Gymshark's Journey to £1 Billion: A Blueprint of Success!

Gymshark, a name synonymous with success in the fitness and sportswear industry, presents an inspiring story for budding fashion brands. In this blog, we'll look into the rise of Gymshark, highlighting key strategies that aspiring entrepreneurs and fashion designers can learn from.

From Humble Beginnings to Global Recognition

The Birth of Gymshark

It all started in 2012, when Ben Francis and Lewis Morgan, two nineteen-year-old schoolmates, founded Gymshark.

While still studying at Aston University in Birmingham, Francis and Morgan launched the first version of the Gymshark website. At first, the duo adopted a drop-shipping model, acting as middlemen without holding physical stock, to sell fitness supplements. However, in a bold move, Francis and Morgan shifted their complete focus to the fitness apparel segment. Using savings from previous ventures, they purchased a sewing machine and a screen-printer. Drawing on skills that Ben Francis learned from his grandmother, they began making clothes that they personally wanted to wear. Their first significant product, the Luxe Fitted Tracksuit, was the turning point for Gymshark.

Ben Francis and Lewis Morgan wearing the Luxe Fitted Tracksuit

Gymshark quickly evolved from a small-scale printing operation in a garage to one of the fastest-growing and most recognizable brands in the fitness industry. Their focus on innovative, effective performance wear, coupled with an expanding digital presence, set them apart. By fully controlling their supply chain and investing in a warehouse, Gymshark streamlined its operations, enabling rapid growth.

Today, Gymshark is not just an online retailer but also a manufacturer, offering a wide range of sports and fitness apparel worldwide. The brand's global reach now extends to 180 countries, with websites in 13 different languages, often seeing new launches sell out within hours.

Gymshark's Strategic Pillars of Success

Influencer Marketing: The Game-Changer

Forget boring billboards and magazine spreads. Gymshark was one of the OG's of influencer marketing way back in 2012. They didn't partner with airbrushed supermodels; they saw the potential in relatable fitness personalities like Lex Griffin and Chris Lavado, two popular YouTubers and fitness freaks. Ben Francis, the founder, was a personal fan and sent them sample clothing in 2013. This was a stroke of genius, leveraging the rising popularity of YouTube in the early 2010s. As Lex and Chris donned Gymshark in their workout videos, the brand organically reached a targeted audience hungry for activewear that looked as good as it performed.

But Gymshark didn't stop there. They saw the power of Instagram and began collaborating with various fitness-focused Instagrammers and bloggers. They weren't just looking for pretty faces; they sought individuals who embodied the brand's values and resonated with their target audience. This led to partnerships with inspiring influencers like Whitney Simmons and Nikki Blackketter, who not only showcased Gymshark's apparel but also genuinely loved wearing it.

Gymshark X Whitney Simmons V1 Leggings Hot Fire Pink Size Medium M BNWT |  eBay

This laser-focused approach to influencer marketing is what sets Gymshark apart. They don't throw money at every popular face; they meticulously select partners who authentically represent the brand and its message. These influencers aren't just walking billboards; they're trusted friends and motivators who actively engage with their followers, recommending Gymshark as their go-to workout gear. They seamlessly integrate the brand into their content by posting sweaty gym selfies and motivational quotes, making Gymshark feel like a natural extension of their lifestyle.

Gymshark's dedication to influencer marketing extends beyond posting photos. They collaborate with their partners on product development, host joint events, and even create exclusive Gymshark lines inspired by the influencers themselves. This level of collaboration fosters a true connection between the brand and its audience, solidifying Gymshark's position as more than just a clothing company; it's a community.

So, the next time you see a perfect influencer rocking their Gymshark gear, remember: it's not just a pretty picture. It's the conclusion of a decade-long commitment to authentic influencer marketing, where partnerships are built on shared values and a true desire to inspire and empower others. And that, my friends, is how you do influencer marketing the Gymshark way.

Social Media Strategy

Gymshark's mastery of social media platforms played a crucial role in their growth. From Instagram stories to YouTube vlogs, they created content tailored to each platform, fostering a sense of community and engagement.

