K-WAY X KAPPA – Collaboration, authenticity and brand loyalty

In a rapidly changing retail landscape, where brands are having to fight for customers’ attention, two major themes continue to keep our conversation around the future of retail bubbling – authenticity and brand loyalty. Customers have become savvier than ever before, and are demanding more out of purchases and retail experiences.

One demographic that provides a very pertinent example of this is Gen Z. Retail nomads, this consumer has set new rules around how brands need to communicate to earn their attention and, therefore, companies are having to adjust their strategies to be successful.

As laid out in our Big Ideas A/W 20 report: Menswear, collaboration can be a good starting point, partnering up with zeitgeist brands and designers to improve and elevate products to appeal to this consumer. A recent collaboration between raincoat brand K-WAY and sportswear brand Kappa is an example of how retro labels are seeing a big resurgence in the streetwear market – and how that trend can heighten another brand’s relevance.

This nostalgia for retro sports labels goes some way to explaining why the trend in statement graphics and bold branding has been so prominent in the streetwear market. Over past seasons, we have seen successful collaborations with the likes of Champion and Vetements, or Supreme and Louis Vuitton.

As a 40-year-old brand, Kappa has a rich history in sports, and it is one that Lorenzo Boglione, VP of Sales at K-WAY, is keen to reminisce on. “Kappa was Carl Lewis at the 84 Olympic games. He was wearing kappa from head to toe” says Boglione. “That’s the story of authenticity – and it’s very difficult to change or revert, and impossible to begin. You were either there or you were not”.

This importance of authenticity demonstrates the fact that customers value brands with history and a story, and we are seeing market shifts in retail because of this. Gen Z consumers are also fully vested in hype culture, and flipping items to double their money – it’s something we’ve discussed in length over on WGSN Insight.

This is driving the resale market up considerably. By 2027, resell items are predicted to stand for 11% of clothing in people’s wardrobes. It serves as a reminder to brands to choose their collaborations carefully, as consumers invest in items that have a strong resell potential down the line.

Boglione believes that the key to a successful collaboration is really about being “authentic and true”. “I don’t have a crystal ball but I hope that it will be a sustainable trend and last more than a couple of seasons.”


Interested in further Gen Z trends, habits and values? Download WGSN’s white paper The Gen Z Equation.

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