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Art and Science Leads to Iconic Products

Tags: Corporate News Brand News Strategy & Innovation

Art and Science Leads to Iconic Products

March 4, 2016

VF combines consumer insights and design to launch next generation of iconic products.

There is no one road to making an iconic product, but VF leaders are working to learn from past successes to chart a course for the future.

Creating an iconic product is a mixture of art and science. And, it starts with a firm understanding of consumers’ lives and the type of product that will resonate with a brand’s base. From there, designers marry that need with their craft to create new, fresh and bold products, all while fulfilling a market demand.

“Being an iconic product is not automatic,” said Soon Yu, Global Vice President of Innovation at VF Corporation. “But, we have an advantage at VF. Our brands have developed so many iconic products throughout their histories, and we can learn from and leverage those histories to develop the next generation of apparel and footwear icons.”

The genesis of an iconic product starts with a driving consumer need. That’s where VF’s Strategy and Consumer Insights teams come into play. They work to inject the consumer’s view into every aspect of the product and development process.

“The design feature should immediately and visibly address the consumer’s need,” Yu said. “The more you can marry a design feature that is visually appealing, the higher the likelihood that it’s going to have staying power in the marketplace. That increases its potential that it will become iconic.”

Once developed, the products go to the ultimate judges: The consumer.

“To create iconic products, we have to embrace being bold and trying new things that lead to original designs,” Yu said.

The North Face Denali
The North Face® Denali

Napapijri SKIDOO
Napapjiri® SKIDOO

Wrangler Cowboy Cut
Wrangler® Cowboy Cut® Jeans

Over the years, VF brands have applied these principles to launch several iconic products, including the following products:

The North Face® Denali

  • Brief Description: A winter favorite, the Denali has evolved over the years, while staying true to its original design. Today, it is made of 100 percent recycled PET content, while providing all the warmth, comfort and breathability associated with Polartec fabric.
  • Consumer Need: For years, the shoulders on fleeces would wear out, thanks to the backpacks worn by consumers. So, designers at The North Face opted to add a material with the functional purpose of protecting the fleece on top, then made it aesthetically pleasing with an original design.
  • Why is this iconic? The Denali Jacket represents the pinnacle of The North Face “Athlete Tested, Expedition Proven” philosophy. First tested in 1988 by Todd Skinner and Paula Piana free climbing the Salath Wall in Yosemite National Park, the Denali was released to customers for the first time in 1990 and immediately became a top seller.
  • Iconic Elements: The blocking of durable nylon in the shoulders and elbow, combined with cozy Polartec Fleece throughout the body made this a favorite for both athletes and aspiring athletes alike.

Napapijri® SKIDOO

  • Brief Description: First introduced in 1990, this jacket is synonymous with outdoor lifestyle, particularly in Europe.
  • Consumer Need: In harsher climates, wind would blow cold air through the zippers positioned on the front of winter jackets, limiting their overall effectiveness. The NapapijriSKIDOO uses zippers on the side to limit the cold air passing through the jacket.
  • Why is this iconic? The Skidoo continues to be a revolutionary piece of outerwear. The first jacket created to be worn as sweater, it is ingeniously styled in durable yet lightweight state-of-the-art technical fabrics to ensure maximum protection against the elements.
  • Iconic Elements: A series of innovative and strategically placed adjustable bungee cords at the waist, hood and bottom hem ensures that the Skidoo is a perfect fit every time. In addition, the Skidoo is exceptionally warm thanks to its unique design, state-of-the-art nylon blends and fully taped seams, which means that no wind, snow or rain can get through.

Wrangler® Cowboy Cut® Jeans

  • Brief Description: First launched in 1947, little has changed since its introduction, an amazing feat in an industry so defined by change.
  • Consumer Need: By the latter half of the 1940s, jeans featured a square shape with wide legs running their entire length. That meant they were generally uncomfortable for horse-riding cowboys. So, Wrangler designers created a pair of jeans with function in mind: uniquely shaped for a more comfortable fit, designed to fit over boots and a more comfortable waist, perfect for riding a horse.
  • Why is this iconic? This jean features the same construction details as initially designed by Rodeo Ben, the tailor to professional cowboys at the time.
  • Iconic Elements: Wrangler Cowboy Cut jeans were built to the specifications of top rodeo athletes and feature 20 percent longer lasting denim, a more comfortable waist, a functional watch pocket, regular seat and thigh, and smooth seams. The jeans fit over boots and are made to stand up to whatever the day holds.