Last week, the Red Wing, Minn.-based outdoor brand, a division of Red Wing Shoe Co., announced that outdoor industry veteran George Curleigh has been tapped as VP of the Vasque business unit.
The new position represents a strengthened focus for the group, according to Red Wing President Dave Murphy, after a period of the outdoor brand sharing focus with lifestyle and hunting. “We have dedicated attention and a dedicated team for Vasque now. We don’t share anymore,” he said.
Previously, Curleigh (the brother of Keen CEO James Curleigh) served as VP of sales for Vancouver, B.C.-based outdoor apparel brand Arc’teryx for the past seven years, and prior to that was a managing director at Salomon. After taking over the position next month, Curleigh will continue to be based in Vancouver with frequent trips to Red Wing and to the brand’s customers.
“George brings leadership and business skills. He brings a passion for the industry and he brings experience from the industry,” Murphy said.
Curleigh will be charged with refreshing the brand’s image. “We don’t care about being the biggest brand, but we want to make sure we return to what the brand was originally: the premier, purpose-built outdoor footwear brand in the industry,” Murphy said. “We’ve lost market share, but we’ve got room to re-polish ourselves.”
Known for its heritage hiking boots and expertise in trail running, Vasque expanded into the winter-insulated category for fall ’12 with three styles that garnered favorable retail support.
Curleigh said one of his main focuses will be to strengthen the brand identity as sales grow.
“Obviously, [Vasque] has been around for a long time. They have such a strong heritage and have stuck to what they stand for,” Curleigh told FN. “We have the opportunity to define their identity and look at how we do product the Vasque way — [for instance], if you look at a pair of our shoes, what jumps out that it lets you know it’s a pair of Vasque shoes.”
And Red Wing will be looking to invest in the brand’s growth, he added.
“Once we find our direction, we’ll be putting some resources behind it,” Curleigh said. “[Red Wing] do look for a longer-term approach. We’ll be asking: How do we make this a relevant brand for the long-term?”