PARIS — Not even the COVID-19 pandemic can stop Lionel Messi or his high-end lifestyle brand.
The onset of the pandemic just after the brand launched in late 2019 upended initial plans, which included early expansion into Asia. But a rapid shift to e-commerce has proven to be a winning strategy, Maximiliano Ojeda, managing director of MGO Global’s brand portfolio, told WWD.
On opening day, the elite footballer’s fans were so numerous that they crashed the site at launch. Since then, the brand has welcomed visitors from nearly every territory and shipped orders from 110 countries, with the United States taking over 50% of the business.
“We are extremely happy that our community has been so committed and supportive of our brand,” said the Argentine football star, considered one of the most successful footballers of all time.
The 18-24 age group of consumers also paved the way for an app, a logical next step that was equally successful, according to Ojeda, who revealed that it had been downloaded some 500,000 times by users. in 60 countries. since its launch on Black Friday 2020.
He also revealed a surprising fact: the 30% share taken by female consumers.
“Not just moms shopping for kids, wives or girlfriends. A lot of our items are unisex because women today wear cool streetwear, tracksuits and hoodies,” Ginny said. Hilfiger, brand creative director and creative director of MGO.
Asked about the key to this quick success, Ojeda credited Messi’s talent and humility, noting that the athlete and company’s desire was to ‘bring out the Messi in everyone and inspire everyone. those who want to be inspired”.
Messi’s transfer from Barcelona to the French team from Paris Saint Germain in 2021 was also hugely positive for the brand, according to the executive and the athlete, who felt that “joining [the Parisian team] hadn’t changed the aesthetic of our brand but exposed it to a wider audience.
“Fortunately, I used light blue from Argentina, red from Barcelona and a bit of navy blue, so a lot of our signature details were translated to PSG,” joked Hilfiger, who described the Parisian style as “casual but elegant”.
This translated into well-cut quilted jackets or sporty separates that look stylish enough for a casual day at the office. Dressed in a polo shirt with black track pants, Messi could have been getting ready for a business meeting or heading to training.
Items bearing his shirt numbers 10 – his position in both Barcelona and the Argentina national team – and 30 – the one he wears at PSG – are also expected to be particularly popular.
Current sales figures and growth trends confirm this. While declining to give numbers, Ojeda revealed that the brand is growing its business on a double-digit basis month-on-month.
“It’s certainly exploded in terms of coverage, brand reception in that market and [has] obviously facilitated the fact of becoming a new international brand to come, fighting for its own space in the great ocean of brands like Lacoste”, continued the leader.
This is likely to continue, particularly in the United States where the sport is growing at a rapid pace and given the rapid succession of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar from November, the Women’s World Cup in Australia and in New Zealand in 2023 and from the 2026 Men’s World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Ojeda therefore expects the coming year to be exciting and the brand’s retail plans reflect this, starting with a loyalty program which is expected to open in a few months.
As the borders open up, brick-and-mortar retail is also back on the table, though the brand is evolving at a cautious pace.
Two points of sale have opened in the duty-free zones on the Uruguay-Brazil border, as part of a partnership with travel retail specialist Duty Free Americas. A third is set to open later this month, with the brand sitting between Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
The presence of department stores in Latin America will soon follow, in Mexico, Chile and, of course, Argentina. Discussions are also underway with a retailer with operations in North America, Europe and the Middle East, but Ojeda declined to say whether the timing would coincide with the November World Cup.
The pandemic has had another unexpected side effect: making even a soccer superstar like Messi “spend more time at home with my family wearing casual, comfortable clothes,” the athlete said, which has follows his desire to have “quality, comfort and versatility” as a priority for every collection.
Spot the loungewear, swimwear, and underwear categories introduced in this iteration, as well as the socks the athlete aptly showcased during filming, resting his feet on a couch.
This second chapter also aims to reduce the aesthetics of the fervent community of supporters and fans of Messi around the world.
“We learn that [our customers] like the younger vibe, like the graphics based on Leo’s tattoos or bolder, creative versions of the logo,” Hilfiger said, noting the new oversized versions of the logo and the presence of geometric patterns making a nod to soccer balls.
Ojeda added that building a brand is “about building a community, learning from and engaging with our customers and fans.”
Also part of this second chapter is “Messi’s green line”, launched this spring with the idea that “waste is a design error”, which is stated in a manifesto printed on a top.
Easily identifiable by bold graphics or understated green touches such as bartacks and waistband patches, this line of durable products cut from dead textiles currently makes up around 10% of the collection, according to Hilfiger, and will gradually become a much larger part of Their business.
Going forward, the collection’s classic core will remain, complemented by “a cool and fun layer of streetwear” and later, “a premium collection of casual wear and functional outerwear for men,” said Messi. Children’s clothing, accessories and home products are also on the menu. Trainers, cleats and sportswear remain irrelevant due to his contract with Adidas.
Ojeda added that collaborations would follow, all with the idea of taking the Messi brand out of any obvious realm.
This sporty side with a broader lifestyle side will help to open up to a younger clientele – which is increasingly feminine -, added Hilfiger, noting that the overriding idea would always be to “take [Messi’s on-pitch] precision off the field and in the clothes.