Marvel, Airwalk Seek Out New Customers

Airwalk is aiming to reach a bigger chunk of the marketplace through its new brand collaboration with Marvel Entertainment LLC.

The skate-and-surf label, owned by Collective Licensing International (a division of Collective Brands Inc.) is debuting a lifestyle offering this fall under the Marvel x Airwalk logo, to include footwear, apparel and accessories for men, women and kids.

Bruce Pettet, president and CEO of Collective Licensing, said the two companies would mine their design archives to create an “elevated” look inspired by their comic book and board sports heritages.

“This was about the bigger brand collaboration and doing things that aren’t predictable. We don’t want to do a strict interpretation of Iron Man, for example,” he said. “We’re going to be interpreting [the Marvel] characters in an elevated way. This is going to reach new ground.”

Pettet added that the product would be targeted to the early-adopter consumer, in the 14-to-28 age bracket.

To reach that audience, Airwalk will release three different Marvel collections, starting with the collectors’ series, going into boutique retail accounts. The influencers’ series will be distributed to specialty shops and high-end department stores, and the youth series will go to mid-tier retailers.

Currently, Payless ShoeSource, also owned by Collective Brands, is Airwalk’s largest distribution point. But the brand hopes the Marvel collab — and its fresh design sensibility — will open up new channels.

To market the collections, Airwalk plans to put the focus on the merchandise. “Our approach is going to let the product do the work,” Pettet said. “We have a lot going on for both our brands. You might see [the merchandise] on one of our athletes, but really, we’re going to let the product represent itself.”

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