Andrea Canè doesn’t want Woolrich to be “vintage” anymore.
Canè, Woolrich’s creative director, and his team want to reposition Woolrich as an inclusive, progressive and diverse brand, which they hope is reflected with their “Woolrich: American Soul Since 1830” campaign, featuring artist Lauryn Hill, who has never appeared in a fashion campaign before.
“We knew that we needed to have an American perspective,” said Canè, who is Italian. “And as an iconic brand, we needed an iconic performer to offer her own testimonial. And Ms. Hill represents an iconic American soul.”
To celebrate the campaign, Hill will perform on Wednesday night with her children, Josh and Selah Marley, Onyx Collective and Team Vicious in New York.
Canè said Hill, who celebrates the 20th anniversary of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” this year, had complete creative control of the campaign, which was styled by Mel Ottenberg and shot by Jack Davison. She wore Woolrich’s staple pieces — the Arctic Parka and the Silverton Coat in a red Buffalo check. Hill updated the pieces with embellishments, text and images of herself. Canè said they’ve made 20 pieces of each style, which will be available for preorder on Sept. 20 and retail from $1,500 to $3,000.
This campaign marks the beginning of Woolrich’s brand relaunch. It comes after the company, which was founded in Pennsylvania in 1830, merged with WP Lavori in Corso, Italy, its longtime licensee partner that controls Woolrich Europe, in 2016. After that merger they formed Woolrich International. Late last year Woolrich sold a minority stake in its overall business to Goldwin Inc., a Tokyo-based manufacturer and seller of technical sportswear, to expand the label internationally. Goldwin has purchased shares from WP Lavori in Corso, Woolrich International’s majority shareholder, and has committed a “dedicated capital increase.”
The brand used to operate under three divisions: Woolrich Outdoor, a moderately priced outdoors line; Woolrich John Rich & Bros., the contemporary offering, and a collection of wool textiles and blankets it creates at its mill in Woolrich, Pa. But now everything is marketed under the Woolrich name, which includes a contemporary line operated by Woolrich International, and an outdoors line that is run by Goldwin.
The fall 2019 collection will unveil an aesthetic for the contemporary and outerwear brand and a logo that has been created with Pentagram. Canè said they’ve changed the design team, which is based in Milan but has offices in the U.K. and New York, and are focusing on Woolrich’s DNA: outerwear and flannels. Outerwear makes up 90 percent of its assortment and there are no plans to change that, but Canè said they are focused on presenting an assortment that works for all types of climates. The outerwear collection will be more in line with the contemporary brand, but priced 30 percent lower. Canè said going forward, these collections will sit together in the same store.
Woolrich operates 35 stores, but the goal is to raise that to 54 in the next three years. In November, Woolrich unveiled an experiential store format in Milan designed by Wonderwall that featured a cold room where shoppers could test out coats, interactive digital screens detailing Woolrich’s heritage and a plant installation created by Green Fingers. A design for the New York store, located in SoHo, will be revealed this winter. Canè said with the New York flagship, which is being designed by Andrea Caputo, there will be an emphasis on creating a flexible retail space that can be easily reconfigured.
“Milan is more rigid. In New York there is space to experiment,” said Canè.
He has also thought of a new showroom experience, which will be open in the fall and serve as a more intimate space for consumers, influencers, press and also possibly house some collaborations. Collaborations in the pipeline include a partnership with October’s Very Own, Drake’s line and a collection made with Teddy Santis, who designs Aimé Leon Dore.
“We want to be as inclusive as possible in all areas of the business,” said Canè.