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Michael Staib, creative director Fila Europe: We don’t want to be ‘stronger, better, faster’

By Ole Spötter

27 Oct 2021

Fashion |Interview

Michael Staib, creative director Fila Europe | Photo: Fila

Michael Staib, who has previously held design positions at Adidas, Joop and Esprit, has been the creative director at Fila Europe since last year. The sportswear label, once founded in Italy, celebrates its 110th anniversary this year. High time to find out what the future holds for the local market and what Staib has in store for Fila Europe.

In the interview, the designer explains the new direction of Fila Europe, what trends he sees in the sportswear sector and how important collaborations still are.

For just over a year, you have been creative director at Fila Europe. How do you see the direction of the brand? What have you pushed for?

Like many other brands, Fila had an incredibly fast and strong run worldwide with the Trend Archive, Bold, Colourblock and big logos. Fila has grown rapidly and the aforementioned elements still characterise the DNA to a certain extent.

It was immediately clear to me that we had to act as a brand in order to remain a successful market player in the future. For me, this meant: finding ourselves, concentration, setting ourselves apart - not wanting to please everyone, but building an emotionally strong and convincing brand image to the outside world. Using the Fila roots and transforming them to make them fit for the future. We thus remain true to the brand!

How did this impact the collection?

The new collection has been streamlined and consists of three strong areas: Sport, Street, Archive. Each of the three areas is charged by a strong theme and has its own colour world that can be combined across the board, as well as its own looks. What is important is the idea of being able to combine all the styles of the three areas with each other. In this way, we create a large playground of different looks.

Fila SS22 “React” collection | Photo: Fila

What does that mean exactly for the three areas?

In the sports segment, we consciously set ourselves apart from the big performance brands by designing the collection with lifestyle in mind, but with materials and technology that are 100 percent functional. Sportswear for the daily routine.

In the streetwear segment, the styles are more dressy. Here, we tap into formal wear and sportswear. Technical influences in materials and workmanship from the sports and outdoor areas are very important here.

We use the Archive segment to tell exciting stories that have accumulated in our Fila archive over the years. It's where you'll find our heritage - this diversity means that playing with logos and patterns never gets boring!

Fila turned 110 this year. Surely, that means a large archive. Do you spend a lot of time among former designs and get inspired by them?

Fila is sport! There is no brand in the world that is at home in so many sports. The archive is a constant source of inspiration for me and in our design meetings, there are always stories and moods from the Fila archive. Already in the first summer collection, we communicated closely with our museum in Biella and developed appropriate graphics and prints. I wish I could spend more time in the archive. Visiting our museum in Biella is quite high on my to-do list.

What trends are you seeing in streetwear and sportswear right now?

The looks are getting sharper again, with more attitude. The fusion of formalwear and utility in combination with technical sportswear is a an important trend at the moment. The pandemic has raised awareness of health, family, friends and diversity, among other things, which we see clearly in the homewear trend. This is reflected in the cuts, materials and colours. However, as a brand, we do not follow trends, we pay great attention to the fact that we stay true to our core message for Fila. A trend must also fit Fila.

What differences do you see in terms of trends for the Chinese and US market?

There are huge differences here, each market has its needs and and orientation. Fila USA, for example, is very strong in the outdoor sector; Fila China in the fashion sector.

Photo: Fila x MSGM

For SS22, Fila has collaborated with Y/Project, MSGM and Wood Wood. To what extent were you involved?

I am not always directly involved, but I am informed about Global Fila collaborations. We plan our own Fila collaboration launches accordingly. With Wood Wood, for example, our team actively worked with Wood Wood and took over the complete development.

What collaborations can we expect next?

We currently have a few more very interesting collaborations in progress that we have developed over the last few months. For our Fila Kids, we are delivering two collections with Warner Brothers next year. Then, for Fila Apparel, Accessories and Footwear, a collaboration with Valentino Rosso (Riders Academy) VR46. And shortly afterwards, a sports/street capsule with Slam Jam, also for Fila Apparel, Accessories and Footwear. Apart from the daily buzz, collaborations are always very inspiring and refreshing.

We also see a wide variety of activation models here, for example via channels of cultural leaders. But we also know that collaborations no longer generate the hype they did years ago. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Maybe we will soon see Fila with a “hack” or “swap”.

Next year, you will be launching a brand campaign to position Fila more clearly in the sports and athleisure market. What does this positioning look like?

Our campaign has a clear motto: we do not want to be “stronger, better, faster”. Rather, Fila's motto is “Play Over Pressure” and “Fun Over Rules”. It is the fun and the joy of playing sports that drive us as people and this is currently very important for Gen Z. A very positive point of view!

What does the future look like for Fila in Europe?

Very good, because we can move things quickly within our organisation. Our company has managed very well and is investing in the future.

We have not only invested heavily in the product, but also in e-commerce. Our team of experts in the Düsseldorf office is very closely connected with the strong online players. We are currently working on the emotionalisation of our digital area.

This interview was conducted in written form.

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

Michael Staib