On, a fast-growing Swiss-based brand of running shoes, launched its first line of trail running shoes in June, delivering it to about 1,500 doors and starting at the higher end of this growing market.
On has also launched its first line of functional running clothing. Consisting of only eight “essential” items for men and six for women, it is being made available to customers this month in distinct brand areas at only 80 selected, top-end generalist sports retailers and specialty running shops around the world such as Sport Schuster in Munich, Jack Rabbitt in New York or En Route in Tokyo.
With a running jacket retailing for €250, On is seeking a premium positioning in the market. The line is meant to be functional, sophisticated and timeless. Using mostly Japanese stretch fabrics, it is made by KTC, the big Chinese high-end textile manufacturer that works for Arc'teryx, Black Yak, Mountain Force and other major technical brands.
On's management will wait to see how the new apparel program is going to work out before it extends the distribution to other retailers with which it works closely.
All the company's shoes are made since a few months ago at a single factory in Vietnam that works exclusively for On. Company officials decline to provide any sales figures but say that, six years after the launch of its Cloudrunner, it is selling well over 500,000 pairs a year. They say its shoes are sold through about 8,000 doors and are worn by an estimated 1.5 million runners worldwide.
Run by a team of 120 people in Switzerland, On has been doubling or nearly doubling its turnover every year recently. It has become the second-largest brand of running shoes in Switzerland and the fifth-largest in Germany.
In the first half of 2016, it was classed as the fastest-growing brand of running shoes in the U.S. specialty running retail channel with a growth rate of more than 150 percent.
On has had a U.S. subsidiary in Portland, Oregon and a distributor in Mexico for three years. It is on the Japanese market since last year. It recently took over the distribution of its products in France, winning over a major local client. In addition to Switzerland, On already has its own sales offices in Germany, Austria, the U.K. and the Netherlands.