What will advance a leading apparel and footwear corporation’s innovation strategy?

Doblin collaborated with VF Corporation to strengthen and focus their innovation efforts

The apparel and footwear industry faces a rapidly changing landscape. From wearable technology to dramatic shifts in materials science to new possibilities in personalization and customization, there has never been more potential for both powerful innovation and disruption. Thriving in this changing landscape requires a clear view of which innovation opportunities to pursue, how to pursue them, and strong capabilities to sense and scan the horizon for new shifts and trends.

VF Corporation is a leader in branded lifestyle apparel; its brands include The North Face, Vans, Timberland, Wrangler, Lee, Kipling and Nautica. Recognizing the dynamism in its industry, VF invested in building very strong internal strategy, insight and innovation capabilities over the past decade. However, it also recognized the value of external perspective and counsel, and in 2013 it engaged Doblin as a partner to refresh its corporate innovation strategy.

We worked with the VF team to examine shifts in consumer needs and desires, emerging new apparel and footwear business models, and new technological possibilities. We synthesized these insights, and identified the most important opportunities for VF to pursue. We aligned these opportunities with the company’s most significant sources of advantage, and the supporting capabilities needed. The most important part of our approach was collaboration and co-construction of the strategy with VF’s executive leaders—rapidly prototyping and iterating the strategy with them over multiple sessions.

Our work together helped catalyze and reinforce several important shifts in how VF innovates today—including focusing on bigger, bolder initiatives, and dedicating more resources to exploring longer-term breakthrough opportunities (including the creation of three new innovation centers). New approaches to measuring and funding innovation have helped prioritize efforts and increase momentum. The strategy sets a bold course for how innovation will help VF’s brands continue leading and winning in the years to come.

Our work with Doblin to refresh our corporate innovation strategy was one of the most successful strategy processes we’ve run as an organization.”

– Stephen Dull, VP at VF Corporation


3 year roadmap for implementing the strategy


Galvanized the creation of 3 corporate innovation centers


25 of VF’s leaders helped develop the strategy