How to bring a digital team with different perspectives together – an interview with Christine Goode from Eastpak

Interview with Christine Goode, Merchandising Trade Manager at Eastak

Remember the days when E-Commerce and Online Marketing used to be mutually exclusive? Nowadays, both departments are often completely entwined in a full-force digital team. Over the last two years, Eastpak, part of VF Corporation, is one of those brands setting their strategy to focus on digital-first. Their employees in Online Marketing and E-Commerce have since been working together closely in a powerful collaboration to realize the common goal of optimizing the Eastpak online shop while also meeting their individual goals. To name just a few, their teams aim for creating a great user experience (UX Designer), representing the brand and telling its story (Content Manager), positioning and selling products (Merchandising). That’s a lot of to dos that need to be balanced. And with the different targets in mind, seem to be an invitation for conflict. Because even though both E-Commerce and Online Marketing aim to sell more products, the way how to do it might differ and even be at odds with each other.  So how does this work out for Eastpak? 

Christine Goode, E-Commerce Trading Manager, is one of the people juggling the various goals in Eastpak’s digital team. She is responsible for the long term strategy of merchandising on the website and thus, developing the medium by making sure that all products are presented on the website the right way. She plays a key role in connecting the product, market, content and CX in the shop. Making her one of the best people to ask about how to bring a team together, enable good communication, solve conflicts and realizing common and individual goals in a digital team. In this interview, Christine shines some light on how to maintain a good spirit across teams and how to enable each other to produce better work. 

Sportyjob: Lets start by taking a look at the realization of Eastpaks Online Shop. How do the various roles in your digital team come together when launching new products on the website?

Christine: I’ll explain it with the launch of a special collaboration with a designer. Because for important collab-launches and peak commercial moments, we really come together with all colleagues from cross-departments, like the digital content team and the customer experience team. It’s like a task force approach. 

The aim is to make sure we got the right product at the right time in the right place on the website. And it needs to look great, it needs to be appealing for the user. So, we all play a role in realizing that. It will all begin with a combination of product performance knowledge, being up-to-date with market trends and trying to be in line with the marketing strategy. We will brainstorm where everyone can bring in their ideas. Once we are all aligned, we will proceed in covering all points: What are the key points of that product or collaboration? What sort of content are we going to have? What experience do we want the consumer to have? How do we wanna make it fun? How do we wanna make it look amazing? And you know, all of these things. Once we have our plan of what we want to do, the work begins.

Sportyjob: Working so closely together, where does one role start and the other end? For example, where does Merchandising end and the Content Marketing and Storytelling begin? What would you say?

Christine: Ultimately, they all go hand in hand, right? Because we need to. We never just work on our individual part. The common approach is: „How are WE going to do this?”. We play on our individual strengths on what we know from the data, from our insights, skills and experiences. It’s always good to get an external perspective if it’s not your direct area. You know, I contribute my direct insights, for example which country loves which products or colors. And then we build on it the content and the user experience, you know. That’s ultimately our goal. 

And we always have fun in the process, that’s the other thing. It’s an enjoyable process. It's not a drag. It's together. So, in the end it’s something that we all feel proud of and no one is saying like - and I have experienced it a lot in the past in other jobs - “Oh but why did they do it like that? Maybe it would have been better if they had done it like this.” We don't have that in the digital team because we work together.

Instead of finger pointing or blaming the other person, it’s important to be united. And if we all just support each other a little bit more, there're fewer conflicts and a better work atmosphere for the whole team.

Christine Goode, Eastpak

Sportyjob: So basically, the part about there being a conflict between Online Marketing and Merchandising is something you dont experience at all. From what Ive gathered, youre actually getting along great. Why do you believe that is?

Christine: Of course, Marketing will have their goals and objectives. And so does Merchandising. I’m trying to drive performance, I have financial targets, so I need to hit that sitting on my shoulders. But I can't do it without the support of the Content Marketing. That would be really hard. I can plan all the actions and promotions in one, but if we don't have the communication and the content, it's pointless.

