The move from energy drinks to fashion may seem an unlikely one, but Red Bull has already successfully spread its branding wings into ownership of Red Bull Formula One racing team and Red Bull Salzburg Football Club, and all related merchandise and apparel, as well as supplying specialist kit for athletes in numerous fields.
It’s now having a real crack at the fashion market with a new collection called Alpha Tauri, as we find out from the man leading the drive, Ahmet Mercan, who is general manager of Alpha Tauri & head of global consumer products Red Bull.
When and why did Red Bull launch this new fashion brand?
Officially it was for SS16, though the workforce was established in 2014. I came on board from Lacoste, where I had been Regional Sales and Brand Director for the brand in emerging markets. Prior to Lacoste, I was at Puma for four years as Key Account Manager. We rebranded the Red Bull Collection store in Salzburg to Alpha Tauri, and we have a second store in Graz, Austria. We have also recently launched our website, with an eye now on targeting suitable retail partners in different markets, including the UK. But we are taking things slowly to get it right.
Was the rebranding of the shop in Salzburg the initial tester in the market for Alpha Tauri?
Yes, it was, and it was received very well. Firstly, it was not so easy for consumers to understand what the approach was, and nobody was really aware that it was a Red Bull brand, because it had no relation in the name, just a hidden bull in the branding. It has taken a while to educate the consumers.
What makes you think it will be a success?
It makes sense for us to have a fashion brand, because we’ve had specialist apparel for some 20 years, which started with the athlete’s collection which was ahead of its time and very premium.
How would you best describe the Alpha Tauri offer?
It’s focused on using premium materials and textiles, combining innovation, performance and fashion. It’s targeted at young professionals and forward thinkers. It’s not really about following trends. We have leather jackets for men and women and cashmere pieces, but also parkas featuring Prima Loft insulation, which keeps you warm and is super lightweight, and it’s also easily packable for travel. We are also using Taurex, which is a self-engineered titan mineral technology developed together with Schoeller Textil AG. It reflects the energy radiated from the body back to the wearer, enhancing wellbeing. It fits with our brand slogan of ‘Fits Body and Mind’ which we also print on T-shirts and sweatshirts. We also now have Shima Seiki as a long-term partner of Alpha Tauri. They have provided a 3D-Wholegarment-Machine, which produces custom designed and fitted knits. With Shima Sheiki, AlphaTauri can build bridges from the online to the offline world and approach innovation in a holistic way. It’s all about catering to the needs of a modern customer in an innovative way.
What are the price points like?
The men’s Technical Taurex Parka retails at €799.90, and the women’s Premium Taurex Trench Coat is priced at €599.90. A men’s padded zip-up sweatshirt is €149.90, and a women’s knitted hoodie with cashmere is €179.90. Then there’s the men’s and women’s lambswool lined leather jackets at €799.90, and basic Tees with Taurex technology are €49.90.
Where would you see Alpha Tauri sitting in stores?
We’re taking our own path. We’re not following the whole ‘outdoors’ thing, and we’re not following other fashion brands. There’s no other brand really doing the same job, but there are different brands and price points which we want to compete with.
What are the plans going forward?
The plan is to make a success story out of it, but we will take the time to do the right thing. We’ve opened two own retail stores in Austria, and we’ll be looking at keeping distribution tight, expanding with strictly selective retail partners, as well our focusing on our own online store. In Germany we are looking to find a wholesale partner in each big city, like in Berlin, Munich and Düsseldorf. In London I can imagine we will have maybe three to five retail partners, but again very selective with retailers who are able to tell our story and be a part of our journey. We won’t open another own retail store for now, but possibly one in Germany in 2020.