Mizuno treads new ground in sportswear with revamped Wave Rider line
Mizuno is going for a new approach as it launches the ‘90s Athletics’ collection for the coming spring. It is the first time that the Japanese sport equipment label is treading in a streetwear direction, doing so with a collection targeting sneaker specialists.
Mizuno was founded in 1906, and it clearly has some convincing cards to play when it comes to vintage style. The brand has a strong product development culture, spawning a string of new running and fitness products each season. For 2019, it also decided to launch a revamped version of some of its iconic models. The first is the Wave Rider shoe, initially introduced in 1997, a running model whose 23rd edition is tailored to long-distance runners, and is featured in a range of high-impact colours.
“Authenticity is in high demand for these products. Thanks to our archives, we are able to redesign a number of models,” said Nicolas Hope, general manager France for Mizuno. “It’s the outcome of a reflection on how to make the brand attractive and desirable to a target other than performance-oriented sport practitioners. This should enable us to engage with an audience which doesn’t necessarily know [Mizuno], while boosting our appeal with athletes, keen to wear these models also outside sporting arenas.”
Three years ago, Mizuno’s Italian subsidiary launched a high-end line labelled RB and targeted at premium retailers. Priced upwards of €300, the RB line maintains its positioning in premium concept stores, while Mizuno is also developing a strategy to strengthen the appeal of the "90's Athletics" line. The latter is a much more affordable line aimed at a global audience, and it is supported since last year by a marketing programmed called "Kazoku," led by Mizuno EMEA Lifestyle Category Manager Luca Marchet. The programme has boosted the brand’s visibility through collaborations with fashion labels and especially with directional streetwear stores like Highsnobiety, Club75, Patta and Mita Sneakers, resulting in several limited-edition models much appreciated by sneakerheads.
In 2019, Mizuno is starting the second phase of the line’s development. In France, Fabien Grimaud, in charge of Mizuno’s Lifestyle category, and Katiana René, who leads Mizuno’s Lifestyle marketing initiatives and events, have worked to place the line’s first models, priced at €145, with several edgy retailers. The price positioning is designed to make the collection consistent with current market prices.
“For the first season, we are working with about thirty stores [in France], mostly concept stores and sneaker specialists like Shinzo, La boîte collector, Nine and Le Lieu,” said Hope. “The collection is available at about one hundred stores across Europe. We were pleased to find that specialist stores know the brand and some of its history. Our objective is to extend the line’s distribution to 200 stores in France."
Besides footwear, Mizuno is also starting to roll out a few apparel items, such as a tracksuit with signature '90s lines and colours. The range will be augmented in the coming seasons. Delving into its multi-sport archives, Mizuno has the potential for bringing something different to the highly competitive sportswear market segment inspired by '90s style.
In the non-standard financial year closed at the end of March 2018, the Mizuno group generated a revenue of JPY185.4 billion (€1.48 billion), of which 30% came from outside Japan. In H1 of the current financial year, the group's revenue was down by 5.3%. Nevertheless, sales in Europe are on the rise from the start of the financial year, after a downturn in the previous year, and tapping the lifestyle shoe segment ought to enable Mizuno to confirm this trend in the second half of the year.
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