LONDON — VF Corp. is aspiring to a circular business model as it puts a greater emphasis on sustainability at home and internationally.
“The circular economy is one of the main pillars of our new sustainability strategy. Right now, we’re doing some tryouts with new business models specific to each brand,” said Martino Scabbia Guerrini, the company’s group president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, during a recent interview.
“It’s all around re-commerce,” which involves selling already purchased products, and ensuring that goods across the portfolio have an extended lifespan, he added.
Earlier this year, VF completed the acquisition of Altra and Icebreaker, the former, a specialty outdoors footwear brand and the latter a performance apparel brand with strong sustainability roots.
“Icebreaker is an excellent example of sustainability and responsibility. It’s a brand with purpose that strongly believes nature is a better solution,” said Scabbia Guerrini.
He emphasized the company’s Made for Change strategy, which includes implementing a circular business model through re-commerce and rental initiatives and halving the company’s environmental impact from farm to front door by 2030, as well as eliminating carbon from the value chain.
To date, VF Corp. has rolled out a number of sustainability initiatives: North Face Gift Your Gear, which redistributes unwanted outdoor gear to charities; Timberland Second Chance and Vans’ Take Back scheme recycling programs for footwear. Some 76,000 pounds of apparel and footwear have been amassed through these schemes, he said.
“It’s not only about accessing the big forces of change, but developing new strategic choices within the brands and the big brands such as Vans and North Face are bringing that to life,” he said.
The company has three global innovation centers in the U.S. to help bring disruptive innovations to the market faster, he said.
Last month, at a pop-up store in Shoreditch, VF’s outdoor brand Napapijri showcased a new digital product, Ze-Knit, which sees garments created digitally from the beginning. The technology also reduces waste and cuts down unwanted fabric by 30 percent.
“We’re on a transformative journey and we’re trying to react ahead of schedule. We’re using innovation to merit consumer conversation and the future of what they want,” Scabbia Guerrini said.