With an eye toward increasing its presence in Europe and Asia, VF Corp. has set a 5 percent growth target in its foreign jeans sales this year.
Terry Lay, chairman of the Greensboro, N.C.-based company’s International Coalition, said the unit surpassed that goal with 8 percent growth in the first quarter, well ahead of the 3 percent gain it sustained last year. In 2001, VF’s international jeans sales represented about 10 percent of total corporate revenue or about $552 million, he said.
While VF and other major jeans brands command a lower market share in the fragmented European market than they do in the U.S., Lay said he believes the number of brands dominating the European market will shrink in the coming years.
"What you find is hundreds if not thousands of brands across Europe," he said. "As brand awareness is driven across markets, we are going to see a lot of consolidation."
For the jeans business, the company is pegging increased expectations on building its women’s sales in Europe and expanding its distribution in Asia. As reported, the company plans to start selling the Wrangler brand next year in China, where its Lee sales have been growing at 30 percent annually.
Lay noted that VF’s approach to the European jeans market is quite distinct from its approach to the U.S. market.
"Jeanswear in Europe in relative terms is very attitudinally young and fashion driven," he said. "A significant difference in Europe versus the U.S. is that the workplace is much more driven by uniforms and dress-up. Older consumers do not wear jeans as often in Europe."
He noted that Europeans also buy fewer jeans, but spend more on them than do Americans. He said the average American aged 15 or older buys 1.7 pairs of jeans a year for $23 a pop. In Europe, the average shopper 15 or older buys only less than a pair a year (0.9), but spends $32 on average.
"Premium-priced product innovation is critical," Lay said. "It really makes the difference between market moves upward or downward."
He added that much of the fashion focus on jeans lately in Europe has been on wash, similar to the trend in the U.S."We probably spend as much or more finishing a product as we do manufacturing it," he said. Modern laser-finishing techniques have become so refined, he added, that if VF wanted to, it could burn a picture of chairman Mackey McDonald’s face onto the thigh of a pair of jeans — "not that we’ve decided that’s commercial," he quipped.
He said VF sees the Scandinavian nations, England and Italy as its best current growth markets. The economy in Germany — its largest Western European market — has been soft lately, he added.
In 2002, VF acquired the HIS brand, which Lay said he aims to use to boost the company’s sales of women’s jeans in Europe, which currently represent less than 45 percent of overall volume.
"We are underrepresented on the women’s side," he said.
The company is also trying to boost its presence in Asia, where it primarily works through licensing deals in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, as well as in Australia. In China, VF has entered on its own, introducing the Lee brand in 1996. VF employees now manage 50 retail counters at Chinese department stores in key cities, including Shanghai and Beijing.
Lay said the company sees enormous growth potential in China, calling it "a critical long-term market."
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye