VF Corporation announced their 1st quarter results April 28, 2009, with some mixed results. Like many other brands effected by the economy, the company overall took a hit with revenues reported down 2% and net income decrease of 25% and earnings per share down 25% to $1.01. According to VF, much of the decrease had to do with foreign currency exchanges and fluctuations.

As we’ve reported previously, the premium denim is one area that continues to get hammered, and VF reflected this announcing that 7 for All Mankind was feeling the pain more than their other denim collections. Wrangler had a domestic increase of 3% and Lee had an increase domestically of 7% increase in brand revenues. It was the international jean market that took the biggest hit with a drop of 8%, mainly due to sharp economic declines in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. With 40% of VF’s European business in these 2 regions, the outlook looks grim especially as Eastern Europe continues to slump more aggressively than many other regions such as the United States.

Direct-to-consumer business increased 4% driven mostly by increases in Vans and The North Face direct-to-consumer sales. The North Face is VF’s 2nd largest brand and grew 14% in the quarter, while Vans was flat globally, but up 3% domestically. What’s been working for the Outdoor and Action Sports categories for VF has been their direct-to-consumer initiative which rose 16% thanks to new stores and increased ecommerce. (Which goes to show that ecommerce and eventually mcommerce is a significant aspect of the wave of the future for retail.)

Eric C. Wiseman, Chairman, President, and CEO stated “Naturally, as we consider the challenges to our earnings this year, we considered taking further expense reductions in areas such as advertising and product development to help protect our profitability. History has shown that investing in strong brands and new products during recessionary times significantly improves a company’s prospects for growth when conditions improve, which is why we will continue investing behind our strongest brands.”

This being said, it sounds like Lee, Wrangler, Vans, and The North Face will get the continued support they need, especially in the United States.