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PVH Readies Fall Timberland Launch

Phillips-Van Heusen is aiming to leverage Timberland's strong outdoor image to create a significant sportswear business

NEW YORK — When Phillips-Van Heusen launches its new Timberland apparel line at retail this fall, the company will use a number of new strategies to reinvigorate the outdoor brand’s sportswear sales. The game plan calls for a new “green” marketing strategy, a major denim push, prominent in-store displays, a redesigned sportswear assortment and a value-pricing strategy that targets the core customer base of 25- to 35-year-old active men.

PVH signed a license last February to manufacture and market Timberland apparel in North America, as reported. The sportswear and dress shirt maker is aiming to leverage Timberland’s strong outdoor image to create a significant sportswear business, filling a void in its stable of designer, contemporary and traditional brands, which include Calvin Klein, Izod, Geoffrey Beene, Van Heusen and Arrow.

“This partnership pairs the apparel design, logistics and marketing expertise of PVH with the strength and heritage of the Timberland brand,” said Marc Schneider, president of Timberland apparel at PVH. Schneider was previously an executive vice-president at Timberland and was recruited by PVH to head up this new apparel initiative.

Schneider tapped two PVH insiders to help head up the Timberland business: Michael Flynn as vice-president of design and M.J. McKiernan as vice-president of sales. Flynn previously worked on the Izod business, while McKiernan was with the Calvin Klein sportswear division.

Central to Timberland’s apparel relaunch under PVH is a new eco-conscious branding campaign. One hundred percent of the company’s apparel will be made with environmentally friendly materials—including organic fabrics, recycled materials and renewable resources (such as wool)—and with lower-impact manufacturing processes. New hangtags and labeling (made from recycled paper, of course) will call out these benefits to consumers and raise awareness of environmental concerns.

While Timberland has long been a leader in environmental and social responsibility issues, PVH is heightening the apparel line’s commitment to eco-friendly product and practices this fall. Timberland’s stylized orange tree logo will change color to green as part of the brand’s revamped image, and will be featured as a key design element on apparel.

“We’re using the tree logo in the same way that Nike uses the swoosh,” explained Schneider.

The new logo will also be stamped prominently on new in-store fixturing that PVH will install with key retailers, beginning in August with its largest retail partner, Macy’s. Schneider wants to create a strong Timberland presence wherever the apparel is sold and plans to focus on large national department store chains. “Achieving dominance in fewer places is vital to success,” he noted.

PVH expects department stores, including Dillard’s, Belk, Bon-Ton, Carson’s and Boscov’s, to comprise about 70 percent of Timberland apparel sales, with the remainder coming from outdoor and sporting goods retailers. Schneider is aiming to be in 500 department store doors this fall, down from the 600 forecast by PVH last year.

When PVH signed the license with Timberland, the latter divulged the brand’s 2006 North American apparel sales were $70 million. (Timberland has retained its apparel business overseas.) Schneider declined to provide PVH’s sales targets going forward, but noted: “Our intention is to maintain and gain solid positioning with our retail partners and to grow the business profitably for all parties. We have high expectations for the business.”

Denim is expected to become a key sales driver, and for fall Timberland is offering a wide range of jean styles and will merchandise them in dedicated retail fixtures. Schneider expects denim to grow to 15 percent of total apparel sales, up from about 5 percent currently.

Jeans will retail for $59.50 (or $69.50 for organic denim), organic knit tops for $49.50, wovens for $59.50 to $69.50, and outerwear for $100 to $350.

“We are stressing the value equation. We are competing on price but also providing a lot of features—the fabric, the eco-factor, the hand feel, the performance capabilities,” said Schneider.

Those attributes include details like special storm zippers that hug the garment, clips inside jackets to hold headphone cords, waffle linings on hoodies, sealed seams on parkas and Timberland’s signature quad stitching on jeans.

PVH will invest $5 million in a marketing campaign this fall dedicated to the apparel launch, as part of Timberland’s overall $20 million budget.