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ISSUE 1251 DECEMBER 17, 2012
The Weekly Digital Magazine for the Sporting Goods Industry
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BY THE NUMBERS TONY POST, Former Vibram President to Debut Topo Athletic at Outdoor Retailer NIKE Launches Nike+ Accelerator Mentorship Program MOVERS & SHAKERS NEW BALANCE Enters Skate Market PUMA'S CEO Stepping Down VAIL RESORTS Announces Acquisition of Two Midwestern Ski Areas OUTDOOR RETAILER WINTER MARKET 2013 Continues Focus on Backcountry, Expansion
SGBW INTERVIEW 10 DR. SIMON BARTOLD Asics International Research Consultant
14 THE RUNNING MARKET RETAINS ITS MOJO DEPARTMENTS
I AM...SGBW Topher Gaylord President, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail
Copyright 2012 SportsOneSource, LLC. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed by writers and contributors to SGB WEEKLY are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. SGB WEEKLY is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Articles appearing in SGB WEEKLY may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. SGB WEEKLY is published weekly by SportsOneSource, LLC, 2151 Hawkins Street, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC 28203; 704.987.3450. Send address changes to SGB WEEKLY , 2151 Hawkins Street, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC 28203; 704.987.3450
DECEMBER 17, 2012 | SGBWeekly.com
NEWS Tony Post
BY THE NUMBERS 37% Lululemon Athletica, Inc. reported net revenue increased 37 percent to $316.5 million from $230.2 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2011. Comparable stores sales for the third quarter increased by 18 percent on a constant dollar basis. Diluted earnings per share for the quarter were 39 cents on net income of $57.3 million, compared to diluted earnings per share of 27 cents on net income of $38.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2011.
6.6% G-III Apparel Group, Ltd., which produces outerwear, dresses, sportswear, swimwear and beachwear under both its own and licensed brands as well as for the private label market, said that net sales in the third quarter increased by 6.6 percent to $543.5 million from $510.0 million in the year-ago period. The company’s net income for the third quarter was $48.3 million, or $2.37 per diluted share, compared to net income of $43.6 million, or $2.16 per diluted share, in the prior year’s comparable period.
$6.7 MILLION Cherokee, Inc. reported revenues were $6.7 million for the quarter in the third quarter, up from $6.0 million in the prioryear period. The higher revenues in the quarter were driven by increased sales of Cherokee-branded products at Target and year-to-date progress at Zellers Canada.
4 SGBWeekly.com | DECEMBER 10, 2012
FORMER VIBRAM PRESIDENT TO DEBUT TOPO ATHLETIC AT OUTDOOR RETAILER
Tony Post, former president and CEO of Vibram USA, has formed Topo Athletic—based on the theory that products should amplify, not modify, the body's natural biomechanics - and the company launches at Winter Outdoor Retailer in January with $5 million in series A funding from Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), a multi-stage investment firm based in Silicon Valley. Post's new company marks the latest chapter in his ongoing quest to develop innovative products that help athletes. In 2006, Post launched the Vibram FiveFingers brand that catapulted Vibram USA and minimalist footwear into the forefront of industry and consumer shoe, foot and movement discussions. Lightweight running is now the largest driver of growth in the athletic footwear market, earning $1.5 billion this year with 50 percent expected growth in 2013, according to SportsOneSource. "Topo Athletic addresses a key opportunity in the athletic gear industry and is primed for success with Tony Post at the helm," said Jon Kossow, general partner at NVP. "It's been impressive watching Tony blaze every brand trail he treks, from Rockport to Vibram; so when he came to us with his concept, our entire firm jumped at the chance to support Topo Athletic." Topo's target audience is athletes who value simplicity, functional design and technology.
NIKE LAUNCHES NIKE+ ACCELERATOR MENTORSHIP PROGRAM Nike announced the launch of a new Nike+ Accelerator mentorship program, through which 10 startups that use Nike+ technology will receive mentorship, coaching, office space and other benefits. The program is run in conjunction with Boulder, CO-based TechStars. The 10 companies will go through a three-month immersive, mentor-driven startup accelerator powered by TechStars, a mentorship-driven startup accelerator founded by David Cohen, Brad Feld, David Brown, and Jared Polis that holds 13-week programs for startups in Boulder, New York City, Boston, Seattle, and San Antonio. The Nike+ Accelerator program aims to leverage the success of the Nike+ platform to support digital innovation by connecting with companies that share Nike’s commitment to help people live more active lives. The Nike+ Accelerator will accept applications from companies aiming to use Nike+ technology to create products and services that will inspire athletes across a broad range of activity and health goals including training, coaching, gaming, data visualization and quantified self, according to a statement from Nike. The program begins in March 2013 and will run through June, culminating in technology investor demonstration days including a day at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, OR, and a day in California's Silicon Valley. Once the companies have been selected, Nike will provide development tools, office facilities in Portland, OR, technical platforms and support to create solutions leveraging the Nike+ Application Program Interface (API) and Nike+ mobile Software Development Kit. Nike will also support the companies by providing access to a select list of Nike executives and external mentors. Visit nikeaccelerator.com for details and applications. The application deadline is February 3, 2013.
