VF promotes from within for Icebreaker’s new top exec

Jan Van Mossevelde, formerly the apparel brand’s EMEA general manager, has been tapped to become its next global brand president.

VF Corp. didn’t have to look too far when selecting a new global leader for its New Zealand-based outdoor apparel brand Icebreaker.

The Denver-based company promoted from within, naming Jan Van Mossevelde—who had been serving as Icebreaker’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) general manager in Stabio, Switzerland, since 2019—as its next global brand president.

VF announced the appointment on February 18. Van Mossevelde replaces Greg Smith, who is leaving the brand to pursue new opportunities.

Van Mossevelde joined VF in 2015 as general manager for global brand management and demand creation within the company’s corporate strategy organization, and he also worked as a vice president of strategy for VF’s EMEA region. He will now be based in Icebreaker’s home market of Auckland, New Zealand, and report to Martino Scabbia Guerrini, VF’s EMEA president.

“I am honored and excited to lead the Icebreaker team globally,” Van Mossevelde said. “There has never been a better time to ‘Move to Natural.’ Consumers and the apparel industry at large are becoming aware of a heightened need for health, wellbeing, and sustainability which is at the heart of what Icebreaker is about. I’ve enjoyed leading Icebreaker in EMEA and look forward to expanding my scope to help chart the course for the brand’s purpose-led growth across all of VF’s global markets.”

The promotion of Van Mossevelde comes at a decidedly purpose-led period for the brand. Icebreaker is building momentum for its “Plastic Free by ‘23” campaign, launched last fall, in which the brand vows to remove all synthetic materials from its apparel line within three years.

Icebreaker, a VF subsidiary since late 2017, was already known for its use of natural materials, notably merino wool, across its apparel line, but the brand wanted to elevate its sustainability commitment by eradicating synthetics throughout its supply chain. Icebreaker North America GM Cameron Walker recently spoke with us about the initiative.

A new president and a new plastic-free pledge aren’t the only things happening at Icebreaker during what has become a momentous month for the brand. Last week Icebreaker said it would be part of the world’s first regenerative wool platform that’s being launched by the New Zealand Merino Co. (NZM) along with fellow Merino wool apparel and footwear brands Allbirds and Smartwool (another VF company), and 167 sheep growers.

The platform, which will represent 2.4 million acres in New Zealand, was designed to “tackle the impact of the global fashion industry, which is responsible for 10 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide,” the companies said in a joint press release.

What’s more, Icebreaker—one of the so-called “emerging brands” in VF’s expansive outdoor portfolio—will also be called upon to both support and help drive the parent’s company’s other big plans announced in February.

Last week VF released ambitious sustainable packaging goals that call for the company and its 20 brands across three divisions to “eliminate all single-use plastic packaging, including polybags, by 2025.” And it unveiled a host of programs and actions to advance racial equity and “focus on a core set of actions to support VF’s employees, communities, consumers, and society more broadly.” Click here to read more about those initiatives.