Gymshark doesn't just post the same content across every platform. They're social media chameleons, adapting their approach to fit the unique vibe of each space. On Instagram, it's all about aspirational workout snippets, sizzling stories featuring their #GymsharkFam, and eye-catching product shots that make you want to hit the gym right then and there.

YouTube is where they go long-form, with in-depth workout tutorials from their influencer partners, inspiring transformation stories, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the lives of their athletes. This raw, relatable content builds a deeper connection with their audience and shows them that Gymshark is more than just a brand; it's a lifestyle.

Gymshark's strategy revolved around turning customers into a community. They don't just sell leggings; they sell belongings. They've cultivated a thriving online community known as the #GymsharkFam, where fitness enthusiasts of all levels can connect, motivate each other, and share their love for the brand. Unlike competitors stuck in the brick-and-mortar mindset, Gymshark embraced the power of digital spaces, creating a virtual gym floor where everyone feels welcome.

Their warm, approachable brand voice on platforms like Instagram (boasting a whopping 6.7 million followers!) plays a crucial role in fostering this sense of community. They ditch the corporate jargon and speak directly to their audience like friends, using humor, encouragement, and real talk to build genuine relationships.

Gymshark's social media strategy It's not just about getting those likes and shares, though.They understand that the key to sustainable success is building loyalty and trust. By treating their audience like family, they create a powerful emotional connection that keeps them coming back for more. They're not just selling products; they're selling a feeling of belonging, a sense of being part of something bigger than themselves.

Gymshark is the ultimate social media success story, proving that when you build a family, not just a following, you build a brand that truly thrives.

Customer-Centric Approach

Forget robotic chatbots and endless hold times. Gymshark puts "customer first" on steroids. From speedy shipping and hassle-free returns to responsive customer service that feels like chatting with a friend, they go the extra mile to ensure a smooth and satisfying experience. This dedication to customer happiness isn't just lip service; it's woven into the fabric of their brand.

Remember Black Friday 2015? Their website crashed spectacularly, sending dreams of discounted leggings flying out the window. But instead of hiding under a desk, Gymshark founder Ben Francis did the unthinkable: he penned 2,500 personalized apology letters, complete with discounts, to affected customers. Talk about owning up to your mistakes! This move wasn't just about damage control; it showed the world that Gymshark genuinely cares about its customers and values their loyalty.

And it's not just about responding well to crises. Gymshark proactively anticipates customer needs. They laser-focus on the 18-25 year old crowd, where fitness and fashion collide, and tailor their offerings and approach to resonate with this demographic. Think influencer partnerships with relatable fitness gurus, social media content that inspires and motivates, and products that fit seamlessly into their active lifestyles.

This focus on customer satisfaction has paid off big time. Gymshark has built a loyal community of fans who rave about the brand's commitment to service, quality, and genuine connection. They've turned customers into brand ambassadors, spreading the Gymshark gospel one happy workout session at a time.

So, the next time you're thinking about customer service, take a page out of Gymshark's playbook. Remember, happy customers are repeat customers, and building genuine relationships is the key to unlocking sustainable success.

Transparency and Community Building

In a world of carefully curated online personas, Gymshark's refreshing transparency is like a breath of fresh air. Ben Francis, the founder, regularly shares the good, the bad, and the sweaty with his followers. He talks about challenges, triumphs, and even the occasional business blunder. This vulnerability resonates with customers, fostering a sense of trust and relatability that money can't buy. This strategy demonstrates the power of storytelling and openness in building a relatable, engaging brand.

Visionary Leadership

Gymshark's success is derived from actively implementing forward-thinking strategies, such as engaging audiences with relevant campaigns and swiftly adapting to market changes. For example, during the U.K.’s lengthy lockdown, Gymshark employed out-of-work personal trainers to present on its workout app, and they raised £180,000 for the NHS with their #NHSsweatyselfie campaign.

