At a time when Monday to Friday was for suits and the weekends were for jeans, Dockers® found the in-between with khakis. The 1980s were a time when guys were looking to break away from the formal office attire and bring more of themselves to the workplace. And so Dockers® stepped in to fill the business casual void.
Since its inception in 1986, Dockers® has leveraged its heritage in the workwear space to drive business, particularly in Europe. This year, the brand played off its ‘90s-era “Guide to Casual Business Wear” manifesto with the creation of an all-new Casual Book meant to serve as a visual guide “with pretty much everything you need to ride and enjoy the casual wave back and forth from work to your everyday life.”
And that’s just one way Dockers® is approaching the European market. In 2016, the brand embarked on a project to bring back the disruptive, innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that originally made it a leader while giving the consumer a reason to come back or rediscover the brand.
When Francisco Gonzalez-Meza Hoffmann, General Manager Dockers® Europe, first joined Dockers® in 2016, the team determined next steps that would help elevate the business. These included a focus on product innovation via the Smart 360 Flex™ innovation platform, a simplified price structure and making sure that the brand captured the zeitgeist of entrepreneurship culture through its “Always On” marketing campaign. The collaboration with Zach King and programs like Dockers® Challengers were key in showing the emotional potential of the brand as well.
So far, that renewed focus has worked. In 2019, Dockers® grew double digits in the region – on top of double-digit growth seen the prior year – with Spain, France, Turkey and the UK among the biggest growth drivers.
“The consumer coming to Dockers® now is significantly younger. He is a guy generally in his first or second job and, now that he can afford it, he wants a great-looking pant to be presentable and comfortable in the office,” Francisco said. “Product-wise, we are making strong inroads with our new consumer — 85 percent of our assortment is based purely on innovation, and our best-performing fits aren’t the traditional, more boxy type but rather skinny and tapered, those preferred by the younger consumer. This is a good beginning, but we still have a lot of room to grow.”
In terms of next steps, the brand will continue to expand its business growth in key categories like men’s tops and explore new categories like accessories. The team will also seek more franchise opportunities and geographic expansion.
While the brand’s biggest markets are France, Spain and Turkey, the UK, Italy and Switzerland markets are also showing a lot of promise. The plan is to first solidify its strong foundations before developing in new markets. “We have some of the largest European markets in our sights, where we believe the Dockers® concept can replicate the success we have achieved,” Francisco said. “We remain very disciplined in our investments, but we are starting to make inroads in other markets to develop the next wave of growth for us.”
He added, “Although we are proud of the results we have achieved, we still have the potential to grow. The environment is shifting all the time, but I believe we have the right message, product, strategy and especially the right team to execute on our potential. I personally believe this is just the beginning of a great growth story.”