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MOVERS & SHAKERS The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has promoted VJ Mayor to director of marketing and communications. SFIA also promoted Jonathan Michaels to director of membership & business development and Lauren Wallace to director of thought leadership programs. McDavid, Inc. has appointed Richard Avis and Kathryn Millett, experienced product directors, to its marketing team, both reporting to Mary Horwath, vice president global marketing. Avis and Millett will supervise the categories of Sports Medicine and Protective/Performance Apparel, respectively. Vans appointed Vicki Redding as VP, apparel. Most recently, Redding was SVP, merchandise and design for La Jolla Group. Smack Sportswear has hired former CFO of True Religion Apparel (TRLG) Charles A. Lesser as the company’s new CFO. Duane Smith, former head of apparel, Asia Pacific for the Reebok Brand in Hong Kong, has joined Targus, Inc., the maker of laptop computer cases and accessories, as its VP of design. 2XU named Fred Hernandez as its new director of marketing for North America. Li-Ning Co. and NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade selected award-winning footwear and accessory designer Alejandro Ingelmo as a creative consultant for special projects for Wade, the new athletic and lifestyle footwear and apparel collection launched in October.
6 SGBWeekly.com | DECEMBER 17, 2012
NEW BALANCE TO ENTER SKATE MARKET Not to be outdone by its competitors, New Balance announced that it will enter the skate footwear market through a license agreement with Black Box Distribution of Carlsbad, CA. Branded as New Balance Numeric or “NB#,” Black Box will produce and market footwear that combines the unique requirements of skateboarders with New Balance’s heritage through comfort, fit, quality and technical materials. “As one of the most authentic and talented skate companies in the industry, Black Box offers industry knowledge and a strong commitment to skate specialty retailers that matches well with our 107-year-old tradition of delivering technical design-forward performance products for athletes,” said Rob DeMartini, president and CEO at New Balance. New Balance Numeric will debut at the Agenda Trade show in Long Beach, CA, January 4, 2013, where team announcements and additional marketing plans will be revealed. New Balance Numeric will be available in the U.S. and Canada in July 2013 through specialty skateboard and action sports retailers only.
PUMA'S CEO TO STEP DOWN
Franz Koch will step down from his position as CEO of Puma and member of the group executive committee of PPR SA, the main shareholder of Puma SE, at the end of March 2013. Koch joined in 2007 and became CEO in 2011, replacing long-time CEO Jochen Zeitz. The Administrative Board of Puma SE also said, coupled by Zeitz’ resignation as administrative board chairman as of December 1, 2012, this Franz Koch event "marks the end of a chapter in the history of Puma. The company is therefore entering a new phase in its development and is changing its top management structure to take on those challenges.” Koch will remain until the end of March and work with the new chairman of the administrative board, Jean-François Palus (who is also PPR Group managing director) to help secure Puma’s operational transformation. PPR owns 82.4 percent of Puma. “Going forward with the future CEO, who we aim to hire by spring 2013, we will pursue the reorganization of the company, focus on product innovation and marketing, and will continue to devote the necessary resources to the development of the brand,” Palus said in a statement.
