Eddie Bauer introduced a new brand evolution and redesigned its logo in September, including bringing back “the goose.” Tim Bantle, Eddie Bauer’s CEO, talked with SGB Executive about the refreshed look of the 103-year-old brand, re-embracing its outdoor roots and its heightened focus on wholesale.
Bantle replaced Damien Huang in September 2022 as Eddie Bauer’s CEO. Previously, he was GM of VF Corp. Canada, leading its local outdoor and action sports platform. Before that, Bantle held leadership roles at The North Face, Black Diamond Equipment and Patagonia. He was hired as Eddie Bauer’s CEO after Authentic Brands Group acquired the Seattle, WA-based brand in June 2021.
Among recent initiatives, Eddie Bauer has rolled out apparel to Kohl’s, partnered with Itoch to expand the brand’s presence in Japan, and formed licensing agreements for smart eyewear with Innovative Eyewear, and RVs with Camping World.
SGB: What is Eddie Bauer’s brand evolution strategy?
When I joined the brand as CEO over a year ago, I knew that the brand was ready for a re-positioning, both in the U.S. but also globally across key markets like the UK or Japan. Through this brand evolution, Eddie Bauer’s core values remain untouched and intact. The evolution strategy focused on re-introducing the brand to its global audience in a way rooted in heritage while also being modern and fresh. Reimagining the brand through a modern lens has allowed us the opportunity to bring back some of Eddie’s most iconic elements, like the goose, which has returned to its rightful home on Eddie Bauer products. In the U.S., we’re hyper-focused on putting the consumer’s needs first. The effects of that will be felt through every brand touchpoint including physical retail, digital e-commerce, social and most significantly in our products.
SGB: Who is today’s Eddie Bauer customer?
Eddie Bauer’s core consumers are outdoor enthusiasts who collectively make up an inclusive and welcoming community of adventure seekers. The brand has a unique ability to foster deep-rooted connections with its audience by staying true to its mission to make the outdoors accessible to all. The core values of Eddie Bauer have created a multi-generational consumer engagement for people who live highly active lifestyles, consider themselves collectors of experiences and embrace adventure. Today, the Eddie Bauer consumer remains rooted in outdoor exploration and adventure, with our customer profile evenly split between male and female. Connecting with younger audiences that share in this outlandish craving for adventure will continue to be a focus for the brand as we expand globally and reach new audiences with diverse interests.
SGB: What changes have you, or are you building on, as CEO, since Authentic purchased the company?
Since joining Authentic Brands Group, the Eddie Bauer brand has grown at a rate like never before. We have accomplished so much in the time since the acquisition and there is still so much more to do, but with Authentic’s collaborative support, we know we can get there.
At present, the focus is on a strategic approach to expand and deepen our product assortment through existing wholesale distribution channels. The emphasis on deepening Eddie Bauer’s product assortment reflects our commitment to meeting the diverse needs of consumers across various age groups and preferences. For example, Eddie Bauer products are now available to a much larger audience through our partnership with Kohl’s.
SGB: What are Eddie Bauer’s growth plans for the U.S. market?
As mentioned, we are hyper-focused on deepening our product assortment through existing wholesale distribution; expanding our distribution channel is crucial to the brand’s vision for the future. Our primary goal in wholesale expansion is to present our brand where our customers shop.
Authentic is an industry leader in brand development and will continue to bring new opportunities to the brand for key territories and categories. One that we are excited about in particular is Authentic’s partnership with Camping World for Eddie Bauer.
The partnership with Camping World is a perfect display of the brand’s power and mission to provide a full outdoor lifestyle that extends beyond apparel and traditional equipment. Eddie Bauer RVs are an exciting new way for our consumers to live their adventure with comfort and style.
SGB: Does Eddie Bauer resonate with all consumers?
The Eddie Bauer business is split 50/50 between men’s and women’s product offerings through physical stores and e-commerce. Going into 2024, the team sees a great opportunity for women’s product assortments to grow at wholesale. This directly reflects the brand’s mission to deepen and expand our product offerings through existing key distribution channels.
SGB: What’s on tap for 2024?
In 2024, we’ll continue to innovate and find new ways to engage with our audiences and provide them with the tools needed to live their adventure. By elevating our consumer experiences from digital to physical, we’ll look to expand the brand’s visibility across retail and increase the brand’s presence significantly in terms of its shelf space in key retailers. The Eddie Bauer brand has encouraged audiences to live their adventure for over 100 years and we’ll continue to do so.
Photos courtesy of Eddie Bauer