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Philipp Plein’s new direction: Plein Sport luxury sportswear for the masses

By Regina Henkel


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Philipp Plein at ISPO Munich 2023. Credits: Plein Sport

Fashion designer Philipp Plein is known for his eye-catching looks with lots of glitz and glamour. With the Plein Sport sportswear line, the designer wants to break new ground and not polarise with the sports collection as much as with his fashion line, nor does the designer have the luxury world in his sights.

Experience shows that it is not always easy for sports collections developed by the fashion world to find the right place between fashion and sportswear and their very different sales channels. This also seems to be the case with Plein Sport, as the label originally had a different strategic direction. When the sports collection was launched in 2016, it was still intended as an activewear supplement to the luxury fashion line. After a break in 2018 due to strategic decisions within the Plein Group, the sports line was relaunched at Milan Fashion Week 2022. At the end of November 2023, the designer presented the collection for the first time at ISPO Munich, making it clear how he would like to position the line in the future.

Conceived as an independent label

“Plein Sport is a stand-alone brand, it has nothing to do with our fashion collection,” explains Philipp Plein right at the start of the interview at ISPO Munich. And this independence means that Plein Sport has its own distribution, its own price points and appeals to its own target group. Under no circumstances should the collection be seen as a second line to his fashion line, which is why the design is also much cleaner, that is “without bling and rhinestones”, he adds. Design should follow function. The reason: he does not want to create competition for himself in-house, which is why he does not want Plein Sport to be seen as a lifestyle collection, but rather to offer products that his customers actually use for their sporting activities.

Plein Sport FW24/25. Credits: Plein Sport

Focus on gym wear and sneakers

The collection consists of a clothing line for men and women that is primarily designed for fitness and running. There are a total of four collections per year, with many carry-overs and not as trend-oriented as the fashion line. However, the focus is on shoes, which make up around 60 percent of the total collection, with sneakers being geared towards sports. The line is rounded off by an extensive range of accessories, consisting of watches, bags and eyewear, all of which are produced under licence by renowned manufacturers. The sporty glasses, for example, come from Italian eyewear manufacturer De Rigo, the watches from Timex and the bags from Laipe.

Sneakers by Plein Sport FW24/25. Credits: Plein Sport

There is also a licensed collection for golf, including bags, which is currently only available in South Korea. “We launched this in 2022 and already have around ten shops. The plan is to expand the collection to other markets,” Plein continues. He wants to add a perfume licence this year itself.

Target mid-price segment

Even without the bling, the collection, including accessories, clearly bears Plein's signature style: Silver puffer jackets, neon-coloured eyewear frames and sneakers with golden colour accents on the soles represent the typical Plein look. However, the price ranges are different. The entry-level price range for more discreet sneakers is around 90 euros in the UK, while the most expensive models cost up to 500 euros. Clothing and bags are also in this price range. Plein sees great potential here: “Sportswear is a huge market with huge demand. Gym wear is the biggest category, so that's where our focus is. Apart from the big brands, there aren't that many competitors.” With Plein Sport, he wants to offer a new option for retailers and consumers alike.

In addition to clothing, Plein Sport also offers sneakers, eyewear, bags and watches. Credits: Plein Sport

Stores planned in shopping centres

Plein already has very specific ideas about where he would like to meet his customers: in shopping centres. There, he wants to offer the brand experience in spaces between 100 and 200 square metres, “rather having more locations than larger ones,” is Plein's motto. Such spaces do not require large collections and offer customers a good overview as soon as they walk in. The store design, which uses eye-catching illuminated rings and was also on display at ISPO, also attracts attention. While other brands are focussing on natural looks with wood in times of sustainability efforts, Plein is taking a different approach and deliberately setting new accents with technical-looking light installations.

There are still none of these Plein Sport stores in Germany, but there are already around 300 worldwide, according to the designer. For example in Rome, Barcelona, Las Vegas, Malta, Vienna and in some Eastern European countries. However, the first stores are due to open in Germany soon. While the brand operates some of the stores on its own, there is also a franchise concept and classic wholesale model. Plein Sport will also be included in the Intersport marketplace before the end of this year.

The designer wants to awaken consumers' desires with his Plein Sport truck, which he likes to drive up in front of the shopping centre before a store opens. As a mobile store, customers can make initial contact with the brand here. In addition to the potential in the sports market, Plein also likes the idea that sports fashion has to have a function. “We don't want to polarise with Plein Sport. In fashion, brands always polarise; some people only like Prada, for example, others only like Balenciaga. This is less the case with sports brands, hardly anyone would say they only like Nike but not Adidas,” concludes Plein.

Philipp Plein infront of the Plein Sport booth at ISPO Munich 2023. Credits: Fashion United / Regina Henkel

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.de. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.

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