It was 1983 when David Chu launched the Nautica label with six pieces of men’s outerwear.
Over the past four decades the brand has experienced a number of ups and downs as well as ownership and management changes. VF Corp. bought the brand in 2003 when it was valued at $600 million and in 2018, it became part of Authentic Brands Group. Today, the brand boasts $2.5 billion in global retail sales from more than 1,300 points of distribution and 92 licensees.
To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Nautica will drop a number of limited-edition collections, partnerships and archive-inspired rereleases over the next few months.
The first will be the 1983 collection, launching on Wednesday, that draws its inspiration from the brand’s archives. It features an assortment of striped rugby shirts and sweaters, colorful outerwear and premium T-shirts. All told, according to creative director Steve McSween, the first drop will consist of 10 to 12 styles and will include reimagined versions of unexpected pieces as well, such as toggle coats and sailing jackets, many in bright colors.
“We wanted to celebrate with fun product,” he said. “Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of ’90s nostalgia, but we wanted to go back and curate amazing things we don’t ordinarily see. The pieces will be recognizable in terms of their nautical references, but we mixed it up.”
The line will initially be offered on the Nautica, Macy’s and Belk e-commerce sites and will be added to select stores later in the month.
McSween said the 1983 collection will be featured in the windows of Macy’s Herald Square later in the month and there will also be a billboard in Times Square. In addition, marketing images will roll out across all of the company’s social media channels, as well as digital displays, outdoor and social ads.
In addition to 1983, the brand is also partnering with YouTube content creator and influencer Eddie Win on a capsule that includes hookups, T-shirts and sweaters.
McSween said he got exposed to Win through his son and approached him to see if they could work together. Win, who started out focusing on sneaker culture and recently branched out into men’s fashion, was up for the task and visited the Nautica archives this winter for inspiration. The co-branded line, which will be released on Aug. 9 on the Nautica e-commerce site, will feature pieces that incorporate both the Nautica and Win logos.
McSween said there will be another collaboration in September, but he declined to provide further details at this point. “They’ll be a nice cadence for the rest of the year,” he said.
McSween also pointed out that Nautica continues to partner with Oceana, an ocean conservation organization with which it has worked since 2009, and seeks to use recycled fabrics in its collection whenever possible. More than half of the core sportswear assortment uses these fabrics and sports a Sustainably Crafted label.
Looking ahead to the next 40 years, McSween said Nautica will continue to stay true to its core aesthetic of nautical references but embrace new technologies in performance and sustainability to ensure it remains relevant.