LOS ANGELES — Vans, VF Corp.’s footwear brand that cemented its place in pop culture via Sean Penn’s feet three decades ago in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” is making a play for fashionable young women.As VF sets an ambitious goal for Vans to reach $2.9 billion in sales within the next four years — a 70 percent spike from the $1.7 billion in sales it expects to make this year — the unit is relaunching its juniors apparel division as a young contemporary brand for next spring. Gone are the literal translations of its signature black-and-white checkerboard pattern from slip-on shoes to bikinis and jeans. Under the leadership of a new vice president of apparel, Vicki Redding, and an influx of new women’s designers and merchandisers, Vans is moving past its previous 14-year-old customer to an older crowd between the ages of 16 and 24.To catch this coveted consumer, Vans needs to operate at a faster rate.“We have to change the paradigm of how Vans handles the apparel business,” said Vans president Kevin Bailey, surrounded by the spring collection’s leopard-print harem pants, metallic-coated sweaters and laser-etched maroon jeans retailing for less than $100 at the brand’s offices in Cypress, Calif. “You have to respond to the market. Footwear is not competitive. It’s on an 18-month calendar. You can’t run apparel on that calendar and we were.”After hiring Redding, who gained experience in retail and manufacturing at Nordstrom, Quiksilver and La Jolla Group, last December, Bailey called in Walter Wilhelm Associates as speed-to-market consultants. Vans cut three months off its previous 18-month design-to-delivery calendar, and Redding said she aims to shorten the schedule by an additional two months. It moved some production to Central America from Southeast Asia for swifter deliveries. It also introduced new categories like skirts and sweaters and added a summer lineup to supplement spring, fall and holiday deliveries. Marred by fit problems in the past, when customers bought jeans that were two sizes bigger, Vans employed a technical team to perfect the fit for every category.“That’s a major focus for our relaunch: to get our fit right,” Redding said.Another priority is to cater to retailers. Vans mandated that employees respond to retailers’ requests for reorders within 48 hours instead of the two weeks they used to take. In July, it began a “special markup” program to rush key pieces that correspond to hot trends. For the first time, it created capsule collections for retailers such as Pacific Sunwear of California, which will receive its first exclusive order in February.Offering exclusives to retailers is “a reasonable strategy,” according to Dan Su, an equity analyst who covers VF at Morningstar in Chicago. “If you’re starting off small, to go exclusive with some retailers is the way to get on their shelves, especially if you’re targeting hard real estate at retailers,” she said. “That’s one way to get on their shelves and also build your own branding.”Still, the international route could be the most viable option for Vans, Su said. Facing a crowded domestic market with competition from fast-fashion players, teen retailers and other young contemporary brands, Vans can seize bigger opportunities overseas, she said.Certainly, Bailey confirmed that Asia is Vans’ fastest-growing market, expected to reach 25 percent of sales by 2017. Europe is projected to contribute 20 percent in the same period and the Americas regions, 10 percent. Redding and her team injected more color to appeal to Asian customers inspired by the happy hues worn by Harajuku girls.“I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people look at Vans [here] and think it’s a shoe brand for guys,” Su said. “Internationally, I think there are more opportunities in new markets.”To help change people’s perception of the brand, Vans is corralling “It” girls such as artist Langley Fox Hemingway, model Annabelle Dexter-Jones and actress Georgia Ford to appear in a video styled by “Spring Breakers” costume designer Heidi Bivens and directed by designer-turned-filmmaker Chrissie Miller. The company is hosting a premiere of the film, along with a presentation of the new spring collection, on Thursday at Space 545 in New York.Vans still has a way to go with its women’s business, as well as apparel overall. Clothing made up 20 percent of Vans’ business last year. Of that share, women’s claimed only 20 percent. Bailey said the target is to double the apparel business by 2017.“We want the apparel business to stand on its own,” he said.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews