Drapers catches up with Sean Gormley, creative director of heritage denim brand Wrangler, to find out how the 70-year-old brand is celebrating its history.
Created in the USA, today Wrangler is owned by VF Corporation, which also owns brands such as Lee and Kipling, and is now based in Bornem, Belgium.
The brand celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, and has launched a retro-inspired collection, called Blue & Yellow, which launched with Urban Outfitters for autumn 18.
Drapers speaks to the brand’s creative director, Sean Gormley, about being an underdog brand and the excitement of the new season.
What is your career history?
In April 2014 I started my role as creative director for Wrangler EMEA. I’ve been involved with Wrangler for a while – I started here as a denim designer. Before that I worked as menswear designer for [denim brand] LTB by Littlebig in Istanbul.
What drew you to working in fashion?
I wanted to go to art college since I was in school. My father had a design agency in Covent Garden. I remember I used to see the original Saint Martin’s School of Art building when going to his office and thought, “That’s where I want to study.”
At that time, I wanted to be a graphic designer. I came across fashion later, while undertaking a foundation course in design. I suddenly realised it was fashion that excited me the most.
How would you describe the ethos of Wrangler?
Wrangler is the underdog denim brand, with a fine pedigree that rivals great heritage brands.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role on a day-to-day basis?
Finding the right balance between commercial choices and building the excitement in what’s new.
What inspired the Blue & Yellow collection?
Blue & Yellow is a collection about progression, and pushing the boundaries on all levels, while drawing inspiration from the Wrangler archive.
Our customers are constructing their own identities more freely than ever. Through a thoughtful design process, we have created a gender-neutral collection that ignores social structures. We deliver something less binary and, therefore, more in tune for today.
What is the best part of your job?
My favourite part of the job is definitely starting a new season. That’s when all the possibilities are available and we set off to find our path once again. It’s always new, and always exciting.
How would you describe your design process?
I believe we designers are the sum of our inputs. So I like to absorb as much inspiration as possible, constantly. The heritage of the brand is a huge resource for us. We revisit and re-evaluate the product and marketing archives of Wrangler with fresh eyes every season.
How would you describe your own style?
Denim-head drifting into modernity.
Is there anyone in the industry you particularly admire?
I admire the brave ones who start their own thing, and fight with the big players for attention and shelf space.
What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
To listen – to really listen intently.
What advice would you give back to yourself at the start of your career?
Be bold and be committed.
Where would you like to progress in your career in the future?
I’d like to continue to work with brands that make great products and tell great stories.
Favourite places to shop
Tokyo generally, Daikanyama and Nakameguro specifically
Last fashion purchase
Bright yellow Champion hoodie
Last book you read
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Last film you watched
Ready Player One
At [clothing label] Fake London Genius
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Motorcycle ride outs or family time exploring the city of Antwerp