PF Flyers is not done yet.
Six months after New Balance confirmed it had phased out the long-running brand and after more than two years of radio silence from PF Flyers’ social media accounts, it has announced plans to return under new ownership in September.
Kassia Davis, the daughter of New Balance owner and chairman Jim Davis, bought the 84-year-old lifestyle brand, PF Flyers announced Wednesday.
Davis, the brand’s new executive chairwoman, worked at New Balance for more than 10 years, including as apparel product manager for studio, lifestyle; strategic account manager for Nordstrom; and director of direct-to-consumer merchandising for the company’s global flagships and e-commerce. In 2019, she left New Balance to co-found the athleisure brand Fierce + Regal. A year later, she founded the sustainable women’s apparel brand Kada.
“During my 10-plus years in the sneaker industry, I learned that there were very few women in positions of leadership for me to look up to,” Davis said in a statement. “Throughout my career, I also realized my passion for creative design and branding. I have always seen the tremendous potential for the PF Flyers brand and look forward to relaunching this true American classic.”
The footwear design academy Pensole will lead PF Flyers’ creative direction for the first year with the help of its founder, D’Wayne Edwards. Edwards, a veteran of the sneaker industry, previously served as the footwear design director at Nike’s Jordan Brand from 2001 to 2011.
“At this stage of my career with Pensole, I get excited about opportunities to use sneakers as a tool to educate and inspire consumers on what is possible,” Edwards said in a statement. “What Kassia is doing with the relaunch of PF Flyers is very important to the future of our industry. Our consumers need to see who they can become and Kassia is doing exactly that.”
B.F. Goodrich founded the PF Flyers brand in 1937. A few decades later, in 1972, he entered into an agreement to sell the business to Converse’s then-parent company, Eltra Corp.—a move that prompted a civil antitrust suit from the U.S. Justice Department. The government ultimately succeeded, and PF Flyers was sold off.
After decades of relative obscurity, New Balance purchased the brand in 2001, relaunching it in 2003. In 2014, Converse—now owned by Nike—named PF Flyers in a complaint it filed with the International Trade Commission to protect its Chuck Taylor All-Star from copycats. New Balance sued Nike back and, in 2016, won. Despite this victory, it appears the following years did not treat PF Flyers kindly. In January, New Balance, responding to a tweet asking whether the company planned to restock its PF Flyers shoes, confirmed that they had “been phased out.”
Luckily for fans of the brand, Davis’ acquisition looks as if it will breathe new life into PF Flyers. Its September return will re-introduce classic silhouettes, like the Center Hi, Center Lo and Sandlot, in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes. New styles will launch in subsequent collections, the brand said.