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Zalando aims to become the "sports x fashion destination" for Europe

By Vivian Hendriksz


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German fashion e-tailer Zalando has its fingers in many pies - ranging from its international fashion platform, to its personal, curated shopping service Zalon, to its premium webshop. As the fashion giant continues to grow across Europe and gain market share, Zalando widens its net to appeal to even more consumers by strengthening its current focus as a online sportswear-fashion destination. This shift is said to be driven by a larger overall lifestyle trend witnessed across the globe and industries, namely fitness and health. "We want to establish Zalando as the sports-fashion destination in Europe," explained Benjamin Kruemel, Zalando's Vice President for Specialities to FashionUnited over the phone.

The German e-tailer has been paying close attention to overall shift occurring within the fashion industry, which sees more consumers prioritising their health and fitness. This has led to the rise of 'athleisure' wear, fashionable yet functional clothing items which can be worn to work and to the gym, as consumers continue to search for comfortable clothes to suit their increasingly busy schedules. In order to establish themselves as the main, online destination for fashion and sportswear in Europe, Zalando has dedicated its spring/summer 2016 to sportswear and athleisure. Featuring model Anna Ewers and dancers Lil Phoenix and iDance Mikey, the campaign highlights the different facets within the activewear and fashion sceptrum Zalando has to offer.

Zalando places sportswear and fashion at the centre of its SS16 campaign

"This was a win-win situation for the company. For us it's always important that we have a season start that involves many categories and makes a real fashion statement," said Kruemel. "On the other hand we wanted to focus on sports and make it the center focus of the campaign. Seeing as athleisure is currently a big trend, we were able to do so. We think that sportswear is one of the biggest fashion topics now and we are lucky that we were able to combine sports and fashion in the campaign so well." Zalando picked Ewers as the face of the first part of its campaign, as Kruemel believes she can act as both an ambassador for the fashion industry as well as the sporting world.

In addition, to having an established face star in the campaign, Zalando also wanted to include movement in the campaign's first advert, so they hired Phoenix and Mikey to star in the campaign alongside Ewers. "We wanted to have two different storylines, the fashion side and the sports side and tie them together through movement." However as Zalando progresses with its campaign, Fashion x Sport, its adverts are set to become more sports and active focused. The second part of the campaign is set outside and ties in with the upcoming UEFA Champion league as well as the summer Olympics, kicking off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this August. "This part focuses more on true sports and is shoot outside, away from a typical fashion environment to include more movement. So although the campaign begins with more of a fashion statement starting into the season, it steers to more a sports centric vision by the end of the season."

"Our focus is on the Millennials - but everyone is invited"

Zalando's SS16 campaign is the company's second endeavor to highlight its growing sportswear offering to its target group, millennials, and Kruemel is positive it is also a strong area that will continue to grow in the current fashion environment. "We really believe in sportswear and due to our young target group, (women between their 20s to 30s) we also believe that they want to consume sportswear in a different way compared to ten years ago, when it was normal to go to a brick-and-mortar store and still not have the perfect assortment." The German e-tailer is confident that they already have their fashion customers and now aims to convince this customer to shop for their sportswear of athleisure online at Zalando as well, as it become a larger part of the millennial lifestyle. The company has invested a substantial amount into expanding its sports and athleisure section and aims to highlight this both online in its store and with its online retail partners.

"We work very closely with our partners to offer dedicated collections and products, which are really curated for our customers and their needs," added the VP. "We brief our suppliers and constantly share information with them, so together we can continue to serve our customers in the best way. I think this way of working will help us achieve our goal, as we already hold a big chunk of the sportswear business." According to Kruemel Zalando already holds a double digit share of European online sportswear market, which is something they wish to maintain the long run. "We do not wish the change the overall image of Zalando, but we think sportswear and fashion runs so closely hand in hand that we want to keep this share."

Zalando targets core customer to grow sportswear business

Zalando is currently focusing its sportswear share on training gear, running, yoga as well as skiing and snowboarding. Although they stock 90 percent of the main sportswear brands, they are always on the lookout for new brands to add to their growing assortment. "For example, we recently started working with Carbon, a more upscale brand which lies within our premium section." In addition, they aim to ensure their selection remains one of a kind and attractive to their main audience, millennials, no matter where they live.

"Something like Sports Direct in the UK is based on low prices, or JD Sports, remains a real destination for sports," noted Kreumel. "But there is still the biggest opportunity in the market to offer something to consumers which is close to their fashion preference, and that is where we come in. Our edge is having the full brand assortment around the needs of our customer, whilst focusing on the core sports, which makes us unique in the market and relevant."

Photos: Zalando SS16 Campaign and Benjamin Kreumel

benjamin kruemel
JD Sports
Sports Direct