Impala’s remarkable success stems from embracing the influential 90s Rollerblade Nostalgia, appealing to fans of retro rollerblading culture.
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Embracing 90s Rollerblade Nostalgia: Impala’s Remarkable Success in the Retro Rollerblading Culture
Rollerblade’s innovative designs, vibrant colors, and iconic imagery revolutionized the inline skating industry in the early 1990s, solidifying its position as a trendsetter and inspiring skaters worldwide. The influence of Rollerblade played a significant role in Impala’s success. Impala skillfully captured the essence of 90s Rollerblade nostalgia, fully embracing the retro rollerblading culture and capitalizing on its nostalgic appeal. As a result, Impala gained remarkable traction in the women’s entry-level skate market, establishing itself as a prominent player in the industry.
While Rollerblade has shifted away from its iconic 90s style, focusing on performance designs and targeting a more specific audience with a distinct marketing strategy, this transition opened up an opportunity for brands like Impala to fill a void. Impala catered to the needs of those seeking a nostalgic rollerblading experience, successfully satisfying the demand. Despite Rollerblade’s departure from its original image, its profound impact on the sport remains undeniable.
The Impact of Rollerblade on 90s Culture
Early 1990s Rollerblade Advertisement
Rollerblade, a brand synonymous with inline skating, has played a pivotal role in shaping the industry since its establishment in 1980. Rollerblade’s innovative designs and commitment to performance revolutionized the sport, propelling inline skating into the mainstream. Their introduction of the first mass-produced inline skates in the early 1980s sparked a global phenomenon, fueling the rise of recreational and fitness skating. Rollerblade’s continuous product development and marketing efforts established them as a leader in the industry, creating a strong foundation for future brands like Impala to build upon.
Rollerblade left a lasting impact on 90s fashion and culture, emerging as a key driver in the surge of inline skating’s popularity during that era. Inline skating became more than just a leisure activity; it evolved into a cultural movement with its own unique fashion sensibilities. In the mid-to late ’90s, rollerblading reached its peak coolness, captivating the hearts of approximately 17 million enthusiasts who enthusiastically embraced the trend for both sport and recreation.
Rollerblade Promotional Video “The Ride Continues” (1989)
First and foremost, Rollerblade’s introduction of inline skates revolutionized the roller skating world. Traditional quad skates were largely replaced by inline skates, which featured a single line of wheels aligned in a row. This design change allowed for improved maneuverability, speed, and performance. Rollerblade’s innovative product design and marketing efforts made inline skating more accessible and appealing to the masses.
As the popularity of inline skating grew, Rollerblade’s brand image and logo became iconic symbols of the sport. Rollerblade’s sleek and futuristic designs, often featuring bold colors and dynamic graphics, influenced not only the design of their products but also the aesthetic preferences of rollerbladers. The brand’s distinct visual identity became closely associated with the vibrant and energetic atmosphere of inline skating in the 90s.
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Rollerblade’s Marketing Features Sponsored Skaters
Rollerblade’s influence extended beyond the sporting realm and permeated popular culture. Inline skating was prominently featured in movies, television shows, and music videos, further fueling its mainstream appeal. The sport’s dynamic and visually striking nature captured the attention of filmmakers, who often included rollerblading sequences in action scenes, music montages, or as a symbol of youthful rebellion. These media portrayals helped solidify rollerblading as an integral part of 90s pop culture.
Additionally, Rollerblade’s success contributed to the emergence of a distinct fashion subculture associated with inline skating. Rollerbladers embraced a unique style characterized by bright, neon-colored clothing, baggy shorts or pants, graphic t-shirts, and athletic gear. This fashion aesthetic reflected the sport’s energetic and carefree spirit, quickly becoming a recognizable trend throughout the 90s.
The Rise of Impala Skates
Impala Skates Falls Under the Umbrella of Globe International
Impala Skates emerged as an Australian brand in 2017 under the umbrella of Globe International, a well-known company specializing in surf, skate, and women’s streetwear. Globe International traces its roots back to the 1980s when Hardcore Enterprises, an Australian-based company catering to the skateboard and street fashion markets, was founded. Hardcore, founded by former Australian skateboarding champions Peter and Stephen Hill, along with Matt Hill, who now serves as the CEO of Globe International, eventually evolved into one of the world’s largest skateboard distribution companies.
Drawing inspiration from the influence of Rollerblade and the roller skating culture of the past, Impala Skates aimed to offer skaters a fresh and fashionable alternative to mainstream inline skating brands for women. Their approach was characterized by embracing a retro aesthetic reminiscent of the vibrant and colorful late 80s and early 90s inline skating era.
