To celebrate the launch of its AW16 collection and campaign, Napapijri invited guests to “a wondrous evening of sound and vision” in London’s Shoreditch last week. While the audience lay down on beanbag beds, buzzed-about VJ artist Heleen Blanken and a quartet of world-renowned concert pianists came together to evoke a sense of four natural elements – the forest, the starry sky, the mountain and shelter. Before the audio-visual art installation came to life, SI took the opportunity to sit down with Kathy Hines, Vice President Global Marketing E-Commerce and Strategy, to discuss Napapijri’s brand identity and strategies.
How does the multisensory event in London fit into your overall marketing strategy, and how would you describe the consumer type you’re targeting?
Just like the open-ended cross of the Norwegian flag, which features in the Napapijri logo, openness is pivotal to our brand values but it also fits our consumers’ identity. We like to call them seekers. They tend to live in the city but they have the mind of a traveller, with an inherent love of the outdoors. The premise of the event, which brought a sense of nature into the urban environment via Heleen Blanken’s physical art installation, was to bring these values to life.
Would it be fair to say Napapijri is still known mostly as a men’s brand?
We currently have a stronger sell-through for men, simply because we started out as more of a men’s brand. We give as much dedication to womenswear though and it’s gaining quite a bit of ground.
Napapijri has morphed from outdoors purveyor to a more urban player. What triggered the change and how do you find a balance between the two specialities?
Napapijri started out as an outdoor brand when it was founded in 1987, but it has a lot of relevance with the urban consumer. People who wear Napapijri today bring outdoors clothing to the city and urbanwear to the mountain. This shift is quite universal though – you see parkas everywhere in the city. While most brands try to define themselves very clearly as either outdoors or urban, Napapijri has equal affinity with city and mountaintop.
How does this dual approach manifest itself in your product and design approach?
The overall product philosophy stems from three of our most iconic products – the Rainforest and Skidoo jackets and the Bering weekend bag. These three items, that work in both urban and outdoors environments, have remained our bestsellers for thirty years; they’re the heart of the brand from which we create new iterations every season. In this sense we celebrate our past while we always look ahead to make our collections current – I like to describe the thinking as “past forward”. Innovation is part of this mind-set, and so is our striving to constantly improve on everything we do. For instance, a few years ago we made the decision to remove fur from our line – today, all our products are fur free, which makes us very proud. Next, we went about banishing all down, which was no small endeavour. As from 2017, 100% of our line will be down free.
What technologies are you using to replace the insulation and warmth provided by fur and down?
As soon as we decided to stop using fur and down, we started working with a partner to develop an even better alternative, resulting in the community trademark innovation Thermo-Fibre. This eco-friendly filling was introduced last year and we use it for our slim-fit, quilted Aerons jackets and vests. It’ll keep the wearer warmer and it’s super lightweight – and it folds up into virtually nothing. Through the lens of our mantra “make it better”, we’ll soon be unveiling a new innovation that is taking many leaps forward and that I’m sure will transform customer expectation.