Welsh adventure clothing brand Howies is to relaunch its wholesale division, as it celebrates 21 years in business.
In 2006, the brand was sold to Timberland, which was subsequently bought out – in June 2011 – by VF Corporation, the US-based owner of denim brands Wrangler and 7 For All Mankind.
Howies’ management team bought the company back from fashion group VF Corporation at the end of 2011, although original founders David and Clare Hieatt exited the business in 2008.
“We have been ramping back up since we took control again in 2011 and now is a good time to get back into wholesale,” said sales and marketing director Ade Gunn-Wilson.
The active clothing company’s 200-piece range comprises about 50% lifestyle and 50% activewear, and 60% for men and 40% for women. It has a keen focus on ethical production with minimal environmental impact. Wholesale prices range from £10 for T-shirts to £140 for Ventile wool-wadded jackets.
“We’ve now got dedicated cycling and running ranges, as well as everydaywear such as waterproof jeans or breathable merino jumpers. We’re looking to push into accounts that suit the brand, so we’re selling to a few accounts for spring 17 and rolling out properly for autumn 17.
Howies, which has a team of 11 at its head office in Carmarthen, currently sells online through its own website. Around 20% of sales come from customers in overseas markets in countries including Germany, France, Sweden, the US and Canada.
During the time the firm only sold through its own site, it had been rolling out new products as they were developed.
“Now we have made a big leap to designing complete collections in advance,” said Gunn-Wilson, explaining that the firm has started working with a new US-based menswear designer called Paul Wood.
He added: “Our focus on the way our products are produced is probably stronger than it has ever been and the market is definitely moving that way. We do some great organic and recycled denims and these will continue to grow. Our favourite mills for organic are Nihon Menpu and Kuroki [in Japan], and Cone Mills [in the US] do some brilliant recycled denim.
”We have been on a mission to remove PFCs [perfluorinated compounds] from our garments, and with the help of Greenpeace pushing the big brands, that is now becoming a reality.”