Italian jeans and fashion brand Replay is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Past and future are part of the evolution of this brand founded in 1981, as explained by Matteo Sinigaglia, CEO, Fashion Box, and Thomas Wirth, CEO, Fashion Box Deutschland. In this exclusive interview they explain some of the brand’s future plans for growth and celebrations.

From the archives: Replay spring/summer '11 campaign, shot by Chad Pitman
Photo: Replay
From the archives: Replay spring/summer '11 campaign, shot by Chad Pitman

How much did Replay change in the last 35 years? What remained the same since its foundation and which other aspects have changed most through the years?

Matteo Sinigaglia (MS): The main evolution is in the products’ editing as well as in the way we communicate to consumers. What we feel has changed nowadays is not so much about expectations and requirements on a certain product and not even its aesthetic; what changed most is the understanding about what each product can mean in everybody’s everyday editing and use. Therefore while we safeguarded and maintained our identity (which is one of the paramount values of the brand), we evolved our styling, our communication and the way we present our products.

Thomas Wirth (TW): One part of the success of Replay is due to the fact that the brand has not adapted itself too much to the changing needs of the markets. Of course, we are part of our contemporary society and thus, we are also reacting on it in a way, but at the same time, Replay is independent. Replay managed to stay true to its own identity, and that’s why the brand is still valuable and of importance today: the brand is authentic, its roots are still visible while its progression is obvious at the same time. All that has changed is connected with the technical development. I am talking about both the production process as well as the communication possibilities.

In its 35 years of business Replay had to face success but also some difficulties such as the unexpected departure Claudio Buziol of its founder, a change of ownership and a share of a 29% stake by the Chinese partner Belle International. Will these partners acquire more quotas? What new strategies will the company follow?

MS: At this stage there is no plan for them to take on any more shares. There will of course be a great push for all of the Greater China area where we are expecting great results.

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What will Replay be in the next 10 years?

MS: In the next 10 years, Replay will work very hard in order to make the denim world more relevant to people, not only in terms of product but as well in terms of rebellious attitude towards the status quo.

I am not sure what the future holds for us but we are very confident that we will have a lot of fun and enjoy doing what we do.

TW: We will still proudly stay true to our DNA while we will also go on adopting the Zeitgeist of each time. So, as today, Replay will have its fingers on the pulse of the time in connection to our history!

From the archives: Replay campaign for fall/winter '91, shot by Peter Calvin
Photo: Replay
From the archives: Replay campaign for fall/winter '91, shot by Peter Calvin

Will it become more important in different areas of the world?

MS: Replay will be a global brand by the end of 2017. We have just implemented our presence all over South America and are starting to expand in South East Asia. We leave the “big one”, the US, to the 1st semester of 2017.

Retail has played a significant part in this brand's success, which has also influenced the retail environment for jeans. Is retail still playing the same role? Why or why not?

MS: Retail is still one of the key pillars of our vision for the future. It used to be the “soul place” where you could sell cohesively and consistently collections in the past.

Today with the presence of the e-commerce (where you can still sell a lot of products), retail still holds the most influential part of our business because it’s the place where we can sell our brand, where we can have a big showcase of styling, editing and tailor-made services to end-consumers. So it will become something more important than simply a place for selling products.

TW: Even more than today, our retail stores will be the places where the customers can really feel and dive into the brand. No matter how digital our society will once be in the future, the physical experience will always be of value.

Replay Touch
Photo: Replay
Replay Touch

How could this brand influence the jeans market of the future? Which chords might it be hitting?

TW: The chords are defined by two main tones: the most innovative and most authentic at the same time. 

MS: Replay is willing to influence the market by innovating and by inspiring people. In both fields creativity will be our weapon. We are confident that in the last couple of years we succeeded in starting this endeavour.

How will you celebrate this anniversary?

MS: At the end of 2016 we will launch a new jeans for women by introducing one of the most innovative product today in the market: Touch. It is a very high-tech jeans: it is a soft touch, super stretch and high-recovery jeans.

We will dedicate an incredible campaign shot by Mert & Marcus as a Christmas present to our fellow women friends.

Is the brand serving a much different consumer? How did the Replay consumer evolve? 

MS: In terms of target age, denim itself is a very democratic product. In terms of brand we keep consistent our customer base, focusing on a 25-40 years old end consumer.

TW: Replay customers are very loyal. We are delighted to have a lot of steady consumers that are following and buying the brand for many years. At the same time, there are new customer growing up and discovering Replay. Maybe they get to know Replay at the same age our steady customer got to know the brand back in the days. In fact, it is not about the traditional definition of a target group - the age, sex and location. Instead, it is a common mindset that connects the Replay customers. That mindset is mainly driven by the urge of freedom within the constraints of a Western world dominated by power and performance. Replay serves as a way out of this constraints. In its beginning, denim had a rebellious character. And it’s that rebellious character that Replay preserves and translates at the same time. The result: subtle, urban and luxurious collections with a rebellious twist.

From the archives: Replay spring/summer '05 campaign, shot by Christophe Rihet
Photo: Replay
From the archives: Replay spring/summer '05 campaign, shot by Christophe Rihet

Is Replay more aimed at men or women now?

TW: We offer the full range - our collections are aimed at both men and women. 

MS: Replay enjoys a unique appreciation by both genders. There are very few brands that inspire both genders today in the market and we are one of them.

Of course the attitude towards buying products between men and women is slightly different. Over the years, we put our best efforts in trying to increase our offer specifically in the woman segment with the aim of balancing our customer base; still at this moment, we are on a 60% male - 40% female product offer, which also reflects business. We are still striving basically to satisfy women and our target for the future is to get to a 55% male – 45% female.

Is Germany still playing a key role for the brand's sales? 

TW: Yes, a major role. Germany is still as important as in the past. And due to its importance in terms of sales, it is important in terms of the aesthetics and communication strategy as well.

Are there any specific targets and initiatives you want to focus on for the German market?

TW: There is always room for improvement. So, improvement is definitely one target. As Matteo said, we want to balance the division between men and women. We are right now not far away from this balance 55/45.

We will now focus our activities more on deepening our accessories and shoes offer.

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