Gabby Hirata, former president and chief executive officer of Diane von Furstenberg, has joined Halara, an athleisure direct-to-consumer brand, as global brand president, a new post.
Hirata’s appointment signifies a new chapter for Halara. The three-year-old athleisure brand is poised for aggressive worldwide sales growth.
“I loved DVF and I loved Diane. I’m just so passionate about servicing women from a wide demographic. I found a brand that caters to a customer of different ages, demographics and walks of life,” Hirata said.
She first heard of the brand when she bought a pleated skort that carries a phone on TikTok in the spring of 2022. “I bought it and loved it. For $32, it was such good quality and I was very intrigued,” Hirata said. She said she had the opportunity to meet Joyce Zhang, chief executive officer and founder of Halara, when she was doing an activation for DVF.
In her three-and-a-half years at DVF, Hirata introduced a business model at DVF Studio that significantly increased profit margins and operational efficiency centered around strategic collaborations with the company’s China partner, overhauled the product merchandising range and amplified the brand’s presence.
Diane von Furstenberg said Monday that Hirata’s role won’t be replaced.
“She accomplished her task. She was incredibly useful to work with my Chinese partners. She was incredibly instrumental. She was great, but she had really finished her task. I now operate a design studio (which owns the IP, the creative and the prints) and it’s all about the creativity, marketing and design. We don’t run the operating business from New York. It’s really in the hands of my partner in China, and it’s run out of China, Hong Kong and London (with some residing in New York). Her genius was to put me together with my Chinese distributor. She helped me figure it all out. Her mission, which was genius, was accomplished.”
“I’m profoundly grateful for the chance to be part of such a fast-growing start-up like Halara, and to engage in a marketplace of this magnitude,” Hirata said. “When I observe Halara’s rapidly growing customer base — over a million in less than 30 months — it truly feels like viewing a diverse tapestry of America. Every age group, every location, every walk of life is represented. We genuinely represent the wonderful diverse and full breadth of everyday life.”
Zhang said of Hirata: “Her in-depth knowledge in the international fashion industry and her passion for packing value propositions from quality textile to flattering designs into well-priced products make her the perfect fit for Halara. We are confident that Gabby’s industry expertise and thoughtful leadership will enable us to continue pushing boundaries and cement our position not only as a trusted activewear brand for customers but also as a global magnet for top talent.”
Halara looks to expand its global workforce, situated in key locations such as Singapore, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shanghai and Munich.
Among Hirata’s strategies will be to elevate the brand identity and instill a higher level of aspirational aesthetics across all platforms, spanning its website and social media channels. To fuel growth, Hirata is also expected to push for innovation and value maximization in product as well as nationwide offline brand activations.
At present, Halara’s business is mostly e-commerce, but the plan is to open stores in the U.S. In the past, they have had temporary sales posts on college campuses.
Halara’s collection consists of athleticwear and everydaywear. Most of the styles retail from $20 to $45. Right now the U.S. is the largest market, followed by the E.U., Mexico, U.K. and other parts of the world. Hirata said the business is fast-growing and she’s recruiting a team to handle the German market, which is growing rapidly. They will launch a U.K. site in one month. “This how fast a start-up life is,” Hirata said.
The brand is also interested in getting into menswear.
“I never imagined leaving DVF because I loved it so much. But the technology of Halara is insane,” said Hirata, who is based in New York.
Hirata said everything on the site is crowd approved. Because of the technology, they are able to get that feedback right into their system and start up production. The collection is manufactured in southern China in premium sportswear factories.
She pointed to a workout dress with a built-in top (The Easy Peezy Dress), which has sold more than 1,000 units each day, retailing for $44.95. “It’s activewear but makes you look pretty put together,” she said.
Halara, which means “stress free” in Greek, was founded on the idea of providing a stress-free shopping experience to consumers.
Before joining DVF, Hirata was chief strategy officer at Jill Stuart International for a year. Before that she was director of production and logistics for Adeam International, and before that spent nearly four years at Ralph Lauren, rising to production manager.