Iconic work brand Carhartt is stepping up its footwear presence. The company launched a collection with new licensing partner Black Diamond Group earlier this year in a move to broaden its product offering and channels of distribution.
Prior to signing with Black Diamond, Carhartt licensed its footwear to Red Wing Shoes. “We both agreed that in order to maximize our brand and their brands, we would split,” said Rick Fecowicz, director of licensing for Carhartt. “They wanted to put more resources toward Red Wing and some of their other brands.”
The Black Diamond collection, which debuted at retail for spring ’12, includes classic Wellingtons, loggers and lightweight hikers, retailing from $99 to $269. Moving into fall ’13, the line will also include an expanded assortment of women’s styles.
“We are doing well in the farming, construction, logging and oil and gas [categories],” said Fecowicz. “Our business is quite good on the apparel and footwear side. I can’t say we have been overly impacted by what’s been going on [with the economy]. Through these economic times people tend to buy quality or brands they trust. That’s the case we see with Carhartt.”
Although Carhartt remains committed to the core work consumer, the brand plans to expand beyond the performance market with styles suited to consumers’ rugged outdoor lifestyles.
Here, Fecowicz talks about Carhartt’s commitment to authenticity and appealing to a wide consumer audience.
1. Can Carhartt footwear play in the lifestyle as well as work markets?
RF: With all our products, even apparel, everything has to be work-related. You will see lots of people on the streets of New York wearing traditional work footwear as lifestyle. How folks use it, that’s up to them. We are not chasing [this segment]. [Carhartt footwear] will always be work-worthy.
2. As a brand that’s nearly 125 years old, is it difficult to attract younger customers?
RF: The brand is very powerful [and] speaks to a lot of young guys who want to be welcomed on the job. They see veterans wearing Carhartt. They want to fit in, and they also know it [offers] high quality apparel and is a brand they can trust.
3. How important is it to make the connection between apparel and footwear in Carhartt’s marketing initiatives?
RF: Any time there are marketing activities where we do in-house photo shoots, we make sure we [include] all our licensed products. In current TV commercials, you will see footwear and other licensed products.