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Q&A with Colin Holloway, Sr. Developer, Materials Innovation, Footwear & Apparel, VF’s Global Footwear Innovation Center

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Q&A with Colin Holloway, Sr. Developer, Materials Innovation, Footwear & Apparel, VF’s Global Footwear Innovation Center

July 1, 2016

Colin Holloway joined VF last year as a material developer at VF’s Global Footwear Innovation Center in Dover, New Hampshire. The Footwear Innovation Center is one of VF’s three Global Innovation Centers  where the company focuses on developing game-changing advancements in apparel, footwear and accessories for its 30-plus brands.

The Global Innovation Centers are staffed with teams of scientists, engineers and technical designers who combine proprietary insights with consumer needs and a deep understanding of technology and new materials. With extensive knowledge of textiles and materials, Colin is charged with developing materials in partnership with VF’s brands for footwear and apparel products. Ultimately, these materials will be used to produce breakthrough products for consumers.


Location: VF’s Global Footwear Innovation Center in Dover, NH

Fun Fact: I’ve driven across the country three times with my wife, Crystal
and our dog, Grady.  I’m also a new dad to our almost 6-month-old
son, Mason!

Favorite VF brand products: In no particular order Vans® Sk8-Hi, 
Timberland® Wodehouse Chukka, and The North Face’s® Thermoball Jacket

One word to describe himself: Adventurous

What does it mean to be a materials developer?

For starters, materials innovation is a passion of mine.  Having my background rooted in this field has provided me with many opportunities to work across a number of different projects within the apparel and footwear industry.  Material developers have strong technical backgrounds based in textile, dyeing, finishing, printing, rubber, and foam manufacturing processes.  These processes along with a deep understanding of the polymers, fibers, yarns, and compounds used to fuel them ultimately lead to material innovations that result in new products for the brands.

But knowing the materials isn’t enough. My job is also to understand how these materials can be commercialized through a holistic approach to materials innovation while also having a clear point of view on material trends and performance attributes that will fit the short- and long-term strategies of Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland®, and Reef®.

What is a typical day like for you?  

Innovation comes through collaboration. Every day, we have meetings with our cross functional teams which include brand leads, design, product development, testing, and materials teams to discuss the integration of new technologies and to ideate on the impact of them on our brand’s products. We also work hand-in-hand with our colleagues within the brands. One of the benefits to our location in Dover is that we are very close to our Timberland headquarters, which is convenient for on-site collaboration.

As the materials team lead, my days are focused on partnering with design and infusing each project with a unique materials perspective. From concept development through testing and product evaluation, a solid partnership with the Global Innovation Center team and brand teams ensures we’re creating compelling products with clearly defined consumer benefits.

What is your favorite project to date?

At VF, we are on a continual quest to better understand and know our consumers, which requires a 360 approach to identify the consumer’s needs, preferences, the way the products will be used and the expectations for each product.

Take Vans for example: Whether a skater is attempting an ollie or a kick flip, the right shoes can make a difference. Vans is obsessed with understanding the movements and needs of its skateboarding consumer. To ensure our innovation teams truly understands how skateboarders use our products, VF recently added a skate ramp at the Global Innovation Center in Dover to study what happens during a typical skate session. 

We can now test-and-learn in real time to determine how our new concepts will perform, which helps ensure we keep Vans on the cutting edge of product design.