Feature Stories


VF Innovation Fund Sparks New Ideas

Tags: Corporate News Strategy & Innovation Infographics

VF Innovation Fund Sparks New Ideas

October 21, 2015

Stacks of denim sit on shelves and hang on racks; signs describe the cut and the style; and shoppers search for the perfect fit. It could be the jeans department at any retail store, except this one has a one-way mirror with a conference room on the other side. It’s not a store. It’s a laboratory, one that’s essential to the marketing strategy at Wrangler.

Discovering that their in-store signage wasn’t effective in helping shoppers differentiate the Slimwear jean from a regular jean, Wrangler approached VF Corporation, its parent company, with the idea for a Jeanswear Retail Lab.  A fresh concept for the retail industry, but unsure if the lab would drive meaningful results, Wrangler pitched the idea to the VF Innovation Fund. 

Established in 2010, the VF Innovation Fund was created to drive new ideas that push the boundaries of experimental innovation and encourage associates across VF’s 30 brands to think bigger and bolder. Over the years, the Innovation Fund has received thousands of applications from associates and funded hundreds of projects across the company.

For Wrangler, the Innovation Fund provided the resources to open a state-of-the-art Retail Lab at the brand’s Greensboro headquarters. Now, the brand has a place to test new signage and product layouts in front of real consumers. This research is helping Wrangler not only connect better with consumers, but also with its retail partners, who can now see firsthand a concept’s impact on shopper behavior before rolling out broadly to multiple stores. Other VF brands have also benefitted from the Lab, which can be easily modified for other products and store environments.

“The Innovation Fund was set up to encourage our associates to think broadly about who we partner with as we think about new innovations. Through the Fund, we’ve developed relationships with scientists, universities, technology companies, doctors and artists. This expanded network has helped spur a wide range of ideas across our brands and company,” said Stephen Dull, VF’s Vice President of Innovation and Strategy and the executive sponsor VF’s Innovation Fund.

The Fund has also helped VF change associates’ behavior around innovation, including encouraging a culture of sharing, a mindset of thinking big and bold and a mantra of going outside for new ideas. “This behavior has really taken root across VF, which has been exciting to watch,” adds Dull.

Since the Fund’s inception, VF has developed a $2-billion pipeline of new ideas and generated more than 125 projects totaling over $500 million in the marketplace. To read about some of the ideas sponsored by the VF Innovation Fund, check out our VF Innovation Fund timeline:

Innovation Fund Timeline