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OUTDOOR RETAILER WINTER MARKET 2013 CONTINUES FOCUS ON BACKCOUNTRY, EXPANSION
VAIL RESORTS ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF TWO MIDWESTERN SKI AREAS Vail Resorts, Inc. announced December 6 it entered into agreements to purchase two premier urban ski areas in the Midwest - Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mount Brighton in Michigan - for total cash consideration of $20 million. Both ski areas serve more than 468,000 active skiers and snowboarders in the nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Detroit metropolitan areas. Vail’s plans are to upgrade both properties and create opportunities to funnel Midwestern customers to its seven resorts in Colorado and in Lake Tahoe, as well as to its massive retail and real estate holdings, through season pass offers, lift tickets and other products. “We plan to bring state-of-the-art racing, terrain parks, coaching and technology to the guest experience. We also will connect these urban ski areas to our world-class resorts in Colorado, California and Nevada with new season pass offerings, providing the chance to experience the best skiing and riding locally and in the West. We plan to honor the important legacy of each ski area for their loyal guests while investing to enhance the experience in the years to come,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. Afton Alps is the largest ski area near a major city in the Midwest with nearly 300 acres, 18 lifts, four base areas, night skiing, tubing and an 18-hole golf course. It is located 33 miles from more than two million people and more than 161,000 skiers and snowboarders in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Mount Brighton features 130 acres, six lifts, night skiing and an 18-hole golf course, located 43 miles from Detroit within reach of more than four million people and more than 307,000 skiers and snowboarders in the Detroit, Lansing and Ann Arbor metropolitan areas. Vail Resorts is planning season pass products for both Afton Alps and Mount Brighton in time for the 2013/14 season-pass sales period beginning in March 2013. Both resorts’ season pass holders will immediately receive a 25 percent discount off window-rate on lift tickets at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood this season. 8 SGBWeekly.com | DECEMBER 17, 2012
Outdoor Retailer - the outdoor industry's largest and most influential trade event of the year (January 22-26, 2013) - will include new events and programs that speak to its core backcountry specialty attendees, while providing the industry a glimpse of new, relevant product categories and business opportunities they can't see anywhere else all at one time. In addition to new show features, the latest in outdoor technology and products will take center stage in the booths of more than 900 brands. Winter Market will also host more than 140 new exhibitors, including brands like GoPro, Hunter Boots, Lucy Activewear, Neff Headwear, Puma North America, Quiksilver Waterman, Reebok, Roxy, Scott Sports, Sugoi, Toms Shoes and Under Armour. "Outdoor Retailer is unlike any other outdoor trade gathering in the country and is now the largest wintersports show in the world," said Kenji Haroutunian, vice president at Nielsen Expositions and OR show director. "Only here can you see and test the latest backcountry gear, fully merchandised next to relevant products you may have never considered including in your product mix. Between the exhibits, Outdoor University @ OR seminars and invaluable networking with peers, OR is the place to inspire and improve your business this January." In an inaugural partnership with Outdoor Retailer, industry members are invited to participate in the day long A.S.C. Backcountry Workshop on Monday, January 21, at Brighton Ski Resort. Registration details are available at backcountryworkshop.com. Outdoor Retailer's All Mountain Demo (AMD), Tuesday, January 22, returns to Solitude Mountain Resort, bringing together crowds of retailers and media to spend the day outdoors, previewing new gear, hands-on testing, and networking with industry experts. Shuttles will take attendees from the Salt Palace directly to the resort and other specified locations around the resort. Also new this year, backcountry and snowshoeing tours (2-3 hours) with Utah Mountain Adventures (UMA) and Solitude will lead attendees of all skill levels from the All Mountain Demo base at Solitude into the world-class terrain of the Big Cottonwood Canyon. Serving the snowsports community at OR, including backcountry, AT, splitboard, snowboard, telemark, snowshoe and Nordic, Outdoor Retailer has teamed with Avalaunch (Booth #34105) to provide invaluable insight into avalanche safety and preparedness as well as educational seminars with preeminent skiers and mountaineers like Dean Cummings and Conrad Anker.
DR. SIMON BARTOLD ASICS INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CONSULTANT By Thomas J. Ryan
ne of the staunchest critics of the barefoot/minimalist movement has been Dr. Simon Bartold, international research consultant, ASICS. Considered one of the worldâ€™s foremost experts in athletic footwear science and design, the Australian has been awarded the Richard O. Schuster Award by the American Podiatric Medical Association for outstanding contributions to Education and Research in the field of Biomechanics, the only time the recipient has been a nonNorth American native. Over the last few years, Bartold has spent much of his time debunking many of the core principles surrounding the barefoot movement and pointing to its dangers. SGB Weekly sat down with Dr. Bartold at The Running Event to explore the latest shifts in the trend. 10 SGBWeekly.com | DECEMBER 17, 2012
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HOW DO YOU THINK THE WHOLE BAREFOOT/MINIMALIST TREND IS
I actually think it’s dead. I think the big vibe around minimalism and barefoot as it existed 18 months ago has run its course. We’re starting to see a lot of retailers say, ‘We really can’t sell it. Inventories are stacked up. And we can’t find anything to justify it scientifically.’ So it’s going to go back to where it was – what we called racing flats 10 years ago. EVOLVING?
