Dickies Is Staging a Major Comeback in the Philippines, 'Retailpocalypse' Be Damned
Dickies is a familiar fashion brand for many Filipinos. The apparel company founded in Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.A. in 1922 has been available in many boutiques and standalone stores in the Philippines for years. While it initially offered clothes that were practical and utilitarian and made for the American workforce, today the brand’s appeal has expanded to a wider market—from skateboarding culture and rock star musicians to young urbanites and casual leisure wear with a fun, slightly rebellious vibe.
Since it was founded Dickies was one of the flagship brands of Texas-based apparel company Williamson-Dickie, along with Workrite, Kodiak, Terra, and Walls. In 2017, Williamson-Dickie was bought by publicly listed VF Corporation, which owns brands like Vans, The North Face, Timberland, Wrangler, and many others. The acquisition was worth $820 million (about P40 billion).
By 2020, Dickies had become one of VF Corporation’s largest brands, alongside Vans, The North Face and Timberland, and is the largest brand in the company’s Work segment. Revenue contributed by Dickies to VFC increased by four percent during fiscal year 2020, according to VFC’s annual report.
Globally, Dickies’ revenues increased three percent last year, driven primarily in Asia-Pacific, specifically China, although the company noted a three percent decrease in the fourth quarter which it attributes to the effects of the pandemic.
Dickies distributes its products globally through mass merchants, specialty stores, independent distributors and licensees, as well as independently operated partnership stores, concession retail stores, more than 25 VF-operated stores, on brand websites with strategic digital partners, and online.
Dickies in the Philippines
Locally, Dickies used to be distributed by a company called American Star Apparel Philippines. But a new company called Fort Worth Fashion Company recently took over marketing and distribution for the brand and has recently launched a campaign aimed at rehauling its image and reintroducing it to newer customers.
“Dickies…was built on creating sturdy and durable workwear and through the generations it has grown to represent a global collection of people who have taken inspiration from the traditional world of work and made it their own personal style,” says Mark Miranda, director of sales of Fort Worth Fashion Company. “In the Philippines, Dickies has been a mainstay in many department stores selling mainly t-shirts, but we feel that now is the opportunity to truly elevate the brand to meet the legacy it has built for almost 100 years.”
Miranda says the idea is to offer a “new experience” for the brand.
“We see 2021 as a great opportunity to rebuild the core that Dickies represents locally because we are optimistic that the retail market will not only recover in the years to come but flourish onwards to new levels,” he says. “With that, we foresee opportunities in the workwear segment as this growth will be driven by a young and driven working market.”
Clearly the company is unfazed by trends that suggest the slow demise of retail fashion brands (see: Topshop, Debenhams, JC Penney, Brooks Brothers, etc). While some brands are succumbing to “retailpocalypse”—closing up shop and exiting the country—Dickies’ big “comeback” in the Philippines is anchored by the opening of its flagship store at Robinsons Place Manila on Friday, March 26. Dickies products is also moving online, with a presence on Lazada’s Lazmall, which will be available soon.
“What retailpocalypse has done to the landscape is shift the demand to digital solutions,” Miranda says. “We are experiencing a major revolution in the ecommerce sector of the Philippines which is why we at Dickies are focusing our marketing efforts on online platforms such as Lazmall to provide the customer with the assortment of merchandise they are looking for and utilizing our Robinsons Place Manila store location to provide the Dickies lifestyle experience for our customers to live the brand.”
Miranda adds that the plans for Dickies this time around won’t be half-hearted. There is a full-blown campaign in the works to try and entice new buyers and attract longtime fans back to check out what’s new with the brand.
“We aim to drive the culture of making by supporting independent makers to create and make their passion, pride, and creativity,” he says “We aim to work with select creatives and makers who resonate with these brand values. This can be seen in the campaigns we are coming up with where we work with local makers who are passionate about their crafts. We are bringing in Dickies’ full range of workwear and work-inspired style in the country. Iconic pieces such as the Eisenhower jacket will be made available in the country.”
“Expect a new and true Dickies,” he adds. “Our mission is to support the communities that have been wearing Dickies since Day One by providing the workwear they need to continue creating. We are also excited for exclusive collections and limited edition merchandise for our younger customers, introducing them to the lifestyle and culture that is Dickies.”