The partnership between Woolrich, one the most popular casualwear brands in the world, and Wp Lavori in corso, an leading Italian company in finding, selecting, launching, distributing brands associated by innovation and by a strong heritage, started in 1984. The recent agreement for marketing the brand in Japan and South Korea, in addition to the existing one for Europe, is further proof of the strengths of the company based in Bologna. We spoke with the Creative Director Andrea Cané, responsible for strategic decisions at WP Lavori in Corso since the start.
Woolrich is a treasure with its roots in the United States of the distant 1830s. How did you discover the brand, plan to deal with it and grasp its potential?
We came across Woolrich for the first time in 1984 before opening the first WP Store in Bologna, the concept store based on "rooms" that represented our reference worlds. One of these "rooms" was dedicated to outdoor and Woolrich was one of the its cornerstones. The parka developed in the 1970s for the workers who built the Alaskan Pipeline made us fall in love: an item representing a style essence and simplicity that we thought might become iconic. Later in the 1990s, we got the European distribution deal and recently the license was extended to Asia.
What is the secret of Woolrich longevity?
To go over and update the values of its DNA. Since the American Civil War Woolrich has different style codes: Work, Varsity Military and especially Outdoor.
What are the most important initiatives that connect you to the brand now and for the future? Which marketing, product, distribution and communication strategies with the strongest impact are envisaged for the near future?
Recently we developed a brand development plan that envisages placing side by side the directly-owned and franchise retail network with the already well-established network of multi-brand retail and wholesale customers. In 2015 we opened several Woolrich Store in Europe and USA, to be more precise in Prague, Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, Boston, and by the end of 2020 we will have a total of 88 stores throughout the world. As for distribution, the aim is integrating the wholesale and retail networks to try and to improve our positioning. As for communication, we have always favoured auteur photography that gives us the possibility to make even more iconic the brand’s historical image. As for product strategy, our claim is “Garments with a Purpose”.
In 2015 you celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of WP Store. can you give us a short summary of the secret of your success?
The secret is to have always been focused on iconic brands and products. Passion and curiosity have always led WP.
Can you mention the most important phenomena that you witnessed in the past 30 years and that you think have radically changed the way of existing and working in your segment?
In terms of products, the market is cyclical, switching from times of strong orientation towards heritage to times with a focus on technology and innovation. Everything is connected to the digital revolution of the last 20 years, which means that both performance and innovation features arrive faster than the word of mouth of 30 years ago. To deal with this change we are working on building teams to address the management of these new tools.
What does researching mean for you now and how do you do it?
Researching is not just about the product but extends to talents, forms of communication, the physical environment of our stores.
Researching is done traveling in space but also in time. What role has archive researching for you? Also, which and how many archives do you use and how are those in your property structured and divided?
The archives are our heritage from which we drawn our history. They are constantly updated with contemporary products in line with the brand values, therefore from the outdoor world, but more generally also with icons of functionality. Our archives are broadly divided into historical archives, collection archives, “shop the market” archives and current products with values similar to of our brand.
Thinking about dreams, which ones haven’t yet become reality and perhaps never will? And on the other hand which project is about to become reality? Pipe dreams: why put a stop dreaming?
At business level we have not yet achieved a balance among the different distribution channels that can give us the opportunity to talk more and more to the end consumers. At product level, we want to extend the values of the outerwear iconic pieces to other already developed product categories that, however, are increasingly coming closer to the winning values of our outerwear. Our plan is to stabilise the relationship with the end consumers through stimulating environments that aid us in collecting feedback. We want to be a global company represented in all countries of the world.
Text by Alessia Vignali
In collaboration with the fashion magazines, Collezioni: www.collezioni.info