VF Corporation , vice president global innovation
Widely regarded as a mover-and-shaker in the innovation field, author and academic Steve Zades is an award-winning entrepreneur turned corporate executive. Since joining VF Corporation in 2014 as Vice President, Global Innovation, Zades has developed more than 30 patented designs and led the team who received the prestigious Edison Innovation Award in 2016 for the invention of JadeFusion Denim. Today, Zades continues to lead transformational innovation initiatives for VF Corporation’s global brands, including Lee Jeans, The North Face, Vans, Wrangler and Napapijri.
Zades has long held a vision for advancing apparel by aligning it with cutting-edge technologies and scientific research. He brought these disciplines together to establish the VF Corporation Cognitive & Design Science Laboratory in 2015, giving it a mandate to pioneer new products and develop new forms of digital and real-life consumer engagement. Working collaboratively with scientists based at the laboratory, Zades initiated Lee Jean’s ground-breaking Body Optix denim line, a collection characterized by its ability to create body-enhancing curves through precision laser technology and innovative tailoring techniques. Body Optix set a new standard for the industry by redefining how consumers can experience fit, cut, body image and personal style. Subsequently, Body Optix won 12 international awards in 2017.
Zades’ career started in marketing, where he worked for Procter & Gamble before serving as the CEO and Chairman of Long Haymes Carr Lintas Advertising and began managing global campaigns for Virgin and Unilever. He later founded The Odyssey Network, a brand consultancy that developed innovation strategies and new business models for clients such as Keurig Coffee and P&G. Following publication of his critically-acclaimed ‘Mad Dogs, Dreamers and Sages: Growth in the Age of Ideas’, Zades’ interdisciplinary approach was adopted by several leading multi-national brands and international corporations. Through publication of articles such as ‘Creativity Regained’ and ‘Robert Redford’s Way with Words’ (both published by Inc. Magazine) and ‘Trade Wars’ (published by AdAge), Zades provided fresh insights into the relationship between brand innovation and business leadership.
Zades holds undergraduate and MBA graduate degrees from of Columbia University, New York and currently holds dual executive professorships at Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation and Donghua University, China. Zades holds innovation masterclasses and leads creative workshops at institutions around the world, including ESMOD (Paris), Ravensbourne College (London), Bunka Fashion College (Tokyo), Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerp) and The Swedish School of Textiles.