Warners (1873)

Warners, the historic underwear company founded in 1874 by the Warner brothers and purchased in 2012 by PVH

Warners has been a leading company in the corsetry field for decades.

The Warner Brothers

Warner’s story begins in 1873 when Lucien Warner designed a corset that provided both the shape women desired and the flexibility needed to allow for some movement and reduce injuries caused by earlier designs. The following year, Lucien Warner and his brother, Dr. Ira De Ver Warner, gave up their medical studies and founded Warner Brothers Corset Manufacturers. The corsets were made from Coraline, a fiber product of the Mexican Ixtle plant. In 1876, the new corset design became so successful that the company moved production to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where approximately 1,200 people were employed to produce approximately 6,000 corsets a day.

coraline corset warner bros
Warner Bros Coraline corset

The brothers became millionaires and in 1894 they retired. The Warners was sold to DeVer H. Warner, son of Ira De Ver Warner, and became a corporation. Sales reached $7 million in 1913, and in 1914, they acquired the Jacob Company’s licenses to produce the strapless bra.

Innovations of the 1920s

In the 1920s, new social movements prompted women to abandon corsets to ensure freer movements. The company was affected by this new trend and sales halved. The dissolute behavior of Ira De Ver Warner’s son also accelerated the company’s crisis.

However, they managed to keep a certain profit thanks to frequent innovations. They introduced the non-rusting steel corset frame as a replacement for whalebone. In 1932, bras with adjustable cups were launched on the market.

Warner's Bros Bra
Warner’s Bros Bra

John Field’s 1940s

In the 1940s, his son-in-law John Field took over the company, he became the new CEO. A Yale graduate, Field had worked at Warners for several years. Under Field’s control, Warners escaped bankruptcy thanks in part to the invention of the “Two-Way-OneWay” belt. His son, John Field Jr. in charge of advertising also followed. Sales soared to more than $25 million in 1956, more than three times the industry average.

The 1960s and 1970s and the new acquisitions

Between the 1950s and 1960s, the Warners diversified its production and acquired other companies. In particular, Warner launches a men’s clothing and accessories line and a sports line. He expanded distribution by selling through large chain stores such as Sears and JCPenney and opening manufacturing facilities in Europe and South America. He acquired the CF Hathaway Company, America’s oldest shirtmaker, and Lady Hathaway, a well-known women’s sportswear division.

During the 1960s, Warner Brothers continued to grow through acquisitions and mergers. It bought Puritan, Thane, and White Stag brands, a manufacturer of casual sportswear. Sales soared to an impressive $185 million in 1968 and profits reached an all-time high of $77 million. The company changed its name to Warnaco in 1968. Warner co-developed synthetic Lycra in partnership with DuPont and led the industry in introducing Lycra bras and girdles in 1960. In the 1970s, they acquired Speedo, Playmore, Rosanna, Jerry Silverman, and High Tide. Warnaco’s entry into the leisurewear business did not prove successful as the company could not keep up with changing fashions.

To make up for the losses, Field Jr. was joined by Philip Lamoureux and James Walker but was soon forced out of his role as leader. Warnaco’s balance sheet improved significantly under new management. Walker and Lamoureux closed many of Warnaco’s underperforming lines and worked to improve the profitability of the more successful clothing lines. Profits soon returned to record highs during the late 1970s. Even during the recession of the early 80s. In 1984 they purchased Olga Co.

Wachner’s management

In 1984, they had one month to audit the company. Wachner and Galef secured the company they will call W. Acquisition Corp. Wachner quickly replaced Warnaco’s management with his team and reorganized the company. His strategy was to streamline the company and repay the debt incurred.

In addition, Warnaco acquired the rights to produce Calvin Klein men’s underwear in 1994, followed by Calvin Klein women’s underwear. In the early 1990s, Warnaco launched a line of bras under the Fruit of the Loom label for mass retailers such as Walmart and Walmart, followed by a distribution deal with Avon Products.

The company’s success peaked in 1998 with revenues of $1.95 billion. Shortly thereafter, sales declined rapidly, and saddled with debt from all the recent acquisitions and mergers, the company lost $200 million in 2000. In 2001, Wachner was fired.

The relaunch of Warners with PVH

Since 2003 the Warners has attempted recovery by gradually selling some licenses and the brands it has acquired. In 2013, the company was acquired by PVH Company for $2.4 billion. The company has contributed to a strong renewal of the company, also launching online sales. In 2020, it had $1.8 billion in revenue.

The brand image is now associated with ideas of comfort and inclusion.

warners 2021
Warners 2021

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