K-Swiss Taps Pro Skater to Rep New Collection

NEW YORK — K-Swiss has put a face to its new skate line.

The Westlake Village, Calif.-based company announced today it has signed pro skater Greg Lutzka as creative director of the line, part of its recently created California Sports division.

“This is a tried-and-tested category for others, and we are going to commit several years and quality people [to it],” K-Swiss EVP David Nichols told Footwear News. “Greg is just the beginning, but he starts us off on a strong footing.”

According to Nichols, Lutzka, 24, will be charged with building a skate team with both professional and amateur riders. He also will serve as the face of the brand and offer input on new product.

Lutzka, who was previously part of El Segundo, Calif.-based Globe International’s skate team, is a seven-year pro and an X-Games medalist who swept the 2009 Tampa Pro. Nichols characterized Lutzka’s commitment to K-Swiss as “multiyear” and said the skater will have offices at K-Swiss’ headquarters. The brand said it would announce a skate brand manager and dedicated skate team shortly.

As FN reported in May, skate is a new category for the athletic firm, part of a broader brand revamp that focuses on its California roots. “These category collections also diversify our product mix, so we’re not so trend-vulnerable,” Nichols told FN at the time.

The company will debut a small series of men’s-only lifestyle looks and performance skate shoes (including a Lutzka signature shoe) priced from $70 to $90 for spring ’10. According to Nichols, the collection will target core skate shops across the U.S. and globally, and while he characterized the initial rollout as “limited,” he did not specify how many shops will carry the line at launch.

In addition to Lutzka, who will wear K-Swiss this summer at all his tournaments and events (including this weekend’s Maloof Money Cup in Costa Mesa, Calif., and the AST Dew Tour and X-Games 15 in Los Angeles), Nichols said K-Swiss also will push the skate line through retail-focused promotions, events and social media channels.

Sam Poser, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach, said an association with a big-name skater can help most brands establish credibility, but at the end of the day, K-Swiss’ efforts will live or die by the product. Skate consumers, he explained, are too savvy to buy into a line based solely on the strength of a name.

“It’s still about great shoes,” Poser said. “They have to bring good shoes to market. But if they have a good name [associated with the brand], it’s going to help.”

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