1992 Rollerblade Lightning (Left) Impala Lightspeed (Right)
Over the past four decades, mainstream inline skating brands dedicated their efforts to constant innovation, aiming to enhance the performance and comfort of their skates. In contrast, Impala chose a different path, emphasizing aesthetics and image more than prioritizing quality and comfort. Impala achieved success by taking an open skate design that had been around for 30 years and giving it a bold and attention-grabbing aesthetic.
Impala leveraged the power of 90s Rollerblade nostalgia by infusing their designs with vibrant colors, resulting in visually striking skates. Combined with their cool and retro brand image, this winning formula resonated exceptionally well with beginner skaters. The result? Impala experienced rapid growth practically overnight, making a significant impact on the beginner market.
Marketing and Branding Strategies
Impala’s Marketing Utilizes Models and Social Influencers
Impala Skates’ marketing and branding strategies were instrumental in their rise to prominence. Leveraging Rollerblade’s influence, Impala positioned itself as a fashionable alternative to traditional brands, marketing almost exclusively to women. They capitalized on social media platforms, collaborating with influencers, and engaging with their target audience to generate buzz and create a strong brand identity.
Impala has successfully expanded their brand beyond the realm of inline skating and into mainstream culture. Their efforts in making their skates more accessible have allowed them to appeal to a wider audience. This inclusivity has removed barriers and motivated beginners who may have never thought about skating to try the sport. By celebrating the joy of skating and promoting inclusivity, Impala cultivated a passionate community of skaters, further solidifying their position in the market.
Has Impala Impacted Rollerblade’s Sales?
While Rollerblade remains a colossal brand in comparison to Impala, it’s worth noting that Impala has indeed made some inroads, particularly within the beginner market. However, the impact on Rollerblade’s overall sales hasn’t reached a level where they need to be overly concerned.
Rollerblade’s longstanding reputation and established customer base dominate the inline skating industry. Their extensive range of high-quality products and brand recognition gives them a significant advantage over Impala. Rollerblade’s loyal customer base, built over the years, ensures a consistent demand for its products, even with the emergence of new competitors like Impala.
1990 Rollerblade Blader Runner (Left) Impala Lightspeed (Right)
That said, Impala has managed to carve out a niche in the market by targeting beginners and entry-level skaters. Their focus on affordability, trendy designs, and accessibility has attracted a segment of customers who may have previously been hesitant to invest in Rollerblade’s premium offerings. Impala’s success in this market segment can be attributed to its effective marketing strategies and the growing popularity of recreational inline skating.
While Impala’s entry into the beginner market has garnered attention and some market share, it has not yet significantly impacted Rollerblade’s overall sales. Rollerblade’s extensive product range, reputation, and loyal customer base continue to contribute to its dominant position in the industry. However, Rollerblade should still keep a watchful eye on Impala’s progress, as its success in the beginner market could potentially serve as a springboard for expansion into other segments in the future.
As a Beginner, What Skate Should I Buy?
Impala Lightspeed (Left) Rollerblade Zetrablade (Right)
While Impala’s image and marketing appeal to those seeking a retro 90s vibe and vibrant color scheme, it’s important to consider the practicality and quality of their skates, especially for beginners. Although visually appealing, the Impala Lightspeed ($140) does not provide the same level of performance and durability as some other options on the market. For novice skaters, it is crucial to prioritize safety, comfort, and stability.
The Rollerblade Zetrablade ($139), known for its reputation as a reliable entry-level skate, offers a combination of affordability, quality, and beginner-friendly features. However, if you are set on capturing that nostalgic retro feel, there are alternatives worth exploring. Skates like the Roces 1992 ($199) or the Powerslide Zoom 80 ($179), inspired by the 90s era, offer a higher level of craftsmanship, superior components, and more comfortable liners, ensuring a better skating experience while still embracing the desired retro aesthetic.
Roces 1992 (Left) Powerslide Zoom (Right)
If none of these options resonate with you and you’re still drawn to the Impalas, go for it! Ultimately, the most important thing is to be out there skating and enjoying yourself. Sometimes personal preference and style can outweigh other factors. So if the Impalas truly speak to your heart, don’t hesitate to pursue them. After all, the joy of skating is always better than not skating at all.
1993 Rollerblade Lightning TRS (Left) Impala Lightspeed (Right)
Rollerblade’s influence on Impala cannot be overstated. Impala’s success is a testament to the enduring appeal of Rollerblade’s 90s image and colorways, creating an emotional connection with skaters seeking a retro experience. By embracing a nostalgic approach, Impala managed to captivate the beginner market and establish itself as a relevant brand despite releasing a bare-bones skate. Their focus on accessibility and affordability struck a chord with skaters seeking the inline skating experience. While Rollerblade may have taken a different path, the legacy of their iconic style and image lives on through brands like Impala, which continue to embrace and celebrate the retro aesthetics that resonate with skaters seeking the 90s Rollerblade nostalgia.