Global Executive Search within Fashion, Outdoor & Sportswear.

Question & Answer

Oliver Frielingsdorf
MD Gaastra

27 Apr 2016

Dutch brand Gaastra keeps developing but always with a firm grip on its nautical DNA. Here, MD Oliver Frielingsdorf sheds light on Gaastra’s latest moves.

 

Gaastra was founded in the Netherlands in1897 as a sail-making company. How would you describe the brand’s current incarnation

Gaastra today is a nautical lifestyle brand, specializing in clothing, footwear and accessories for adults and children of both genders. Function always comes first, and then we combine it with fashion. 

Oliver Frielingsdorf
How do you strike a balance between performance/function and fashion?
Any fashion influences come from functional roots. Performance is key, aside from the use of technical materials, every detail is considered and designed with sailing in mind, such as the positioning of zips, for instance. We offer several different lines, including the preppy Yachtclub and the more performance-focused sportswear lines, but we believe that it’s not necessary to produce pieces that look too technical. Even a sailing jacket with high-performance features can be designed to look cool, taking you from deck to the restaurant.
 
Tell us about your latest technical product launch and its properties.
We’ve embarked on a collaboration with Gore-Tex for SS16, extending our professional line Gaastra Pro Gear to include Gaastra Sportswear Collection – a new line that sits between sportswear and casualwear. The outerwear pieces within it have the features you’d expect, such as breathable and waterproof materials.

Gaastra Mens
Are you focusing any particular product category at the moment?
Our shirts category has always been strong and we continue to focus on outerwear, while we’re also developing our knits and the next generation of polo shirts, which are closely associated with our sailing event offer.
 
Who is the Gaastra consumer?
We create product for the 35+ consumer, though we don’t develop the collection with any particular age group in mind – our aim is to offer cool product that fits Gaastra’s DNA. The consumer is someone who wants to look modern without striving to look much younger. Well-designed, timeless clothing doesn’t have to look old.
 
What’s the divide between men and women and are you pushing either range, and if so how?
We’re lucky enough to have an equal balance between the two genders. We need to consider the shift that has taken place in womenswear, offering more contemporary, feminine silhouettes in line with current trends. We’re testing the new look with the cruise collection, which is due to hit stores soon.
We’ve also introduced our first girls’ line to complement our already established boys’ offer.
 
What’s happening on the retail front?
We currently operate 19 full-price stores and 15 outlets. Additionally, there are 35 partner stores. We’re due to launch a new retail model next year and we’re currently finalizing the concept, though it will be nautically inspired in keeping with the brand DNA and our current stores.
 
How important is your e-commerce business?
Our E-shop accounts for a third of our business so it’s very important to us. As soon as we’ve entered a new market, such as Slovakia, we notice that online sales immediately gain traction in that same region. Hence, we’re working hard to stay truly omnichannel.

Gaastra collection
Which regions are particularly Gaastra friendly? What territories might you break into next?
Gaastra is well established in Germany and the Benelux area and we moved into France, Spain and Italy about three years ago and continue to establish a presence in those territories with the help of key accounts. Scandinavia is a new market for us; we’re now in our second season there and just opened a store in Stockholm’s Mall of Scandinavia, for instance. Also, we’ve recently opened a store in Newport US as we’d like to see what the reaction might be in the Hamptons’ sailing mecca. We’d also like to break into the UK on a wider scale, though it’s a notoriously tricky market – so we’d need to proceed with care and caution.
 
You often get involved in sailing events around the world. Which team-ups are the most important ones?
Gaastra gets involved in a huge network of sailing events across the world. These tie-ups link the brand to the sailing community, encouraging our consumers to immerse themselves in the brand universe, while introducing new customers to Gaastra. We launch excusive ranges to coincide with events every year; our Les Régates de Saint Barth collection has just launched. Other key sailing events for which we produce dedicated capsule collections are Copa del Rey (Mallorca), Palma Vela (Mallorca), Kieler Woche (Kiel, Germany).

 

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