But executives believe that opening retail locations, as Canada Goose recently did in New York and Toronto, will help further the higher-end brand’s profile from the woodsy designs of its U.S. partner, whose woollen apparel and outdoor gear compete with the likes of L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer.“Canada is a good country for outerwear,” said Andrea Cane, who began his career decades ago at W.P. Lavori in Corso and is global creative director of Woolrich International. “We have a good customer base, but there is much work to be done.”In opening stores, the brand joins multiple apparel manufacturers that got a start inside department stores but have chosen to market their wares through physical locations.“We want to increase our positioning in department stores but also to have a nice boutique for positioning reasons,” Cane said. “And the combination of the two plus the web has to increase our brand awareness.”
Woolrich’s annual sales are US$190-million, and W.P. Lavori’s high-end offerings account for about US$60-million of that.Bruce Sinclair, a program coordinator in Fashion Management at Humber College, said the high-end outerwear market is growing in Canada and that Woolrich could stand to benefit from the ubiquity of Canada Goose in Europe and on its home turf.We have a good customer base, but there is much work to be doneAnd while Woorich Inc. sells mid-market and high-end offerings, he added, consumers have accepted two lines from brands such as Ralph Lauren without too much confusion.“Each of those lines has a specific target customer to them,” Sinclair said. “People buying the Woolrich line that is more like Eddie Bauer might not know about the other one. I’m not quite sure it matters. Woolrich isn’t a well enough known brand name for this strategy to cannibalize the business rather than enhance it.”
Cane is aware of the brand’s challenges, adding Woolrich’s next strategy is to better differentiate the two apparel brands online.“On the web, the majority of our collection is mixed up with the original outdoor collection, so this is going to be the first point that we do,” Cane said. “We are a little bit more design-oriented than sporty and outdoor oriented. We need to have a clearer message in the market — though it is very warm, the concept is more urban and design-driven than sporty outerwear.”W.P. Lavori and Woolrich are aiming to have 60 stores under the banner Woolrich, John Rich & Bros by 2020. There are currently two U.S. stores in New York and Boston.