Holubar has a long history and yet is virtually unknown in the American market today. But former Woolrich executive Patrick Nebiolo is out to change that.
The mountaineering brand can trace its roots back to 1946 when Alice and Roy Holubar introduced the first lightweight down sleeping bags made from nylon fabric. They later expanded into outdoor apparel and at their peak also operated 10 stores throughout the U.S. The Boulder, Colo.-based brand also made the parka that Robert De Niro wore in “The Deer Hunter.”
After several decades of strong growth in the Sixties and Seventies, the brand was sold to Johnson Wax in 1975 and then to one of its primary competitors, The North Face, in 1981, which stopped producing the line and renamed its stores The North Face.
At the end of the Nineties, an Italian group led by entrepreneur Alberto Raengo purchased Holubar from The North Face and reintroduced the brand to the European market in 2012. Now Fashion Box USA, a new business created by Nebiolo, the former managing director of Woolrich Inc., has acquired the North American license and is relaunching the brand for fall. He serves as group president and chief executive officer, while Raengo is chief creative director.
The fall collection is centered around coats including parkas and mountain jackets that are intended to take on behemoths Moncler, Stone Island and Woolrich, but at a lower cost. Retail prices range from $350 to $800. The line is fur-free and manufactured in Eastern Europe.
Nebiolo said an e-commerce site debuted last week and he already has wholesale orders from Barneys New York, Hudson’s Bay, Sid Mashburn, Huckberry and Simons in Canada.
“It’s a great brand,” he said, “one of the true American outdoor brands with real heritage.”
Nebiolo said the plan is to expand Holubar into other categories including knitwear, wovens and accessories that can be worn all year round. He also plans to launch a marketing campaign to reintroduce the brand to American consumers and open single-brand stores. The first concept store will open in New York City later this fall and it will be operated in partnership with Odin.
Today, Holubar is sold in more than 500 stores in Europe and Asia, including Le Bon Marché and La Rinascente.