VF Corporation Canada

Innovation in Apparel

A division of VF Corporation, VF Jeanswear is an international leader in the apparel category, offering a wide range of lifestyle apparel products to consumers across the globe, primarily marketed under the popular Wrangler, Lee, and Riders by Lee brands.

Wrangler Brand

The Wrangler jeans brand was launched in 1947 and originally designed to meet the needs of rodeo cowboys. Today, the Wrangler brand offers a wide range of lifestyle apparel products to meet the diverse needs of consumers around the world. The brand was launched into the Canadian marketplace in the 1990s. Over time, the brand has grown in both popularity and reach, specifically through mass merchandise channels which began carrying the brand, creating greater market presence and business expansion. The entrance of major retail conglomerates, such as Walmart to Canada in 1994, allowed for a natural extension of the VF Jeanswear brands into the Canadian marketplace.

“We established our Canadian operations at that point. If you look at the Canadian marketplace specifically, the Wrangler brand goes into a number of mass merchandise players such as Walmart and Target Canada, as well as having distribution at several Western specialty retailers,” Jimmy Shafer, Vice-President of Sales with VF Corporation, told The Canadian Business Journal. “We cover the Canadian mass retailers across the range of Jeanswear brands and we have been very fortunate to have had a few consecutive years of strong business growth in the Canadian marketplace. We are optimistic about the future.”

VF Jeanswear attributes this growth to a host of factors, including brand investment, greater distribution, as well as its responsiveness to customer demand for comfortable products. Quite simply, VF Jeanswear understands its customers and the ‘art and science’ of apparel. The company gathers consumer insight combined with market expertise in order to create high quality products, which have in turn fuelled the ongoing growth of the organization. As a result, VF Jeanswear can then reinvest in innovation in order to continue to deliver new lines of consumer relevant product solutions to its international customer base.

Product Innovation

The Wrangler brand is set to launch a new product lineup called Advanced Comfort jeans. This product group utilizes stronger and more durable fabrics to allow for more stretch and greater comfort. Another product group called the Comfort Solution Series from Wrangler markets jeans with a stretch waist feature, as well as Easy Care shirts and casual pants that integrate no-iron, wrinkle resistant technology.

“We have leveraged our innovation effectively into the marketplace, growing our brands on the platform of unique comfort and exceptional fit. Our innovation focuses on delivering consumers solutions and it has been very successful,” Shafer explained. “We have really invested in the science of apparel to deliver a unique position that is very consumer relevant. We have grown by understanding the consumer first and foremost, and then delivering innovation against key needs to make us differentiated in the marketplace.”

Top of mind with consumers is apparel that can do more, from added comfort in menswear to innovative fit solutions in the women’s category. On the leading edge of product innovation, VF Jeanswear recognizes that modern consumers are demanding more added value products, such as performance-oriented apparel. Moisture wicking golf shirts and bottom enhancing women’s jeans are just two examples.

As Shafer detailed, “Comfort is the No. 1 driver of purchases by men, so if you provide a more comfortable product than your competitors then you are going to be successful. The majority of men are also not interested in ironing their shirt and pants every morning, so if you can provide a wrinkle resistant solution in casual apparel for men, you will be in a unique position that is highly relevant and very volume oriented as well.”

Superior Comfort

VF Jeanswear engineers its women’s products with shaping solutions to make consumers look their best. As such, the product design phase incorporates in-depth research of consumer body types in order to create well-tailored fits.

“It comes down to very in-depth investigation in consumer body types and shapes, and then specifically fitting our products around that data to deliver superior comfort and fit,” Shafer summarized. “We fit our jeans around the consumer’s body the way that the consumer’s body is actually shaped, and that provides superior comfort and shaping enhancements which help her to look her best every day.”

Looking toward the future, the company anticipates continued growth in the Canadian marketplace, and sees its product innovation as a means for this growth. The Canadian marketplace offers unique opportunities in terms of product standpoint and positioning, as well as a unique consumer demographic that demands specific product designs. Strong across the international retail landscape, the strength and success of the VF Jeanswear brands have continued in Canada.

“We look at Canada as a unique marketplace with unique consumer needs, and we certainly tailor our business to the consumer needs in the Canadian marketplace,” Shafer concluded. “You also need to understand the distinct marketplaces inside of Canada and we are highly focused on consumer insights to better understand these opportunities in order to continue driving growth in the Canadian marketplace.”