Footwear brands are stepping into summer with new product lines and partnerships.
Cole Haan gets the streetwear treatment
The comfort footwear brand is releasing an updated take on its popular blended sneaker and dress shoe. A decade after launching its ZeroGrand line, the label is adding a streetwear spin to its OriginalGrand Wingtip through a partnership with Japanese-American sneaker seller Atmos.
On Thursday, the duo released the first in a series of limited-edition collaborations. Titled “10 Years of Defying Convention,” the project aims to update the style and performance features of the OriginalGrand with a more modern aesthetic and street sensibility.
“This collaboration, which is the first collection celebrating a decade of defying convention, embodies Cole Haan‘s unrelenting pursuit in revolutionizing workwear,” brand president David Maddocks said, pointing to Atmos reputation for “rewrit[ing] the rules and push[ing] the boundaries of streetwear style.”
The OriginalGrand Wingtip features a traditional dress upper with a leather welt that sits on a fluted athletic outsole. Atmos brought new materials, fabrications, color ways and animal prints to the table.
Calling the heritage brand “an incredible design partner,” Atmos USA creative director Kelton Bumgarner said he “came to them with a whole range of concepts and ideas of how we could infuse and reveal these animal prints into the classic design.” The pair produced 10 different samples to test to validate different ideas. “That process gave us such a range that we were able to pull out the strongest ideas to create these two iconic designs,” he said.
The “Instinct” colorway features an electric blue midsole that references Atmos’ branding, and an upper made from a patchwork of tiger, leopard and zebra prints. The second style, dubbed “Logic,” features a subtle animal-print debossed suede in an ironstone colorway, with a pop of chartreuse at the midsole. Both styles are available in men’s sizes and retail for between $180 and $200 on Cole Haan’s e-commerce site. Boutique retailers including Concepts, NTWRK, Wish, Social Status, Extra Butter and Xhibition will also carry the line.
New additions to the 10 Years of Defying Convention series will continue to roll out throughout the year.
Vionic sandals offer after-sport relief
Meanwhile, Vionic debuted a sandal capsule designed specifically for sports recovery.
The Rejuvenate and Restore styles feature dual-density cushioning across three zones of foot and arch support. Textured footbeds provide a sensation of massage, while high side walls and deep heel cups promote stability. The styles’ uppers set them apart—the Rejuvenate is a slide style with a Velcro closure, while the Restore has a toe post like a traditional flip flop. Available in both women’s and men’s sizing, the shoes retail for $79.95 and come in black, charcoal, teal and coral color ways.
The recovery sandals feature a stacked, dual-density midsole for support, according to senior designer Taylor Leaf. “The dual density provides a supportive, plush, and responsive ride for maximal active recovery. It’s this unique combination of technologies that enabled us to design a sandal that consumers will definitely feel the benefits from.”
Podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera said the shoes provide natural alignment and shock absorption that can be beneficial after sports or even post-surgery, recommending using the shoes for both treating and preventing foot pain.
Arklyz expands its footprint
Across the pond, Arklyz is rapidly expanding its portfolio with two footwear-related acquisitions.
The Swiss shoe, sport, athleisure and workwear manufacturer and distributor, which manages European distribution for brands like Crocs and Hunter and acquired global retailer The Athlete’s Foot (TAF) in 2021, is taking ownership of Shoe City, a Baltimore, Maryland-based sneaker and lifestyle apparel chain. It will also acquire the retailer’s online streetwear destination, YCMC.com.
Arklyz said it will operate Shoe City and TAF as a single organization, with the intention of further scaling both retail franchises and widening the firm’s footprint. Shoe City debuted its first store in Baltimore in 1949, and now operates 40 locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Its added expertise in e-commerce will aid TAF in deepening its omnichannel capabilities, Arklyz Group owner and CEO Param Singh said. Both retailers have a talent for creating deep community engagement, Singh said. “Adding Shoe City and ycmc.com to the portfolio together with TAF strengthens our position as one of the nation’s top retail destinations for footwear, apparel, and accessories.”
“I am glad that Arklyz and The Athlete’s Foot, with a very similar approach, are taking over our family business,” said Shoe City president Greg Greenburg, who believes that the new owners will help the retailer and YCMC.com “grow further and make them even more community and culture relevant to our local consumers.”
Arklyz announced another acquisition in May. German omnichannel streetwear retailer Asphaltgold, which serves shoppers in Europe, will help the firm deepen its e-commerce strategy, Singh said.
“The acquisition of Asphaltgold was a very strategic decision for us,” he said, pointing to “a digital-first approach led by story-telling through social media platforms to build community” with nearly 1.5 million followers on Instagram and Facebook. Asphaltgold also provides shoppers with “top-tier access on all relevant sneaker and streetwear brands.”
The decade-old retailer will continue to operate its online platform and storefronts, and engage in exclusive collaborations with brands like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Leica and Vitra. Asphaltgold founder and CEO Daniel Benz said the company is looking to join forces with a strategic partner that can foster continued growth.