How do you celebrate your 180th birthday?
If you’re Woolrich, the venerable brand that traces its roots back to a 19th century woolen mill in the hills of Pennsylvania, you do it by doing what you do best: expanding the brand into more product categories and more channels of distribution.
Even though Woolrich is probably still best known for its signature casual outdoor apparel, it has built a sizeable home business over the years and in 2010, it has expanded that into new areas with more to come.
It has entered the garden accessories, dinnerware and handcrafted holiday home decor categories recently and later this year, it will move into table and kitchen textiles for the first time. “It’s all about the value of the brand,” said Rick Insley, senior vice president of merchandising, licensing and retail of Woolrich, which was founded in 1830 by family patriarch John Rich and continues to still offer many of the items from its original years. “We’re not the highest priced or the lowest priced. We don’t want our customers to believe we don’t offer a good solid value.”
The history of the Woolrich name also plays a big factor, he said. “American heritage brands are being rejuvenated globally. We’ve been fortunate to have a brand that we’ve been able to enter multiple channels with.”
Insley said Woolrich’s good-better-best positioning has been a key to getting the brand into different distribution channels. A long-time program at Target has just been renewed for a ninth year, a very unusual run for the mass merchant that is known for moving brands in and out on a regular basis.
“It’s been good for Target and it’s been good for us,” he said.
One step up are the licensed Woolrich products for the specialty market. New to those offerings, said Sharon Kepley, licensing brand manager for home, are Lynn Haley for collectible decorative Santa Claus figures and Rowe Pottery Works for handcrafted garden accessories and dinnerware. Both lines were shown for the first time earlier this year.
They join a lineup that includes: Shadow Mountain for furniture, Blonder for bath accessories and the soon-to-be-added table and kitchen textiles line, Picture Source for wall decor, Berry Creek for top of the bed, Mohawk for area rugs, Whitecraft for outdoor furniture and Shady Lady for lighting and accessories.
Kepley said the next expansion for Woolrich is into new categories including towels, bath rugs, paint, mid-tier dinnerware and outdoor accessories.
Coordinating all of those licensees is critical, Insley said. “We focus on putting the pieces of the puzzle together and making it seamless. We want it to look like it all goes together when it gets home.
“We want it to look like Woolrich.”—Warren Shoulberg
The new Woolrich Butterfly Lounge Chair