The brand inked a licensing deal with Twisted X, a men’s, women’s and children’s footwear manufacturer with expertise in Western, work, outdoor and lifestyle, to produce Wrangler Footwear for Spring/Summer 2021.
Under the new licensing agreement, Twisted X will design and distribute Wrangler Footwear for men’s, women’s and youth across four categories: Western, work, work/casual and casual/modern. Through this agreement, both brands will leverage their expertise and abilities to develop a collection to resonate with existing and new consumers in multiple channels of distribution across the U.S., Canada and U.S. territories including Puerto Rico.
Twisted X CEO Prasad Reddy emphasized that the collection will focus on quality, comfort, and sustainability—characteristics that Wrangler fans have come to expect from the brand’s jeans, tops and outerwear. And like Wrangler, which is pioneering water-less dyeing and supporting organic cotton farming, sustainability, Reddy added, is “very near and dear” to Twisted X, which recently made headway with no-glue footwear.
Wrangler Footwear will be made with leather uppers as well as Twisted X’s menu of sustainable upper materials, including uppers made from an average of 13 recycled plastic bottles, linings made with a blend of recycled PET and bamboo charcoal for breathability and moisture control, and bamboo shoe laces.
To make comfortable outsoles, Twisted X blends rice husks—a byproduct of the agricultural industry—with rubber. It also upcycles waste from production, such as EVA and rubber, into new footbeds. This allows the company to substitute its own foam with materials that would have previously been destined to landfills.
“This collection will advance Wrangler into the footwear category, and we could not be more excited to bring these products to life with the help of Twisted X,” said Allen Montgomery, Wrangler Western vice president and general manager. “Wrangler has always placed a priority on respecting our environment, and with Twisted X’s remarkable sustainability efforts, we’re optimistic our inaugural venture into the category will be a huge milestone, not only for the brand, but for the entire western community.”
The collection will have Western influences guided by Wrangler, but Reddy said the comfort-driven styles will have broad appeal. Like Wrangler apparel, he said the footwear line with have no age limitation and it will resonate with consumers that subscribe to outdoor lifestyles—even if it’s more of a backyard setting than a ranch.
“[Wrangler] is the most iconic brand in western culture, but it’s more of a lifestyle brand,” he said. “In the footwear world, we don’t know of any brand captures this casual western lifestyle.”
Diversifying distribution and developing new product tiers have been part of Kontoor’s reboot plan for Wrangler since the spinoff from VF Corp. Retailing for $60-$240, the footwear will collection will bow across direct-to-consumer channels in early Spring 2021. A targeted group of retailers that spans “upscale western” and outdoor stores like Boot Barn and Bass Pro as well as traditional department stores and comfort footwear stores, will have access to the collection by June.
Launching a brand during pandemic conditions is unlikely part of any company’s ideal playbook, but there’s a sense that Wrangler, with more than 70 years of experience and consumer recognition, has a running start. Despite being closely associated with durable work jeans, Reddy said Wrangler has been able to pivot its product message to comfort and versatility for consumers who are now working from home or hitting the trail for an escape.
Tricia Mahoney, Twisted X chief marketing officer, added that the theme of heritage will be instrumental in how Twisted X plans to execute the marketing and positioning strategy for the Wrangler collection. “Leveraging and tapping into that iconic name is a huge part of our push and our initiative,” she said.