Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. On this week’s episode, Jeff sits down with FILA North America’s Vice President of Heritage & Trend, Louis Colon.
Louis attended Northeastern University where he eventually dropped out to start his own sneaker magazine, Kicksclusive, as well as a women’s sneaker store called Laces. The Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn native says the early exposure to sneaker and hip-hop culture was invaluable, shaping his passion for working in the footwear industry.
After the 2008 Financial Crisis, he called it quits on his businesses and racked up half a million dollars in debt. Desperate for work and steady income, Louis began party-promoting until he found a temporary job at PF Flyers, where he gained his knowledge of product development. At this time, FILA underwent new ownership with FILA Korea and began focusing on a rebrand.
In 2009, Louis accepted an offer as a lifestyle developer at FILA, which would begin his decade-long journey under the guidance of the late Jon Epstein to flip the brand into the mainstay it is today. From collaborating with Fendi, to relaunching the Grant Hill II and winning FN’s 2018 “Shoe of the Year” award, Louis says the brand relied on a three-tier strategy: street & emerging, high-end fashion, and mall. In order to break every market, they understood the importance of authentic collaborations and diverse genres.
“The goal was always we need a full family. We need to be able to talk to men, women, kids, infants. We need to have a balanced business, because the you don’t have that from anyone. You don’t have anyone offering accessories, apparel and footwear as evenly distributed as we are between all genders. That’s always been the goal.”
Louis credits much of FILA’s success to Jon’s openness and ability to see the long-term benefits of properly-aligned collaborations. Reflecting on the past decade, he says the business and its success is “an homage” to him.
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This episode features references to the following:
2:40 – Early beginnings
3:10 – Kickclusive
6:08 – Laces (retail store)
10:34 – Bed-Stuy
11:09 – The Notorious B.I.G.
14:12 – Northeastern University
18:31 – 2008 Financial Crisis
21:26 – Quitting Kickclusive & Laces
23:40 – Party promoting
26:31 – PF Flyers
28:21 – FILA
29:54 – Jon Epstein
32:10 – FILA Grant Hill II
39:52 – Marketing approach
44:55 – Development process
48:35 - John Seymour
48:49 – Gosha Rubchinsky
49:12 – CdG
53:46 – Rugrat’s x FILA
54:11 – Fendi x FILA
56:32 – Fila’s comeback
58:00 – Homage to Jon Epstein
1:03:40 – Challenges
1:006:25 – FN’s Shoe of the Year
1:10:58 – Lightning round question