Work Buzz: Wolverine, Cat, Timberland and More

Core Values
Wolverine World Wide is reliving its fashion past with the launch of the 1,000 Mile Collection, a series of high-end men’s looks inspired by the Rockford, Mich.-based brand’s 125-plus years.

The debut fall ’09 line is built around the collection’s signature 1,000 Mile boot (at right), a remake of the 1,000 Mile shoe produced by the former Wolverine Shoe & Tanning Corp. in the early 1900s. Originally made of durable horsehide, the shoe was advertised to withstand more than 1,000 miles of wear.

According to Roger Huard, VP of product development for Wolverine Footwear Group, the workwear-as-fashion trend inspired the collection’s launch. “We had an old boot hanging around, and pictures of shoes and old ads staring us in the face,” Huard explained about the decision to create a line of fashion-driven Goodyear-welted looks.

The move into upscale lifestyle product also offered Wolverine the opportunity to expand its brand portfolio overseas, Huard said, noting the company’s current focus on core work and industrial product. “These [workboot] looks are out there in Europe and Japan. If anyone can claim to be an authentic bootmaker in the U.S., it’s Wolverine. The 1,000 Mile Collection is an opportunity to take [our brand] up a notch. We’re doing this to give the Wolverine name exposure and peak distribution.” And, he emphasized, “it helps boost the reputation of the rest of the [brand’s] product.”

The new collection is expected to attract consumers and retailers outside the traditional work market, according to Christina Vernon, Wolverine’s international market development manager. “We’re looking at ways for people to get to know the brand in a different light,” she said. “They now see this beautiful collection of footwear and understand the brand from a different point of view.”

Tapping into the Wolverine brand’s existing DNA, the 1,000 Mile Collection is built on a durable welt construction and features stacked leather outsoles and leather uppers with a weathered finish. In addition to the namesake 1,000 Mile boot, the offering includes the Gentleman collection of vintage work styles; Garrison, a series of military-inspired styles; and Gentry, outdoor-inspired field boots. Set to retail from $200 to $350, the line will deliver in August, with distribution targeting better specialty stores, independent shoe retailers and select department stores.

Tech Support
Cat Footwear, based in Rockford, Mich., is stepping up the comfort features of its work collection with the addition of D3o, a proprietary material from U.K.-based D3o Lab. The material is designed for flexible impact protection and will be incorporated into Cat’s new Ergo FlexGuard men’s workboot, a metatarsal-guard style that will have the ability to bend and flex as the wearer moves, while protecting the instep and metatarsal areas from impact. In addition, the boot features Cat’s patented iTechnology construction, which combines durability with athletic-shoe comfort and a slip-resistant rubber outsole. The Ergo FlexGuard shoe is slated for a July delivery and will retail for $125.

Sure Footed
Stratham, N.H.-based Timberland Pro is raising the bar in the slip-resistant footwear category with new workboot and duty-shoe collections. On the work front is Industrial Traction, a line of safety-toe footwear aimed at workers who transition through a range of environments during the day. Included are three outsole designs: Rigmaster, Triflex and Quadro, all with uniquely positioned lugs that maximize surface contact and shed water, dirt and oil upon impact. Rigmaster, targeted to workers in general construction, field work and the oil and gas industries, is made with a single-density polyurethane bottom that is lightweight, shock absorbent and chemical resistant. The bottoms’ triangular-shaped lugs provide traction on surfaces ranging from an oil rig to a metal platform. The waterproof boots are available in both men’s and women’s styles. The Triflex collection is targeted to workers in the food delivery industry. The pair of waterproof men’s styles feature rubber outsoles that maintain traction on dirt or uneven surfaces. Quadro, a single oxford style for men, is built on a rubber outsole with circular grip pods that act like suction cups, evacuating water underneath. The shoe is aimed at people who work on smooth surfaces, such as machinists and custodial professionals. The entire Industrial Traction collection is built around Timberland Pro’s PowerFit comfort system and features contoured OrthoLite footbeds with Agion antimicrobial covers. All styles come with a 30-day money-back comfort guarantee. Set for an August delivery, the line will retail from $130 to $170.

In a separate move, Timberland Pro is addressing the health care market for the first time with Renova, a series of women’s comfort-driven duty shoes with slip-resistant outsoles. The line includes the Provider, an athletic style with a water-resistant synthetic upper; the Caregiver (above), a slingback clog in smooth leather or nubuck; and the Professional, a closed-back clog in full-grain leather. All are available in a range of colors.

The collection incorporates the brand’s proprietary anti-fatigue technology and SafeGrip slip-resistant rocker outsoles, which are designed to reduce forefoot pressure and aid in controlling proper joint motion through the ankles, knees and hips. Slated for an August delivery, the shoes will retail from $60 to $100. Distribution will target health care channels such as uniform shops.

Duty Calls

Sofft Shoe Co., based in Andover, Mass., is expanding its duty shoe business for spring ’09 with the launch of Pro-Step, a brand of slip-resistant footwear. According to Steve Johnson, national sales manager for Pro-Step, as well as the company’s Nurse Mates division, the collection was created after Nurse Mates began expanding its reach outside the traditional medical community with an increased focus on more general-purpose slip-resistant looks that included black and brown. “[Nurse Mates shoes] weren’t just for nurses anymore,” said Johnson, noting that the company also incorporated men’s styles into Pro-Step, a departure from the women’s-specific Nurse Mates line.

Because function remains a priority, the new Pro-Step shoes feature lightweight, shock-absorbing unit bottoms with a patented slip-resistant Aerogrip design. For all day comfort, cushioned footbeds are made of two performance foams.

The collection, which will retail from $69 to $79 beginning in May, includes three women’s styles (at left) and three men’s styles. The line will be sold in uniform and industrial stores, as well as other independents.

Law Abiders
The Terra division of Portland, Tenn.-based Kodiak-Terra USA Inc. is focusing on the law enforcement community this fall with the addition of the Unity collection of soft- and safety-toe looks designed for police officers, military personnel and security guards. The line includes the Grid (below) and Zone series, comprising boots and shoes with lug-bottom rubber outsoles for climbing stability, external molded heel counters for torsion control and protection, ergonomic ankle cushioning and anti-stretch webbing in the forefoot. All styles incorporate footbeds by Superfeet, designed to alleviate stress on the feet, ankles and knees. Rounding out the collection is the Perimeter, a 6-inch and 8-inch boot with aggressive athletic tread on the outsole, 1,000-denier nylon panels on the shaft and Terra’s proprietary cushioned footbed. Slated for an August delivery, the men’s and women’s collection will retail from $75 to $130.


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