I think it comes down to empathy. It comes down to having a conversation about your to-dos, workload, targets. What you’re under pressure with. And my lovely colleague Bryony, the Digital Content Manager here at Eastpak, fortunately is someone who shares the passion for working collaboratively. So, we both discuss our individual to dos and pressures. But instead of taking it all on individually, we are supporting each other. The conflicts get kind of removed, because we’re both very open and honest with each other. We have lots of conversations, we have lots of meetings, we plan together, so we can see immediately what might be a problem because of whatever reason. So we work around it and come up with a solution.

Instead of finger pointing or blaming the other person, it’s important to be united. And if we all just support each other a little bit more, there're fewer conflicts and a better work atmosphere for the whole team.

Sportyjob: So you are definitely working around this. But more in general, would you say the conflict is an outdated prejudice?

Christine: It definitely still exists. I have experienced it in previous workplaces. It's a very different pressure. It’s having different goals, different targets. For my part of the business, it’s always financially driven and VF is financially driven, aimed at driving profitable growth. I have to push, push, and push. Although marketing don’t have financial targets, digital marketing are always supporting in helping to achieve our targets.

Sportyjob: So you really have a good fusion of the different departments. Apart from Content Marketing, you also work closely with the CX team. How do you encourage a better connection with the other teams?

Christine: So, my professional contact points are the CX manager and the UX analyst as much as Digital Content Manager. Depending on what the initiative is, one of them will set up the task force. A small group of people with relevant knowledge and experience to work on things, for example a product page redesign or a new homepage feature. The UX analyst, she is amazing, she’ll come up with great ideas. We have regular follow-ups. Depending on what the initiative is, for example, one department will lead the project. It can be led either by the digital content manager or the UX specialist, or sometimes myself. 

Sportyjob: Looking at the recent work conditions due to Covid-19: How have you managed to stay connected on a professional and personal level during the last year, especially with remote work going on?

Christine: Well, of course with the zoom calls like everyone else. We have also organized a lot of fun team moments, like quizzes, for example. So especially in the beginning, we would have a Zoom call with the whole team on Friday afternoons. It’s not work talk. Let’s just hang out for a bit on Zoom and chat. 

When we come together for let’s say a Monday afternoon meeting. We call it the “didgeridoo”. I can’t remember where it came from but anyways, that’s the title of our meeting. So it hasn’t got a very corporate name in our agendas. We do cover our points of business like: What do we have coming up? Does everyone have what they need? Are we all OK? Does anyone need support on a project? We get that out of the way and we’ll just hang out a little bit and talk about the weekend or share some funny stories. 

And these moments are everything. 

When you’re having a really busy, focused day, then it’s really nice to take that moment out and just talk about some silly stuff. And we all have a laugh. You know, my last intern, she started during COVID. So she was in the office like once or twice and we were never really together physically but she was very much part of the team anyways. So it didn't feel like strange or weird. She was totally in.

Sportyjob: That sounds like fun! And apart from the more personal meetings, is there any advice you have to maintain or gain a good team spirit?

Christine: I mean empathy. Again. It's a bit repetitive but EMPATHY. You have to be understanding to each other. Someone might be having a really bad day, but maybe there is a really good reason for why they’re having such a bad day. So again, rather than being like: what’s wrong with her? What’s her problem? It’s more like: Hey guys, I think she’s having a bit of a bad day. Let’s do something fun or nice. We always try to support and uplift each other, not back people down. 

Honesty. You can always be honest without being mean. 

And positivity. Like I’m a very positive person and so is Bryony, the Digital Content Manager. We’re very positive people and love to give the team members credit. Push them to share, so that they get good visibility with management. We share the glory, we don't take it for ourselves. Because it's so easy and we've all seen it a hundred million times: Something goes well and you will always have someone leading take the glory. We don’t do that. 

We share the glory, we don't take it for ourselves. Because it's so easy and we've all seen it a hundred million times: Something goes well and you will always have someone leading take the glory. We don’t do that. 

Christine Goode - Eastpak

And it works the other way round. If something goes wrong, we don't just let one person take the hit. We all did it. To keep it moving. If someone is down, we're gonna pick him up. 

Playing on the strengths of the team, of course, and letting everyone have a moment to shine.


The interview caught your interest? 

