Case study: Popken Fashion

Reaching international target audiences with localisation and transcreation

The Popken Fashion Group is known for its high-quality plus-size fashion items that have made the hearts of fashion-conscious women and men leap for joy since 1987. In addition to a successful combination of stationary trade, mail-order trade and online retail in Germany, the company has increasingly sought to conquer international markets in recent years. Popken Fashion sets great store by communicating authentically with its target audience all around the world. As specialists in translation and internationalisation, Kolibri Online helps the fashion specialist to tailor its communications to different countries and provides high-quality translation, localisation, transcreation and foreign-language screening in seven languages for Popken’s online shops.
Screenshot of Ulla Popken’s english online shop

Services provided by Kolibri for Popken Fashion

  • Translations and localisations for English, Dutch, French, Sweden, Polish, Italian and Czech
  • International website screening (foreign-language reviews of online shops)
  • Transcreating campaign claims into six languages
  • Assembling a fixed translation team
  • Creating a glossary
  • Project management
  • Quality management

The company: Popken Fashion Group

The Popken Fashion Group is a fashion specialist and plus-size fashion provider with operations worldwide. Founded as Textilhaus Popken in 1880, the company has now grown to 3,000 employees in 30 countries, selling its collections in around 450 branches and its own online shops. Today, the Popken Fashion Group brand family includes Ulla Popken, Gina Laura, the youth fashion label Studio Untold and menswear label JP1880.

The company’s online shops are the main sales channel in its cross-channel strategy, both in Germany and in many other markets. These include the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Austria, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden and Poland.

The task: Quality and language perfectly tailored to the target audience

The Popken Fashion Group’s extensive range is built on high product quality with flattering fits guaranteed to inspire and always being up to date with the latest trends. The brand’s commitment to quality is also reflected in how it addresses its target audience with texts and descriptions for its online shops and campaigns that are unflinchingly professional, positive and, above all, authentically expressed in the respective language. With this in mind, Popken was searching for an agency that, in addition to high-quality translation, could also provide localisation and transcreation services for English, Dutch, French, Swedish, Polish, Italian and Czech – along with particular expertise in working with online shops and websites.

The solution: Localisation and transcreation performed by native speakers

From the very beginning of their collaboration, it was clear that Kolibri and Popken Fashion had one thing in common: exacting quality standards. Furthermore, Kolibri has been overseeing translation and content projects for the fashion industry for many years. As a translation agency, Kolibri specialises above all in localising digital content – and these excellent credentials provided the basis for a successful collaboration with Popken. We have been supporting the plus-size fashion specialist in relation to its international online shops, ad campaigns and PR activities since 2019.

Website screening: Foreign-language reviews for online shops

Improve the conversion rate, boost traffic and generate more sales – these were the overarching goals behind the project to review and optimise the copy in Popken Fashion’s online shops. Above all, users had to feel completely comfortable using the sites. Consequently, all text, images and other information had to be uniform, linguistically flawless and sound authentic – in summary, it needed to be perfectly tailored to the target country and target audience. This also included checking measurement information, delivery terms and contact addresses as well as formulating buttons, categories and menu points. For Popken Fashion, working with native speakers with industry experience was just as important as in-depth consultation and technical expertise, as this made it possible to implement the edited copy efficiently across the extensive online shops. Kolibri Online relied on

  • an established team of translators and
  • transparent processing of the screening results in the form of tables, bilingual files and annotated screenshots

to meet the client’s requirements in full. In addition to a foreign-language review of the French online shop, Kolibri Online also conducted linguistic screenings for Popken’s online shops for the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. There are plans to conduct screenings for further languages.

Screenshot of Popken Fashion’s Polish online shop
Screenshot of Popken Fashion’s Dutch online shop

Slogans that work internationally

Effective marketing slogans employ puns, alliteration and other forms of wordplay. A good claim also needs to convey what a brand or product stands for and, ideally, evoke an emotion – as succinctly and concisely as possible. One pithy phrase will not have the same impact in every country, and literal, word-for-word translations are rarely effective. That much is obvious.

Kolibri therefore followed the principle of transcreation to translate claims for Popken’s campaigns and products. Transcreation focuses less on translating individual words and instead attempts to replicate the emotional effect of the original text. Native speakers of the target language craft several alternative versions of a claim and provide back translations to illustrate the literal meaning of the transcreated claim.


German original: Wichtig ist, was du wagst. Nicht, was du wiegst (literally: What you dare [to wear] is what matters. Not what you weigh)

  • Alternative 1: Pèse tes mots. Pas tes kilos.
  • Back translation: Weigh your words. Not your kilos.
  • Alternative 2: Laisse ton corps déborder de joie!
  • Back translation: Let your body overflow with joy!


German original: Wichtig ist, was du wagst. Nicht, was du wiegst (literally: What you dare [to wear] is what matters. Not what you weigh)

  • Alternative 1: Wat je waagt is belangrijker dan wat je weegt.
  • Back translation: What you dare (to wear) is more important than what you weigh
  • Alternative 2:Wat je weegt is niet interessant, wat je waagt wel!
  • Back translation: What you weigh isn’t interesting, but what you dare (to wear) is!

“Our collaboration with Kolibri is just so enjoyable. No matter what project we put in their hands, you can be sure they will deliver the utmost expertise and quality. There have never been issues, including with multi-faceted topics and complex source texts, even when time was short. Thanks to Kolibri, we have not only been able to launch our online shops for the Czech Republic and Italy on schedule and with great success, but also increased interest and conversion rates for our existing shops thanks to the linguistic reviews.”

Stephanie Pinkert-Deiters

International Project Management, Popken Fashion Group

Popken Fashion Group

The result: Addressing local target audiences to boost conversions

Studies have confirmed that people prefer online shops in their own language. Basic translations often fall short, as linguistic nuance and local distinctions are often lost in the process. However, it is only by incorporating these elements that copy can sound authentic and contribute to a positive buying experience and brand image.

Thanks to professional foreign-language reviews of its online shops and additional marketing measures, the Popken Fashion Group successfully increased its websites’ traffic, conversion and interest internationally. For instance, visits to Popken’s French shop increased by 28% within two months, with the conversion rate rising by 0.3%.

In addition, high-quality localisation and transcreation of marketing materials ensured that content is now tailored to target groups and target countries around the world, with marketing messages and claims that work and can be understood in other languages.

Are you looking for a translation agency or a partner to support your internationalisation projects? We’d be happy to talk it over with you. Call us on +49 40 5247774-0 or email us at

About the author

Jana Finklenburg
Project Manager and Editor
Content Marketing
+49 40 5247774-22

Kolibri Online GmbH
Bernstorffstrasse 128
D-22767 Hamburg