Figs launches a line of premium scrubs and plans to open a second store

A new campaign features healthcare workers with intense, inspiring jobs.
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· 4 min read

It wasn’t so long ago that hospital scrubs bore an unfortunate resemblance to prison uniforms: shapeless, unflattering affairs that were so oblivious to aesthetics that manufacturers often sewed the size tag to the outside of the garments.

“Healthcare professionals really only had one choice for their uniform and their scrub wear and they were these sort of boxy, scratchy, medical-supply versions of apparel and uniforms,” Bené Eaton, CMO of DTC scrubs brand Figs, told Retail Brew.

About a dozen years ago, Heather Hasson was visiting with a friend who was a nurse at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and who was wearing just such a set of schlubby scrubs (schrubs?), and Hasson promised her, as the oft-told story goes, that she’d help her find some better workwear.

She did, and then some. In 2013, along with Trina Spear, Hasson co-founded Figs, now lauded for its flattering fits, moisture-wicking fabrics, and fashionable colors. Forbes called Figs the “Lululemon of scrubs.”

Now the brand has launched a new collection, Extremes, with new styles, advanced fabrics, and higher price tags than its core collection. It recently launched a year-long campaign for the collection with a series of short films featuring medical professionals whose work is inspiring and whose physically taxing work demands well-made clothing.

Vital signs: The latest film in the series features Dr. Chloe Buiting, an Australian wildlife veterinarian and conservationist, who is filmed tending to a rhinoceros in Africa while she describes the plight they face with widespread poaching.

Previous films featured healthcare workers in similarly charged jobs, including a group of motorcycle-driving women in Kenya who transport women to medical care facilities, a pair of motorsports physicians who are on-hand at races to rush to care for racecar drivers when they crash, and an emergency room physician.

“Over the course of this year, we’re telling these compelling stories of these extraordinary healthcare professionals working in really unique and extreme environments,” Eaton said.

Those medical professionals’ work may be particularly dramatic, “but it also highlights and inspires all healthcare professionals and how they sort of test the limits and push the limit every single day,” Eaton said.

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Celebrating Figs’s core consumers, and telling their stories, is at the heart of the brand’s marketing, Eaton said

“They had a ton of claps and appreciation during Covid-19,” Eaton said of healthcare workers. “But they’re still out there every single day doing incredible work and…it’s that humanizing element that differentiates how we market and talk about our product.”

Healthy competition: With premium fabrics that along with being what the brand calls indestructible and even fireproof, the new collection has premium pricing, too, with scrub pants fetching $78 (compared to $44–$48 for the pants in much of the brand’s core collection) and scrub tops selling for $68 (compared to $38–$48 for the tops in much of the collection).

Scrubs can certainly be had for cheaper, with the online store Uniform Advantage, which carries multiple brands, selling many scrubs tops and bottoms for under $20.

But a post about Figs by Quipus Capital on Seeking Alpha in March suggested that “a branded premium apparel product is among the most desirable positions in apparel retailing, especially when the market is a niche that other large retailers ignore.”

What’s more, the post continued, scrubs are thought to be a “less cyclical category because healthcare workers need to use them for work, and their jobs are not cyclical.”

Figs opened its first permanent brick-and-mortar store in Los Angeles in November, with plans to open another location before July.

The brand has eschewed partnering with other retailers, though.

“When you go wholesale, you’re literally saying, ‘Hey, somebody else, you go manage the marketing, the merchandising, the look and the feel of my brand. You’re giving that to somebody else,’” Figs co-founder and CEO Spear told the Los Angeles Business Journal. “We think the best way is to control the experience, to make it as the best we can.”

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.