MRQ: Shep and Ian Murray, Vineyard Vines

by Elise Diamantini

Brothers Shep and Ian Murray created a small tie line called Vineyard Vines in 1998 out of their Greenwich, Conn. homes. The company has quickly grown into a full lifestyle brand and preppy phenomenon, spanning men’s, women’s kids, home and retail. This growth has forced the brothers to find a larger space to house the company’s headquarters. According to an article in the Greenwich Patch, the state of Connecticut will chip in $6 million toward the $15.6 million project with a 10-year loan at 1% interest. The whole thing may be forgiven if the company meets some specific jobs goals.

Shep Murray and Ian Murray
Shep Murray, left, and Ian Murray

We recently caught up Shep and Ian to learn more about their Stamford, Conn. expansion and how their brand is evolving.

Congratulations on the expansion. Can you tell us more about the new space?
Ian: Our new headquarters is 91,000 sq. ft., nearly triple the size of our previous office. We do not have a fulfillment center on site but we are very excited to have many other amenities including a fully functioning photo studio, gym for employees, many creative “think tank” areas, lounges on every floor and a beautiful cafeteria overlooking the water. We completely gutted and redesigned an existing building to fit our needs and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Vineyard Vines HQ lobby

You’re creating 200 new jobs; what are these positions? How are you finding talent?
Shep: We’re expanding across all of our teams including merchandising, design, product development, planning & allocation, finance, operations, IT, marketing, creative services, wholesale, e-commerce, retail and customer service. We recruit in all the traditional ways, but we like to think that word of mouth is best, and we incentivize our employees to refer their professional contacts. We think they do the best job of conveying why Vineyard Vines is a great place to work.

Why did you decide to keep the company in Connecticut? Were you looking anywhere else?
Ian: We seriously considered locations just over the border in New York, but ultimately our partnership with the Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development and our strong ties to the area were the reasons we chose to stay in Stamford. We’re honored and proud that Vineyard Vines, since its start in 1998, has been a Connecticut-based business.

Where is your growth coming from? Would you ever taken the company public?
Shep: We are experiencing a period of rapid growth in large part due to the numerous investments in our infrastructure and personnel that we’ve made over the years. Our goal is always to be better, not bigger, so while we’re thrilled to be able to support growth for our brand, we’re constantly evaluating what we can do to improve.

How is this preppy trend evolving? How is the Vineyard Vines consumer changing and evolving?
Ian: We like to think that the reason you see the preppy “trend” come back again and again is that preppy is classic and timeless. We’re always going to have those staples that will never go out of style — the polo, khakis, navy blazer and cashmere, among other things. One way we do see our customers evolving is that they’re looking for functional features in more and more of their clothing. We’re responding by introducing a whole collection of apparel with performance qualities and the response thus far has been extremely positive.

Photo credit: Allegra Anderson Photography