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Though SNEWS® received a preview early in July, Patagonia Footwear, a partnership with Patagonia and Merrell, officially unveiled its 31-style collection to the world in late July at the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The U.S. debut of the line was at WSA, Las Vegas in early August. Outdoor retailers will be able to view the line in full at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market August 10 through 13.
The complete footwear line will be available Spring ’07 in all of Patagonia’s stores in the U.S., Europe and Japan, and will be distributed to premium footwear and outdoor specialty stores globally.
Craig Throne, general manager for Patagonia Footwear told SNEWS® that the same thought that goes into making any Patagonia product went into the creation, design and manufacture of this footwear line.
“We are using latex made from Hevea milk which is harvested from sustainably-grown Hevea trees in some of the soles in our footwear line,” said Throne. “This unique latex has a microstructure that, when cured, creates thousands of cushioning air bubbles and it is remarkably durable.”
“When we have to use leathers, we are using veggie and chromium-tanned leather from tanneries with ISO 14001 registration.” Those tanneries are Pittards in the United Kingdom, Dallas in Italy, and Prime Asia in China. ISO 14001 recognizes factories for adhering to the highest environmental standards.
Patagonia Footwear also uses hemp uppers in some of its line, which has superb performance capabilities as it breathes very well and is quite durable, but more importantly, it requires no pesticides and little water for growth. Vegetable-based laces are used on certain models in the line as are Ecostep outsoles from Vibram, which are formulated using 30-percent scrap rubber.
“Environmentally, we have taken every step we can but have not compromised on the durability of our product. First and foremost, shoes must survive the conditions for which they are built,” Throne told us.
Throne’s team, taking cues from the successful grouping and categorization of the Merrell line, has organized the line’s presentation into three distinct groups: brown, green, and blue.
The brown group is targeted at the outdoor performance market. Styles range from mid-cut Gore-Tex and waterproof boots to low-cut silhouettes. Vagabound Waterproof is a mid-cut, waterproof boot with Capilene lining for odor control, wicking and quick dry performance. Low-cut styles such as Huckleberry, with edging and smearing zones designed for bouldering and a reinforced climbing rubber toe and external counter round out the line.
The green group is all about travel with comfort and style. All travel-based styles fold up for easy packing and feature fabrics and technologies that provide maximum comfort. For the traveler seeking a low cut leather shoe, the Honeydew has a wide toe box and generous last with 100-percent vegetable based laces. Cedar features a beehive patterned sole made from all-natural latex. Carraway is a slip-on sandal with a heel wrapped in a mixture of coconut and latex and full-grain European leather for softness against the skin. Manuka, a thong-styled sandal for men and women, sports a shearling lining and footbed. Wild Thyme is a highly-breathable travel boot with sewn side-stitch construction that enhances durability and minimizes the use of water-based solvents.
And the blue group, as you might imagine, is all about the beach and water. Sneakers, flip-flop thongs and slides are designed to be comfortable and stylish. Dawn is a thick-soled, sporty leather lace-up with a visible hemp/burlap substrate. Featuring a recycled nylon toe post, Shore Thing is a thong sandal for women with full grain leather uppers available in bright colors such as grey/lime, dark plum/raspberry and orange/cream. Thing Thong is a flip flop for men with hemp lining on leather upper straps for comfort.
Patagonia Footwear will contribute one percent of all sales to One Percent For The Planet®, which supports grassroots environmental organizations worldwide.
Throne has a strong sales team in the U.S., headed by Jamie Barbor as national sales manager. Prior to joining Patagonia Footwear, Barbor owned Jamie Barbor & Associates, a sales organization in Truckee, California that managed sales of Merrell footwear, Icebreaker merino clothing, Karhu cross-country and telemark skis and Dahlgren socks in the Northern California and Northern Nevada sales territories. Sales reps include: Courtney Chlebek, Mid Atlantic sales; Kris Clapper, Southwest sales; Mark Hoffman, Central Region sales; Michael Bruno, Northeast sales; Marc Gmiter and Betsy Borden, Midwest sales; Paul Dukich and Jennifer Mawn, Northwest sales; Smoky Anderson and Owen Dennehy, Mountain sales; and Chip McDaniel, Southeast sales; and Sabine Bildstein, South Central Sales.
SNEWS® View: After walking through the booth at OutDoor and seeing the entire line presented with all colors and styles by group, we can only say WOW! For a line debut, this is as impressive a footwear collection as we’ve seen. Our only ho-hum would be with the brown group. Nothing really inspiring there and, frankly, who needs another outdoor performance line with hiking and approach shoes anyway? Exactly. However, the blue and green collection are pure fun, with design energy and style and tasteful use of color pops that will, we suspect, inspire the footwear to jump off a retailer’s wall and into customer’s hands with ease. Underscoring the success of the line’s first showing, we overheard designers and representatives from several U.S. footwear competitors saying they saw no weaknesses in the line, other than the outdoor component, and were extremely impressed.