Five Ques­tions

The brand pres­i­dent talks about the mar­ket trends that led to the launch of White Moun­tain Footbeds.

Footwear News - - CONTENTS -

White Moun­tain pres­i­dent Robert Geller on the footbed frenzy.

By Jen­nie Bell

1 What is White Moun­tain Footbeds?

“This is a new sub­brand un­der the White Moun­tain par­ent [sim­i­lar to Cliffs and Sum­mit by White Moun­tain]. We’re a 37-year-old com­pany, and it used to be that boots and booties were the big­gest part of our busi­ness, but now our footbed busi­ness has just ex­ploded. There are two styles that have been in the line for 22 years, and we’ve kept of­fer­ing them. Now the mar­ket has sort of come to us. So we made a con­certed ef­fort and [grew the col­lec­tion]. It’s evolved into plat­forms and wedges but still with the footbed built into the shoe.”

2 How are you rolling it out to the mar­ket?

“We did a run­ning change in late May, chang­ing [the boxes and brand­ing], and we now have a sep­a­rate part of our web­site for the col­lec­tion. We also have a whole new dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter that’s do­ing drop-ship. The line will go through the back-to-school sea­son, and then for spring ’19 we’ll be even big­ger. This is where all the so­cial me­dia and advertising pushes will be. What’s in­ter­est­ing is that we’re get­ting pen­e­tra­tion in shoe stores, depart­ment stores, chain stores and now ath­letic stores. There’s such a cross­over ap­peal to this prod­uct.”

3 What dif­fer­en­ti­ates your footbed styles from other ma­jor competitors?

“Ours have all-leather up­pers with nat­u­ral cork bot­toms — even the prints are all leather. And we’re at a $59 MSRP, in­stead of $119, for in­stance. Not only is it trend-right, but it’s a great value. We’re also in dif­fer­ent dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels than, say, Birken­stock, but we share space, too. What most of the depart­ment stores have done is a three-tier, good-bet­ter-best strategy. We’ve been in that mid­dle tier, which I’m thrilled about.”

4 Why cre­ate this new divi­sion?

“In ca­sual footwear, this is driv­ing the busi­ness. We used to be about 60 per­cent fall in terms of dol­lars. Now we’ll prob­a­bly be 55-45 the other way. It’s in­ter­est­ing — peo­ple are ask­ing us, ‘What are your hot back-to-school booties?’ and I point to the footbed san­dals. She wants to wear it now, es­pe­cially when Ama­zon can de­liver it to­mor­row. By Au­gust or so, it’s the end of san­dals; time to flush them out and start over. Not any­more. Peo­ple are hold­ing their re­tail [prices] and mak­ing great mar­gins.”

5 How much run­way do you see with ca­sual and ath­leisure trends?

“I’m not an ex­pert in that sort of thing, but all the ex­cite­ment lately in shoes has been driven by the ath­letic guys, and the closed shoe busi­ness is very dif­fi­cult. There could be a lot of run­way there be­cause I don’t think that our so­ci­ety is go­ing to get any more for­mal or dressy, or that women are go­ing to give up com­fort. They’re not go­ing to go back to wear­ing un­com­fort­able pumps. The younger gen­er­a­tions never wore them any­way, so why would they start now?”

The brand’s long­time Carly footbed style

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