Philipp Plein, known for his signature maximalism and more is more aesthetic, is tackling the active sportswear market with Plein Sport, with innovative products, a disruptive retail experience with a vending machine concept in self-service and license details. Don’t call it a broadcast line!
Unlike luxury houses that have launched and closed diffusion and often more affordable second lines, Plein stresses that its Plein Sport offer has its own DNA and will not “cannibalize” its main line during a press conference in its headquarters. in Lugano, Switzerland. Instead, Plein Sport is looking to take a share of “a few big players” in the sportswear market, such as Nike, Adidas and Puma.
“For me, the most important thing is not to create competition within the group,” says Plein. “Each brand in our portfolio has a specific landscape and strategy in terms of positioning, communication, development and distribution. Our brands complement each other and do not compete with each other.
Plein Sport places the premium experience at the heart of its relaunch
Plein Sport is instead presented as “the ultimate sportswear experience” positioned between lifestyle fashion and sport, driven by ultra-modern “wearable, non-polarizing and functional products” with a starting price of less than 200 euros, a distribution omnichannel and a tech-mobile retail experience with a mobile store concept in a redesigned McLaren Formula 1 truck.
Plein added: “There’s a huge opportunity in sportswear – it’s a multi-billion dollar market that’s bigger than the luxury market, but completely underdeveloped. We’re not aiming to compete. with the big players, we’re fine with 1% of Nike’s revenue, even half a percent in the next two to three years would be great.
“Plein Sport leverages the name, Philipp Plein, but is completely different. Philipp Plein can be hard to please everyone, Plein Sport can. We don’t want it to be a fashion brand, we want it to be a sports brand.
The brand also aims to “break boundaries,” Plein shares with FashionUnited, offering advanced technical solutions with cutting-edge design for both men and women. Trainers are a staple of the brand, with all products engineered in the Plein Sports Lab to deliver “advanced endurance and enhanced execution” with technical fabrications and lightweight, ergonomic, shock-absorbing soles.
Plein wants his sportswear brand to be a premium and innovative experience for his fans. He invested in everything from developing 3D tigers on the sneakers that required eight molds and cost half a million dollars to collector-style packaging. Each style of shoe will come either in a sturdy clear perspex box allowing wearers to display their sneakers, or in black cardboard boxes with a miniature screen embedded inside displaying the latest Plein Sport campaign.
“The product is the star,” stresses Plein. “I want to create something that stands out from the market – that is exciting and offers value for the premium price.”
Besides apparel and sneakers, Plein has also signed several licensing deals with Timex, Laipe and De Rigo to add watches, bags and eyewear. In addition, future licensing agreements are expected to be announced to add fragrances, dietary supplements, children’s shoes and gym concepts to provide a “360° experience at Plein Sport”.
Plein Sport targets mall locations for retail activations
Retail is central to Plein Sport’s strategy, with Plein planning to open 295 single-brand stores by 2024, including 50 next year. The former is set to open in January at Plaza Norte 2 in Madrid, Spain, chosen as it is the city where Plein sponsors football club Athletico Madrid, with Plein adding that they have “more or less” confirmed contracts for nine sites for the first quarter of 2023.
The first stores will be in Europe and Eastern Europe, targeting the company’s “key markets”, with plans to add outlets in the US, Middle East, UK and Asia . But Plein also noted that the store rollout will also be tied to “achieving the goals we have in mind” because everything is self-funded.
The physical locations will also feature a new user-friendly and “hyper-futuristic” retail concept, with modular furniture specially designed for self-service vending machines. Each store will be smaller than Philipp Plein’s current retail offering, less than 1,000 square feet “no bigger than that,” Plein adds.
50% of which will be in stock, and 60-70% of the retail space will be dedicated to sneakers. The sneakers will be displayed in transparent vending machine-style stacking systems, where the consumer will access the styles themselves and return unwanted styles via a drop box in the wall.
“We want to develop a new shopping experience that is a mix between self-service and a traditional store,” he adds. “We want to invite customers to take their shoes for themselves – we involve the customer in the buying process.”
The approach is “experimental”, adds Plein, with the brand targeting high footfall and high visibility while using fewer staff to ensure “profitability”.
Philipp Plein pop-up truck
Plein also showcased the first mobile store concept, a custom articulated Formula 1 truck, featuring sneakers on the ground floor and clothing on the upper deck. It will act as a traveling pop-up store across Europe, parking outside ‘big malls’ to access the viability of future permanent stores, while building brand awareness.
Currently, the truck is parked in front of Philipp Plein’s headquarters in Lugano, where it will remain until it leaves the Atlético Madrid Metropolitano stadium at the end of December. Other locations have not been confirmed, however, Plein added that he expects it to travel to Germany and France and be used as a marketing tool at trade shows.