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Highsnobiety Takes On London With Bagels, Bird Watch, and Princess Diana Knit

LONDON — Highsnobiety, the Zalando-owned media brand at the crossroads of streetwear and luxury, is expanding its “Not In” city series to London for the first time from Feb. 16 to 19.

Running in parallel with London Fashion Week, the multidisciplinary program is aimed at showcasing the best of the British capital through the lens of the streetwear authority, founded by David Fischer in 2005.

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With a series of pop-ups inside Selfridges’ flagship on Oxford Street, the “Not In London” experience will showcase the latest collection from HS05, Highsnobiety’s in-house brand, and merch collaborations with London stables that include the outerwear brand Barbour, Beigel Bake on Brick Lane, the trendy hangout spot Chiltern Firehouse, music platform and radio station NTS, Reference Point, a bookshop and bar, and knitwear label Knitwrth, which is offering pieces featuring Princess Diana’s iconic revenge dress moment.

“Generally speaking, the curation of who we partner with for these types of initiatives, I think we’ve built our own formula over the years. Our audience goes to Beigel Bake a lot. At the same time, they enjoy Chiltern Firehouse. It’s about picking partners in different categories, mixing the up-and-coming with the super-established, yet they all have a significant meaning to our community,” Fischer said in an interview with WWD.

On the experience front, Highsnobiety has also lined up a cohort of programs beyond fashion for its community in London.

In Selfridges, a panel discussion around the business of creativity will be held in partnership with Squarespace, the website-building provider. A birdwatching session, arranged by Flock Together, will also take place on the rooftop of the department store.

“Selfridges has been a longtime partner of ours. We worked with them in 2021, when we took over their Corner Shop for January to reveal our collaboration with Maison Margiela, Colette, Mon Amour and Sotheby’s. It felt very natural for us to work again with Selfridges on the retail portion of our experience.

“It’s a bit of a takeover in the places of the store that are relevant for our audience. On the ground floor, we have a showcase of certain parts of the ‘Not In London’ collection and parts of the collaborations. We will have a few other spaces where we then showcase different parts of the project in the premium streetwear and luxury men’s area on the first floor,” said Fischer.

A listening session will also take place at BeauBeaus, an East London café founded by artist Olaolu Slawn and his partner Tallula Christie, with DIY sound systems supplied by Friendly Pressure. With the sportswear brand Champion, a rave party is to take place at Shoreditch’s Village Underground.

Highsnobiety is partnering with Athene Club, a community offering safe and welcoming opportunities for women to hike and explore across London and trails surrounding the city, for an all-female run through the capital city, as well.

“It’s important to align these multifaceted activations with cultural moments [like London Fashion Week] around the world,” said Fischer, adding that London is one of the two biggest audience bases for Highsnobiety besides New York, where the platform hosted a similar experiential activation last September called “Neu York.”

“The other thing that nicely connects us to London is this push for up-and-coming talents, which is also one of the key pillars at Highsnobiety. The city consistently bubbles up fashion designers and people who play a significant role in culture. It feels very natural to come to London,” added Fischer.

The “Not In” series was first introduced in Paris as a virtual showcase of fashion, art, and music content in the middle of a global pandemic in 2020 after physical shows were canceled, turning Paris Men’s Fashion Week into a digital event. The later editions of “Not In Paris” included physical activations and product collaborations with brands like Thom Browne, A.P.C., Kenneth Ize and Rtfkt Studios.

“Our brand has always stood for this idea of breaking down barriers between different parts of the world, and the coming together of street culture and luxury fashion. I’m excited about all of the things that we are doing in London from the birdwatching experience to the run, the rave, and the dinner at Chiltern Firehouse,” he added.

Zalando acquired a majority 86.83 percent stake in Highsnobiety in 2022 for 123.6 million euros and has the option to buy out the remaining share in the next three years, according to Zalando’s annual report. Highsnobiety contributed 37.8 million euros to the revenues of Zalando as well as a net loss of half a million euros in fiscal 2022.

As part of the deal, Highsnobiety has since acted as a strategic and creative consultant to the German e-commerce giant but also retains its editorial independence and creative agency and e-commerce operations.

Fischer said the two have since learned a great deal from one another. A case in point would be the recently unveiled luxury, boutique-style space for designer brands on Zalando, where brand partners can “narrate their stories,” and unveil collections, campaigns and collaborations in an “elevated, curated” space.

“They learned how to communicate authentically with different types of audiences and how to build engaging content. We, of course, learn how to become a better e-commerce retailer. Those learnings are consistently happening in the background,” he added.

Given building a stand-alone e-commerce is a great priority for Highsnobiety, asked whether a potential spin-off IPO is in the pipeline — like the Mytheresa one under Neiman Marcus ownership — Fischer said Highsnobiety is “happily owned by a public company, which gives us a great sense of independence allows us to make the right choices for our brand and our business. So it’s not something that we’re considering.”

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