Footwear firm BBC International is the proud owner of casual athletic footwear’s comeback kid, and the company is hoping it might have another Champion on its hands.
After leveraging the popularity of one of the ‘90s most popular apparel labels into a successful footwear program, the Boca Raton-based footwear firm is bringing its talents to Straye, a new skate shoe brand headed by Angel Cabadas.
Cabadas found his footing in the industry during the early aughts with denim line KR3W, and launched skate shoe brand Supra three years later in 2005. The brand quickly attracted a cult following of skate and streetwear fanatics, drumming up buzz through constant collaborations with other labels, athletes and artists.
In 2015, Cabadas sold both the Supra and KR3W labels to K-Swiss. With Straye, launched in 2017, Cabadas said he’s attempting to bring a new, accessible aesthetic and an affordable price point to the space, as well as focusing on the comfort features that skaters need to keep moving.
“The brand essence is that skateboarders are nonconforming, kind of rebellious,” Cabadas said. “Skateboarding is moving in so many different directions—from activists to fashionistas, founders and CEOs.
“It’s the creative aspect of being a skateboarder that we’re trying to embrace,” he added.
For BBC International, which has made its mark internationally with casual, contemporary footwear brands for men, women and children, Straye’s inclusive message and mass appeal seemed like a natural fit. The firm has now signed on as a 50-50 partner with Cabadas, who will head up branding and marketing, while BBC handles sales, distribution and sourcing.
“In Straye, we’re going after the consumer who’s looking for something better than what’s currently on the market today from a comfort, silhouette and fashion perspective,” said Seth Campbell, the company’s senior vice president of business development. Rather than filling a niche in the firm’s portfolio, he said, the brand’s ultra-wearable vulcanized silhouettes appeal to consumers of all ages and backgrounds.
“Ultimately, BBC saw a value in Angel’s history and what he’s brought to the table with the brands he’s created,” he added.
Straye also represents an opportunity to sell across multiple international channels of distribution, Campbell explained, and the brand has already launched across countries in Europe, as well as in Korea, Japan, Australia, China, Mexico and throughout the Middle East. At present, all of the company’s shoes are manufactured in China.
“Everyone’s seen what we’ve been able to do with Champion in a short period of time, so this is another brand that we are a part owner in that could be a large business for us,” he said.
While the brand’s international strategy will rely heavily on retail partnerships with both mass-market retailers and independent specialty stores, Straye’s U.S. sales will rely heavily on an online, direct-to-consumer business.
The strategy might seem second-nature to any 21st-century brand launching in the modern era of retail, but Cabadas explained that encouraging skateboarders to embrace the world wide web has been a decades-long struggle.
“Skateboarding has always been anti-digital, and we saw a big void there,” he explained. “Being in the business, it’s always been frowned upon, and skate companies are sinking because they’re not maximizing their potential online,” he added.
Conversely, Cabadas said, his philosophy for Straye is to reach consumers at their fingertips. The days of resisting the lure of the digital space are over, he said. “There’s a generation out there that doesn’t want to evolve, and they’re going to basically disappear.”
In addition to its online business, Straye will focus on building out a few select partnerships at the wholesale level, like popular skate and surf gear shop Zumiez.
When asked about the outlook for the brand, Cabadas expressed hopef about inspiring the next generation of skateboarders, while ushering in a new era for the sport and skate culture as a whole.
“A lot of people have taken to skateboarding, and are discovering it every day,” he said. “We’re creating a platform to amplify the vision of this new generation,” he said.