In conversation with Fabio Tambosi
We had a delight speaking with Fabio Tambosi.
First of all, congratulations on the 30th anniversary of the Shadow 6000 sneakers. It's rare to sell the same model for 30 years. Did you expect the '90s style sneaker to become so iconic?
I love that question. Being part of a very fast-paced industry, it is rare to see a model that lasts for 30 years. Because of that, this anniversary represents the strength of Saucony's DNA and a celebration of our brand heritage. At this moment, we are not only looking to elevate our heritage further but to also use our heritage to prepare the brand for the future. Saucony is 123 years old and I've been part of the brand for seven months, so what excites us about getting up in the morning is what the next 100 years will look like and how we, as a brand and team, can shape the legacy for the future.
The model was designed in the '90s. Which personal connection do you have with the decade and what's the most '90s thing you can think of?
Well, I was born in 1980, so the '90s are the prime of my youth. What I remember the most from the '90s, as a Brazilian kid, is the 1990s World Cup in Italy, where we lost against Argentina. But then in 1994, we won the World Cup, so it's very personal to me. But also as a kid, you had the Walkman cassette player and record players. I bought a record player during the pandemic, so it's funny how life comes full circle, whether it's soccer or music. I think I have over 100 pieces of vinyl now.
Can you provide us with a quick description of the wearer of the Shadow 6000 sneakers? What does their day-to-day life look like, what is their motivation and what are their goals?
We love to think of the wearer of the shadows as rebellious, optimistic individuals. They're independent thinkers, you know, they're very human, extremely expressive, and super authentic. They are fearless. So it's those people who lean forward. We like to say they're fierce, they're fast, because they love to be connected with what's fresh and cool. But they're also free and being free it's a huge element for us, especially in this campaign, because it's all about self-expression. Fierce individuals who are nostalgic in one way, but also very future-oriented and progressive in another way. There's a lot of optimism that comes with the '90s. And that's what we see through our creative vision and the partners of the campaign.
For you, it is essential to create compelling brand stories in today’s fast-changing digital landscape. How do you make this aspiration come to life at Saucony?
I want to get a little bit philosophical here, right? Let me start with data point facts, 82% of Gen Zs pretty much skip ads. And people, they don't read advertising. They are attracted to things that interest them, to the things that are connected to their values. And then sometimes it happens to be an ad. We're brand marketers and at the end of the day, we love to hear the human and not the hero. We all have icons. So, for example, Spiderman. The viewers admire his superhero talents, but fall in love with the flaws and the dimensions of Peter Parker. That's humanizing our heroes. And that's what would draw people into the brand and feel connected emotionally to our stories.
You worked also at Adidas and Nike before you came to Saucony in 2021. What would you like to achieve at Saucony? For example, is there a certain product you want to develop? Or collaborate with someone?
Without revealing our superweapons, I'll tell you what attracted me to Saucony. In the past six months, we went on a journey to learn and discover the indisputable claims that we can make. We have a heritage of more than 123 years. Our founders were making great products way before the whole boom in the sneaker industry. We've been part of all the four running booms that have happened in history. We are also an innovative company. We found a fun data point during the last six, seven months, which has always been that right. In 1965, astronaut Edward Higgins White was the first astronaut to ever walk in space. NASA trusted us to make his shoes, he wore a Saucony boot. And then, we are also the original running brand. More than 123 years old, Saucony originals existed way before 'original' was even an idea. So we are part of culture. Those are the three things that I'm most excited about. I think it's these factors that are going to propel us to places that we haven't been, but put the brand back where it belongs. As a thought leader.
What does freedom mean to you? And what does freedom of expression and design especially mean to you?
I think we as individuals, and as human beings, are at our best when we're free. When we're free to think, when we're free to speak. For me, freedom comes in many different forms. So I think it's hard to pinpoint, and write the perfect definition of freedom because freedom to you means one thing and freedom to me means something else. This mindset makes Saucony an incredible platform to celebrate equity, diversity, and inclusion. Being Brazilian and having lived in six countries, what I love most about sitting around a table or being in a conversation, is that we have many unique perspectives revolving around one subject. I believe diversity is one of the richest territories for creativity. Diversity is the celebration of differences where everybody has a voice.
Diversity and inclusivity are very important to you, and because of that, you set up Saucony’s Equity, Diversity, and inclusion strategy. Can you tell us a little bit about what it means and how it’s going with that?
I think what has happened in the last 18 to 24 months in the world is just the tip of an iceberg that's just ready to emerge. It's a journey of continuous evolution. At Saucony, we believe that every community must embrace equity, diversity, inclusion to elevate differences in backgrounds, differences in viewpoints and experiences, talents, and ideas. A few examples showcasing our commitment to creating a more equitable representation and body of work include our Saucony Jazz 81 collaboration with Trinidad James, launching in November, as well as our relationship with Black Men Run. I've only been on the job for seven months and don't want to seem overly ambitious, but this is just the beginning. We will continue our efforts to create a realistic representation of society, both on an individual and a communal level. Saucony is a platform that allows people to feel empowered, regardless of their background. For all of us to succeed in creating a space for people to speak up, there are two critical pillars, education and safety. It's about uniting and not dividing. In the end, we all just want to belong.
You’ve been a professional athlete yourself, did this experience help you with your roles at Adidas, Nike, and now Saucony?
100%, as an athlete you learn to fail, you learn to bounce back, you learn to play as a team, you learn how to win together, you learn how to lose together. I feel lucky to have had that experience and to be able to apply that in everything I do. Being an athlete teaches you commitment, discipline, and most importantly, resilience. Resilience is something we need in today's society. I'm not as disciplined as I used to be, you know, I'm a father of two. I have a four-month-old boy and a six-and-a-half-year-old daughter, so my time is split now. However, when I go through phases where I do less sport, I start feeling the need and just go for a 15-minute run. When I lived in London I used to go for morning runs to discover the city and I used to run with my Oyster card in my pocket so I could hop on the tube wherever and wouldn't limit my running route thinking 'Oh, I won't run here because the way home will be too far'.
At Saucony, one of the key things we are working on is to establish the idea that you don't have to be a runner to run. And we are a brand that's born out of running. We tap into the culture of running, highlighting how running can be a good formative experience for you to have a better life, whether this is having a clear mind, being more focussed, and coping with anxiety and the pressures of our everyday responsibilities. Saucony should become a platform with an open invitation for all, regardless of your level and experience, because the joy in running is key here. Regardless of whether you're training for a Berlin marathon, or you simply want to go for a 20-minute jog to catch up with a friend, running should be seen as a form of physical activity. Because we were born out of running and are a technical, high-performance brand, we will continue to engage with that community, but we need to expand our consumer audience. We have already evolved into a more brand engaging with classic sneaker culture, like for example the Shadow 6000.