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Simple Makes a Comeback, Without the Hype

Simple, the casual brand known for its classic designs and relatable branding, is back in the market. After bowing out of business for a few years, the brand went back into development in Fall 2014. Denis Ryan, managing partner of ICB, Int’l and Harbor Footwear Group, engineered Simple’s return, buying the rights to the brand from Deckers and designing a new business plan.

Now, the brand looks to target socially conscious men and women who are looking for shoes with quality, comfort and attention to detail.

Vamp interviewed Barry Specht, marketing director at Harbor Footwear Group, who shared how the brand plans to blend core Simple designs with fresh, new product.

Vamp: Why is it a good time to bring back the brand?
Specht: In its heyday, Simple had both a major retail and consumer following across the nation and around the world based on being a consumer-friendly brand with a modern, relatable personality. In the current retail climate, all brands, footwear and otherwise, are clamoring to reach an already hyper-stimulated consumer who is continually assaulted by all manner of advertising and promotion. Being able to have product that speaks for itself to that consumer makes our job both easier and more rewarding.

Vamp: What has the response been like from retailers who’ve seen the collection?
Specht: Enthusiastic applause for bringing back a brand with such a deep consumer following. They feel that the brand ‘hasn’t missed a beat’ in the time that it’s been away and the product clearly has the DNA that loyalists expect from the brand.

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Vamp: The company’s website has the tagline “Less Hype. More Simple.” What does that mean to the brand?
Specht: The tagline speaks to the effort to scale back to one’s core ideals. In today’s overstimulated environment it’s refreshing and rewarding to be able to interact with a brand that relies on its function and design aspects.

Vamp: Are there key silhouettes that customers are requesting?
Specht: The Old School 91, Barney and Cali clog are legacy styles from the inception of the brand which still have a strong following in the marketplace. The Simple Facebook page is continuing to fill up with congrats from consumers who are both happy and relieved to hear of the brand’s revival. They are talking about their favorites in the same manner as someone talks about a long-lost friend.

Vamp: What are some new silhouettes that you’ve added to refresh the line?
Specht: The Princeton takes the essence of the Old School 91 and injects it with a couple of subtle details which serve as a key point of difference between the two styles. The Altitude boot serves as new silhouette for part of our line which will be delivered for Fall 2015. Updated color palettes and materials are some of the other aspects which will refresh the new line as well.