Swatch Launches a Big Bold Collection with Streetwear King BAPE
For 36 years, Swatch has remained on top of its game and continues to show no signs of slowing down. To prove this, the brand launched two new collections to much excitement: the Big Bold Collection and a collaboration with BAPE. Both closely related, the watches are noticeably larger than usual models and come with a kick from urban street culture.
We spoke with Swatch international vice president and COO Gonzalo De Cevallos about how the collaboration came to be, what the importance of streetwear is, and the future of the Swatch brand.
ESQUIRE PHILIPPINES: Can you tell us about the Big Bold Collection?
GONZALO DE CEVALLOS: The Big Bold Collection is the biggest watch that we have in our plastic collection. It has its own spirit, personality—really very special, something totally unexpected. We're really excited to see the result of this launch in the Philippines, because the Philippines is one of our biggest markets in Asia. I'm sure the customers are going to love this new collection.
ESQ: How do you come up with new designs?
GDC: We have a team working in the creative department called the Swatch Lab. They create with absolute freedom. I think this is one of the keys of the success of our brand—that we have a lot of creative people working with absolute freedom to come up with new proposals. They know that we want to be disruptive and that we want to bring new things to the market.
What I can tell you is that, 30 years after working in the company, every time I go and open the door of the studio, I'm still surprised at what they're doing. They still keep the same spirit, and continue to have passion for what they're doing.
ESQ: How much of a challenge is it for Swatch to keep innovating and keeping its status as a trailblazer?
GDC: Well, marketing for us, obviously, is a very important part of the strategy. We have to communicate our products. The production department and marketing department have always worked together.
I would say that communication for us has changed a lot. We're going more from the traditional to the digital, more on social media. This, obviously, obliges us to have new talent in the company and to really bring the right people in. They have different discussions on where to go because digital sometimes isn't the same. At the end of the day, we need to come up with a global message, global communication.
Another important part is that we know we're a global brand, but we want to localize our brand and our products. It's exactly what we do in the Philippines. We have a fantastic partner here, and they know and understand the concept.
ESQ: The collections you're releasing have heavy streetwear influence. Is that where Swatch is heading?
GDC: We are a very wide brand. We have a watch for everybody. For the Big Bold, the inspiration was to go with the street lifestyle because we believe that we can bring to the brand a new generation. They like watches and concepts that are different from the traditional. When we design a product, we don't necessarily think of just a small part of customers. We believe that someone over 60 can wear a Big Bold, it's not only for the 15 to 25 market. This is a way to transmit emotions and joy of life, and anyone can do that.
ESQ: How did your collaboration with BAPE happen?
GDC: It happened in a very natural way. We met with them one year ago, and we started to talk about collaborations. What we were doing with Big Bold, they really liked it, and then the collaboration followed. We went through a creative process where our creative teams worked together, which was not always easy because we both have our own approach. I think we came up with an interesting result that brought the spirit of both brands.
ESQ: How would you describe the collaboration?
GDC: It's something unique and new for us. We don't usually work with this type of brand. I would say we learned a lot in the process. It's really the essence of Big Bold. It's something everyone can wear, and at the same time, we're integrating the concept of the cities. We chose the five cities (London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Bern) because they're five of our most favorite cities in the world, and also because it's a mix of cultures and creativity.
ESQ: What do you hope to achieve with the collaboration?
GDC: I think it's been a win-win collaboration. I was in Tokyo with Mr. Choi for the presentation of the BAPE collaboration, and they were also very excited. The first sales results, I can tell you, they are amazing. We were sold out immediately in all stores. It's really a big success.
ESQ: What is your idea for the future of the Swatch brand?
GDC: The future of Swatch is still very exciting. We are already working on very important projects that will soon be revealed. If we continue maintaining the spirit of the brand, the DNA which is joy of life, positive provocation, and creativity, I'm sure we will continue to be the leaders of the industry as we have been for 36 years. It's not easy because we have more and more competitors, but, at the end of the day, as long as we continue with these values, we'll be strong.