Woolrich, the American brand based in Pennsylvania that was founded in 1830, has been undergoing some internal changes over the past few years, which Andrea Cane, its creative director, outlined at the beginning of his talk.
In 2016, the company merged with WP Lavori in Corso, Italy, its longtime licensee partner, which controls Woolrich Europe, and 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 also committed a “dedicated capital increase,” Cane said.
Woolrich previously operated 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 that it creates at its mill in Woolrich, Pa. But now everything is marketed under the Woolrich name.
With Goldwin’s investment, Woolrich has focused on infusing technology into its outerwear and building stores to fit this new ethos.
Cane detailed the stores that have inspired him, which ranged from Supreme because of its consistency and exclusivity to L.L. Bean because of its dedication to customer service and Colette because of its events and visuals.
All of these retailers, and others, have informed Woolrich’s new flagship in Milan, which opened last November.
“We want to tell the story of Woolrich,” Cane said. “We appreciate our history and we still have mills in Pennsylvania, but we want to be a global company.”
Within the new flagship, which was designed by Wonderwall, an architectural design firm based in Japan, customers are greeted with a welcome ceremony that consists of coffee and an interaction with digital screens that describe what Woolrich is. They have also created a cold room, where users can test out the product. There’s an area for customization and co-working spaces that are used by members of its team in Milan. They’ve worked with Green Fingers, a Japanese-based company, on an elaborate plant installation and they also plan on integrating facial recognition technology into the shop down the line.
When asked by an audience member how Woolrich is competing with Canada Goose, Cane said: “We have a different approach. We integrate our outerwear with wool. We invented the buffalo check, and we are a mix between outdoor lifestyle and urban lifestyle.”