WASHINGTON — Nicholas Hahn, former president and chief executive officer of Cotton Incorporated, is embarking on a new venture with a different natural fiber: alpaca.

This story first appeared in the March 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As the ceo of the newly formed company Alpaca Incorporated, established by alpaca farmers and processors in North America, Hahn has been tasked with making the fiber more competitive in global markets and driving consumer awareness to the product as a luxury fiber that is comparable to cashmere, mohair and silk.

There are about 2.6 million pounds of alpaca fiber produced annually in the U.S., and other major producers are Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Canada.

Hahn is no stranger to building campaigns to increase the share of market and demand for a natural fiber.

During his tenure at Cotton Inc., from 1982 until 1997, the marketing arm for cotton farmers launched some of its most memorable programs, including the iconic “The Fabric of Our Lives” advertisements that were introduced in 1989 and a marketing partnership with Procter & Gamble’s Tide, Cheer and Ivory Snow brand laundry detergents that started in 1993.

In his new role as head of Alpaca Inc., Hahn will steer the company in developing brand awareness and identity for alpaca fiber as “the softest, warmest, lightest textile fiber on earth combined with flame resistance and hypoallergenic performance.”

Hahn said his initial plan is to build value through a “brand identity” marketing program targeting the luxury end of the textile and apparel markets.

“The most valuable asset a consumer product can have is its brand,” said Hahn. “It attracts customers, it projects product quality and integrity, it stands for exclusivity and it enhances position in the category, in our case luxury apparel and home textiles. We’re an ingredient product, think Intel inside a computer, NutraSweet inside a cola, Dolby sound inside a stereo, Supima inside a towel and now alpaca inside a luxury sweater.”

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