Urban, FILA Partnership Targets Retro-Loving Millennials

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Urban, FILA Partnership Targets Retro-Loving Millennials

By Jordan K. Speer, Apparel Editor in Chief - 05/25/2016
What's more powerful than one well-loved brand? Two well-loved brands!

In an equation that seems to subvert normal math to the tune of 1+1=3, the trend toward unique partnerships between apparel brands — or between apparel brands and retailers, or between apparel brands and other industry brands — is on the rise. We've seen everything from Alexander Wang at H&M to Barbie™ at Forever21, to Timberland boots made with Omni tires, and in Fall 2015, FILA and Urban Outfitters formed their own partnership, collaborating to launch an exclusive collection of apparel and accessories, drawing upon FILA's iconic heritage and infusing it with a modern twist that would appeal to the UO customer seeking vintage-inspired styles.

For inspiration, FILA dug deep into its archives — literally — sending "coffins" of apparel from the FILA museum in Biella, Italy to UO's design team in the United States. After looking through FILA's rich cache, UO decided to anchor the Fall collaboration by updating FILA's iconic Borg tennis polo for a new generation. (The tennis star's endorsement helped launch FILA into sportswear in the 1970s, an evolution for the brand, which previously had produced men's undergarments as well as yarns and fabrics.)

FILA was thrilled, says Kelly Funke, vice president of marketing, North America. "Tennis is our brand DNA. We were excited to reintroduce FILA to a younger demographic with a modern lifestyle collection that drew its inspiration from a sport we proudly recognize as integral to our success."

Working together, FILA and UO updated classic staples from the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, including raglan sweatshirts and athletic-detailed jackets. Also, in a nod to the brand's tennis history, each piece in the FILA + UO line was adorned with the original FILA F-Box red, navy and ecru logo.

While FILA has for several seasons been partnering with other brands to create exclusive footwear collaborations, its partnership with UO on the apparel side was unique. "We have not done that level of product plus marketing customization with the apparel piece of the puzzle in recent history," said Funke.

One example of that marketing customization was a Snapchat contest that received 600 entries in just 24 hours. Urban Outfitters asked customers to snap back their favorite looks in order to win the entire collection. "It was one of UO's earliest times marketing on the Snapchat platform and a fun way to share what was in essence a look book," Funke says. That's key for UO's target Millennial demographic, which communicates, shares and draws inspiration primarily through social media.

Reintroducing FILA's classic silhouettes and brand story to a new generation of shoppers through Urban Outfitters has worked well for both companies, says Funke. The two brands are working on three more lines due out this June, September and for Holiday 2016 that will again fuse elements of FILA's past into lifestyle pieces for the thriving retro market and the Millennial consumer. "Just wait until you see the motocross jacket for back-to-school," teases Funke. 

Editor's Note: See all of the 2016 Top Innovators here.

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