Read on with Part 1: Digital Transformation at Eastpak: “No small steps, but a big, bold transformation” – Chris Delahunty on the Digital Transformation at Eastpak”

Part 2: The Importance of Purpose-Led Storytelling – An interview with Bryony Collingwood, Digital Content Manager at Eastpak


The Potential of Collaborative Effort in Sustainability – in conversation with Julian Lings, Senior Manager, Brand Sustainability at VF Corporation

Wouldn’t it be nice if outdoor brands shared concrete strategies on doing good for the environment? Sharing insights into new technologies of producing materials more eco-friendly? Together, ensuring that carbon emissions decrease a lot faster, and product development becomes more and more sustainable to combat climate change.

It’s a mission already realized across nations, with The Paris Agreement bringing them together for a common cause. So why not integrate shared goals into businesses as well?

Of course, the logical (or economical) answer seems to be that companies won’t share their business advantages. In 2021, it’s more important than ever for brands to behave environmentally-friendly to strengthen their customer relationships, with consumers favoring products which meet their own requirements of sustainability. A shared-value approach that is uniting businesses with sustainable and community-building progress.
Having a thorough sustainability strategy set up is creating a competitive advantage - giving that away doesn’t appear to be in line with capitalism. Nevertheless, it might be a great chance to achieve a bigger impact in bettering the world. But is it merely a fantasy?

Who better to ask than the outdoor industry itself - or at least, key players in roles having the power to make change happen. One of these people is Julian Lings, Senior Manager, Brand Sustainability at VF Corporation. He makes it clear that the necessity of partnerships has long since reached the outdoor industry. Be it under one roof at enterprises who are uniting brands for common sustainability goals, or industry wide, with brands coming together for the good cause of bettering the world in the European Outdoor Group. So, what is happening in the world of the outdoor industry? Giving us an insight into the walls of his own work, we asked Julian to shed some light on the change happening in the industry.

Building sustainable businesses across brands in an enterprise

In the last years, we’ve seen companies putting sustainability on the top of their agendas, publishing ambitious goals in reducing their carbon footprints, choosing responsible manufacturers, focusing on recycled and reusable materials, and designing with circularity principles in mind. Of course, so does VF Corporation.

VF is one of the largest apparel retailers in the world, leading the way in cross-brand sustainability strategy in the outdoor industry. In total, they unite 13 brands under one roof, outdoor being one of their main sections with brands like The North Face, Icebreaker, Smartwool and Timberland. Under the motto “We are made for change”, VF is looking for a way to improve people’s lives and make the world better, with the necessary power and influence only a company of this size and (wo)manpower can have. Uniting brands and respectively their consumers for the same goals, creating shared values. Their shared sustainable practice makes it possible that those brands enable each other while staying true to their own identity, reach bigger successes in acting sustainable - or with purpose - together instead of alone - and at the same time, generate a better revenue.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/KgsunZKvLqc

In 2017, they decided to transform from linear to circular production. Realizing this for 13 brands simultaneously, that's a change happening on a grand scale.

To ensure that their goals are met according to their plan, VF is acting on two levels: Brand and Global. Each respective brand sustainability teams take care of improving the environmental impact for its brand, focusing directly on the aspects that concern each specific brand. The global sustainability team supports each brand team and keeps track of the overall process across all brands and corporate-wide. A must if change is supposed to happen: “The goal of shaping a sustainable future for people and the planet is going to require radical changes, from government policy, private and public finance, to the way that we do business every day. For business, those changes won’t happen by individual functions acting in isolation. The systemic changes that are needed will require a business wide response that brings together the skills and expertise of all functions to shape the sustainable future that we must strive to create.” (Julian Lings)

When actual change happens: Reducing the carbon footprint

A concrete example of what they have achieved in the last years is their collaborative effort of reducing the carbon footprint. According to Julian, “60-80% of our carbon emissions are produced in material processing and product manufacturing. How material is made into products. Consequently, one of our main goals is shifting to materials with a low carbon impact. For The North Face, it is polyester and nylon, where we prioritize recycled materials. For Smartwool, it is about transitioning to recycled or regenerative wool. Each brand has its unique targets.“ 

One of the most important materials to focus on for most brands is cotton. Around 50% of all textiles world-wide are made from its fiber. Unfortunately, conventional cotton farming processes are a significant contributor to biodiversity loss, soil erosion, and carbon emissions. With 1.5 million units of apparel and footwear produced by VF’s brands, this is one of the biggest chances to deliver results by collaborating to meet their targets until 2030. That's why they are changing their course from conventional farm methods to innovative ones.

