US chino and sportswear brand Dockers has recently launched its spring/summer 2019 Dockers Challengers global campaign and marketing project in Lisbon, Portugal.

It involved two “challengers,” unconventional entrepreneurs supporting initiatives that can make a difference in the world. For this season, it presented Jeff Kirschner and Ludwick Marishane.

(from left): Joan Calabia (marketing director Dockers Europe), Ludwick Marishane (founder of DryBath), Jeff Kirschner (founder and CEO of Litterati)
Photo: Dockers
(from left): Joan Calabia (marketing director Dockers Europe), Ludwick Marishane (founder of DryBath), Jeff Kirschner (founder and CEO of Litterati)

Kirschner is the founder and CEO of Litterati, an organization and an app that identifies, maps and collects the world’s litter. He challenges governments and manufacturers to find more sustainable solutions for a litter-free world.

Marishane is a 29-year-old South African and founder of DryBath, a start-up company that produces a natural and biocompatible bath gel that requires no water.

Joan Calabia, marketing director, Dockers Europe
Photo: Dockers
Joan Calabia, marketing director, Dockers Europe

Joan Calabia, marketing director, Dockers Europe, explained why Dockers is involved in this marketing project and how the brand benefits from it.


When did you launch the Dockers Global Challengers initiative for the first time? And why are you focusing on that?

We initially started this program in spring 2017 in Europe as “Game Changers” project. Then from mid-2018, together with our global team we started it globally as we thought the project was exactly in line with our value proposition. That’s why we changed it into Dockers Global Challengers–and it fits under the global platform as we find as mission of our brand to tell these stories and speak of these companies. In fact, it speaks of people we are “Always On.” We are not dealing with the rich entrepreneur who can count on huge bank accounts. It’s about other guys who are always on and are struggling. It’s real stories, real and authentic people. And, yes, it is now two years we have been doing this and working with our different challengers. For instance, in the past we have involved an entrepreneur who has changed in part how we travel. His name is Ross Borden, co-founder and CEO of Matador Network, now one of the largest independent travel media companies, who has changed this segment and has became a content generator about travel.

This season, instead, we started looking at our way to be relevant and found other stories that can be relevant for the generation we want to refer to.


What benefits does Dockers expect from these initiatives? And what did they bring you in the past?

What we have been doing so far has been helping us in conveying the message and helping us to give a very clear vision of what the brand is. It was a platform that we launched at the end of 2017 that helped us to give that personality to our brand as it originally was. Dockers was born in 1986 in San Francisco and was innovative in communicating. It was the first to do a commercial using a steady-cam. It was something many said that could not be done in TV as in our first commercial we were not even showing faces! We were innovative and still how we do it as being game changers is part of our DNA. For this reason we expect the consumer understands the personality of the brand from our projects. And so it is for the product. Our product is what can be defined as versatile as it allows you to feel comfortable and versatile in any situation. And that’s what this new generation needs. It’s the link with the product that we try to make clear.

Jeff Kirschner presenting Litterati, an app that identifies, maps and collects the world’s litter
Photo: Dockers
Jeff Kirschner presenting Litterati, an app that identifies, maps and collects the world’s litter

Who are your target consumers?

Basically everybody. It’s true that from the marketing point of view we are focusing now on the Millennials–which are not the 18-year-olds, but the 30- to 35-year-olds–as the Challengers we are involving, people who generally don’t work in offices but are constant optimizers who always reinvent themselves.


How do you select the personalities you work with?

We select them as long as they are in keeping with our brand, with topics we find relevant for consumers and hot today. We selected people and topics that people want to talk about–and as a brand we need our point of view.


Did you chose to focus on people caring how to preserve the environment?

Not exactly. We were looking for people with great stories to tell even if for this season we decided to have an angle on sustainability and social responsibility. We decided to tell a story of different entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship can also mean giving back to the community and doing good to the community. Our aim is to give that sense of entrepreneurship.


Ludwick Marishane presenting a natural and biocompatible bath gel that requires no water.
Photo: Dockers
Ludwick Marishane presenting a natural and biocompatible bath gel that requires no water.

Do your products also focus on caring for the environment?

We are working on these two initiatives with our products. One is BCI, or Better Cotton Initiative. So 63% of our production is 100% made with BCI, which is cotton we buy from factories that are not using pesticides and are treating employees in the right way. The second aspect we are working on is treating garments by using less water.

So since 2011 until today–as a company–we saved more than three billion liters of water. Plus there are more initiatives but we are not disclosing them for the moment


How is Dockers performing?
Very well. We don’t communicate figures, but in Europe we are registering a double-digit growth. In addition, we see the reaction to these campaigns from consumers, editors and customers have been really, really positive. Right now we are delivering double-digit growth year on year. Our key markets are Spain, France, Turkey and Portugal. And then there is digital. We sell through our website and multibrand platforms like Zalando and Aboutyou. Digital right now is about 10% of our sales and can become important for the future.


How do you operate? Through mono- and multibrand stores? Through how many doors?

We can count on 14 monobrands between Spain and Portugal–between main line and outlet–and Turkey. We will also open our first monobrand store in France in Paris in May 2019. We also operate through 1,200 multibrand stores in Europe.


Are there any new markets where you want to expand?

We want to grow in the markets where we are already operating, though also want to start opening Dockers stores–through both franchise and monobrand. We want to keep growing in these core markets and through digital all over Europe. Also Italy is a market where we are already present with our main distribution. We are already in Coin and Rinascente and want to open a store in Italy, but not in 2019.


Are you launching any new product category?

Basically it’s what the Challengers are wearing that allows them to do what they do. We are launching more products as part of the Smart Series. We launched this collection in fall 2017 and right now it counts for 40% of our business. For s/s 2019 we want launch our Smart 360 Flex, four-way stretch very comfortable trousers, and Supreme Flex, trousers made with a knitted fabric that looks like a woven fabric, though it’s flexible allover. It’s super comfortable but it has the presentability of Dockers, which is versatile as our whole offer. You can be in a very casual or a very refined situation and you don’t need to change. You’re versatile enough therefore confident. And the big news for fall 2019 is that we are bringing all of these technology and all these fabrics to tops. So we are launching 360 button-down shirts with that four-way stretch technology which allows the comfort of a T-shirt and the image of a shirt.

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