We love to tell the story of Vans. It was one of our earliest successes, and one of our greatest. In 1994, when we first got interested in the brand, it was largely unknown in North America. Yes, people had heard of Vans, including its hallmark checkerboard, slip-on shoe. But the brand was under-leveraged, and we knew instinctively that it could be much bigger. In an era where the rebellious attitude of the free-spirited skater boy and girl was taking hold, this was a brand that fit untapped demand.
So, we approached Vans, and said: “let us take care of you in Canada. You won’t regret it.” It’s where all our best relationships begin; by establishing trust. We really do work with our gut: we are careful about the brands we choose to work with. We must be convinced that the brand has potential in the market and need to know our partners trust that we have what it takes to maximize growth.
If you want a brand to grow, you must really understand it and believe in it. What better way to show it? A core belief in a brand is what makes your company go beyond the tools and services offered by distributors. It’s the ghost in the machine: the spirit that gives you momentum.
And it wasn’t just about trust. Our background includes a rigorous and disciplined approached to brand development and promotion. We love to have fun and we’re driven by an edgy attitude, but we make things happen with structure, organization, and attention to detail.
Our results speak for themselves. Over the years we distributed the brand, Vans became one of the biggest and most exciting brands in Canada: not just Vans shoes, but also a line extension into apparel, outerwear, snowboard boots and accessories that took the market by storm.
Why is this story important now, years later? Because we have reached a new turning point in retail. With the advent of online sales, consumers have more choice than ever. Some have even questioned the distribution model that was so successful for us and brands like Vans. We think the opposite is true.
In an age of disruption, it takes special commitment and creativity – the kind we showed with Vans and other brands – to really cut through the clutter.