Soil acts as a vital carbon sink by sequestering carbon into the ground. Normally, conventional farming and agriculture is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. However, regenerative farming solutions allow us to turn it around by enhancing soil carbon sequestration, for example, by no-till farming technique, or enriching the soil with compost.“, says Julian.

A development of new cultivation, especially with exchanging synthetic fertilizers with organic compost, results not only in better soil health and biodiversity, but also offers the tantalizing prospect of having a net carbon positive impact. Obviously, this isn’t done by VF alone, but in cooperation with responsible manufacturers and companies that focus on developing innovative ways to act more sustainably.

When companies come together, change happens

Or how the popular saying goes: "Alone we are a drop, together we are an ocean".

What we can learn from the example above is that the moment that brands are focusing on partnerships outside of their own walls is where the collaborative effect is becoming clearer.

Using our scale for good is intrinsically linked to a recognition that despite our size, only by working in partnership with others can we truly leverage our scale to address the biggest challenges the world faces. Breaking new ground on sustainable innovations such as regenerative agriculture can only be done by cultivating partnerships with NGOs, companies, and external experts.“ (Julian Lings)

A great example would be the development of The North Face Cali Wool Beanie project. This project was the brand’s first foray into regenerative agriculture and was only made possible through their partnership with Fibershed – a non-profit that develops regional and regenerative fiber systems on behalf of independent working producers. The growing and sewing took place regionally in California, bringing it back to their North American home. As a so-called “bioregional garment Project", regional fibers are integrated into the existing global textile supply chains, which are normally dominated by foreign manufacturers.

The partnerships from brands with NGOs allow for embodying an all-encompassing approach of environmental values and social responsibility. Adding an important step to the ladder of product design & manufacturing, which starts way before recycling and reducing, or creating awareness for environmental products. It’s a necessity to truly turn the outdoor industry around, not only on the outside, but inside its core.

From competition to collaboration - for a sustainable future across brands in the outdoor industry

Now that we have seen what is possible for one company and its partners alone, the question is: Will there ever come a day where competitive outdoor brands act together to make a change? A question that we want to direct to Julian: "Definitely. Collaboration between brands has been well-established in the outdoor sector for many years. We’ve been collaborating on a range of subjects, and the output of that work has been very important on specific topics. For example, the outdoor brands in Europe came together on the issue of microfibres, and helped to establish The Microfibre Consortium which has since become one of the leading organizations on textile microfibres. Similarly, these same brands have come together more recently to establish the Single Use Plastics Project to accelerate the work being done to address this critically important challenge."

The collaborative approach cross-industry and on a global level of The Microfibre Consortium and Single Use Plastics Project accelerated the progress of research and development, which couldn’t be done on this scale as stand-alone companies. A positive outlook for a near future where sustainability becomes at least as important as creating revenue. It’s a way of changing the industry as a whole, with VF being a strong pioneer pointing in the right direction.


Other posts you might like

The Power of Identity and Purpose at The North Face – an Interview with their Brand Experience Manager Marco Mombelli

05th July 2020

What does it take to be a Flagship Shop Manager? An interview with David Brown from Timberland

There’s three things about working in retail that you can learn from David Brown:

  1. Managing a retail team only works when you see yourself as one of them
  2. The right attitude is more important than experience 
  3. Purpose in your career can influence your whole life

As General Manager of Timberland’s new Purpose-Led Flagship Store in Carnaby Street, London, David Brown is responsible for 241 square meter retail space and managing a team of 24 to ensure the smooth operation of the daily business. To maintain this, his management and interpersonal skills need to be over-the-top - and here’s why: A flagship store is the leading store of a brand. Even though the typical KPIs like sales or turnover do matter, the main focus of the flagship store is on drawing attention and visitors. Thus, transforming it into a showcase with an extraordinary shopping experience. 

