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Why Unisex Footwear Works for Native Shoes

Since 2009 Canadian brand Native Shoes has been making casual, ultra-light footwear that people do a double take. Famous for their Crocs-like styles with cleaner, more fashionable designs, the brand has continued to evolve to incorporate a number of unique silhouettes. Perhaps the most well-known of these is Native’s Apollo style, a moccasin-like sneaker made of microfiber. Launched last spring, the style was an immediate hit, and so it was a no-brainer when the brand decided to launch a version for kids earlier this year.

Vamp recently spoke with Native’s Director of Global Marketing Dominique Morisset, who explained the brand’s appeal to the entire family, as well as its modern approach to gender in footwear.

VAMP: Native shoes are designed to be unisex. Even your kids’ shoes break the traditional gendered binary by allowing pink shoes for boys and blue shoes for girls. Have you found an increased demand for unisex styles in recent years?
Morisset: Our shoes are designed as unisex to make it easy for anyone to wear them. Our shoes work because they transcend gender, age and other classifications that determine who should be wearing a certain style. We’re democratizing our designs and that’s something we’re proud of. Our goal is to create shoes that make people smile and improve their lives. We don’t want to tell anyone that they can or can’t wear a particular colorway just because it is typically a ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ color.

VAMP: Tell us about the Apollo for kids.
Morisset: The Apollo for kids is a true take-down from the adults’ style, with minor adjustments, like a kid-friendly toggle system. We launched this silhouette in the adult market a year ago and it’s been huge for us—both in diversifying our product offering and defining our brand image. Adding a kids shoe to the line was a natural progression in growing this side of the business. We’ve seen photos of parents and kids wearing matching Apollo Mocs. People are really liking this mini-me aspect.

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VAMP: There are countless other sneaker brands on the market—what makes Native truly unique?
Morisset: Native stands out due to our bold and fun designs, but it’s the innovation and actual wearability of our shoes that convert people to longtime members of the Native Shoes family. We’ve adopted the term ‘Future Classics,’ which means that we take age-old, iconic silhouettes and ‘Nativise’ them using unexpected materials and evolving technology. It’s this balance of fun and function that has helped us grow our following over the years.

VAMP: Native is still a relatively young brand. How has growth been in the last few years?
Morisset: Native is a young company but we have been growing steadily and organically since 2009. We’re currently operating in fifty countries, which is a result of finding the right partners who believe in the brand, and designing footwear that can function around the world.

VAMP: What are your current best-sellers?
Morisset: The favorite in the kids’ line is the Jefferson, which has been a core style since day one. So much can be done with this silhouette and we’ve been applying new prints and treatments to it each season. This spring we introduced the marble treatment, and parents and kids alike are still loving the iridescence and glitter.

VAMP: What’s new in Native’s adult line?
Morisset: We’re looking forward to launching the Monaco for adults this fall, which is the Native version of a classic court shoe. We’re also releasing a Hydro Collection with three silhouettes that are treated with the Defender Repellent System with Scotchgard for the rainier months.