Express has launched UpWest, a philanthropic direct-to-consumer lifestyle brand that puts an emphasis on comfort. The new brand will include internally designed casual apparel, loungewear and sleepwear for both men and women, along with a selection of wellness products and home goods items from third-party vendors.
The retailer also will debut The UpWest Foundation, which will donate 1% of sales (with a maximum of $1 million annually) to charitable organizations that share the brand’s purpose. The first charities selected by UpWest are Freedom Dogs of America, Mental Health America and Random Acts.
Express will celebrate the launch of UpWest with The UpWest Cabin, a mobile pop-up concept that will travel to cities including Chicago, Nashville, Tenn., Denver, Colo. and Austin, Texas. The experiential tour will include events like yoga mindful meditation classes and donations of “Comfort Cases” full of products and goods to local charities.
The new brand launch is part of a wider turnaround effort for Express, which experienced a 4% sales decline to $472.7 million in Q2 2019. The company also has been rebuilding its C-suite after former CEO David Kornberg resigned in January following a poor holiday season. Timothy Baxter was named CEO in May, while EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer Malissa Akay and EVP and Chief Marketing Officer Sara Tervo joined in August, and Matthew Moellering was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer in September.
UpWest is not the first direct-to-customer program Express has debuted as part of its turnaround. The Express Style Trial, which lets shoppers rent three items whenever they choose for $69.95 a month, launched in October 2018. Express has been building up its e-Commerce operations after getting a late start in the channel — the retailer’s first site didn’t launch until 2008.