Once upon a time, wearing fashionable, name-brand clothing used to mean something to people. If you were fortunate enough to have a chance to wear, say, Wrangler jeans, you jumped at the opportunity. The price tag wouldn’t stop you.
Now, though, times are changing, and consumers are beginning to harness e-commerce technology in search of better deals. Often, wearing the most fashionable threads takes a backseat to surfing Amazon or Walmart for the best bargain. This raises a pivotal question: will the old clothing labels be able to stay viable in the 21st century?
According to CNN Money, the Lee and Wrangler jeans brands are already having some trouble. VF Corp, the parent company that controls both, is moving from North Carolina to Colorado, and it’s not bringing the denim brands along. Lee and Wrangler will be forced to spin off into their own company.
Steve Rendle, president and CEO of VF, told CNN that the Colorado move will be a bold step for the company’s future.
“Locating these brands, along with select VF leaders, at the base of the Rocky Mountains will enable us to accelerate innovation, unlock collaboration across brands and functions, attract and retain talent, and connect with consumers,” Rendle said.
For the jeans, though? The news isn’t so good. CNN reported that sales of jeans in the United States have fallen from $18.8 billion per year just five years ago to $16.2 billion a year now. That decline isn’t happening because people are wearing jeans less often; it’s because they’re spending less per pair. An analyst at Zacks noted that Amazon especially is to blame for consumers’ preference for low-price clothing alternatives.
For brands like Lee and Wrangler to adapt, they may need to adapt in terms of how they market their products. The traditional blue jeans alone might not be enough to keep them afloat; they may need to start selling new types of clothing and promoting new lifestyle choices, NPD Group analyst Matt Powell speculated.
“People are wearing athletic apparel now for all kinds of occasions—work, play, and school—without any intention of using them for athletic purposes,” Powell said. “The more casual lifestyle categories have been on fire.”
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