Differential Brands Group Inc. has named Jake Brandman president of its Swims AS brand.
Brandman, who spend the last eight years with Deckers Brands, most recently as brand president for Sanuk, will start his new position on Monday. In his new role at Swims, Brandman will be responsible for developing and implementing a long-term strategy to expand Swims both domestically and abroad. He reports directly to Michael Buckley, chief executive officer.
Differential Brands acquired the Scandinavian lifestyle brand last month in a deal involving stock, warrants and cash that had a transactional value of about $15 million. At the time, Differential said the purchase was expected to be immediately accretive for the firm. Swims is best known for its fashion-forward, water-resistant footwear and sportswear.
In an interview Tuesday, Buckley said, “We believe we can really develop a more complete footwear collection for men and women, and expand into swimwear and waterproof apparel.”
He said light outerwear is already offered in Scandinavia, and there’s opportunity for its introduction into the U.S. market. Buckley also said there are currently 400 doors throughout the U.S. and Canada, and a total of 1,000 doors worldwide across 30 countries. Much of the distribution is through licensees and retail partners, although he said there’s room for about 1,000 doors just in the North American market, a geographic region where the company plans to grow the business itself instead of through distributors.
“The other piece of the business is to drive the direct-to-consumer channel. Our goal is to grow that substantially. It is the most important channel for us to master for each of our brands today,” Buckley said.
Brandman said, “Swims is one of those highly disruptive brands in the marketplace that customers are looking for and retailers are looking for — it’s a fun, functional, water-friendly story at the cutting edge of style.”
Brandman said that while product remains key, his job initially will be focused on how to tell the brand story: “This brand has made its presence known with the penny loafer [and] its modern take on a classic style that is water friendly. Our first job is to let customers know around the world what it stands for in footwear and then build the footwear around core items. Once that starts to resonate and spread in key markets, [we’ll have the] opportunity to expand on the product side.”
Buckley, who said there’s also opportunity to add a kids’ line as well, noted that for any brand Differential acquires, it plans on “significant growth” through a doubling or tripling of the business over a four-to-five-year time period.
The ceo said the company continues to evaluate other opportunities for acquisitions that are complementary, and not competitive, to the brands already under the Differential Brands umbrella.