On one hand, this is achieved through a special interior design and a wide range of products. On the other hand though, the realization happens thanks to a high-quality team which also act as ambassadors for their brand.

The store and its employees are so to speak a prototype of retail, making David an experienced and valuable interview partner to get an insight into the career of a Shop Manager. 

In this interview, we talked with David about his work at Timberland’s new Purpose-Led Flagship Store, his managing skills and - important enough - purpose. 

Dear Readers, please meet David Brown.

So, David, you’re managing quite a big team. 

I’ve got a team of approximately 24 at the moment. 4 of those are managers as well, so making sure that the  delegation is handed out to the right managers in order to keep a smooth running operation of the store. Everyone is working on specific job roles that are required to complete a regular working day.

And what makes your team stand out? How would you describe it?

It’s very important for it to be family-orientated, because if you’re spending up to 40 hours work with certain individuals. You’re probably spending more time with them than you’re at home. The family atmosphere is very important, because I am a great believer in leading by examples. Whatever I do, I would expect my team to be up to the same thing. So family atmosphere is important. 

Talking about leading by example - which example do you give?

I love to give the most basic. We all use the toilet. We clean the toilet. I will mob the floors, so it’s never going to be something that I expect my team to shy away from. Because I am part of the team. So that is my number one example, it keeps a clear message that I am prepared to do anything that I would also ask them to do as well.

That is quite important and they probably appreciate it a lot.

I think it’s important because gone are the days where managing staff exempts you from doing the same work as the team. I am very much a team player and that is how we get positives on the day. And ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Does it create a community?

Well, right now we have a big community in the store. We go out and work alongside charity shops, getting involved with any events that are happening in the local community. My role then tends to bring that community spirit within the store. If you lead by example, the team pretty much follow suit with that. 

It’s also something Timberland represents, the community spirit that the brand lives in their sustainability projects.

We live and breath that. Last night I was in my local area where we are re-greening the area. The turnouts of 500 volunteers turned up yesterday. And they finished it up with a live gig from which again brought a lot of the community together, so we can reflect that with the store as well.

Jumping back to 2015: What was the motivation back then to apply for the role as Shop Manager at Timberland?

I felt that I needed a change. I have been with my previous employer of work for 15 years. I needed to take on a challenge, and knowing certain individuals that were happy in a - we call it a big peoples-company - it’s.. you’re not serving kids, you’re serving professionals, you’re serving individuals from multiple components of life. And that really interested me. My aim was to go to a company where customer service was customer service. Being a manager you had the autonomy to do things in the store and be able to see the benefits from the work. And that’s what Timberland really stood out for for me. Also, being part of VF Group. Understanding how big the corporation was... we could literally do anything.

So did you find the challenge and the purpose in your job at Timberland?

Timberland has really opened my eyes in terms of purpose and how we bring it directly to the stores where we are selling on a day to day basis. And how we connect purpose to the customer.

Purpose has allowed me to switch from driving a Diesel Car to an electric car. My emissions is zero. And I’ve looked at my household where we have caused a minimum at emissions. We recycle. Food, waste, cardboard, plastic. So that’s some of the things that really have been influenced by working for Timberland.

Just to make a quick excursion, I had an interview with Alicia Pinckney, Designer @Timberland, and she actually said something similar: That she found a purpose in her job and a change in her lifestyle when she started working for Timberland. Which I personally think is amazing as it is something a lot of people aim for.

It’s definitely been life-changing because you’re comfortable, because you can see what the company’s philosophy stands for, where they want to take it. If I give an example, theres not one down-feathered jacket in my store and we have some fairly big jackets. It’s all recyclable materials.  So in-sync with what I do at home, what I do when I’m coming to work, what I do at work, for me, it’s like a cycle, for me being as green as I possibly can and Timberland has definitely kickstarted that.

And do you think you influence Timberland in return as well?

Definitely. I am in a unique position being in a flagship store. You’re able to talk to various levels in the business. They definitely listen, because it’s important. And if you feel that you been listened to, it also inspires you to do more things and to feel good by it.

