Tuesday was move-in day in Alameda, Calif. for outdoor specialty apparel and gear company The North Face, backpack maker JanSport and women’s yoga-wear manufacturer Lucy. The three firms are part of the Outdoor and Action Sports division of the $9 billion apparel and footwear company VF Corp.
VF Corp purchased The North Face in 2000, moving it from Colorado to Northern California. In 2007 it added Lucy to the Outdoor and Action Sports division, where it joined The North Face and JanSport in the Bay Area. But while The North Face and JanSport were co-located in San Leandro, the three firms and their 472 employees have not been housed on a single, cohesive campus until now. The new site was selected in 2007 but the recession delayed groundbreaking until last year.
“Our primary driver was to co-locate the brands and foster collaboration,” said Steve Rendle, group president of VF Corp’s Outdoor and Action Sports Americas division. “We want to leverage the talents of our multiple brands.
The various brands compete for some similar customers, so the collaborative process is focused on material development and testing rather than, say, marketing and specific product development. The new campus includes dedicated “tinkering” rooms where product designers and the materials testing team (which serves all three brands) can experiment with new ideas and a materials library that contains a catalog of fabrics and other materials.
Also on campus is a shared advanced product lab -- Rendle refers to it as a think tank -- where the brands can focus on market research, long-term trends, and where the sponsored athletes give product ideas and feedback.
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