piece suits offering both fashionable styles and performance features for active beachgoers
- Capitalized on Kate Hudson starring in a sexy bikini ad campaign and magazine spreads to build buzz
- Offered mix-and-match separates like bikini tops and bottoms to increase options
This model of leveraging in-house fabrics expertise, capitalizing on its celebrity appeal, and adapting athleisure design to a new use case offers clues for how Fabletics could approach designing stylish, comfortable scrubs using proprietary fabric technologies.
In 2019, Fabletics expanded into the men’s market after years of catering only to women. To make men feel welcome, Fabletics:
- Designed a separate men’s site section with masculine branding/colors
- Offered performance fabrics and functional designs suited for male athletic physiologies
- Recruited singer/actor Kevin Hart as a celebrity spokesperson to appeal to men
- Sponsored major sports teams like the LA Dodgers to cement its credibility with male audiences
Fabletics’ experience tailoring both its products and branding to appeal to male sensibilities would help the company design scrubs with the right fit, features, and marketing to win over male healthcare workers as customers.
The Bottom Line on Fabletics and Scrubs
While Fabletics has not officially announced any plans to start offering medical uniforms or scrubs, the company does seem to be a logical candidate to venture into this emerging athleisure-adjacent space. Fabletics will need to weigh the risks and required investments against the potential to disrupt an overripe industry. But by leveraging its subscriber model, fabrics expertise, and lifestyle branding, Fabletics may just be the right brand to bring stylishness and affordability to the scrub world.
With the right strategic partnerships, managed expectations, transparent marketing, and slow roll-out focused on understanding the particular needs of the healthcare industry, a Fabletics scrub launch could have a big impact. Only time will tell whether Kate Hudson starts wearing scrubs as the next step in Fabletics’ mission to outfit customers for every area of their active lifestyles.