VP, Global Innovation & Strategy Kontoor Brands Inc.
Widely regarded as a mover-and-shaker in the innovation field, author, academic and public speaker Steve Zades is an award-winning entrepreneur turned senior corporate executive. During his five year tenure as Vice-President, Global Innovation at VF Corporation, Zades developed a range of patented designs and introduced award-winning products (including Jade Fusion denim, recipient of the Edison Innovation Award). Today, Zades continues to lead innovation initiatives in his new role as Vice-President, Global Innovation and Strategy, at Kontoor Brands Inc. Kontoor were established in 2019 and subsequently acquired the Lee Jeans and Wrangler brands. Zades is pioneering a ‘Culture of Innovation’ model for Kontoor’s business growth, designating 1,000 of the company’s 17,000 employees as ‘Global Innovators’.
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 Odyssey Cognitive & Design Science Laboratory in 2015, with a mandate to pioneer new products and align ROI with new forms of digital technologies 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 brand characterized by its ability to create body-enhancing curves through innovative tailoring techniques. Body Optix set a new standard for the industry by redefining how consumers can experience fit, cut and body image. Subsequently, Body Optix won 12 international awards in 2017.
Zades’ career started in the advertising industry, where he worked with Procter & Gamble before serving as the CEO and Chairman of Long Haymes Carr 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. 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.
Check out the incredible speaker line-up to see who will be joining Steve.
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