NEW YORK — Bringing one of the most iconic of Western brands to the most Eastern of cultures, VF Corp. said Thursday it will introduce Wrangler jeans in China next year.

This story first appeared in the June 7, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Terry Lay, chairman of VF’s international coalition, said in a conference call with investors the Greensboro, N.C.-based company has experienced 30 percent annual growth in recent years with its Lee brand, which has been sold in China since 1996.

“With the total level of population and the emergence of rising income and their attitude toward the West and Western brands, we see it as a real gateway to strength in Asia in the future,” he said of China.

While VF has handled most of its Asian distribution through licensing deals, in China its forming joint ventures with local apparel companies. Lay said in a later interview with WWD that has been key to understanding the market.

“It’s important to get in early,” he said. “You have to get in and find the right partner.”

The brand is expected to be sold through wholesale arrangements and in-store boutiques at major stores.

Chinese apparel production is expected to grow rapidly following the 2005 lifting of quotas among World Trade Organization members. Lay said he believes that will help to drive spending in China.

“Purchasing power tends to go where manufacturing tends to go,” he said.”

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