This attack takes place quietly. No Roger Federer (39), this time on the show stage for the Swiss shoe brand. No internet hype, no PR stunt.
The opening of the world’s first own on-shop in New York (USA) shortly before Christmas marks the beginning of a new era for the young running shoe company from Zurich. “We are hungry for this physical experience and have therefore reinvented shopping,” says David Allemann (50), co-founder of On, in an interview with BLICK.
That sounds grandiose for a company that has been relying on word-of-mouth propaganda, social media marketing and sales walls in specialist retailers since it started ten years ago. But On delivers. The company is growing at double digits, the fastest in the Asian markets.
Futuristic shop in trendy district
Allemann’s flagship store is located at 363 Lafayette Street in the lively and trendy Noho district of New York City. It is full of the latest technology – and a lot of Swissness.
Allemann speaks of an “alpine scent” and “harmonized sounds” that transport you to the Swiss Alps when you enter the changing rooms. An orange-red rock from the 3-D printer, peppered with NFC technology that connects to the customer’s smartphone, catches the eye. An Engadine rock next to the Lunghinsee served as inspiration, says Allemann. “There is also Swiss spring water in the shop that anyone can fill up.”
The centerpiece of the shop is a 19-meter-long and 3-meter-high “Magic Wall”. The customer sprints past it, while an invisible biomechanical running analysis is carried out – a three-dimensional virtual avatar is created – with the exact shoe size and model. The latter is right on the back of the wall – there is no need to go to the warehouse or wait. You won’t find any shoe boxes here.
Two dozen more online stores planned
This New York on-store is considered the blueprint for around two dozen other on-stores that he is planning in metropolises around the globe. “Los Angeles, Singapore, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and also Zurich,” he lists as set locations. A total of ten metropolises are on the on-expansion list for the next two to three years. The co-founder suggests that this number can multiply in the medium term.
«The running trend is unbroken and has intensified again since the outbreak of the Corona crisis. We want to connect with our community through the shops, ”says Allemann. “We all want to meet people again, have a physical experience while shopping, when the pandemic is over again,” he explains the desire for expansion. “We firmly believe that good, physical retail has a future. That is why we do not stand on the brakes in this global crisis. “
Making rivals legs with Federer at his back
The starting shot for the expansion was given in New York, because the “largest part of the on-community” lives in the USA. Today, ten years after the start of the company, twelve million people wear the running shoes with the distinctive sole and the simple logo.
Allemann does not divulge business figures. Not even what other plans he has with co-owner Roger Federer. The tennis ace, who just had to cancel his participation in the Australian Open, made his participation in On public in November 2019. With him in the back, the company wants to make the running shoe giant really legs in the future.
What is set: With the store expansion, On is expanding its workforce. The company plans to hire around 20 people every month. Allemann expects an additional six to seven people for each own shop. In total, almost 300 new employees were hired worldwide in 2020. Allemann: “We had to expand very quickly and hope that we will be able to maintain the growth rate in the next few years.”