fashion

Michael Staib, creative director Fila Europe: We don’t want to be ‘stronger, better, faster’


Michael Staib, who has previously held design positions at Adidas, Joop
and Esprit, has been the creative director at Fila Europe since last year.
The sportswear label, once founded in Italy, celebrates its 110th
anniversary this year. High time to find out what the future holds for the
local market and what Staib has in store for Fila Europe.

In the interview, the designer explains the new direction of Fila
Europe, what trends he sees in the sportswear sector and how important
collaborations still are.

For just over a year, you have been creative director at Fila Europe.
How do you see the direction of the brand? What have you pushed for?

Like many other brands, Fila had an incredibly fast and strong run
worldwide with the Trend Archive, Bold, Colourblock and big logos. Fila has
grown rapidly and the aforementioned elements still characterise the DNA to
a certain extent.

It was immediately clear to me that we had to act as a brand in order to
remain a successful market player in the future. For me, this meant:
finding ourselves, concentration, setting ourselves apart – not wanting to
please everyone, but building an emotionally strong and convincing brand
image to the outside world. Using the Fila roots and transforming them to
make them fit for the future. We thus remain true to the brand!

How did this impact the collection?

The new collection has been streamlined and consists of three strong
areas: Sport, Street, Archive. Each of the three areas is charged by a
strong theme and has its own colour world that can be combined across the
board, as well as its own looks. What is important is the idea of being
able to combine all the styles of the three areas with each other. In this
way, we create a large playground of different looks.

Fila SS22 “React” collection | Photo:
Fila

What does that mean exactly for the three areas?

In the sports segment, we consciously set ourselves apart from the big
performance brands by designing the collection with lifestyle in mind, but
with materials and technology that are 100 percent functional. Sportswear
for the daily routine.

In the streetwear segment, the styles are more dressy. Here, we tap into
formal wear and sportswear. Technical influences in materials and
workmanship from the sports and outdoor areas are very important here.

We use the Archive segment to tell exciting stories that have
accumulated in our Fila archive over the years. It’s where you’ll find our
heritage – this diversity means that playing with logos and patterns never
gets boring!

Fila turned 110 this year. Surely, that means a large archive. Do you
spend a lot of time among former designs and get inspired by them?

Fila is sport! There is no brand in the world that is at home in so many
sports. The archive is a constant source of inspiration for me and in our
design meetings, there are always stories and moods from the Fila archive.
Already in the first summer collection, we communicated closely with our
museum in Biella and developed appropriate graphics and prints. I wish I
could spend more time in the archive. Visiting our museum in Biella is
quite high on my to-do list.

What trends are you seeing in streetwear and sportswear right now?

The looks are getting sharper again, with more attitude. The fusion of
formalwear and utility in combination with technical sportswear is a an
important trend at the moment. The pandemic has raised awareness of health,
family, friends and diversity, among other things, which we see clearly in
the homewear trend. This is reflected in the cuts, materials and colours.
However, as a brand, we do not follow trends, we pay great attention to the
fact that we stay true to our core message for Fila. A trend must also fit
Fila.

What differences do you see in terms of trends for the Chinese and US
market?

There are huge differences here, each market has its needs and and
orientation. Fila USA, for example, is very strong in the outdoor sector;
Fila China in the fashion sector.

Photo: Fila x MSGM

For SS22, Fila has collaborated with Y/Project, MSGM and Wood Wood. To
what extent were you involved?

I am not always directly involved, but I am informed about Global Fila
collaborations. We plan our own Fila collaboration launches accordingly.
With Wood Wood, for example, our team actively worked with Wood Wood and
took over the complete development.

What collaborations can we expect next?

We currently have a few more very interesting collaborations in progress
that we have developed over the last few months. For our Fila Kids, we are
delivering two collections with Warner Brothers next year. Then, for Fila
Apparel, Accessories and Footwear, a collaboration with Valentino Rosso
(Riders Academy) VR46. And shortly afterwards, a sports/street capsule with
Slam Jam, also for Fila Apparel, Accessories and Footwear. Apart from the
daily buzz, collaborations are always very inspiring and
refreshing.

We also see a wide variety of activation models here, for example via
channels of cultural leaders. But we also know that collaborations no
longer generate the hype they did years ago.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. Maybe we will soon see
Fila with a “hack” or “swap”.

Next year, you will be launching a brand campaign to position Fila more
clearly in the sports and athleisure market. What does this positioning
look like?

Our campaign has a clear motto: we do not want to be “stronger, better,
faster”. Rather, Fila’s motto is “Play Over Pressure” and “Fun Over Rules”.
It is the fun and the joy of playing sports that drive us as people and
this is currently very important for Gen Z. A very positive point of view!

What does the future look like for Fila in Europe?

Very good, because we can move things quickly within our organisation.
Our company has managed very well and is investing in the future.

We have not only invested heavily in the product, but also in
e-commerce. Our team of experts in the Düsseldorf office is very closely
connected with the strong online players. We are currently working on the
emotionalisation of our digital area.

This interview was conducted in written form.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.de. Edited
and translated by Simone Preuss.

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