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Interview: Klaus Hang, Sportswear International’s Editor-at-Large

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011, 12:50 PM / Germany

When it comes to the media industry, nobody fools Klaus Hang. For over 30 years he has worked in the business, holding leading positions at German group Holtzbrinck, at Condé Nast as Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Männer Vogue (now GQ), and as Co-Publisher of W Magazine. Later he lived in Sao Paulo and New York, where he adopted the American Sportswear International during the late 1990s as Publisher and CEO. He conceived a global issue of the magazine, moved to Milan and remained there for eight years as Publisher and Director, before relocating to Frankfurt. Since October, Hang has concentrated on his new tasks as Editor-at-Large. TribaSpace spoke with Hang about his new challenges, developments in the online environment and what consequences they have for the fashion business.

TribaSpace: Why did you withdraw from the day-to-day business operations at Sportswear International?
Klaus Hang: It was the only way possible for me to create a free space. Now we have a new man, Peter Gerich, on board – I gladly let him take care of the whole commercial part.

So what exactly are you doing now?
I am devoting my time to three main areas of work: first, I organise conferences for Sportswear International. Additionally I still write for the magazine: contributing comments and opinion pieces. Above all I attend to possible ‘new markets’. This includes our commitment to India, a very promising market development, and also Russia. I especially take care of the United States – there I will develop new licence products under my own direction and put them onto the market.

On the 2nd of December, 2011, the first Sportswear International E-Fashion Summit took place in Frankfurt, which you organised in your new role. Are you happy with the outcome?
Yes, very much so. There were over 200 people and we had a very good reception. It was a really fresh event, the mixture was 100 percent right. We delivered a special group of international speakers who have all expressed concern about the future of new media in our industry. There were also international agencies present, who compared notes with the participants of the retail market and industry to consider the best approaches moving forward.

What was the result?
I think everybody who took part is now clear there is no future without online presence, particularly when considering the youth market. I’m not only referring to the traditional web site, but also social media and mobile applications. It’s especially important for the retail market to use custom-made models from this field.

What innovation did you particularly like?
There was a service program for a body scanner from Selfridges. By using it, retailers can memorise the customer’s measurements, so when they next visit, to buy a pair of jeans for example, he or she knows exactly which is the right pair. This information could also be used by the manufacturers. Another platform I liked was Planet Illogica - with this, artists and young designers build a bridge to the industry. Both these approaches show the way into the future.

What role will online retail play in the future?
A model that I believe has a future is Spanish is shopping portal Privalia, which one of the co-founders, Jose Manuel Villanueva, introduced at the E-Fashion Summit. It works like a club, where members are informed about off-price offers via e-mail. Within a specified period the user has to decide whether he wants the product or not. Because the price is reduced, this is a critical advantage in comparison to the stationary retail market.

What do you predict for the traditional retail market in general?
I think, that fashion will always need the traditional retail market, because we want to try clothes on and feel the material with hands and on the skin. Online trading will become more and more of a meaningful addition – an online fashion shop, if it offers high-quality and complex range of stock, is good for the image of the physical store too.

Why does the savvy end-consumer become more and more important as a target group?
The information standard of end-consumers becomes greater and better, that’s why. As a German publishing house we must not close our eyes to these developments. Even though end-consumers don’t explicitly belong to our target group, it’s more and more important to get consumers on board with B2B themes.

In your last editorial letter in the July/August issue you mentioned Sportswear International are concentrating on videos and mini movies within the online environment. How is that working out?
We already produced videos during the “Project” in Las Vegas and published them online, and it is in this direction we will continue. In the future we will publish detailed interviews with so-called ‘game changers’ from the online publishing industry. The purpose is to reach not only professionals, but also savvy consumer and shopping experts. We are also starting to conceive an iPad edition of Sportswear International. I hope we can introduce it in the first half of 2011.

Another project is the Denim Day at Berlin Ellington Hotel, a conference that takes place a day prior to Berlin Fashion Week. What can we expect?
We have long thought about a jour fixe during Berlin Fashion Week, because we believe there is a tremendous need for information in the industry. We want to give all players an opportunity to present their innovations and novelties beyond their exhibition stands. The Denim Day will serve as a forum for the industry to open a dialogue and find new ways of cooperation.

Who is participating in the event?
We invited the crème de la crème of the denim industry to our first event: Jos Van Tilburg from G-Star, Adriano Goldschmied, Nigel Cabourn, and Jason Denham from Denham The Jeanmaker. I find he is a very funny, interesting new player in our industry. The Italian media star and Fiat heir Lapo Elkann will talk about his activities for Care Label and will introduce his new book, I Capricci Della Moda. We also welcome Miles Gray, former CEO at Ben Sherman, now at Monkee Genes. It’s 990 € to attend, but subscribers of Sportswear International receive a bountiful discount.

Why are you cooperating with Bread & Butter?
The core-business of our magazine is denim – that’s also the core-business of Bread & Butter. By cooperating with Karl-Heinz Müller and Bread & Butter we bring together the key players in our industry.

Klaus Hang can be contacted on hang(at)

Wolfgang Altmann | TribaSpace

Product Groups: Media, Ready-to-Wear, Other, Promotion, Denim, Sportswear
Markets: Men's, Women's

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