Vionic enjoys a challenge. In its new product line, Vionic Beach, the footwear brand re-imagines one of podiatrists’ least recommended shoe styles, the flip-flop, as a stylish silhouette with the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance.
Designed with Vionic’s exclusive contoured arch to promote natural alignment from the feet up, the line of low-profile EVA flip-flops for men and women offers a level of support that most three anchor point construction sandal brands overlook. The flip-flop’s injection-molded footbed provides cushioning and comfort comparable to athletic shoes, while the heel cup stabilizes by following the natural contour of the foot.
Vionic Co-founder and CEO Chris Gallagher describes the Vionic Beach footbed as “revolutionary.” Rubber-looking flip-flops make up the largest volume of flip-flops sold annually, but Gallagher said the model hasn’t evolved with market demand for comfort, fit and support. “No one else is doing an injection-molded flip-flip,” he added. “This is not a piece of rubber cut out. It’s real ergonomic footwear.”
Vionic Beach was one of the last products Vionic Founder Phil Vasyli worked on before he passed away in 2015. Being an entrepreneur and podiatrist, Gallagher said Vasyli recognized that consumers wanted a flip-flop look and were not going to give them up, no matter what type of damage they could cause to their feet. “Instead of trying to get patients to wear other shoes, he set out to make flip-flops that look and feel great,” Gallagher said.
Support and stability won’t be the first thing consumers notice about the collection. Vionic ups its playfulness in Vionic Beach, offering prints and colors that tap into current swim and yoga fashion trends. Think teal peacock feathers, pink palm and purple orchid prints for women and twists on camouflage for men. The brand is also offering women a bit of height with a series of 1.5-inch wedge flip-flops adorned with bows, metallic straps and print-wrapped soles. Sandals retail for $39.95 to $49.95.
Consumers got their first taste of the new brand this summer during the Beach Sole Shack tour, a mobile pop-up shop that traveled to yoga, swim and surf events up and down the coast of California.
“We’re getting the shoes on customers’ feet and letting them feel the difference themselves,” Gallagher said. “We definitely think this will bring a younger audience. What we’re finding is that Vionic Beach is something that moms and daughters like the look of and we think there’s more potential. It’s a great way to build a brand across age demographics.”
The company is testing product with Zappos and some independent retailers as well as its own Vionic Beach website. However, Gallagher believes new distribution opportunities lie ahead for Vionic Beach. The brand’s punchy colors and affordable price point make it an easy addition to women’s boutiques, while its comfort and effortless style is a natural fit for yoga and surf shops.
Vionic Beach will make its official trade show debut at FN Platform in Las Vegas, Aug. 14-16.