Rebuilding Bench

Haute Couture Hoodies

Bruno Sälzer was formerly the boss of luxury global fashion brand Escada.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If Bruno Sälzer is successful with his brand overhaul, Bench could once again take on established brands such as Superdry and H&M.

  • Facts


    • Bench is a British streetwear label founded in Manchester in 1989. Its products are sold in 34 countries.
    • Revenues dropped from €120 million ($129 million) in 2013 to €100 million in 2014.
    • The company is relocating to Munich as part of Mr. Sälzer’s overhaul.
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A fitting room is not necessary: Bruno Sälzer changes right in front of the photographer into a gray hooded sweatshirt. “A hoodie,” he says, and smirks. The 57-year-old knows all the right buzz words for his new job as chief of the youth fashion brand Bench.

As the former head of Hugo Boss and Escada, Germany’s best-known fashion manager has shown that he knows how to lead strong labels. But is that enough to breathe new life into a weak label such as Bench? After all, he will be competing with successful rivals including Superdry, Scotch & Soda, Adidas Originals, H&M and Zara, while Bench’s popularity has declined since its heyday five or six years ago.

For Mr. Sälzer and the entire industry, it will be exciting to see whether someone from the world of major brands can also reanimate a niche label.

Mr. Sälzer, who took over in December, wants to get Bench out of the skateboard parks and onto the catwalk. He wants to establish the brand in the youth art and music scene and profit from its coolness factor.

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