The New Zealand expansion comes on the heels of the opening of the first Replay store in Australia at Chadstone shopping centre in April, following Pas Group’s acquisition of the local distribution rights in 2021.
After Pas Group merged with Brand Collective earlier this year, the brand was reorganised to sit within the same team that manages Superdry in Australia and New Zealand – under general manager Antony Hampson.
Superdry’s marketing and PR manager Matthew Iozzi has added the brand to his portfolio and Superdry’s former womenswear buyer Joshua Chait has moved across to lead the buying team at Replay.
Hampson said the brand has already seen a strong response from customers since the first Replay store opened at Chadstone, and he believes there is a significant opportunity to grow in Australia and New Zealand.
“We have had an incredible response from those who know and appreciate the quality of the brand,” Hampson told Inside Retail.
“We still have ongoing work to build awareness around Replay in our market as a premium denim brand, but that was expected given it has had little presence here previously.”
Leveraging high-profile sponsorships
Founded in Italy in 1981, Replay offers a wide range of jeans, jackets, sweaters, shirts, footwear, socks and other accessories for men and women. An early adopter of eco-friendly technologies, it uses natural pigments, recycled fabrics and reduced water consumption in its production process.
Replay’s reputation as a premium denim brand is firmly cemented in Europe, thanks to its partnerships with high-profile athletes and sports clubs, including Neymar Jr, Usain Bolt, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax Amsterdam and Aston Martin Formula One, and its sponsorship of the All Blacks rugby team is hoped to have a similar effect in New Zealand.
“The brand has some awareness in New Zealand due to its sponsorship of the All Blacks since 2020 [when it was] named the official formalwear and denimwear partner of the national All Blacks, the All Blacks Sevens and the Māori All Blacks teams,” Iozzi told Inside Retail.
Now, the aim is to generate greater interest in the brand, beyond its relationship with the All Blacks.
“[W]hilst Kiwis are familiar with the brand logo and the All Blacks x Replay collection, consumers are perhaps not yet aware of the entire breadth of the brand’s range, which marks one of the principle objectives for our team as we enter the market,” Iozzi said.
To achieve this, Iozzi is taking a different approach to marketing Replay than Superdry, which is heavily reliant on social media platforms, particularly TikTok.
“Social media is, of course, an integral channel to any modern omnichannel retailer, but where Superdry seeks to target first-players and innovators, Replay seeks to speak to culture-makers and trend-curators,” he said.
“Platforms like Be Real and Spotify offer a significant opportunity for the Replay brand, generating deeper connections to mature audiences.”
Avoiding the pitfalls
Beyond the sponsorship strategy, Hampson expects Replay to benefit from increased spending on luxury fashion post-Covid.
In Australia alone, the luxury fashion market is estimated to be worth US$2.6 billion in 2022, and it is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.42 per cent from 2022-2027.
As an international brand, Replay is also positioned to benefit from the return of overseas travel to New Zealand, following more than two years of border closures.
“New Zealand is such a sought-after destination for both domestic and international tourism,” Hampson said.
“Where there is a good mix of local consumers and international tourists and day-trippers, it opens up more opportunities to generate incremental sales without the reliance on driving sales just through the local customer.”
However, it can also be hard for international brands to replicate their success overseas. Popular British fashion chain Topshop hit the skids in Australia and New Zealand in 2017, which some analysts attributed to a poor product range that didn’t appeal to local customers.
Hampson said the team managing Replay would seek to avoid these pitfalls.
“It’s important to understand what the consumers’ needs are and what they gravitate towards, as you’ll never get the product mix perfect the first time around. Once you take the learnings and the data to support it, then it’s important to go after those trends with greater investment and focus,” he said.
“Too often, brands overinvest initially without having a solid understanding of demand, and then it can be a tough cycle to get out of when you are managing an inflated cost base due to poor decisions initially.”