David Yadid, VP Business Development at shoesonline with Igor Klazha, CEO and partner in 4F sports fashion (Photo: Ilana Stutland)
When he was a student, Igor Klaya worked in a sports store in Poland, when he also began to dream of opening a company that would focus on sports fashion. He fulfilled his dream in 1995. Today, the Polish company has several brands, with its flagship brand being 4F, which was born 20 years ago and is currently sold in 44 countries around the world, including France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and more. These days, one of the brand's goals is to establish its status in Israel as well.
About nine months ago, the variety of brands sold on the shoesonline.co.il website, one of Israel's leading footwear and fashion sites, was also added to the first swallow of the 4F sports brand collection. Now that the site's leaders saw that it was good, they decided to expand the collection's presence on the site, import additional items and introduce the Israeli public to the advantages of the Polish brand.
A 4F store in Poland (Photo: Walla!, Ilana Stutland)
"4F is one of the other brands that has recently entered the arsenal of sports fashion sold on our website," says David Yadid, VP Business Development at ShoesOnline. "We started testing it in small doses, we wanted to see if the audience liked/disliked, where the focus should be put on. We saw the reactions, the sales, and decided to go big with the brand.
Today we are the brand's exclusive franchisees in Israel, with sales carried out through three channels: online and retail and wholesale channels."
shoesonline.co.il website was established in 2015 and sells a variety of leading brands from the worlds of fashion, sports and shoes, including Adidas, Nike, All-Star, Puma and many others. "Now we are bringing another successful international brand to the Israeli public. It's time for Israelis to get to know 4F as well," says Yadid. "Sports fashion has become a code name for what we wear in our daily lives, from cotton shirts to sweatpants. You not only have to go to the gym or jog with them, but also sit dressed like that in a café.
Sports fashion is here to stay and it only increases, because the consumer understands that it is most comfortable for him to be dressed that way. The development of this category is very significant, and because it is already part of our day-to-day, the items themselves are not just for professional sports. It's defined as sports fashion, but it's totally casual. We operate in a saturated market of sports brands, the category is very crowded, but at the same time we identified something that was missing.
The price range of the F4 brand is very accessible compared to its competitors, which are also sold on our website. In terms of quality, F4 does not fall short of the other brands. The items are manufactured using advanced technologies, the materials are of high quality, the design is modern, but usually their price will be more accessible. Prices in Israel will be quite comparable to our European counterparts. For example, shirts and running pants from 59 NIS, leggings and tops from 80 NIS.
The Israeli consumer loves an accessible price, good cuts and a quality product that does not lose half of its color and shape in the wash. The F4 brand certainly meets these requirements."
The presenter from Barcelona
I joined a friend during his visit to the F4 Show Room in Krakow, Poland, where he came to select items for the men/women collection that will arrive on the Israeli site in spring-summer 2024. You will currently find the details of the 2023 collection on the website.
In a five-story building in Krakow, the brand's activity is concentrated. About 600 people work there who work in the various stages of designing and manufacturing fashion items, and there is also the showroom, the Show Room. While visiting the place, the Show Room was full of shoppers who came to order items that we will see in the various stores and sites in a year's time. 1,600 different items in a variety of models and colors - suitable for gym workouts, running, yoga, swimming, riding, skiing, snowboarding and more - were waiting for buyers.
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The brand, by the way, tends to support sporting events, adopt Olympic teams (Poland, Latvia and more) and design collections for them. F4's two leading ambassadors are the successful Polish footballer Robert Lewandowski (last season a Barcelona player, to which he moved from Bayern Munich) and his wife, Anna. Lewandowski, captain of the Polish national team and Barcelona striker, began collaborating with the brand two years ago. Anna, a karate world champion, trainer, mentor and businesswoman, is a source of inspiration for many women who engage in physical activity and cultivate a healthy lifestyle.
At Show Room, you can also see a near-final version of the training shoes they design for the Lewandowskis' 2024 collection. The exact pricing of the shoes will be determined later. Meanwhile, shoes from the pair's 2023 collection are being sold in stores for about 120 euros. On the Israeli website at this stage, shoes of the F4 brand are not yet sold. The focus, at least for now, is on clothing items. Later on, shoes may also come.
Most brand details are made in China and Bangladesh. Special edition items – including some created in collaboration with the Lewandowski couple – are sewn in Poland. These collections are also often priced higher than other brand items and are designed in full collaboration with Robert and Anna.
At Show Room, I meetCamila Bialek, the brand's commercial manager, who is passionate about entering more and more new markets.
So far, pretty good work has been done in that sense. The brand is sold in 44 countries around the world in about 1,500 stores, and soon we will see stores in Thailand and Qatar as well. Until the Russia-Ukraine war, the brand also had large customers in Russia, but with the outbreak of the war, the brand decided to stop selling there. In Ukraine, however, two new stores will soon open.
Most of the production is carried out mainly in China and Bangladesh. The coronavirus, of course, also affected Polish society. "Because we work several years in advance on collections, so in terms of production there was no problem, but there was a delay in receiving the goods. In the end, we managed to get it," says Bialek. "During COVID-<>, we greatly expanded our online activity, and we also started sewing masks because it was needed. We showed that we know how to do that, too."
Recycle clothes. The green side of the fashion brand (Photo: Walla!, Ilana Stutland)
In Poland itself, the brand is sold in about 3,000 stores and online sites. One of the stores is located in the Bonarka Mall in Krakow, one of the largest and most popular in the city. In the 4F store, this mall also reflects the brand's agenda, which is characterized by, among other things, protecting the environment.
At the entrance to the store is a large recycling machine, the result of cooperation with a company engaged in recycling clothes. Second-hand clothing from all brands can be inserted into this machine, and in return you can win a discount on purchases in the store. Also inside the store itself is another dedicated station, with the same purpose, into which you can also put 2nd hand details - but this time only of the 4F brand and receive a 10% discount on purchases from the store's specifications. By the way, second-hand items placed in the designated stand inside the store are sorted. Those that are still in good condition are re-offered for sale in a special place in the store where 2nd hand items are concentrated.
Back to Show Room. There I also meetIgor Klaya, the CEO, who, as mentioned, managed to fulfill a dream and establish a company engaged in sports fashion. Regarding the establishment and success of the brand in Israel, Kalaya is optimistic. "A few years ago I visited Israel," he says. "I was in a hotel in Tel Aviv located on the beach. The promenade was constantly full of people running, walking. Israelis love to play sports. This cooperation is very important to us, and I believe that Israel will be an excellent market for our brand."
*The writer was a guest of shoesonline and the 4F brand.
- Robert Lewandowski