‘Why the hell wouldn’t we?’: Gymshark on combatting depression while building brand
This week, Gymshark opened a barber shop offering free trims and free mental health chats. Its chief brand officer, Noel Mack, says “it’s obviously brand building,” but asks why can’t you build a brand and do good at the same time?
The fitness brand has partnered with mental health charity Calm to open the ‘Deload’ barber shop for a week-long event in Shoreditch, London. Calm representatives and Gymshark athletes will also be running talks to encourage men to share their feelings.
With suicide being the leading killer of men under 45, it’s an important cause. Mack frankly says: “I’m not going to pretend it’s anything else – when we do events and activations, my job and ambition is to get the brand name out there to everyone.”
Gymshark’s ‘Deload’ barber shop in Shoreditch, London / Gymshark
“We are growing our brand in the UK, and this is a great way to get our brand in front of people and do good at the same time,” Mack says.
Mack looks to a brand like Patagonia, which “showed that it’s possible to do good in the world and also build your brand at the same time – why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?”
He says he hates when people moan about companies that only donate money for PR, claiming the people receiving the money don’t care about the reason why.
“In my time as chief brand officer, we will be building the Gymshark brand and doing really great things, but also helping young men with depression and tackling that horrible stat that the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK is suicide,” Mack says. “If we can help combat that while building a brand, then why the hell wouldn’t you?”
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‘Deload’ is part of Gymshark’s wider mental health initiative, which runs events and activations with Calm and its US mental health partner The JED Foundation. Mack says the North America team has also expressed interest in expanding the barber shop concept.
Mack says Gymshark has a “masculinity” about the brand that puts it in a unique position to talk about male mental health. “If a brand that was born in male bodybuilding is openly encouraging men to be more open with their mental health and feelings, then it can try and put a knife through the misconception that it’s somehow weak to talk about your feelings,” Mack says.
He adds that Gymshark isn’t aimed at “NBA players or superstar athletes,” but instead for the “accountant who goes to the gym.” Gymshark, Mack says, is about everyone leading healthier lives.
Gymshark was born and built online, but ‘Deload’ is just one example of the brand pushing into the physical to “get in front of our community,” Mack says.
The company is gearing up to open its debut bricks-and-mortar store in the UK on London’s Regent Street.