Mostly the zero-drop footwear and the whole talk of it as a main running shoe for the bulk of people. That’s the story we’ve been told. We’ve been told that if you go to a zero-drop running shoe then your gait will change and you’ll be running naturally like a caveman. But I think the concept has a fatal flaw and I believe people have seen through it. It’s taken 3 or 4 years but I think that concept is dead in the water. Now, the idea of lightweight and less structured footwear is vibrantly alive. One of the great things that has come out of the barefoot/minimal construction discussion, and make no mistake, there have been many, is that everybody is looking into how can we strip weight out of the shoe, how can we make the shoe more responsive, how can we build a lighter shoe to offer a different experience for at least a part of the running community. And that’s where ASICS’ 33 and FluidAxis is fitting in as well as other companies with their lightweight product. I’m completely supportive of that concept because I think that idea sends a very good message around injury prevention and that should continue for a long time. WHAT MINIMALIST PRODUCT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
change that running pattern at your peril because it’s hard to change. If you are injured…it makes sense to look at it. WHAT ABOUT THE DISCUSSION AROUND ENCOURAGING MID-FOOT OR
No legs to it at all. It’s like saying everybody in the world should be wearing the same prescription spectacles. It’s clearly not the case. Everybody is going to have a different prescription. When people say you can only run fast when you’re in a forefoot strike, my question is: What about Stephen Kiprotich? He won the Olympic gold medal in the London marathon and he’s a heel striker. Fastest man in the world. What if we take all the U.S. Olympic 10,000 meter trials for this year? You can look at the first 20 finishers and there’s no uniformity. It’s a mix of forefoot strikers, mid-foot strikers, and a lot of heel strikers. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to it. Being a fast runner has nothing to do with whether you’re on your rear-foot or your mid-foot or your forefoot. It has to do with how you develop as a runner and how you move in an efficient manner to prevent injury. FOREFOOT STRIKING?
HOW DO THE LIGHTWEIGHT MODELS SUPPORT INJURY PREVENTION?
The biggest problem with us as runners in the western world is we tend to run in the same manner, which means the same loading at each step, and the human body is very bad at adapting to that. This whole concept that you should mix the terrain you run on - some hills, some sand, some grass - and especially the look of the shoe to a less structured one at least a couple runs a week is completely logical from an injury prevention standpoint. Running in the same pair of shoes during the week is not varying the input signal enough. If you’re running on a different terrain or using a lightweight, lowerdrop, more flexible shoe like the GEL-Lyte for shorter, faster runs during the week, you’re not hitting the same repetitive load all the time. You’re not radically changing the experience, but enough to mix up the input signal in a positive manner. WHAT’S THE FATAL FLAW OF THE MINIMALISM MOVEMENT? You
run how you run. And you see examples of it all over the world. The women who won the recent Olympic marathon, Tiki Gelana, had the worst form you could ever imagine. I was just watching some film of Emil Zatopek, the great Czech runner. Horrible form. Hips all over the place. Arms all over the place. And he was the greatest athlete in the world for many, many years. People, especially elite runners, develop through their childhood into their adolescence and then they probably show their talent and start to get coaching involved. But their running pattern is pretty hardwired by that time. If you’re not injured,
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WHAT ABOUT THOSE SAYING THEY’VE BECOME INJURY FREE SINCE SHIFT-
It’s probably happening as much as the people who were forefoot striking and got injured, and are now running injury-free rear-foot striking. Just because it’s worked for you, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for me. From a biomechanical perspective, it’s interesting because what we do know about forefoot striking is it does actually result in a smaller load through your knee. If you’ve got chronic knee pain, it actually makes sense to go barefoot running. But you have to monitor that carefully because the laws of physics say you can’t create or destroy energy. While you get a reduction in the forces in your knee, it has to be put somewhere else and it gets put in your ankle. So you get a small reduction in knee-joint load and a large increase in ankle joint load and that’s why people who transition have to be very careful because they can get bigger problems around their Achilles tendon. ING TO FOREFOOT STRIKING?
DECEMBER 17, 2012 | SGBWeekly.com
DO YOU SEE ANY BENEFITS IN HAVING A MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE
I don’t think the runners are more informed. I think the runners are more confused. You can go online and quickly find 15 different running blogs and a lot of that information is going to be conflicting. Some will say you should be running in a zero-drop shoe, others a 5mm drop shoe and some a motion control shoe. And the runner’s like, ‘What the heck am I going to do?’ And the retailer’s are confused as well as half of the podiatrists don’t know what to do. I also think one of the reasons we’ve got ourselves into this position is that everybody is connected and everybody is online. And runners are always looking for a bit of a magic bullet and they often think that the shoe is that magic bullet. I would propose that the shoe is not that magic bullet and it’s never going to be. The discussion we need to be having is about being fit for the sport. Developing muscle strength in the right areas and learning how to recruit your glutes, your hamstrings, your hip flexors, your core strength, etc. We’re not having that discussion because people are saying, ‘Here you go. Wear this shoe or don’t’ wear this shoe and you’ll get better.’ RUNNING CONSUMER?
