Skechers, a popular brand of athletic and street footwear, has become a major recognized brand name in the last thirty-five plus years since the company was founded, but unless you're just a shoe history junkie, there's probably plenty you don't know about the company and their shoes. So, keep reading to learn 20 things you didn't know about Skechers.
1. In the Beginning
The company started out in 1992 in a California beach house with only about a dozen employees headed by Robert Greenberg who was also the company's founder. Before Greenberg began his own shoewear company, he had been part of the team that founded LA Gear. After a few notably successful years, however, LA Gear saw a huge market share loss in 1992 and forced both Greenberg and his son Michael out of the company. Seeing that there were no industry giants controlling both men's and women's streetwear, Greenberg started Skechers with that particular niche in mind.
2. Greenberg's First Major Break
Before starting Skechers, Greenberg's first major break happened when he put the image of the then-popular alien film character ET on his shoelaces after purchasing the license to do so. This idea ended up making him over three million dollars in under eight weeks. It was these earnings which Greenberg used for founding LA Gear.
3. Skechers's First Shoe
The company's very first shoe was the Cascades logger boot. This particular shoe practically took on a life of its own, becoming massively successful during the grunge era of the 1990s. In fact, the shoe was so successful; it's still available for purchase even today. Beginning with this one shoe, Skechers began to fill the niche of lifestyle and performance footwear for both men and women. Today the shoewear giant has over three thousand different styles of products across various divisions.
4. The Company's First Plan
Skechers was actually set up to act as British label Doc Martens' US distributor. However, Greenberg decided to focus on using what he'd learned through LA Gear to design and market his own brand.
Primarily, in the beginning, the focus was on stylish street shoes for young, hip men, but Greenberg soon realized there was a whole market niche which included both men and women. In addition to becoming the largest distributor of Doc Martens, Skechers also purchased and marketed the labels Cross Colours and Karl Kani.
This move brought urban footwear into the retail picture. With all there labels proving successful, Greenberg and company saw the financial opportunity available to them in developing their own label. In 1993 he decided to pool his resources, both fiscal and creative, and focus on developing Skechers. Both Cross Colours and Karl Kani was discontinued not long after.
5. The Big Breakup
Even after becoming their largest distributor, Doc Martens and Skechers had a falling out only a year into their contract, which was with the makers of Doc Martens, R. Griggs LTD. Skechers accused the shoemakers of failing to deliver on orders filled due to their increasingly popular merchandise. A battle of countersuits then ensued after Skechers filed a complaint for breach of contract. After only a year of successfully distributing the other company's products, the two split ways, and Skechers had to depend on their own brand for success.
6. The Chrome Dome
In 1993, Skechers created the "Chrome Dome," a grunge-style street shoe that was manufactured to look scuffed and well-worn. This shoe went well with pre-torn, stone-washed jeans that were so popular at the time. Because the look was unisex, it appealed to both sexes, presenting an image of tenacious androgyny. The shoe became the iconic and official urban streetwear for the newly developed grunge niche. Skechers not only proved with this shoe that the company was aware of changing trends among the youth but also caught the eye of such stores like Nordstrom and Foleys, both of which picked up the label.
7. Branching Out
Only two years after starting up, Skechers was a dynamic, fast-growing company which was a direct reflection of Greenberg's experience in the footwear and retail markets. The company signed several agreements with two manufacturers to produce Skecher wear, casual clothing for boys and men. It was the company's intentions to appeal to those same consumers who were buying their shoes. It was also their desire to place emphasis on comfort, wearability, and style. The clothing line which was sold in major national department stores was made up of primarily jeans, t-shirts, and fleece tops.
8. Expanding to Other Countries
In 1997, just four short years after producing their first shoe, Skechers was doing well enough to take their company to overseas markets. They began selling footwear in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, where their shoes were manufactured. Keeping an ever-watchful eye on the newest trends, the company sold easily in the international youth market. By 1998, this market accounted for fifteen percent of the company's total sales.
9. Accounts and Stores
By 1998 Skechers had only been in business a little over five years, but already they had over two thousand accounts. In addition, the company opened more than thirty of their own stores, although they preferred to focus on their accounts instead. In fact, this year saw such demand for the company's products that they had to cease opening new accounts entirely for the time being. Instead, they began focusing on another niche: women's footwear.
10. Expanding the Line
With the focus beginning on women's footwear, the company aggressively expanded to include sandals and boots with funky, high platforms which would appeal to urban teenagers and young, hip women. In addition, the company also expanded to include the manufacturing of children's shoes as well, bringing their total shoe output from six hundred shoes to nine hundred shoes in only a year's time. By April of 1998, Skechers had become a major competitor to Nike and Reebok.
11. Aggressive Moves
Also in that same year, Skechers rented the largest space at Atlanta's World Congress Center. While promising to focus on new athletic footwear, the company used the space to show their hip new flashy image which seemed to be equally influenced by sports, urban wear, and hip-hop. Skechers put on a huge show that year, spending two million for models to wear their new designs, dancers, light shows, and video screens.
