Timberland drives forward with lifestyle positioning
Timberland develops its apparel collections for the whole world at the European headquarters of VF Corp. in Stabio, Switzerland. There are 44 people of 11 nationalities working on the brand there, designing 400 items each season across the men's and women's apparel collections, while the footwear collections are developed in the USA.
“Our design staff is in regular contact with the marketing teams. We share the same values: a passion for nature combined with the energy that comes from fashion. Last year, we increased the synergies between design and marketing, and this is proving successful,” said Nick Barber, design director of Timberland’s apparel collections since 2015.
At the end of October, VF Corp. reported disappointing results for Timberland in Q2 2019, with sales down 12% in Europe, while the USA and the APAC region grew respectively by 9% and 4%. Steven Rendle, CEO of VF Corp., took the opportunity of the results’ publication to underline that Timberland is keen to drive forward with a lifestyle positioning in Europe, no longer intending to focus exclusively on men’s footwear, which nevertheless still accounts for a large part of its sales.
Timberland is busy developing its apparel collections, introducing a new line segmentation for them. Among the different lines being developed in Stabio, there are the Contemporary, Heritage, Woman Collection, YC and Earth Keepers lines. The Reflective line is instead a somewhat separate entity, a limited, eco-sustainable capsule collection featuring prints of NASA space pictures.
The Contemporary line is associated with an active urban style, for city dwellers on the move. It consists chiefly of functional items and of a few hybrid ones, relying also on a “layering” concept. The Heritage line will feature for the first time, in the Fall/Winter 2020-21, the image of the Yellow Boots as a logo on sweatshirts and t-shirts. As the name indicates, Heritage references Timberland’s design roots, offering comfortable, warm, water-proof apparel, utilising, among others, superior materials like corduroy and high-tech polyester. The women’s line has been designed to appeal to Asian markets through “specific sizing,” and could eventually be introduced also on other markets.
The YC line was launched in 2017 and targets one of Timberland’s priority segments, young consumers. It is also distributed via Foot Locker, JD Sport and selected lifestyle stores, and it taps the 1990s revival, giving a fresh new take on items drawn from the brand’s outdoor apparel archives. YC’s winter 2020 collection features colour-block tops, revamped camo designs and logos galore: “We’re very satisfied with this collection’s results. It appeals to young consumers who no longer used to come to our stores, or weren’t aware of our apparel lines. We’re keen to extend it and put it centre stage,” said Barber.
The Earth Keepers line has been relaunched at the behest of Christopher Raeburn, the British designer and sustainability champion who was hired as global creative director of Timberland just over a year ago. It is on this line that Timberland is focusing its efforts to be consistent with its eco-sustainable pledges, in terms of fabrics and supplier selection. From the Fall/Winter 2020-21, Earth Keepers products will only be made using recycled fabrics. Only a couple of zipped accessories won’t be made with recycled materials. Eventually, this line will become a benchmark for all of Timberland’s collections, to make the brand increasingly “eco-sustainable” and “circular.” “Christopher Raeburn is encouraging us and helping us along this route. It will take time, but it’s an essential development, consistent with the group’s medium-term commitments,” said Barber.
To embody this approach and give it greater visibility, in November Timberland opened its first “eco-designed” store, on Carnaby Street in London. It contains trees, a plant-filled wall and other natural elements, so as to “immerse customers in the brand’s creative vision, at the intersection of fashion and the natural world.” Timberland also holds informative in-store presentations to outline its commitments to “eco-sustainability” and “circular fashion.” By the end of the season, this new store concept will be replicated in two US cities, New York and Philadelphia.
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