Cloth­ing brand Tribesport has shifted fo­cus and is aim­ing to blend fash­ion and func­tion – at a price

Runner's World (UK) - - GEAR -

Three years ago we ran a fea­ture ti­tled Is this the fu­ture of run­ning ap­parel? (RW, Feb 2015). It was about a new cloth­ing brand called Tribesport (TS), which had built a so­cial net­work for sports­peo­ple ( peak­ing at around 250,000 mem­bers). It then har­nessed the power of all those opin­ions by giv­ing the mem­bers a big say in its ap­parel de­sign, on ev­ery­thing from the colour of the fab­ric to seem­ingly mi­nor de­tails such as pocket place­ment (run­ners can be very par­tic­u­lar about where they stash their keys).

TS also found a way to de­liver mid/ high- end qual­ity kit at en­try-level prices by cut­ting out the mar­ket­ing mid­dle man, not in­vest­ing in bricks and mor­tar and not sell­ing through the usual re­tail chan­nels. To­day the com­pany is very dif­fer­ent. The brand has more or less ditched the so­cial net­work idea for a more con­ven­tional de­sign and dis­tri­bu­tion model, and switched to pro­duc­ing pre­mium kit fea­tur­ing high­end fab­rics and minute at­ten­tion to de­tail.

So why the change of fo­cus? ‘In the end we had to con­clude that we had be­come caught be­tween two stools in terms of our mes­sage,’ says TS CEO Steve Reid. ‘Net­work mem­bers and ex­ist­ing fans of the brand were buy­ing the kit be­cause they knew what it was about, but de­spite in­vest­ing in on­line con­tent to ex­plain that, for ex­am­ple, a £22 T-shirt was the qual­ity equiv­a­lent of a £50 piece of kit, that mes­sage did not get widely enough dis­sem­i­nated. We dis­cov­ered that price is still the big­gest in­di­ca­tor of qual­ity in the minds of most con­sumers and al­though we tried to dis­rupt that, we could not. We found peo­ple want­ing to pur­chase pre­mium- end run­ning kit are pre­pared to – would al­most pre­fer to, in fact – spend money to do so.’

The TS range has been com­pletely re­designed to com­pete at the top end of the mar­ket and seeks to merge fash­ion with func­tion. ‘Our kit now is for peo­ple who want to run up a moun­tain, look good while they do so and know the kit can han­dle what­ever is thrown its way,’ says Reid. ‘Rapha has the top end of the cy­cling mar­ket and Lu­l­ule­mon has yoga. We think Tribesport can be that brand for run­ning.’

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