It’s been a big month for Todd Snyder.
Shortly after being named the inaugural “designer showcase” at the upcoming Pitti Uomo show, the New York-based Snyder has become creative director of a new line for Woolrich.
The designer will create a more premium collection under the name Woolrich Black Label by Todd Snyder that will blend the heritage of the brand with a more modern aesthetic.
“They reached out to me about a year ago,” Snyder said. “So we’ve been in talks for quite some time. They gave me the keys to the brand and told me to reimagine what it could be.”
The initial collection, which will also be teased during the Todd Snyder show at Pitti Uomo in January, will encompass two newly created collections: Heritage, which consists of sophisticated updates of iconic Woolrich designs such as the classic Buffalo plaid shirt in cashmere, as well as the Arctic parka, a style once worn by Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the leader of the first American scientific missions to the Antarctic.
The second component is being called Technical and will feature sartorial pieces in high-performance materials. They are intended to meet the demands of the outdoors while still being chic enough to be worn in the city.
“I have always had the deepest admiration for American heritage brands and consistently seek to work with the best,” Snyder said. “I wore Woolrich as a kid and was proud to design with their fabrics at my various jobs in the fashion world. Woolrich is a prime example of a company which has deep roots, and I’m excited to work with their vast archive — an archive that is rich in styles that have stood the test of time. My hope is to usher in the next era for Woolrich and extend their legacy well into the future.”
He also said that when he worked for Ralph Lauren early in his career, he had purchased fabrics from Woolrich.
“Partnering with Todd feels very natural given his unique talent in creating an aesthetic that embodies the best of modern American style,” added Stefano Saccone, chief executive officer of Woolrich. “As a brand with nearly 200 years of heritage, Woolrich is an endless source of creative inspiration anchored in making garments with purpose, and I couldn’t be more excited to see Todd’s vision for Woolrich Black Label come to life.”
The collection will be available for purchase in fall 2024. The initial offering will include around 75 styles — “small” by Snyder standards since the Todd Snyder collection is around 400 pieces each season. There will also be a tight women’s capsule.
“We’re going to start off super specialty,” Snyder said of the distribution plan, adding that the line will be sold globally throughout Europe, Japan and the U.S. “It’s meant to be top tier.”
Prices will range from $95 for a T-shirt to $3,000 for a shearling coat.
“I wanted this to feel like a real collection,” Snyder said. “That’s what I love. I’m a big heritage fan but I also like to blur the lines between that and modernity and make something special and interesting.”
As a result of this new relationship, Andrea Cane, Woolrich’s long-time creative director, will transition into the role of creative advisor to the brand.
Saccone said Cane is officially retiring but will continue to consult with the company. “He spent his entire professional career at Woolrich and was responsible for the incarnation of the company over the last 25 or 30 years.”
He said Cane has “a deep, deep knowledge of the Woolrich archive and we’re looking to preserve that.”
Saccone said the business has some 40,000 garments, 55,000 fabrics and an extensive memorabilia collection ranging from vintage marketing pieces to machinery — and Cane has an encyclopedic knowledge of what’s been preserved. “We don’t want to lose that,” he said.
But he believes Snyder is the right person to take the brand to the next level. “I’d known of the Todd Snyder brand for some years and we kicked off our discussion more than a year ago,” he said. He knew the history, he knew Andrea and we clicked in terms of what I had in mind and how he would take the brand to the next chapter. We really gelled on where the brand could go and what needed updating.”
“I had known Todd for years and I believe he is one of the best American designers who understands the true meaning of authenticity in design matrices, materials and taste,” Cane said. “Throughout my journey with Woolrich, I have always found inspiration in our archive while striving to protect our values. I am confident that Todd will continue to handle Woolrich with care, as he has in his collaborations with America’s leading heritage brands throughout his career. He understands that Woolrich is the oldest American outdoor company and will innovate it with integrity and pride.”
Snyder credited Cane with “breathing new life into the men’s heritage brand” during his time at Woolrich.
Over the past couple of decades, Woolrich, which was founded in Pennsylvania in 1830, has been sold primarily in Europe and Asia. The family that created the business was involved for seven generations until selling it to W.P. Lavori of Bologna, Italy. W.P. Lavori sold the brand to L-Gam, a Luxembourg-based investment firm backed by the princely family of Liechtenstein, in 2018, at which point the family exited and the sole remaining factory in Pennsylvania was closed. Today, L-Gam owns 80 percent of the business and the Japanese company Goldwin owns the remainder.
“We are actually an American brand even if the events transformed us into an Italian company,” said Saccone. “In the next three or five years, we will be very focused on reconquering the American market.”
He continued: “Beyond Todd’s skills and design aesthetic, what is implicit in this relationship is to increase the brand relevance in the U.S. and North America. And we’re quite convinced Todd is the right person to do that.”
Once the line is launched, it will be carried in some, if not all, of Todd Snyder’s fleet of 14 stores around the U.S. The designer has been on a retail rollout of late and plans to have 17 stores in operation by next spring, with more to come. Snyder’s brand is owned by American Eagle Outfitters.
Snyder stressed that while he’s excited about putting his mark on Woolrich, his primary focus continues to be the Todd Snyder business. In addition to his own retail stores, the designer’s appearance at Pitti Uomo will mark his return to the wholesale market with the first push for Europe and Asia.
Although Snyder has become known as the king of collaborations, he said to expect fewer co-branded products down the road. “My business has been doing really well and my focus is on Todd Snyder — my name is on the door. I run the business, do all the design, marketing, the P&L, I open the stores.”
But because the creation part of the business comes easily to him, he is confident he has enough bandwidth to take on the Woolrich role. “This is a nice, easy thing on the side,” he said.
“I can’t think of a better choice,” said Mickey Drexler, the former CEO of J. Crew who worked with Snyder for several years.
“What I love about Todd Snyder — and the reason he’s my constant go-to for dressing my clients — is that he’s constantly evolving as a brand while remaining incredibly classic,” said Ilaria Urbinati, a top menswear stylist. “The pieces are always very stylish and unique and special, but in this nostalgic, all-American way that make his clothes so wearable and approachable — which to be frank, is very hard to find elsewhere. Likewise I’ve been a big fan of Woolrich for decades and honestly the two seem like such a perfect fit I’m shocked they haven’t collaborated until now. Heritage wear is such a part of both brands, I think it’s going to be gorgeous. I’m really curious and excited to see what he does with it and just know all my guys are gonna want to get their hands on it.”