Outdoor outfitter looking to the USA

Melody Harris-Jensbach arrived in Germany from the USA 30 years ago. Now, with Jack Wolfskin, she is setting out to conquer the American outdoor market.

Melody Harris-Jensbach is taking Jack Wolfskin to the USA
Melody Harris-Jensbach is taking Jack Wolfskin to the USA dpa

What kind of company is Jack Wolfskin?

The outdoor outfitter Jack Wolfskin was founded in Frankfurt/Main in 1981. In the following years it helped shape the trend towards holidays in the great wide open – with its range of functional clothing, hiking boots, rucksacks and tents. The English name for the German fashion label is inspired by both a trip the company founder took in the Canadian wilderness and adventure writer Jack London.

Who heads the outdoor outfitter?

Melody Harris-Jensbach moved from South Korea to the USA as a child and grew up in Florida. While studying Fashion at the Parsons School of Design in New York she met her German husband and moved with him to Cologne in 1986. Her career as a manager and designer of women’s fashionwear led her, among others, to executive positions at Puma and Esprit.

When did Melody Harris-Jensbach become CEO at Jack Wolfskin?

In 2014, Melody Harris-Jensbach left Esprit and took the helm at Jack Wolfskin, which had relocated its headquarters to the small town of Idstein north of Frankfurt and belonged to a US investment company. She also steered Jack Wolfskin through financially difficult times and got the company back in the black. In 2019, Californian golf outfitter Callaway bought Jack Wolfskin. For Melody Harris-Jensbach, this was an important step with a “strategic and long-term owner”.

How has the managing director shaped the company?

Melody Harris-Jensbach champions environmentally friendly product innovations, such as a textile membrane made of recycled material for instance. Jack Wolfskin launched an outdoor jacket made entirely of recycled materials on the market as long ago as 2018. The firm is reducing its use of plastic and by 2020 aims to have eliminated PFC materials, which at least in part are not biodegradable, from the entire Jack Wolfskin collection.

What are Jack Wolfskin’s plans for the USA?

“We book a total of 40 percent of our sales abroad. We want to increase that,” says Melody Harris-Jensbach. Together with its new owner Callaway, Jack Wolfskin wishes to emphatically boost sales in the US market. The expansion initially has a regional focus on the northern federal states on the east and west coasts, and on Colorado. Jack Wolfskin is already represented there and in 24 other federal states today via distributors.

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