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Q&A with Tina Debo, Vice President of Product and Design for Kipling

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Q&A with Tina Debo, Vice President of Product and Design for Kipling

December 10, 2015

Tina Debo has never been one to maintain the status quo. Throughout her career, she’s made it a habit of using her eye for style to push the boundaries of design, and that is paying off with great success.

Debo secured an internship at Kipling® in 1997 after studying product design at the Academy of Antwerp. She then parlayed that experience into a full-time designer role designing luggage and handbags. 

Hard work and perseverance led to subsequent positions as Design Manager and Design Director. And, it was in that latter role where Debo was responsible for setting the design strategy for an international portfolio that she made the admittedly “risky” decision to remove several collections from Kipling’s portfolio in an effort to get back to Kipling’s core brand. Currently, Debo serves as Vice President of Product and Design for Kipling, working out of VF’s office in Bornem, Belgium. 


If you believe in something, don’t give up on it



Can you talk about the decision to remove several collections from Kipling’s portfolio?

It was risky, but it was the right decision. We needed to streamline our product range and get back to our core. Now, we’re expanding our collections, but whatever we add is always grounded in our brand identity.

What are the benefits you’ve realized from interacting with colleagues at other brands?

One of the biggest advantages of working at VF is the company’s huge network of professionals with knowledge and expertise in many different domains. There are smart people outside of your brand that have gone through similar struggles to the ones you are facing who you can go to for advice, different perspectives and new ideas. You have the opportunity to access experts across brands to talk through challenges, develop possible solutions and learn something new.

How are you sharing your experience and perspective with others in VF and the industry?

I enjoy talking about business challenges and sharing best practices. For example, I recently took my colleagues in the merchandising department to our European headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland, to participate in a series of meetings with associates from several other VF brands. I particularly enjoy the opportunity to mentor young designers and share my perspective about the industry and encourage students to always think outside the box.

What advice would you give to someone new to the design and fashion business?

Stay entrepreneurial, like you would in a small company. Too often I’ve seen people get discouraged after they encounter their first roadblock. If you believe in something, don’t give up on it.