Things are coming full circle for York Athletics as the sportswear brand celebrates its 70th anniversary.
The Boston-based label paid tribute to its origins Tuesday by unveiling the new Henry Low Field Green sneaker at the R.G. Sullivan 7-20-4 Cigar Factory Building in Manchester, N.H.. That’s where the first generation of the family-owned business manufactured shoes from 1963 to 1980 under the name Indian Head Shoe Company.
The significance of the sneaker’s green color honors the brand’s past — three generations later.
“The purpose that it serves in the collection is a colorway that allows us to celebrate our heritage,” York Athletics CEO and co-founder Mark McGarry told Footwear News. “The colored outsole is the same green Pantone that is the green used in the first generation of the company — when it was Indian Head Shoe company, the manufacturing and branding was in that green.”
The limited-edition Henry Low Field Green, retailing for $110, features lightweight soles that improve traction and comfort, as well as a breathable mesh black upper, green outsole and molded EVA foam footbed.
“Everything we do is understated and clean,” McGarry added. “This is a subtle tribute as opposed to an entirely green shoe.”
McGarry said the label’s e-retail partner Huckberry.com has helped YORK Athletics court customers through its compelling messages.
“They have an ability to curate strong brand stories,” McGarry explained. “For us, we’ve learned that when we tell our story well we sell shoes — and we like working with partners like that. They have a large community base and that exposure is important for us as a new brand.”
Founded in 1946 under Indian Head Shoe Company by John X. Danos, the label made custom high-top cleats for NFL Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, and helped play a role in the development of one of the first turf shoes for football, McGarry said.
By the 1970s, market changes meant a shift in strategy for the company, which in its second generation was under Don and Gail Spaulding-York.
“When they were moving manufacturing overseas and companies were shutting down, they shifted to a mom-and-pop sporting-goods company,” McGarry said. “Instead of relying on only that, they did embroidery and screen printing for team uniforms and jackets.”
Now in its third generation, York Athletics has fully returned to performance sportswear, and with an emphasis on digital outreach.
“We’re carrying on the values of this family legacy — moving that forward, we turned that into a young and progressive e-commerce brand, but the same values are what’s driving us and carrying it forward,” McGarry said.