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Zalando's entry into the streetwear market

If you are outside of Europe, you may not have heard of Zalando. In Europe, however, it is a retail giant. Its numbers are, of course, amazing. Zalando has 46 million customers in 23 markets.

Until now the positioning of men's clothing has been broad and eclectic, covering everything from Moschino t-shirts to classic tailoring. Last week, however, the retailer announced a shift in focus.

"Zalando Street plans to offer more exposure and space to its growing portfolio of streetwear brands. It will include longtime supporters such as Carharrt WIP and The North Face. But it will also include specialty brands from the world of basketball, skateboarding and outdoor activities, including Etnies, Santa Cruz, HUF and Obey.

Marius Brintrup, head of retail for men's footwear and accessories, sees the move as recognition of the streetwear brands' dominance in all aspects of men's fashion. "We strive to be a brand that allows every customer to find themselves in our offering streetwear has become a cornerstone of the fashion industry and is part of global culture," Marius says.

It is also, of course, a highly competitive and saturated market. Over the past decade, countless brands, from mass market to premium fashion, have tried to join streetwear subcultures to gain recognition. And the streetwear audience can be indifferent to newcomers at best.

This is a challenge that Zalando is aware of. The answer will be to work closely with representatives of that fashion. "Streetwear is a diverse fusion of subcultures," Brintrup says. "So we will adopt a collaborative nature that allows us to work with those who are at the forefront of this movement." To that end, his newly renamed Instagram feed will feature a digital magazine inviting various cultural figures. "We want to talk to our customers in the most authentic language," Brintrup says.

In the near future, Zalando teased that audiences can expect "hot deals, limited-edition products" and yet-to-be-announced exclusives. His list of brands will also grow as it includes a broader range of titles. The goal, as Brintrup puts it, is to become a "starting point" for men's fashion.

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