FILA: is the sportswear brand set for a fashion resurgence with Jason Wu?

Blink and you might have missed it but Fila, the sportswear brand, just teamed up with American designer Jason Wu for a catwalk show in Hong Kong. While not many UK and US press outlets covered the show, blogger Bryanboy was present and so we learnt about the show the way we learn about most big fashion moments nowadays, via Instagram.

Despite the lack of press, the show was a notable moment for this sportswear apparel brand. FILA is playing to its tennis heritage, but reinventing it for a new fashionable consumer.

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“The colours feel very FILA, but I also think the styling is very reflective of the Asian market, that it launched in.

“This collaboration and the recent collaboration between FILA and Urban Outfitters shows that the brand is making a concerted effort to be seen and relevant with consumers again,” says Veronica Hendry, WGSN Senior Editor of Active.

Speaking about the line from Hong Kong, Jason Wu explained how he used FILA’s brand heritage, reinventing what that means now for a modern, fashion-forward audience.

“The inspiration came from the FILA DNA, their heritage in tennis. The idea was to combine the aesthetic of the two houses, FILA and Jason Wu. I’m applying a sophisticated element to what is known as athlesiure,” said Wu.

FILA might not be the brand you automatically think of when you think of cool and forward thinking. But with a heritage in tennis (fun fact: it was the official footwear licensee of Wimbledon) it is leveraging this tennis hook to counter its recent brand identity issues.

The Italian footwear brand was credible in the mid 90s, with its hi-top styles, but after that it struggled to engage consumers. The brand’s new two–pronged strategy is to collaborate with a big name designer and play to its tennis background.

It’s a move that reflects the general shift that smaller activewear brands are making away from performance towards fashion, automatically increasing their cool factor with consumers and shedding the underdog tag. Rather than going after the performance sector of active, against sportswear giants Nike and Adidas, who have monopolised that market, the smaller brands are going in a different direction.

“It’s an interesting time for FILA, they are no longer seen as solely a sports brand and can’t compete as such, this is them dipping their toes into different markets. Other heritage sportswear brands like Champion and Ellesse are trying a similar resurgence strategy to try to re-position themselves,” says Clare Varga, WGSN Director of Active.

This specific FILA collaboration marks a new direction for Jason Wu too, regarding the design process, working with different fabrics and materials. It will be exciting to see how this collaboration resonates with consumers.

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