Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The latest news out of VF Corporation isn’t as eye-opening as the Denver-based company selling its Eagle Creek brand to a former employee, but it does signal a shifting market focus for one of its smaller assets.
The company on Thursday announced that Eastpak, one of its portfolio pack brands founded in Boston in 1952 and now based in Antwerp, Belgium, is relaunching in North America.
Eastpak said the decision to return in full to the U.S. and Canada “comes after several years strategically focused on European and APAC regions, where the brand has deep roots, high aspiration, and strong business growth.”
The brand’s president, Nina Flood, who VF appointed to the role in 2020, has targeted growth in North America after Eastpak initially entered the region “through global ecommerce sites like ASOS and SSENSE and other high-end retail.”
With the launch of its U.S. website, us.eastpak.com, Eastpak is now “fully platformed” here with the goal of expanding its presence in “key U.S. and Canada fashion and lifestyle retailers.”
“Consumers have been clamoring for Eastpak in the North Americas—which led to launching our new website and opening new retail channels,” said Flood, who works out of VF’s European headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland. “It’s amazing to see the potential for Eastpak as new consumers discover the brand and loyal ones can now get it much more quickly and easily through domestic retail.”
Flood is a VF veteran who has spent 17 years at the company and various brands. She previously served as president of Kipling Americas and, before that, she was VP of strategy and marketing at Nautica (which VF sold in 2018). In early 2021, she also took over another VF brand, JanSport, and now leads both JanSport and Eastpak globally.
Eastpak’s North American operation, which will be based at VF’s global headquarters in Denver, is now searching for a regional packs general manager. No other new positions have been announced, the company said.
Eastpak said its relaunch for Fall 2021 will include “iconic silhouettes such as the Padded Pak’r and Padded Zippl’r and also introduce soft carry and wheeled travel items, relatively new product categories for Eastpak since the brand was last distributed in North America.”
A VF spokesman said the decision to bring Eastpak back to North America wasn’t to compensate for the loss of Eagle Creek, which VF was planning to shutter before Travis Campbell announced he would buy the brand and keep it alive.
The company declined to disclose how much revenue it was losing with the divestment of Eagle Creek—and again declined to say how much Campbell was paying for the brand.
Campbell, who broke the news of purchasing Eagle Creek to Outside Business Journal earlier this month, told us how he saved the brand before it dissolved. He had decided to move on from VF and was trying to plan his next career move when he shifted gears and put together a proposal to buy Eagle Creek from VF. It was a win-win-win scenario—for Campbell, VF, and Eagle Creek’s legion of fans.
“Nobody wanted to see the brand go away,” Campbell told us. “It was an economic decision that made sense for VF.”
As for the economic decision behind relaunching Eastpak in North America, that will play out in the coming years. The brand is part of VF’s “active” segment that also includes Vans (one of VF’s “core brands” along with The North Face, Timberland, and Dickies), Supreme, Kipling, Napapijri, and JanSport. Eagle Creek was part of this segment until the sale.
VF doesn’t break out revenue for Eastpak, which it considers one of its “emerging” (i.e., smaller) brands, but the company reported combined fiscal 2021 revenue for the active segment of $4.2 billion, with much of that total coming from Vans.
Look for more on VF’s financial performance next month when we recap the company’s fiscal second-quarter earnings, along with revenue and income results from the other publicly traded corporations that make up the OBJ Outdoor Index.