Looking back on your own experience, if you had to give advice on how to achieve a career at a Flagship Store, maybe even as a Shop Manager, especially for Retail or Sales experienced candidates who would like to reach the next level. What would you say which qualities are absolutely essential for your job?

I think you need to be very open-minded. You need to come to a company like Timberland knowing that the level expectation that is needed has to be grown from within. You’ve got to be prepared to make changes, be prepared to evaluate what you’ve learned previously and how you can have the right attitudes which is what’s going to be needed.  And once you have that, you’ve got the foundation. 

Do you think a Shop Manager should always have been working in retail before?

No. I certainly don’t. That’s qualities that you can also bring even without the retail experience. And still can make a big difference in the store. I think gone are the days where one has to have 100% retail experience. It’s the right attitude and what they can bring to the team or to the store. You’ve got to be open.

Always. And good with people probably.

Yes, definitely. 


The article grabbed your attention and you would like to join the Timberland team? All jobs from Timberland can be found at their company profile and the Timberland career portal.

Editor's Note: Timberland is part of VF, the the global company behind around 30 of the world’s leading sports, outdoor and lifestyle brands.
Timberland ®’s dedication to make quality products is bringing outdoor adventures within your city lifestyle. A global leader in premium-quality footwear, apparel and accessories that is equally committed to environmental and social responsibility

How products come to life: An interview with Hermin Uzer from Napapijri

You might ask yourself: How exactly does a sketch from a Designer turn into a real product? As we just have a very general answer to this question ourselves, we passed it on to an expert in this field.
Hermin Uzer, Head of Product Development of Napapijri since 2011, translates design ideas and transforms them into three-dimensional products on a daily base, through all of the stages involved in developing outdoor apparel from concept to final product.

We were lucky to have her give us passionate insights into her work at Napapijri, shed some light on what exactly product development is (and what it is not) and after all, how it brings the brand to life.

Sportyjob: Let's jump right in. I have to admit I always found it difficult to really explain what Product Development actually is. Maybe you can help me and the readers get a better understanding of it. What exactly is it that you do at Napapijri?

Hermin Uzer: In a nutshell, product development is making the garments three-dimensional. You know, we make the garments real. There’s a lot that needs to be done, so where we start is basically when we get the briefing and the target from our merchandising team where they note the retail prices, the line architecture, what kind of innovations or carry-over-styles we need to consider. What the general direction is. It’s the same briefing that the designers get.
Based on that, we deliberate who the right vendor would be. And after that, we would get the initial sketches and ideation from the designers and we would work with the raw materials team to arrange all the components that are needed to make the product real.

SJ: So it’s basically the entire journey from the product. And if you would break it down how your department develops new products from scratch to market, how would you describe it?

We would start with the sketch from the designers and create a technical description for it. We then send the technical sketches to the vendor.
So, we make detail sheets, we scan sketches for construction and design features that we have to specify. This might be a very specific sleeve-construction, a specific fit or functionality that we need to take into consideration. It's really about every single detail. The color, the applications, prints, specific stitches. Maybe other features or handcrafts. Completely sketch out every single thing and component so that it's absolutely clear what the vendor needs to produce.

SJ: And after that?

HU: For the second step, we actually visit the vendor and together with them look at how the construction came out. Is it nice? Are there limitations? Do we have to make some adjustments? And directly in the factory, we work together with those vendors, making sure that the design is something that we can realize in the garment.

SJ: What's the biggest challenge about it?

HU: Our most intensive work is maintaining the design integrity within the possibilities that exist. So, coming back to what I said back earlier, the target that the merchandiser's define is a very important factor in product development, but keeping the design integrity is even more important. Because that, you know, that gives the wa-woomm and the life and the DNA to the brand!


The target that the merchandiser's define is a very important factor in product development, but keeping the design integrity is even more important. Because that, you know, that gives the wa-woom and the life and the DNA to the brand!

