Shaun Neff: "We've started a drive for Europe"
Since 2002, Neff has made a name for itself in the action sports/lifestyle fashion world in North America. The company was founded by Shaun Neff and started out selling hats. Still a family business, Neff generates the majority of its revenue in North America, despite a presence in about thirty foreign markets. Management, however, is setting up for expansion, notably in Europe. Passing through Paris, Neff's director/founder shared his ambitions with FashionMag.
FashionMag: Shaun, you created your brand in the world of action sports. But since then, your sphere has expanded.
Shaun Neff: The brand was created in 2002. In the past, we were strongly influenced by the US skateboarding and snowboarding scenes. Then we moved towards a more lifestyle sphere. We worked with Wiz Khalifa, Steve Aoki and Snoop Dogg, and in doing so we established our reputation. Then, about 7-8 years ago, we started to distribute our collections internationally.
FM: What is Neff's current worth, and how much do you generate with exports?
SN: In the USA we are available at all retailers featuring young fashion. Our retail sales are currently worth €100 million, and 80-85% of this comes from North America. We have a staff of 105.
FM: And now, do you intend to expand internationally?
SN: We have started a drive for Europe. We have hired Olivier Lemoine, who will be in charge of supervising our expansion. That is also why I'm here, I'm visiting Europe's main markets while the design teams travel around Europe to draw inspiration and get a feel of the trends.
FM: You began as a hat brand. Are you developing other categories?
SN: We are still number one for beanies in the USA and I think Carhartt is well-positioned in Europe. But we also feature apparel, watches and sunglasses collections. We are working to evolve our style into something more mature. Indeed, our new logo, to be introduced next season, is also a sign of this. Our design team looks to Los Angeles to be even more in sync with trends.
FM: Are you still independent?
SN: We have a partnership with an investment firm (Marlin Equity Partners acquired an interest in the brand in 2012). But we remain the majority shareholders.
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