One of the "Labels to Watch", that we introduced on the occasion of our latest OUTDOOR ISSUE, was Canada based label Veilance, which combines performance and design like no other brand. As a fashionable offshoot of the outdoor cult brand Arc'teryx, Veilance tests the limits of both areas and is astonishingly successful.
Many have been talking about the fusion of fashion and sport for years. But only a few brands have managed the step into fashion so far, and hardly any other brand has done it as consistently as Veilance. Veilance was founded in 2009 by the Canadian outdoor brand Arc'teryx. Arc'teryx enjoys cult status within the outdoor industry and is one of the innovation leaders there. In recent years, Arc'teryx has repeatedly introduced new groundbreaking technical solutions that have been adopted by the entire industry over the years, as well as the clean, unmistakable design language. The meticulousness with which Arc'teryx develops new products is legendary. Each fabric is carefully tested for durability, abrasion resistance and air permeability. Each seam is patterned, tested and optimized for optimum freedom of movement, fit and function. The development cycles can hardly be compared with fashion brands. That of all things a hardcore mountain sports brand with lots of top athletes in the team would build up a fashionable offshoot was quite a surprise back then. It speaks for the Canadians' special self-image: fashion is an inevitable byproduct of good design.
The market is growing-as proven by the fashion labels and outdoor brands entering into mix.
Veilance was allowed to become a field of experimentation for a new, urban outdoor design–in cooperation with well-known fabric suppliers such as Gore-Tex. Even then, the Canadians knew that the outdoor market with its exclusive knowledge of functional clothing had an invaluable advantage over all the fashion brands that could rely solely on their appearance as a sales argument. The combination of high-tech function with an exquisite, minimalist design still characterizes Veilance today. And this is also the key to success, says Jon Hoerauf, general manager of Arc'teryx. "I think that our collection is truly technical–when the weather gets nasty our products perform at their best. We have not strayed from that promise and we never will." Meanwhile, Veilance's growth has overtaken that of its sister brand. "We have evolved from just jackets into sportswear and accessories," Hoerauf continues. "The market is growing–as proven by the fashion labels and outdoor brands entering into mix. Currently, Veilance is only 5% of our total business–but it is poised for much, much more." It is not so much Arc'teryx customers who want to equip themselves with Veilance for urban life as those who are more interested in fashion who buy Veilance. They are not frightened by the high price of more than US$1,000, which is far above the usual jacket prices at Arc'teryx.
Since 2015, the design of Veilance has been managed by Taka Kasuga. Born in Japan, Kasuga worked at Comme des Garçons in Tokyo under Junya Watanabe and has already worked on The North Face collaboration. After moving to New York, he worked with Cole Haan. Under his leadership, the first Veilance concept store was built in New York in 2016. In 2017 Arc'teryx took the next unusual step and invested in its own production facility at the company headquarters in Vancouver. Here Veilance is manufactured, as well as LEAF (the military offshoot of Arc'teryx), harnesses and other high-tech products. "It allows for us to understand how you take a prototype and not just build one; but build many –and still control the quality and efficiency," says Hoerauf. About 10% of all production takes place in Canada, the rest in the Far East.
The distribution of the two brands is strictly separated. Veilance never showed up at a sports trade show but was presented at fashion shows in Paris and New York. There are only a handful of shops that can sell Veilance, such as Lodenfrey in Munich. Only in the company's own flagship stores are both brands presented side by side, as for example in the second Vancouver store opened in 2017. The cool minimalist store design of the Veilance corner signals to every visitor that they are entering a special area.
Have a look at our brand new Outdoor Issue and read more about the booming segment.