Vibram is well known among outdoor enthusiasts: those who go into the mountains are interested in the quality of the soles of their shoes. This is often different among fashion fans–until now. Vibram has impressively demonstrated its fashion potential with sensational collaborations. For two years it has been investing more in communication outside the core market, e.g. with customizing projects or brand stores. Here, Davide Canciani, the brand’s global marketing director told us about the brand's cool projects and other plans.
You are producing soles. Why do you find it interesting collaborating with fashion brands?
The truth is that for many years Vibram also has an important market segment in the lifestyle world, and today serves some of the most important fashion brands all over the world. For this reason the fashion and casual segment is very important for us and we want to underline that Vibram is not just sport and mountain life, even if this is our first DNA and the world we come from.
Since when are you interested in fashion? Which fashion collab was your first one?
Since ever! And today we have a wide range of solutions for this market. For Vibram, lifestyle means specific rubber compounds, specific design and specific technologies. The story of the Carrarmato sole–the first sole Vibram ever created–started as a sports and outdoor sole and then became one of the most used also into the fashion and lifestyle market. So the first collaboration was with the first sole we created.
Which collaborations were highlights for you?
During the last year, in the occasion of the 80th anniversary of our Carrarmato design, we started some nice collaboration with Visvim, Bordese and the famous designers Campana brothers from Brazil. In 2017 we worked also with the Austrian stylist Arthur Arbesser, for his footwear collection Arthur Arbesser for Vibram. But not only footwear, we worked also together with Carmina Campus in its bags collection.
How is working together with fashion brands? As you are coming from the performance part, do you have to teach them how to work with your technologies?
We usually work together with the brand partners. It’s a kind of contamination, where Vibram puts its know-how in the technology and performance fields and the brand partner adds the creativity. It’s always a combination of different inputs and synergy of two work teams.
How big is your fashion business?
Speaking about annual revenues, the fashion and lifestyle business covers more or less the 10% of the total annual turnover. We can count more than 1.000 partners worldwide, to whom we sell our high performance soles, as well we can consider that 10-15% is connected to this market segment. Again worldwide.
You already opened some shops...
Yes, we have been selling directly through our website to the end consumers our own finished products, the Vibram FiveFingers and Vibram Furoshiki The Wrapping Sole.
Then, in the last two years we have launched a new project: Vibram Sole Factor–the idea behind is to present the sole as a finished product for customizing consumer shoes–and this deployment on the market has been the Vibram Academy, basically a Vibram store where people can try the Vibram Sole Factor customization experience and where people can buy our finished products. We opened four Academies until today, in Athens, London, Paris and Vienna. We also have two Vibram flagship stores, in Milan and in Boston, where the consumer can experience Vibram at 360 degrees.
How do you want to get further with fashion? What are your plans?
We want to continue in working with our portfolio of brand partners and also with new fashion and lifestyle brands. We will also go ahead with the collaborations with stylists and
Read more articles from the booming outdoor segment in our current issue.