The owner of iconic denim brands Wrangler and Lee is getting out of the pants biz

The company that owns Lee and Wrangler denim looks to get out of the jeans biz as they see athleisure fashion becoming a part of the status quo.


August 14, 2018

VF Corp., which wields a long list of apparel brands including the Lee and Wrangler denim labels, has announced it will turn its denim division into a separate, publicly traded company.

Its new plan as a corporation is to focus on its roster of “activity-based lifestyle brands,” like Vans, The North Face, Timberland, and Reef.

It’s called athleisure, and it means yoga pants

While VF maintains that its denim business is actually succeeding, it’s currently the lowest performer among the company’s wide range of clothing segments.

The denim market has faded significantly as shoppers inch closer to actual physical activity (or at least looking the part) — and VF is giving the people what they want. 

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In the company’s sales forecast for the year, it said it expected its outdoor wear, active wear, and workwear to increase more than 76% combined. 

But, let’s be honest, it’s not aaall the market’s fault 

In that same forecast, the company estimated that its denim business showed a whopping 0% growth for the year — and you know everybody loves to blame the market.

The Wall Street Journal notes that jeans sales in the US fell from $18.8B in 2013 to $16.2B in 2017.

That said, Levi’s has found a way to adapt while still mainlining the sturdy blue, so maybe it’s less about denim, and more about the fact that Wrangler and Lee aren’t as popular these days as they were with bull riders and teens in the ’90s. 

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