HOW COME INJURY RATES HAVEN’T COME DOWN WITH THE AD-
I think a lot of that data is skewed. If you ran in the 70s, you were either a professional or semi-professional. You were by necessity a very good runner. A runner was really quite a curiosity back then. By 2000 we had more people running and here we are in 2012 and the average marathon time is around 4:40. These are not good runners. You get people who are getting up and expecting to run a marathon with three to five months of training. It’s no wonder they’re getting injured. A marathon is a serious undertaking. Comparing injury rates today to those in the 70s or even 2000 isn’t apples to apples. What we’ve got here are really under-conditioned athletes who are reporting injuries as runners. VANCES OF FOOTWEAR TECHNOLOGIES OVER THE YEARS?
I’m really bullish on technologies such as the FluidAxis, which is part of the 33 series. We’re taking stuff out of shoes and making them lighter. But we’re making them really technical and we’re making them address the actual forces that are occurring in the foot and working with those forces. To me, that’s revolutionary. But I think it’s very hard to moderate the injury risk. If you want to be active, there are risks involved and you probably will get an injury from time to time. And getting in better shape and doing simple exercises to strengthen your hamstrings and butt muscles will likely pay off better than changing your strike pattern. From a footwear standpoint, it’s very hard for us to build anything that we can say will definitely change injury rates because injury is caused by different things and footwear is a tiny piece of the jigsaw. ■ IS THERE HOPE FOR REDUCING INJURY RATES?
12 SGBWeekly.com | DECEMBER 17, 2012
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Running Market Retains its Mojo By Thomas J. Ryan
Saucony held a Block Party during The Running Event. Along with local beer, food trucks and tunes from local favorites, the Shinyribs, Saucony brought out a host of its star Olympic athletes. >From left to right, Lauryn Williams, Wallace Spearmon, Duane Solomon and Molly Huddle. Saucony president Richie Woodworth is in the middle.
t’s crowded. It’s confusing. And increasingly competitive. But the specialty running footwear channel still appears to have some dynamic growth left. That’s at least the view from attendees at The Running Event held in early December in Austin, TX. The event attracted 2,100 attendees, including 792 owners and buyers of running specialty stores, plus 1,344 exhibitor personnel and other industry professionals. The trade show featured 295 exhibitors across 201,700 sq. ft., an increase of 18 percent from 250 the year before. Along with a number of established as well as
14 SGBWeekly.com | DECEMBER 17, 2012
upstart run footwear vendors such as Altra, Hoka One One and Skora, exhibitors included a wide range of trail running vendors, Après sport or recovery footwear brands such as OOFOS and Barefooters as well as a wide range of apparel and accessories suppliers. The stars also came to Texas with personal appearances by many of running’s elite: Craig Alexander, Jeff Galloway, Ryan Hall, Scott Jurek, Meb Keflezighi, Hal Koerner, Anton Krupicka and Andy Potts. Seminars were held around increasing store profitability, gait analysis and footwear prescription, planning events, and the effective use of social media.
Some discussion in the aisles explored heightened competition from big box stores and athletic chains, including forays such as Finish Line’s Running Company rollout and Dick’s Sporting Good’s True Runner concept. But the bigger headache for many appears to be competitive-pricing from online stores. On the product side, bright neon/fluorescent colors continue to proliferate although they seem to be relaxing somewhat with more muted colors coming further in the back half of 2103.
