“Overwhelming” and “I’m coming back tomorrow to make a final choice,” were a few of the comments overheard from retailers viewing the full Skechers global range of 1800 SKU’s displayed in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.
Filling the length of The Lookout events venue, the Skechers presentation is the size of a mini trade show, hence the need for some retailers to return to make their final choices. In Johannesburg, the range will be presented at the new offices of local distributor Brand Folio LLC in Melrose Arch from Thursday (28th) to Saturday (30th).
The samples on show represent the global range that will be in-store by January-February next year, with lots of furry boots, style, comfort features and bright colours. But, beneath the pretty uppers, there are stacks of performance features that contributed to Skechers becoming the #2 footwear brand in the US.
As the banners around the room announced, the brand is all about those technologies that provide comfort and enhance performance: flex, memory foam, cushioning, breathability, rebound and lightness. These are found across the ranges, whether in a trendy shoe that will appeal to the young, or a top end performance running or walking shoe that will feature in the Rio Olympics.
The Burst, for example, has an air-cooled memory foam footbed for breathability, and the lightweight, low density, compound in the midsole provides shock absorption and cushioning – yet the seamless flat-knit upper is so attractive that it could pass for a fashion shoe.
The latest 5Gen (5th generation) Resalyte midsole, which is lighter and more flexible than before, feature in all performance styles – from the entry level GoRun 400 running shoe to the Editor’s Choice GoRun 4 worn by the likes of marathon maestro Meb Keflezighi.
5Gen also features in their very light training shoes, the Go Golf shoe range, introduced by PGA Tour veteran Matt Kuchar in a series of amusing ads, and the latest edition to the range, soccer boots. For the first time Skechers also provide soccer boots suitable for soft- and hardground, astro and indoor players.
The brand caters for the whole family – mom, dad, teens and kids, whether they are active or just walk around the mall (40% sales to women and 30% to men and kids each). Their interactive kids shoes – described as “shoes you play in and games you wear,” by Brand Folio LLC general manager Archana Das – have a prominent place in the presentation.
Brand Folio LLC is supporting retailers who will be selling their full global ranges from July with a R30-m advertising campaign on TV, billboards and magazines. These ads will be geared at telling the public – men, women and children – what performance features they can expect even in lifestyle footwear. Ads featuring US Olympic medal hopeful Meb Keflezighi and distance runner Kara Goucher will re-affirm the message that the GoRun 4 is a serious performance running shoe.
After a soft launch in July on youth channels Vuzu and Mzanzi Magic, targeting the emerging LSM 5-8 black youth market, 1 500 TV ads will be screened on channels where the soccer-mad South African audiences are likely to see them.
Building wraps and billboards will first be seen in Cape Town and Johannesburg, with Durban, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein to follow.
Skechers is also in the process of signing young South African celebrities, who’ll be promoting the brand to their local social media followers, re-enforcing the message from global celebrities like Demi Lovato and Meghan Trainor .
Globally, strong growth in overseas markets has been credited with Skechers’ 9.7% sales growth (to $877.8-m) in the second quarter of 2016, compared to the same quarter in 2015. Sales by their international subsidiary and joint venture businesses – of which Brand Folio LLC is one of the biggest – increased 34.6% in the quarter.
Wholesale and retail businesses outside the US comprised 42% of total sales for the second quarter and 45% of the total for the first six months of 2016. For the six months ended June 30, 2016, Skechers’ net sales of $1.86-bn was 18.5% higher than the comparable period the previous year.
In the Middle East, where local distributor Brand Folio LLC has its head office, Skechers is the biggest footwear brand, and in the US their iconic GoWalk range ensured them the #1 spot as a walking shoe.