Nike didn't even make an appearance that year, and some feel it was because Skechers had come out showing how they had capitalized on the fact that athletic wear wasn't just for sports anymore, but had also become popular as streetwear, something Nike had yet to figure out.
12. Fighting the Good Fight
Because of Skecher's huge success, however, they had to face some unforeseen issues with copycat designs and labels. The more popular and prominent their products became, the more copycats there were. Skechers proved they were willing to keep their place as an innovative footwear company as well as that they were willing to protect their place in the market by filing several complaints against other footwear companies for copying their original designs. Both Payless Shoe Source and Candies were part of these complaints.
13. Marketing Strategies
Skechers began aggressively using marketing strategies, adding the endorsement of a variety of celebrities. Britney Spears was their first international endorsee. Other endorsees included Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Robert Downey Jr, Kim Kardashian, Sugar Ray Leonard, Brooke Burke-Charvet, Keely Brook, Meghan Trainer, Demi Lovato, and Ringo Starr. Additionally, Skechers also had as endorsees pro golfers Billy Andrade, Colin Montgomerie, Belen Mozo, and Matt Kuchar, runner Kara Goucher, and marathon winner Meb Keflezighi.
14. Skechers Everywhere
Skechers are sold in more than a hundred and twenty territories and countries. In fact, the company's shoes are sold on every continent except for one: Antartica. In addition, the distribution center in North America ships more than a hundred million pairs of shoes every year! That's a lot of shoes. The company now has over three thousand original designs for the whole family, including children, women, and men. In addition, the company also makes a wide range of kids' shoes which have been marketed by using a variety of animated characters for both girls and boys.
15. What's In a Name?
Names generally have some kind of meaning and it's no different with the footwear giant. Skechers is a name that refers to a kid who just can't sit still. Seems like the perfect name for a company that is the fifth largest sneaker company in the world. The fact that they also sell on every continent except Antartica also proves they just can't still, either.
The footwear company even had a TV series at one time that aired on Nickelodeon called Zevo-3. The animated series was about teenagers, who after exposure to the Zevo Compound, had become superheroes. The show aired for almost seven months before ended after only one season.
The series was based on three characters which Skechers had made for commercials. Elastika, Kewl Breeze, and Z-Strap were redesigned for the animated series and the show was produced by Skechers Entertainment and Moon Scoop Group. The three kids gain powers when the evil Doctor Stankfoot experiments on them in the Zevo compound lab. After gaining their powers, the three teenage superheroes fight mutant monsters while at the same time dealing with ordinary teen problems such as feeling, friends, and school.
17. Shoes to Run a Marathon In
One of Skechers' endorsees was Meb Keflezighi, a marathon runner. In 2014, at the age of thirty-one, Meb managed to win the Boston Marathon. He was wearing shoes by Skechers at the time, too, GOmeb Speed shoes, made especially for runners.
18. China Loves Skechers
According to reports, China really loves Skechers. As a matter of fact, sales in China have almost doubled, bringing in almost twice as much revenue in the fourth quarter earnings call for 2016. Shipping nearly three million pairs that quarter, bringing the total to ten and a half million pairs. In addition, the company has over two thousand points of sale as well as a strong e-commerce business just short of triple-digit growth. Furthermore, the company believes there is still even more sales potential across China for further building up the brand there.
19. New Marketing Philosophy
"Unseen. Untold. Unsold." is the new marketing philosophy Skechers has adopted. The company strongly believes in the power of advertising and use it for promoting the idea that their label is a must-have; no one should have to live without at least one pair of Skechers in their closet.
The footwear giant's goal is to maximize the impact their brand on consumers by constantly trying to keep their new message on the minds of every buyer and shoes on every consumers' feet. Utilizing their street-wise image and cutting-edge attitude via aggressive marketing has proven successful due to their use of a variety of mediums bringing them ultimate effectiveness. On a personal note, this writer loves Skechers and has several pairs, one of which is renewed yearly with a new purchase.
20. Global Leader
Skechers, which started out in a California beach house some thirty-some years ago, has enjoyed a tremendous success over the years and are still going strong as a global leader in footwear. Their styles include over three thousand styles, all of which were designed with a specific market in mind, developed to wear well, and marketed for people of all ages: men, women, and children.
The company now has their focus on two categories of distinct types of footwear: one is their Lifestyle line which offers Memory Foam that contours to the uniqueness of your foot for extreme comfort. The second is their performance offers such as GOwalk and GOrun, both using innovative technology to facilitate the best cushioning and impact protection for walking and/or running.
Clearly, Skechers is a brand that not only tries to keep up with current trends but also with what consumers want and need in a shoe. They want customers to enjoy the latest trends and best in innovative technology. The company offers a diverse range of products which have been specifically designed for each and every consumer from children to adults, from play to work. In addition to comfort, style, and quality, Skechers also offers affordable footwear, making their products accessible all across the world. Well, their products are available everywhere but Antartica, but they've got everywhere else covered.
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Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker