Woolrich global creative director Andrea Canè is sustaining the heritage of a classic US brand.
Andrea canè global creative director woolrich international
Premium US outerwear brand Woolrich is most well known for its classic parka designs. It has almost 3,000 points of sale worldwide – 90 of them in the UK, including The Idle Man and Matchesfashion – and launched its new, high-tech flagship store in Milan last November. Retail prices for outerwear start at around €500 (£439) and range to €1,000 (£879). The brand is still based in Pennsylvania, where it was founded in 1830, and is now owned by Italian brand house WP Lavori in Corso. Creative director Andrea Canè joined WP Lavori in 1984. He talks to Drapers about respecting history and spontaneous creativity.
What’s your background? How did you come to be working in fashion?
I didn’t have a background linked to fashion – my father was a doctor and my mother a teacher. When I was still a teenager I decided to attend the scientific high school, and then study medicine. However, I felt it was not my path, which led me to quit everything when I was 20. At that time, I met one of my major mentors, Giancarlo Cei. He helped me to reinforce my passion for clothing by starting up a new company, WP Lavori, which we decided to build step by step together with [WP Lavori in Corso co-founder] Cristina Calori. Today, I can say that WP is the essence of my passions for brands and travels.
Can you tell us a little about the brand?
The history is unique. Woolrich’s history is itself the American history, which is definitely a treasure for the creative sphere of the brand. We have been serving so many different people, for almost two centuries: the military with our blankets since the Civil War, the outdoorsman since the first Pennsylvania lumberjacks, the hunters and fishermen, the first outdoor climbers, the varsity audience since the 1960s, and, more generally, all people that needed comfort when staying outside. Since the beginning, we have been always doing “garments with a purpose”, which is also the typical American attitude for practicality.
Woolrich milan flagship store (13)
Tell us a little about the Milan flagship
People’s purchasing habits increasingly involve an interaction between the physical and digital experience. We believe that to integrate these two aspects we need to offer different experiences in both platforms.
Woolrich fw 17 18 adv campaign (26)
In the Milan store we talk visually and physically to our customers.We share our history with a museum at the entrance. There is a blanket customisation area (customers can add studs, patches and embroidery) that shows our industrial history – we are the oldest running vertical mill in the US; our Extreme Weather Experience Room (kept at -20°C), allows customers to test our outwear’s performance; and, at the end, there is a pop-up installation from Japanese florist Green Fingers.
What is your proudest moment from your time with the brand?
In 2005, when we launched our Woolrich Woollen Mills line thorough the design of Daiki Suzuki, whom I consider to be one of the best contemporary American designers. He really transformed the outdoorwear industry. His taste and his attitude to understanding historical designs helped me to develop our brand.
Woolrich fw 17 18 adv campaign (1)
How do you make sure you keep the brand fresh and innovative?
I constantly surf between our historical archives and new generations’ attitudes. It helps me to have a more clear perspective of the brand’s direction while remaining faithful to the heritage. In addition, the new generation looks at our heritage with new eyes, which is translated into freshness and novelty every time our brand is worn and interpreted in a different way.
How do you keep yourself motivated and creative?
Actually, everything comes out so simply and spontaneously! I think it is a natural gift. Beside that, I am a very curious person and very passionate about the work I am doing. Moreover, I always try to communicate as much as I can with my business partners to better understand the true needs of the clients, to get inspired, and to create the best pieces.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received?
We must sell what we believe in.
Favourite clothing brand
Woolrich outwear, New Balance footwear, OrSlow denim, EG blazers, Barena trousers, Beams Plus shirts
Favourite places to shop
Tokyo, London, New York, Paris
Last fashion purchase
Last book you read
Palm Sunday by Kurt Vonnegut
Last film you watched
Assistant buyer for WP Lavori
I love fashion, food, and travel. A job in one of these fields might be the answer, as I think you have to follow your paths.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Skiing, boating, biking, walking, fishing