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Pole position for AlphaTauri: International expansion and Formula 1 partnership

By Ole Spötter


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Bruno Sälzer & Ahmet Mercan at the store event | Photo: Philipp Lipiarski

AlphaTauri wants to leave the pandemic behind and looks confidently into the future. Thus, the Austrian label is stepping on the gas and taking advantage of all its opportunities to take off internationally, even away from its own Formula 1 team. At a store event at the end of March in Vienna, AlphaTauri celebrated its expansion with some guests. FashionUnited was there too and spoke with CEO Ahmet Mercan about the brand's goals.

The flagship store in Vienna's city centre, which has been open since December, is located just a few metres from St. Stephen's Cathedral, in the lively “Graben” shopping street. Therefore, it was no wonder that the event on a Thursday evening with its more than 100 cheerful guests and hip beats of the DJs attracted some attention and caused passers-by to stop. The drinks to match the party mood were of course provided by AlphaTauri's parent company Red Bull.

AlphaTauri store event in Vienna | Photo: Philipp Lipiarski / AlphaTauri

AlphaTauri pushes ahead with international expansion, plans store in London

In addition to Vienna, AlphaTauri has two other Austrian stores, in Graz and Salzburg. Even beyond the border, the brand is currently planning its first own store, which will soon open in London. But AlphaTauri is also pushing ahead with its wholesale expansion. After launching the international expansion in 2020 with about 20 retail partners in Germany and Austria, the brand is now available at 130 points of sale in 14 countries such as Italy, Spain, France and also in the Benelux market. The company plans to add six more countries next year.

AlphaTauri store in Vienna | Photo: AlphaTauri

But the brand also already has an e-commerce presence with its own online store available in 86 countries. “Our goal is to map expertise across channels as one signature approach - from our own e-commerce site to our own stores to wholesale,” Mercan told FashionUnited.

An integral part of this AlphaTauri signature are the categories knitwear and outerwear. The brand has now established itself in the outerwear segment in particular, which has been part of the brand’s DNA since the beginning. However, there are also ready-to-wear categories such as pants, which the brand would like to expand further after positive feedback from retailers and end consumers.

AlphaTauri store in Vienna | Photo: AlphaTauri

This orientation - with a focus on outerwear and knitwear - is also highlighted in the store. In the entrance area of the two-story space is a 3D knitting machine that is part of the “Experience Area”. Upstairs are the men's and women's collections. Additional screens, light installations and an artificial landscape of stones and grass give the otherwise rather plain store a modern touch. This fresh store concept also impressed the mixed audience - hype kids, celebrities and fashion industry representatives celebrated together and tested the items as well as technology in the store.

AlphaTauri store event in Vienna | Photo: Philipp Lipiarski / AlphaTauri

Top manager Bruno Sälzer was also present at the event. The former Hugo Boss CEO has been active as an executive advisor at AlphaTauri since the end of December and is in charge of driving the international expansion forward, among other things. According to Mercan, Sälzer’s global experience is an “insane asset” for the brand.

Mercan: Formula 1 team as expansion advantage

In addition to industry experts, AlphaTauri also relies on tools such as its partnership with Formula 1 to establish a global presence. The brand used the media reach of the racing world to enter new markets. “For the expansion into Japan and also Turkey, it was an advantage to have a Formula 1 team, which helped us gain awareness in those markets,” said Mercan during the interview.

It was important for him, however, to make it clear that AlphaTauri is “not a spin-off of a Formula 1 brand”, but an independent brand where fashion is the main focus. Nevertheless, the sporty styles - with their own textile technology developments such as the Taurobran membrane - fit in with the tech-savvy hobby and racing audience.

”For us, it's about the beauty of the product and not necessarily always bringing technology into it. Functionality and technology are always an add-on,” said Mercan. “The biggest challenge is to find the right balance between fashion and function.”

AlphaTauri store event in Vienna | Photo: Philipp Lipiarski / AlphaTauri

With this strategy, the brand seems to have successfully taken off in the last two years despite the pandemic. The fall/winter 2022 order round gives the brand a positive outlook.

”Everything seems to be picking up again and we are also noticing people's desire to buy again. For two years we were in the home office and now we can already notice a slight mood of optimism, coupled with a certain caution. We are sportingly optimistic about the developments,” concludes the AlphaTauri CEO.

AlphaTauri invited FashionUnited to its event in Vienna.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.de. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.

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