Lost Youth

Fashion Chains Reinvent to Stay Relevant

fashion.dpa Federico Gambarini
Picture Source: DPA
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Established mass-consumption clothing brands are struggling in a market awash with trendy new players.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The German fashion industry is one of the largest in Europe, with more than 1,300 labels.
    • Retailer Brax is among those attempting to attract young people after profits dropped.
    • Gerry Weber and S.Oliver, to Bugatti and Bogner are among the brands trying to keep up with competitors like Zara, Mango and H&M, which appeal to a younger customer base.
  • Audio

    Audio

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For 15 years the balance sheets of German fashion retailer Brax have been a feel-good story for the company management. Then last year, the figures suddenly sank.

The 3 percent fall came as a shock at Brax headquarters in the northern German town of Herford. The company’s marketing chief, Marc Freyberg, took it as an alarm signal that the brand needed to adjust its course. Instead of blaming it on hard times for the clothing industry, the clothier, which operates under the slogan “Feel Good,” began an intensive strategic analysis.

What the company found was that the brand and its clientele had grown old together. The brand was too old-fashioned to attract new, younger customers. Even worse, continuing to produce the same kind of modern-classic trousers and jackets meant that its customer base would die eventually off.

“We wanted to become tangibly more modern,” Mr. Freyberg told Handelsblatt. “We wanted to start speaking to our customer base when they were 35, instead of 45.”

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