Part of Gymshark’s mission statement says: “In everything we do, be true to our own vision and respectful of others. We are here to bring ideas to life. There is no idea too big or too small… We are not future-proof. We are the future.

Their visionary approach involves consistently aligning the brand with current trends and audience interests. Gymshark actively responds to market dynamics, showcasing agility in staying ahead through the creation of resonant campaigns. This proactive mindset extends to global expansion, where they enter new markets, actively understand local preferences, and tailor products accordingly, strengthening Gymshark's influential position worldwide.

Building a Strong, Cohesive Team

Gymshark's emphasis on assembling a team that shares its vision and values is a testament to their strategic internal decision-making. The brand's headquarters accommodates 500 team members with the goal of creating a culture described by Hewitt as making "every morning feel like Christmas morning." Within the Solihull campus, Gymshark boasts the Gymshark Lifting Club, a cutting-edge strength training center exclusively available to team members and invite-only athletes.


Despite being the founder and owner, Francis has chosen not to take on the CEO role. He explained this decision in a YouTube video titled "I'm not Gymshark's CEO anymore," acknowledging the challenge of learning to trust others to handle aspects of the business he used to oversee. He emphasized the importance of surrounding oneself with individuals who provide a reality check and are more skilled, noting, "You need to constantly be around people who are better than you." Francis also revealed his preference for direct communication over email, deeming it too slow, and expressed his preference for engaging with his team through conversation.

This approach underscores the importance of placing the right people in the right positions for optimal growth.

Operational Excellence and Logistics

Scaling a business from a bedroom operation to a global phenomenon requires some serious logistical muscle. Gymshark has always been a beast in this department, investing in state-of-the-art warehouses and fulfillment systems that would make Jeff Bezos jealous. This commitment to operational excellence ensures smooth product delivery and avoids disappointing customers with stock shortages or delayed orders. Because, let's face it, there's nothing worse than that sinking feeling when your new workout gear gets lost in the Amazon abyss.

Product Innovation

Gymshark's product design and development have consistently pushed boundaries. They revolutionized sportswear with trendy designs, comfortable fits, and innovative materials, offering fresh styles and functional fitness wear that aligned with the preferences of a younger fitness audience.

Gymshark doesn't just sell clothes; they sell a lifestyle. They're constantly innovating, designing new product lines, and pushing the boundaries of athleisure. From their popular Gymshark seamless leggings that feel like a second skin to their bold color palettes and trend-setting collaborations, Gymshark keeps its finger on the pulse of what customers want, staying ahead of the curve and maintaining its position as a trendsetter. Because, let's be honest, nobody wants to be rocking last season's yoga pants when there are holographic leggings on the horizon, right?

Sweat Seamless Leggings product image 1

Data-Driven Decisions:

Gut instinct is great, but data is king. Gymshark meticulously tracks and analyzes customer behavior, using insights to inform everything from product design to marketing campaigns to even where to put the coffee machine in the office. This data-driven approach ensures that they're always in tune with their audience and making informed decisions that resonate with their customers. Because, let's face it, nobody wants to see ads for squat racks when they're just browsing for cute crop tops.

Conclusion: The Gymshark Blueprint

Gymshark's Journey is a playbook for aspiring fashion brands. It underscores the importance of influencer marketing, social media, customer focus, operational efficiency, transparency, innovation, and data-driven strategies. Aspiring brands can draw inspiration from Gymshark's story, understanding that success in fashion goes beyond design; it's about creating a brand that resonates with and adapts to its audience.

Remember, the path to becoming the next Gymshark is paved with persistence, innovation, and a deep understanding of your market. With these insights, you're well-equipped to embark on your journey in the fashion industry.

So, the question for aspiring brands isn't, "How can we be Gymshark?" But "how can we build our own community, fueled by authenticity and a shared passion?" Look at Gymshark as a blueprint, not a template. Adapt their core principles of community, transparency, and agility to your own unique vision and audience. Remember, the path to success isn't paved with imitation; it's paved with originality and a deep understanding of what makes your brand truly special.

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