Continuing our exploration into some of the people who work behind the scenes at the brands we know and love, we now face our attention to Mizuno. For this weeks discussion, we welcome Luca Marchet who is the manager for the Sportstyle category at Mizuno EMEA.
Having worked closely with Luca in recent years, we manage to sit down with Luca and learn how he found his path into Mizuno whilst getting a great insight into the lifestyle and performance within Mizuno and how it fits into the history of the brand.
Footpatrol: Luca, thank you so much for being here! Before we look into the brand and the work you guys have been doing, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what your role is?
Luca: Hi Guys!!, My name is Luca Marchet, I’m the Sportstyle Category Manager for Mizuno EMEA. Sporstyle in Mizuno is what we call all the business related to sneakers and lifestyle. It’s a very new area for the company because we approached this market only in 2018. I’m basically in charge of the development of all this business for the EMEA Region, going from Collaboration to General Releases, I’ve worked for Mizuno since 2016 when we started to plan the category , and before I worked for Diadora for 5 years running all the collaboration and being the merchandiser for the normal in line collection.
FP: Was it always the plan to go into footwear or was this a direction that you grew to love over time?
Luca: That’s a really nice story, because actually I always had a passion for sportswear brands but initially I had completely different plans. I was a semi-professional skier and once I realized that I would have never ever be the next Alberto Tomba I decided that I wanted to link my studies in Business economics and my big passion for sports! Thanks to a masters i did in Sport Business Strategy I got the opportunity to start an Internship in Diadora for the sportswear business unit. I can’t hide from you that my idea was to move into the Sports Marketing department, but thanks to my old boss ( Rudy Comazzetto, best former boss I could of ever had) I fell completely in love with this world, not only footwear, but the lifestyle world in general that became not only my job but a huge passion.
FP: Mizuno is one of the oldest brands in the game and has dominated in nearly every sport over the course of its history, on top of that the technology used in shoes such as the ‘Wave series’ has been ahead of the curve for a while.
Has it always been the goal for the brand to be so technologically advanced with their products?
Luca: Perfect timing for this question! Wave technology has been our big pillar since 1997 when they launched this new Midsole technology in with the Wave Rider 1, our most iconic running silhouette.
Exactly in this moment between now and when this interview will probably go live we are facing an historical moment for the Mizuno brand because after 23 years we are launching a completely new technology that is called Mizuno Enerzy.
The Mizuno mission is to contribute to social, economic and environmental sustainability through the power and effect of sports. Innovation and technology are the tools that give us the possibility to pursue our missions. I think that one of the strongest assets of our company is that everyone here has the mindset that a product is never good enough and that it can always be improved.
FP: It has also been great to see Mizuno make a huge entry into the lifestyle market with the Kazuko line. Could you explain what Kazuko means and what the focus behind launching this range of products over the last couple of years has been?
Luca: We are very new in this market so our first priority was to tell the sneaker consumer what Mizuno is and the rich heritage filled stories that our brand has.
The word “Kazoku” means family in japanese, the idea behind this is to share with our family our product and our stories so that they can tell it to their communities.
We selected very carefully all the members of our Family because in our mind they will be our voice to the consumer. This is off course also the nature of the partnership with Footpatrol.
FP: And in terms of the models you have been selecting for the releases, what was the thought process with the decision making in what pairs would return/be retroed?
Luca: Every shoe that we introduce in the Sportstyle range has to fit with our two main characteristics, which are Tradition and Innovation. So the shoes that we are bringing back are iconic pieces of our history or product that include technology coming from our performance world and re-interpreted by our lifestyle designers.
FP: Now collaborations have also been a great part of this Kazuko range including the Footpatrol Sky Medal we did with you guys.
What is the design process like when putting together these collaborations, do you find it varies depending on who you work with or do you have a systematic approach for each one
Luca: If we decide to collaborate with a partner it’s because we share the same values and goals, we feel that each brand can bring an added value to the other. When we drop a collaboration our goal is not to generate hype but to create a project that truly represents different aspects that equally share between Mizuno and the people we are partnering with. If this formula is respected I believe that a project will be successful even if not driven by hype. To be clear I don’t have anything against hype but I think that a project can`t be thought of with that in mind. Hype has to come naturally because the project is good. All the partners that we collaborate with are different, that’s why having a standard process would not make sense for us. Of course there is a timeframe that we have to consider to make sure that the plan will be realistic, but inside this timeframe we leave our partner quite a lot of freedom. What is very important for us in a collaboration project is the ‘Go to market’ strategy and even here we really like to brainstorm with the partner to find very creative plans. Our budget is not comparable with most of our competitors so creativity and flexibility has to fill this gap, but I have to say that I find this way of working much more interesting.
FP: There are some insane models in the brands archives such as Mizuno HST Trainer or even the Wave Rider 5. Are there any models that you have seen that you would love to see make a comeback from the Mizuno’s back catalogue?
Luca: Ah you want me to spoil the fun, don’t you? We have just brought back the Wave Rider 10.
We launched it with 2 very successful collaborations with Wood Wood and Beams. What I can say is that you will see other interesting projects with this silhouette until the end of the year, then we will start 2021 with the launch of a huge project that will include a new shoe based on the Wave Prophecy silhouette.
After this one, we might also bring back another 90es silhouette…
But generally our old catalogs are really full of interesting kicks to bring back in particular from mid 90s to 2005.
FP: For most of us we have been spending our fair share of time indoors recently. We were wondering if you could share your go to list of kicks for the below:
Working out – Mizuno Wave Ultima x Rijksmuseum
Casual Everyday – Wave Rider 10 OG
Impressing someone – Wave Prophecy 9 X Futur
Staying home – Only barefoot at home otherwise my girlfriend kills me, also slippers are not allowed.
FP: Well Luca it’s been a pleasure having you, thank you again for sharing with us yours and the Mizuno story. Do you have any last bits you would like to share with the Footpatrol Family?
Luca: Thanks so much guys for the really nice interview, Footpatrol is a legend of the Sneaker world and for me to share my story and my thoughts with you guys has been really a privilege, an honour.
It has been a really difficult time for everybody in the last month so I really wish everyone to stay healthy and safe. To finish I would like to share with you my mantra because I think it’s really perfect for the moment. KMF – Keep Moving Forward.