Something unexpected happened at the Paris Men´s Fashion Week in January. When Boris Bidjan Saberi, ETUDE Studio, and CMMN SWDN presented their latest collections, the models were wearing Salomon trail running shoes. Coincidence? Not at all. Instead, it was a visible manifestation of Salomon´s new lifestyle project.
“We are transporting the Salomon brand into a new space; fashion footwear,” says Jean-Philippe Lalonde, Lifestyle Footwear Program Manager at Salomon.
In addition to participating in the fashion shows, Salomon also had a showroom at the Fashion Week.
“We met over 50 retailers, some of them among the most influent in the fashion world. Also, print and online press visited us along with stylists, photographers, and models.”
After the Fashion Week, Salomon was covered in the leading fashion media such as Vogue, Hypebeast, and Highsnobiety, among others.
All in all, Lalonde is delighted with the results of the Fashion Week. “The event consolidated Salomon’s relevance in the fashion world. Our brand is welcome and accepted within this exclusive community.”
Today, Salomon shoes are already available at prestigious fashion retailers such as Dover Street Market, Totokaelo, Machine-A, The Broken Arm, Antonioli, Gr8, and the online retailer SSENSE. The Salomon lifestyle team is currently in discussion with buyers from multi door retail operations like size?, ATMOS, and Nordstrom. And there is plenty more to come.
How about the consumers? They have adopted Salomon shoes as a part of their daily streetwear. Instagram is bursting with pictures where young fashion-savvy people proudly present their newly purchased Salomon sneakers.
“We wear sneakers in our daily lives, and we see sneakers in environments we never saw them before. The urban lifestyle consumers have been looking for technical and functional solutions to use in their daily life, they are now turning to trail running and hiking footwear to suit their needs.”
Salomon´s lifestyle project is an earnest attempt to establish Salomon´s position in the fashion world. Jean-Philippe Lalonde explains why it makes sense: “We have urban consumers, we have fashion retailers, and top tier media already looking for our products. All this proves that taking the leap to fashion footwear is very relevant for Salomon.”
“Fashion footwear is probably Salomon´s most prominent new business opportunity . The market is bigger than all outdoor footwear markets together. The opportunity to enter this category is now open for us.”
Salomon´s lifestyle project started in 2015 when the Parisian high end fashion boutique Broken Arm made a unique variation of the Snowcross winter running shoe. The Broken Arm has been Salomon´s partner ever since.
The brand also developed a tight partnership with Boris Bidjan Saberi, a renowned fashion designer and member of the Chambre masculine of the Federation Française de la Couture . Some of the most sought forshoes of Salomon’s lifestyle offering, e.g.the Odyssey Mid, originate from this unique collaboration.
“Co-operation with fashion brands and designers is very beneficial for Salomon. It gives us the opportunity to shape the market of the future. We can take the matter in our hands,” says Lalonde, who joined the project in 2016. Previously, he worked for Arc’teryx, the Canadian high performance outdoor equipment company in the Amer Sports portfolio.
What will be the next steps in the lifestyle project? “We keep on doing what we do now because it works so well,” says Lalonde with a smile.
The critical aspects in Lalonde´s roadmap are co-operation with fashion brands and retailers.
“More collaboration is coming. We are discovering new things when we work with collaborators. We have to be open-minded as these projects more often than not take us outside of our comfort zone and allow us to discover new ways of working, design lines, materials, etc. Each collaboration is different in its essence and allows us to move beyond barriers we didn’t even know existed.”
“We are also working with lifestyle distribution. The goal is to bring Salomon in an entirely different retail environment. We can soon expect much bigger distribution in the fashion world and maybe also a full collection of fashion footwear.”
Combining fashion world and technical footwear is a dream come true for Lalonde. When asked about his motivation, he starts laughing.
“I want to create shoes I would enjoy, and my friends would wear. They are the biggest judges I have, and the hardest to convince!”
“But the true objective for my team and me would be to create a cultural icon. Salomon could be the next Air Force One. I know it sounds very ambitious, but it keeps me going. Salomon and our team have everything it takes to get there.”