Hermin Uzer

HU: Anyway, that’s usually the part where we spend 80% work time on, going back and forth to the vendors, working on the washes, applications, the sizing, the construction, the workmanship, the pricing, the fabrics and everything. It’s a lot. It’s basically everything.
That’s why I said in a nutshell it’s making a design three dimensional. It’s not just going to the vendor and a sample comes out. It’s really working in translating the inspiration from the designer, but maintaining the KPI from the merchandiser in order for them to place it on the market.
After that, we would get a first product, we would have a review meeting with both merchandisers and the designers to get their feedback on the execution, on the color, on the intensity, on the price, etc. And usually, we construct a garment further until we get to a second prototype. And so on until the final product comes out.

SJ: A very extensive process.

HU: We also have to take into consideration the testing part on quality: this requires testing of the fabric and the components, but also full testing of the garment - do all features and benefits work in construction, such as seam-taping, or wash details, colour migration? Does the fabric work in combination with the excecution – pilling, snagging, and so on. To make sure we deliver an up to standard product to the consumer, we have to look at each and every aspect while developing.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZwQ7uOoWik
Hermin Uzer goes into further detail on how she develops products for Napapijri


SJ: It seems like Product Development and the Design process are very entwined. You studied Design yourself at the AMFI. Does it come in handy for your position?

HU: I would say yes and no. It’s very difficult. I mean I started out as a Designer indeed. However, at the time that I started, Design, Development, Coloring, being responsible for graphics and production, was all-in-one.
In that period of time, you know, as a Designer, we were obliged to go to the factories and take care of the realisation ourselves.
And I clearly remember the moment it had changed when some bigger corporations came to Holland - that is in my case, as I work in Amsterdam - there was a moment when I had a talk with a large international company and they asked me „Ok, you have to make a choice. It’s either design or either development.“ And I was like „What do you mean? Design and Development is one and the same." But in this company, Designer's were in charge of setting up and designing the collection, but the developers were responsible for the realization of the product. That’s when I decided, I'd rather go into the product development side, because realization for me is more important. Because you can have a beautiful sketch, but then the outcome might not be like you imagined.
So I wanted to be as close as possible to the design. However, when I look at some of people that I worked with in the past who have been in my team of developers, you know, most of them they are younger and they didn’t have any design experience, but they’re extremely good developers. I think if you have a combination of understanding creativity, even though it’s not your own design, and understanding the DNA of the company and the creativity of the Designer, being able to translate it into a construction so that you don’t change the styles too much - that’s the most important asset you can have as a developer.


If you have a combination of understanding creativity, even though it’s not your own design, and understanding the DNA of the company and the creativity of the Designer, being able to translate it into a construction so that you don’t change the styles too much - that’s the most important asset you can have as a developer.

Hermin Uzer

SJ: That's incredible! I need to admit that I’ve actually never really distinguished between Design and Product Develoment.

HU: Honestly, I think you shouldn’t. Over the last 25 years, it’s how the development went. I am happy to see that nowadays, especially with the upcoming of digital design, the new master studies at fashion schools turn their focus on creating styles digitally. I see the fusion of Design and Development come back more and more. Because those students are obliged to really understand construction, pattern making, fabrics, applications and everything, whereas there was a time when design was only focused on creativity. Realization was important, but not in depth. I see that coming back in the newer generations.

SJ: Yeah sure, it is really important that the Designer's have an understanding of the overall process.

Yes! It is! In my opinion, designers and developers do have different strengths, but they should actually know exactly the same. It’s like your left and right arm. And without one the other would not function.

SJ: Let's finish with a personal insight. What is your favorite part of being a product developer?

HU: It’s being in touch with the product. Even though it’s something that I don’t design, it is designed in my brand, so it’s also something from me. Just having the challenge to realize that design and enable the adaption from all sides, from quality, execution, targets and design integrity. That’s - it’s always nice! It becomes your little baby. You’re responsible from Step B onwards - but even without Step A, it’s your little baby.



Editor's Note: Napapijiri is part of VF, the the global company behind around 30 of the world’s leading sports, outdoor and lifestyle brands.
With a finnish name, the norwegian flag as a logo and found in Italy, Napapijri represents a global mindset through the intersection of boundaries, culture, nature and art. The brand portfolio includes Menswear, Womenswear and Childrenswear.