While most of the U.S. is battling bitterly cold temperatures, beach-friendly brands Rider, Reef and Sanuk are gearing up and talking about a Spring ’15 season driven by the carefree good vibes inherent of the surf footwear category.
Brazilian footwear brand Rider signed popular indie rock band Surfer Blood as the newest member of its growing brand ambassador program. The West Palm Beach, Fla.-based band joins the likes of Willian Cardoso, a professional surfer from Brazil who recently placed second in the 2014 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, Hawaiian artist Colleen Malia Wilcox and João Brasil, a DJ, performer and musician who composed the FIFA world cup closing ceremony fireworks. Rider enlists its ambassadors to spread the Brazilian lifestyle and surf culture through each of their unique creative ventures.
The company, a division of Grendene, Brazil’s largest causal shoe manufacturer, has carved its own niche in the flip-flop market with its state-of-the-art soles designed to feel as natural as walking barefoot. All Rider sandals feature cushioned insoles, support arches and are made from 30 percent recyclable materials. Ninety-nine percent of the industrial waste created in the brand’s manufacturing is recycled or reused.
Rider Sandals national sales manager Brad Gruber said, “Rider designers get their inspiration from extreme sports, fashion trends and the great outdoors and these ambassadors embody that inspiration perfectly.” He added, “Our brand’s mission is to spread good times and a love for the active Brazilian lifestyle and we are excited that these ambassadors are partnering with us in that mission, taking Rider sandals and the Rider way with them from surf to sand to street.”
Sanuk, the surf footwear brand known for its irreverent prints and disruptive silhouettes—namely its sidewalk surfers with spongy rubber outsoles and canvas uppers—is shaking up its own line-up with its first-ever range of women’s vulcanized footwear for Spring ’15.
Call the blurring of surf and street a sign of the times, as shoppers across the country flock to brands like Brandy Melville, Aviator Nation and Sanuk to capture the casual, relaxed styling of Southern California and its beach culture. Couple that SoCal movement with sneakers’ increasing influence on fashion and brands like Sanuk could find itself cruising into Spring ’15 on a wave of good fortune.
Sanuk global vice president Ethan Anderson said, “We did a series of customer insights over the last year and an overwhelming number of customers said that by and large, our sandals and slipper sandals are great for the day, but if we could bring that styling and comfort to more substantial shoes, then they would be open to wearing Sanuk all day and into the evening.”
The vulcanized styles, coined the Kat collection, reinforces the comfort Sanuk’s sidewalk surfers are known for, but offers a more street-friendly option for a whole set of customers that may not gravitate toward the surfer’s distinct bohemian look. The line features three slim, pointed toe silhouettes, including a casual bootie-inspired style with a higher vamp, an updated take on a classic ballet flat and a backless slip-on. The bootie, in particular, is getting a great response from buyers, Anderson noted.
Sanuk, in general, is receiving positive feedback from retailers, which Anderson said is owed partly to the brand’s healthy, happy ethos. And fueling those good vibes is Sanuk’s Yoga Sling, a lightweight sandal with a footbed made from real yoga mat material. For spring, the company is expanding its yoga range with sleek ballet flats with yoga mat comfort pods in the footbed.
Anderson said, “Its awesome because there’s a whole other phenomenon out there and the yoga sandals and ballet flats tap into the feeling of living a healthy lifestyle, but really it’s a feeling of being joyful.”
Expect to see more new constructions for Fall 2015, including a new yoga flat with an upper that is sewn to the sole inside out, and then turned inside in. “It looks like a European dance shoe,” Anderson described. The company is also gearing up to launch a more premium and limited range of the Kat collection made with full grain leather.
Anderson added, “As the brand continues to evolve and be exposed to new customers we always want to keep Sanuk’s DNA intact. Everything is light hearted and our tag line ‘Never Uncomfortable’ extends beyond the feeling of the product. Its an actual feeling and attitude.”
Business is swell for Reef, which introduced the Rover Collection featuring Swellular Technology in its expanded closed-toe offerings for Spring ’15. The new technology aims to make the surf footwear brand an all-day option for men and women by providing comfort, support and traction in a range of deck shoes and sandals.
The technology is built around three layers of material: a super-soft, contoured foam deck for instant comfort, a medium-density foam midsole for long-lasting support, and a high-density rubber outsole for traction, protection and durability.
Styles include a lace-up with a nylon/Spandex blended upper in heather gray and blue, a suede and full grain leather lace-up accented with perforated details, and a casual flip-flop.