Danish brand Hummel has put a renewed focus on fashion with new line Hummel Hive and cool collaborations.
Scandi cool and retro sportswear: two trends that show no sign of waning. One heritage brand hoping to sit at the intersection of these influential fashion forces is Danish sportswear label Hummel.
Best known as sponsor of the Danish football teams and Middlesbrough FC in the UK, among others, Hummel is lining up to take its place in the increasingly competitive sports-fashion market.
It has expanded its Hummel Hive line, which previously focused on collaborations and footwear, into a fully fledged clothing collection for spring 19.
Hummel was founded in 1923 by German shoemaker Albert Messmer, who developed the first studded football boots. It expanded into sportswear and new international markets, and was bought by Danish entrepreneur Christian Stadil in 1999.
Allan vad Nielsen, a former regional director at Danish powerhouse Bestseller, took the reins as chief executive in August last year, and the label has more than 2,000 points of sale in Europe, including Sports Direct and Amazon in the UK.
“Our symbol is a bumblebee [‘Hummel’ is German for bumblebee],” vad Nielsen says. “The bumblebee isn’t supposed to be able to fly – but it does anyway, because no one told it that. We relate to that story even today, and we see ourselves as a little bit different – as a challenger brand.”
Hummel turned to its archives for the Hive collection, taking inspiration from a vintage photo of the Danish football team lining up to sing the national anthem in the brand’s tracksuits. Design details that reference to football, including team crests and the brand’s signature chevrons, have been combined with bold colour-blocking to create a sports-inspired collection that feels fresh and contemporary. A muted colour palette is offset with pops of vibrant yellow and scarlet. Key pieces for both men’s and women’s wear include slogan T-shirts reading “Danish dynamite”, zip-up track jackets and relaxed sweatshirts. Retail prices range from £22 for T-shirts to £90 for jackets, and the collection has a mark-up of 2.2. UK stockists will include Foot Asylum.
Hummel has also joined forces with Mexican-American menswear designer Willy Chavarria on a collaboration collection for spring 19. More directional than Hummel Hive, the range draws on the designer’s heritage, and uses exaggerated silhouettes covered with in-your-face fonts and logos. Much of the collection is emblazoned with “5683” – the numbers that correspond with the letters L-O-V-E on a digital keyboard – in a protest against the US government’s current anti-immigration stance.
“I took a lot of inspiration from my upbringing in Chicano [a term used by some Mexican-Americans] culture, so there are a lot of oversized shapes, deep pleats and wide legs,” says Chavarria.
“I took street styling I’m familiar with from [Latino subculture] Cholo and translated some old Hummel silhouettes from the archives. We wanted to create something that can be worn on the field and in fashion.”
Chavarria adds that the pricing architecture has been designed to appeal to a wide range of retailers and customers: “We want this collection to sit in the high-end luxury retailers, such as Dover Street Market and Barneys, as well as high street retailers. The retail price points vary from $40 to $400 (£30 to £300), so anyone can buy it.” The collection has a mark-up of 2.7.
Hummel lead designer Marshall Hook adds: “Brands often try to sell exclusivity based on the fact that certain people can’t afford the collection or can’t get hold of it. That doesn’t represent the values of Hummel or of Willy. We wanted to make a collection that could appear in those top-tier retailers, but is accessible to anyone who is interested.”
Sports fashion is a crowded market. However, Hummel’s mix of Scandi cool and sports inspiration should appeal to a trend-hungry consumer. Collaborations are planned with skatewear retailer Hanon, luxury clothing brand 424 and sneaker retailer Afew. Hummel is also hoping to ramp up its presence in the UK by strengthening its team – it will appoint two country sales managers from 1 October. Humble Hummel is seeking to take on the field.