“What we have been calling minimalism is evolving into something else which doesn’t have a name but which brands like Pearl Izumi are addressing,” said Tucker. ”It’s taking those elements that became popular in minimalism evolving them and making sense of it.” Also not shutting down for the running world is the innovative engine for many vendors. The conversations over the whole barefoot/ minimalist movement has led experimentation well beyond the traditional rules of making running footwear and that continues. Brooks, the leader in the run specialty channel, is embarking on an extensive research project to probe deeper into fit analysis and injury prevention. Brooks Footwear Product Line Manager Carson Caprara said the research will seek to “clear up” much of the ongoing conflicting information in the marketplace but particularly focus on the individual. For instance, the research will seek to explain why someone with chronic running injuries in the past may have suddenly become injury-free when switching to a minimal shoe. Perhaps even more puzzlingly, it will try to understand why someone else when viewed on a treadmill with the exact same gait alignment gets injured when wearing a minimal shoe. “I think it may entail shifting the paradigm a Oregon-based Fit Right Northwest was recognized as the winner of The North Face Never Stop Exploring little bit in how we look at runners and injuries Award, recognizing the specialty running store that demonstrates the most complete dedication to encouraging and enabling outdoor exploration within the community. The specialty dealer, with three locations, was selected and how we build shoes and that hopefully for its fun and creative programs designed to appeal to recreational and serious runners. The North Face will long term will resonate and make sense for donate $5,000 to help build community programs in the Portland area. retailers and runners across the spectrum,” “You’ve got color pop, but it’s not all over color,” said Rick Higgins, said Caprara. “It will have an element of choice, but also bring a VP, global product development/merchandising fitness group, little bit of the science back into the equation about optimal running Skechers USA, Inc. “It’s little hits of color, but it’s not all over.” In the aisles the talk was still largely about the evolution of the minimalist trend. Marked by the slowdown with Vibram’s FiveFinger franchise, the market appears to be shifting for 2013 away from targeting purely minimal looks to offering a more generous amount of cushioning and structured options in a lightweight package. Heel-toe drops may fall in the zero to 8mm range, but stack heights (outsole to footbed) are coming closer to the 15 to 25mm range. Nonetheless, lightweight still rules the day with motion-control shoes certainly not making a comeback. Many of the learnings of minimalism, including lean construction, flexibility as well as theories around natural motion and natural transition through the midfoot, continue to work their way into next year’s models. Scott Tucker, director of run at Pearl Izumi, said the overall trend focus remains in lightweight, less-constructed and lower-offset shoes. Tucker believes barefoot is “dying away” as well as “super, for each individual. And it’s going to focus less on there being one low-to-the-ground, no-midsole” options. He also said minimal shoes standardized baseline that everyone has to be aligned in this one didn’t address lateral biomechanics and newer options are receiving way to what is your best alignment as an individual and looking at more emphasis there. your optimal motion and your optimal alignment and figuring out how DECEMBER 17, 2012 | SGBWeekly.com
to keep you in that alignment as you run. And that’s very different because now it’s, ‘Let’s put a bunch of people on a treadmill and try to align them on the same plane.’ But for some people, that plane may not work.” At The Running Event, Brooks unveiled the Ghost 6 with a modernized upper and a new foam package in the tongue for greater breathability. The TPU insert was also removed to enable some natural transition through the midfoot and more contact with the foam and the ground. Also receiving an update was the Glycerin 11 with a lighter, more-futuristic upper but still a focus on making the bottom “even more plush than it’s even been” regardless of weight, said Caprara. Caprara noted that sales of the Glycerin, its most cushioned neutral model, are up 33 percent year-to-date despite all the chatter
allows for less impact, better running technique and less injury risk.” Altra was also showing road and tri-versions of its successful Superior shoe, an update of its popular Lone Peak trail shoe with a new look, and an update of its Provision stability shoe with a thicker heel counter and more support on the upper. Harper believes the brand has grabbed traction in run specialty because the brand is completely dedicated to the channel and also run by former store owners and active marathon runners. But he believes word-of-mouth as well as the uniqueness of its foot-shape, toe-box construction has also grabbed consumers. “Anybody with any kind of injury with forefoot pain, bunions and other stuff when they put it on and they know it’s going to work,” said Harper. “Anybody putting our shoes on immediately feels how it can provide a different running experience.” Vibram was showcasing a number of everyday casual shoes, even a golf shoe, as well as more color on their run models in light of recent trends in the space. PJ Antonik, media relations and communications associate at Vibram USA, said the brand has cleaned up its inventory issues and will look to capitalize on its position as the leader in the toe-shoe category that still has many fans. Said Antonik, “Our sales are down but we reached a position where every shoe company had a minimal shoe. So we have to focus on bringing innovation to the toe-shoe category. And we also