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Haggar Readies a Plan of Attack as DTC Eats Wholesale’s Lunch

Haggar has retained its title as America’s top-selling casual pant and dress slacks, but it’s readying the ship for changes afoot in a direct-to-consumer (DTC) world.

From suit separates to men’s bottoms, Haggar products can be found in 14,000 retail door nationwide, including “all the big retailers,” says VP of planning Pravin Rangachari. Founded in 1926, the company sources fabrics from mills in places like India and China and manufactures in countries including Vietnam and Bangladesh, with a lead time of as little as seven months or as long as 10, depending on the product type, Rangachari shared at Logility’s Velocity conference last week in the Orlando area.

Though wholesale makes up the bulk of Haggar’s—with a small but “reasonably significant” chunk of revenue from building private labels for Belk, Dillard’s and Dick’s—Rangachari says there’s a “paradigm shift” at play in which models like DTC and players like Amazon are wielding greater power and influence.

“The one who adapts to that quickly will be more successful,” he told Sourcing Journal in an interview.

Companies like Amazon ratchet up assortment planning complexity because they want more SKUs but fewer units, Rangachari says, noting that Haggar uses Logility’s integrated software for inventory and demand planning. Products perform differently in brick-and-mortar stores versus e-commerce as well. Whereas products tend to have a three- to five-year lifecycle in stores, on e-commerce sales tend to build up over time as customers begin leaving product reviews, enhancing discoverability, he added.

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Rangachari says many of Haggar’s retail partners are walking away from an e-commerce distribution model—in which they purchase Haggar inventory and sell and fulfill it online—to a DTC approach, in which they shift the fulfillment duties to the brand owner. The motivation, he said, is transferring most or all of the risk to Haggar and not having to deal with inventory that doesn’t sell. As DTC makes up more of the business model, Haggar will have to adjust its budget, Rangachari said, adding that the company is expanding its human and other resources to support the slow by steady transition.

Historically, Haggar’s core customer base has been middle-aged and baby boomer men in the 40- to 70-year-old age range, but lately it’s been making inroads with a younger audience. Slim-fit trousers and other products with modern silhouettes “have been flying off the shelves,” Rangachari said, adding that Haggar is seeing some traction around back-to-school and homecoming—times of year catering to guys typically younger than 22.

“The movement is toward a broader demographic,” Rangachari said.