Ariat, known for its technological advances in footwear, is putting more emphasis on its push into lifestyle and streetwear for Fall 2015. “We have two specific initiatives,” says Liz Bradley, vice president of marketing. “We want to continue to grow as an authentic equestrian brand and also bring our point of view to lifestyle, which offers a great growth and expansion opportunity for us.”
This idea ramped up with the Fall 2014 collection that incorporated Gor-Tex technology into more fashionable, yet still practical, riding boots. “It created a hybrid riding boot: It used technology, but the uppers are very country-inspired styles,” says Holly Andrews-Kramer, director of global English footwear at Ariat. “It’s a category that’s gaining momentum both here and in Europe, so I wanted to follow up with a very strong Gor-Tex collection that was non-riding and instead was walking-type shoes that are very comfortable and made from really nice leathers.”
For Fall 2015, Ariat is staying true to itself and incorporating a European, country-living style aesthetic in its country collection, which ranges in retail price from $329.95 to $429.95, and bringing its flair to a more global audience. The boots are functional——they’re waterproof and insulated, and have comfortable foot beds——and stylish too, with equestrian accents and English countryside details. But instead of walking in the wet grass, customers can now hit the streets of big cities as well.
“The response to the collection was overwhelmingly positive,” says Christopher Jue, lifestyle footwear manager, of the reaction at FFANY in December. “Everyone touched upon the fact that we’re elevating this type of product to a lifestyle consumer. And a trend we’ve seen is this consumer who is looking for heritage authenticity, which we definitely deliver on all levels.”
A standout in the line was the Stanton, a pull-on style boot that was popular with retailers. “The big thing now is not just reinventing a tried-and-true silhouette———it’s making it brand new and fresh,” Jue adds. “True fashion types of retailers saw something they haven’t seen from other vendors, which was really phenomenal for me to hear and gave us more confidence in direction and elevating lifestyle.”
As for the rest of the brand’s business, including work boots and riding boots, Bradley says she does not see it slowing down, and definitely expects the brand’s push into lifestyle to develop further.
“Consumers are looking for brands that stand for something, and we fit into that kind of authentic space where we really have a point of view that’s unique and authentic,” she says. “We’re seeing a lot of demand for the lifestyle piece and see a lot of opportunity for us to expand that and bring new collections to fashion and specialty stores.”