W.L. Gore & Associates, best known as a materials company that provides the breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex fabric to top brands in the industry for their outerwear and activewear, has created a fashion start-up to design, market and sell apparel directly to consumers.
Its first product, a women’s jacket, will launch today.
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“We’re a materials company and we focus on making fabrics that go into finished garments,” said Sara Ellis, product specialist in the fabrics division of the Delaware-based company. And while Gore sets specifications for what can be done with its fabrics and works with a limited number of manufacturers, it still relies on what she called the “host brand” for the design and production of the garments. “We work with the product development teams at those brands, and when you put on a jacket with Gore-Tex, you know it will be dry and breathable — but they have a target consumer and specific price points.”
So in an attempt to have more control over its offering, Gore is exploring a different business model, she said — one that will allow the brand to create product and sell it directly to the consumer for the first time in its 63-year history.
“This isn’t something Gore has done in the past,” Ellis said, adding that the product will be designed, produced and marketed by Gore. “We are designing it for a target consumer related to the performance and aesthetic of Gore, we found world-class factories and we will control the message and storytelling.”
The brand will be called Viev, which stands for Variation in Everything and is also a nod to Genevieve Gore, who founded the privately owned company with her husband Wilbert in Newark, Del., in 1958.
“Gore-Tex refers to the technology and Viev is for Genevieve,” said Craig Wilson, an entrepreneur, consultant and author who is working with Gore on the launch. “It would not be fair to the enterprise to call it Gore,” he said, “because it’s much more than that.”
Wilson is working with Jonathan Hart, founder of Sitka Gear, a technical apparel brand for hunters, on the creation and launch of Viev.
“The Gore enterprise is truly intent on improving people’s lives,” Wilson said. But with the pandemic changing things dramatically and leading to a true morphing of work and home lives, Gore saw a gap in the market it could fill with Viev.
“It’s not attached to fashion, outdoor or a specific activity,” Wilson said. “It’s a jacket for all uses that looks beautiful and rugged at the same time.”
The initial launch will be small. It will start with the Gemma Insulated Long women’s jacket and then three other silhouettes, a short, mid and long length will roll out later this year. Men’s will be added early in 2022. The Gemma Insulated Long jacket, which offers warmth and comfort, will retail $1,300 and will be available in three colors. The other jackets will sell for $600 to $850. They will all be sold on the Vievlife website.
“We believe we can build a business with one jacket,” Wilson said.