know it’s not for everyone and that’s why we partnered with so many people that have traditional shoes.” Another larger newbie to the running space Fleet Feet Syracuse earned Store of the Year at The Running Event. Some of the staff of Fleet Feet Sports Syracuse is Skechers who showcased GOrun 2, which (left to right): Liz Knickerbocker, Ed Griffin, Ellen Griffin, Matt Werder, Shelby Joslyn, Marcia Palamara and Tana Pusey. Brooks also won Vendor of the Year. Among products, Feetures! was recognized for its slip-on therapy that features an elevated bump in the arch area helps heal plantar fasciitis while New Balance earned Shoe of the Year for its 860 V2. to provide a smoother transition. For 2013, around minimal. He believes the brand’s “float” versus “feel” mes- Skechers will also be unveiling a trail version of the GObionic model saging connects with runners, and that seems to be creating sales with a 4m heel-to-toe drop but a removable insole that makes it a zero opportunities across the run space. drop shoe. The GORun Ride 2, Skechers’ cushioning proposition, gains “It’s just a matter of not having one point of view but offering an updated upper. The GOwalk 2 becomes a “little more tech savvy” choices for runners and I really think that’s resonating,” said Caprara. with a new bottom featuring the Impulse Sensors linked together to “We’re not telling runners you have to run minimal or run core. Run provide more stability. Said Higgins, “It’s really targeting what that them both. We’re going to build them both for your type of foot and white space is in the tech walking area.” you can make the choice on what you prefer.” With Skechers choosing not to sell its run lines at coupon-driven Among the newer brands, Altra was showcasing Torin, its maxi- channels such as department stores, Higgins said Skechers’ running mum cushioning shoe aimed to sit alongside the Glycerin and Asics’ product is focused on the family shoe channel and run specialty. Nimbus, yet still at a zero-drop profile. Gaining positive reviews and accolades in Runners World and other “This is probably the truest expression of who we are as a company,” consumer publications has helped the brand gain a foothold “with a said Golden Harper, a co-founder of Altra. “What we have always repre- lot of specialty running guys across the country,” he added. sented is blending the benefits of minimal or barefoot with the structure, Skechers’ grassroots efforts have landed Road Runner Sports support, cushioning and comfort of traditional shoes. This shoe is prob- and encouraged some key stores in Boston and other cities to test ably the purest expression of what Altra really is. It’s very cushioned but the shoes on their websites and eventually bring them to the store. 16 SGBWeekly.com | DECEMBER 17, 2012
Added Higgins, “People are walking in asking to see the Skechers GORun shoe they heard about. It’s really starting to take hold and for us. And that’s great because we really need a strong foundation in run specialty to get that secure growth. It’s not big volume for us but it’s important volume for us.” Reebok unveiled its One series designed to replicate “the way the gait cycle progresses,” across the heel, midfoot and forefoot, yet it retains a 12m heel-to-toe drop, according to Thomas Wood, senior product manager, men’s sport footwear at Reebok. Both Reebok and Inov-8 also showcased offerings aimed at CrossFit as well as trail shoes aimed at mud runs and obstacle runs. Said Lizzie Baker, marketing coordinator at Inov-8, “Our shoes really drain well and dig into mud. A lot of people come to our booth and tell us how we saved them when everybody next to them was sliding all over the place.“ Dave Jewell, footwear category manager, Zoot Footwear, believes many athletes are seeking out more extreme activities such as CrossFit, mud runs, obstacle races as well as triathlons because they are looking for a different experience. “They're saying, ‘I’ve run a marathon, what other things can I do?’ And there’s an adventurous side to it with all these mud runs and extreme runs where you run through fire,” said Jewell. “Plus, people got tired of doing marathons partly because it hurts. All that running can hurt you. So they’ll do a tri where they can run as well as get on a bike and swim and stay fit. I think it’s all good. It’s all about running, moving forward.” Jewell also believes a niche focus, such as Zoot’s around tri, is clearly providing a differential for some of the newer brands in the marketplace. Said Jewell, “We identify with an end consumer that has chosen a sport and natural running is not a sport. And tri remains a super healthy sport. It’s an active end user and it’s the wrong term, but they like to spend money. They love gear.” Still, Jewell believes that although the
running industry was due for a “reset” since shoes were becoming over-built over the years, he laments that much of the natural discussion is around the midfoot strike. “I have an active son so I live and breath cross country,” said Jewell. “I go to practices and the coaches talk about running form - staying relaxed, running proud and not slumping your shoulders. These coaches who have been doing this well before these new shoes arrived never talked about midfoot strike. Running has nothing to do with wear your foot lands.” Yet many vendors eye more benefits than
drawbacks from the experimentation from new and older vendors. “It’s an exciting time,” said Pete Stolpe, marketing specialist, running, Adidas America. “Because never in the history of the industry has there been more companies with more footwear. The individual runner can truly have a choice and a voice of what they want to put on their foot. If you’re a higharched runner, if you’re a forefoot runner, whatever your running gait is, whatever your distance preference is, there’s never been a time in the industry‘s history where you have more companies where each runner can absolutely choose what they want on their foot. The bottom line benefit is runners win because they have more choices than ever before and they have more of a voice. That’s fantastic for the health of the sport and makes it more inclusive as it’s ever been because there’s something for everybody.” Jim Van Dine, president of Ahnu and Tsubo at Deckers Outdoor, which acquired a minority stake in Hoka One One earlier this
