THE GOOD EARTH
How retro comfort brand Earth has modernized its image for a new generation of customers.
A quirky wellness brand first embraced by a 1960s granola-crunching crowd is reshaping its image to reach today’s comfort-loving millennials. Waltham, Mass.based Earth has rebranded for the spring ’19 season, debuting an updated logo and visual identity, as well as a footbed redesign and a sharper focus on sustainability. The fresh look will begin rolling out in stores in January, along with an updated website. “We’re continuing with our core older customers, but our new focus and tagline — ‘Modern Wellness Fashion’ — is targeting millennials, the largest consumer group out there,” said Philippe Meynard, CEO of Earth Brands. “We’re also in the process of putting in new standards of quality and manufacturing. We’re turning it into a true brand with a long life. We’re elevating everything.”
To boost the brand’s comfort proposition, all footwear will now incorporate the firm’s Powerpath footbed, which was introduced in select Earth styles for fall and features pressure points at the heel to help absorb shock.
The label also has raised the style bar. According to Angelo Romero, head of design, the spring ’19 collection features a stepped-up focus on athleisure. “It’s an important trend for us,” he said, highlighting new styles such as the Desire Flow sneaker with a knit upper and the Rosewood Basil slip-on with a stud trim. In addition, said Romero, the brand has a wider offering of wedges and heels.
Earth is already riding high on strong revenues. According to Meynard, sales in 2017 increased 30 percent year over year, and 2018 is expected to close with similar gains.
The bulk of the business is focused on the core Earth collection, which will now include trend-driven styles that until spring ’18 were sold under the Earthies label.
Stocked at Nordstrom and independent retailers, the Earth line sells for $100 to $150, while the offshoot Earth Origins collection is targeted to chain and big-box merchants with moderate price points of $60 to $90. A concise men’s collection of Earth casuals is in the works for fall ’19.
At Minnesota-based family shoe chain Schuler Shoes, Allison Knude, associate merchandise manager, said Earth has notched sales gains over the past three years because it appeals to customers from their mid-30s to 60s. “The brand is comfort-focused but still trendy,” she said, adding that the rebranding should help reach more customers. “The new logo is clean and simple, and the packaging is youthful.”
Mark Jubelirer, president of Reyers in Sharon, Pa., agreed that the label has positive momentum and is one of the store’s key collections. “They have shoes for a wide age range,” he said. “The new styling is contemporary, and the colors are modern. It’s about fashion-comfort at moderate price points.”
Since millennials are a target audience, Meynard said Earth is appealing to the demographic’s environmental interests by manufacturing its footwear with water-based adhesives, vegetable-tanned leathers and recycled materials. And the company is continuing its partnership with the global nonprofit Trees for the Future, whereby Earth plants a tree for each pair of shoes purchased.
But even as it looks ahead, the company is celebrating its past with a collection launching this winter: Kalso Earth Icons. The label is a nod to the brand’s founder, Danish yoga instructor Anne Kalso, who developed negativeheel shoes to help ease chronic foot and body problems (see sidebar).
“We’re the real deal,” said Meynard about returning to Earth’s roots with the men’s and women’s capsule collection. “Right now, the timing is perfect, as we see the ’70s coming back strong.”
“Our new focus and tagline ... is targeting millennials, the largest consumer group out there.” — PHILIPPE MEYNARD, CEO
Earth’s Drumlin buckled ankle boot