year, believes that although FiveFinger’s sales have slowed down, the franchise’s success has created opportunities for other upstart vendors. “It seemed like for 20 plus years until just the past few years the top seven running brands had it locked up,” said Van Dine. “FiveFingers opened the window to where people began to say, “Wow! This is totally different and it’s causing a lot of excitement and creating a lot of sales. Maybe we should be open to other innovations.” And while there’s “probably more brands now than are viable to survive” at this point given the level of competition and limited shelf space, Van Dine believes run specialty retailers recognize the payback from bringing truly innovative product to the marketplace. Many are waiting for the shakeout that’s bound to occur in the run specialty space given all the recent entrees. Many run specialty stores are expected to continue to place a majority of their orders in the top seven entrenched brands (Nike, Brooks, Asics, New Balance, Saucony, Mizuno and Adidas). That leaves limited space for the rest, which at the trade show also included on both the trail and road run side: Aetrex, Avia, Ecco, La Sportiva, Lowa, Karhu, K-Swiss, Merrell, Montrail, Newton Running, Puma, Salomon, The North Face, TrekSta, Scott Sports, Spira, Under Armour and Zem. Pearl Izumi’s Tucker noted that the brand has tripled its business for 2013 with a strong response to its new EMotion platform that promises a “smooth ride.“ But he pointed to the lengthy process that lessestablished takes in first finding success at the more experimental stores before other stores are encouraged enough to explore to a newer brand. He said he will still consider Pearl Izumi a “test” brand in the run specialty world until it lands in the top seven. “If you’re in the top seven in market share, people think you’re relevant and keep you season after season,” said Tucker. ■ DECEMBER 17, 2012 | SGBWeekly.com
I AM... sgbW
TOPHER GAYLORD President, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail
What first drove you to get active in the outdoors? I was born in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, as the youngest in a family of 10 siblings. Our family car was a converted school bus. Our family has a long passion and history in the outdoors and we would take summer camping and winter skiing trips across the country in our bus. Including my parents, I had 12 people I was learning from in my immediate family everyday and schooling me in the ways of the outdoors. It was in my blood from birth. Our family moved West in the early 1970s to Utah (we are neither Catholic nor Mormon, just a big family) and were early investors in Snowbird Ski Resort and built the original Cliff Lodge. I was skiing from the top of Snowbird before walking and consider Little Cottonwood Canyon my home mountains. What outdoor activity or sport was your favorite as a kid? What was your proudest athletic moment? I was genetically a late bloomer in life, a little dude, a grommet, mini. Given my genetic pre-disposition, this led me away from the traditional sports in my formative years like baseball, football, basketball, which favored athletes that were blooming ahead of the bell curve or right on the top of the bell. But what do guys that are on the tail end of the bell do? I dedicated myself to sports that had nothing to do with traditional sports or bell shaped curves. They were sports that suited my size and my desire to pioneer something new. I was most passionate about skiing and ski racing while in Utah. In the late 1970s a part of my family moved to Berkeley, CA, and I took all that ski energy into windsurfing and wave sailing the cold waters and strong currents on the California coast. What was your first job? As a teenager, I grew up working in ski and windsurfing retail. I spent a few years working for a specialty windsurfing sail manufacturer making the best sails in the world in Berkeley and testing and refining them. Linking my work with my passions early in life was both inspiring and rewarding. In college, I thought it was time to get a “real job” and spent six months selling real estate securities to institutional investors. I learned quickly what I didn’t want to do with my life, luckily at an early age. From that point forward I dedicated myself completely to living a life that did not compromise my passions in life from my work in life.
Topher Gaylord began with Mountain Hardwear and Montrail in March 2010. Since that time, Gaylord has maintained his stamina, both as a respected outdoor-industry executive and athlete.
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What do you love about working at Mountain Hardwear and in the outdoor industry? Mountain Hardwear is filled with inspiring people who are passionate about the outdoors and living full lives. As an example, Rowan Jimenez, our warranty manager, received a double lung transplant while working at MH and he reminds us all every day the gift of life and to live every moment to the fullest. The outdoor industry is filled with real people who have a desire to make the world a better place, that challenge each other and bring fun to those around them. I also enjoy the incredible values and integrity our industry has. What is your advice to someone looking to work or grow their career in the outdoor industry? Work on discovering your passion, then pursue it with every fiber in your body and mind. Find learning in everything you do, even the routine. ■
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