Birki’s Heads for The Outdoors

Birki’s is taking a step outside its comfort zone.

Known for anatomically designed footwear for the lifestyle and duty markets, the Hamilton Landing, Nev.-based brand is now setting its sights on the active/outdoor category under the leadership of its new VP of sales and marketing, Bill Taylor.

This fall, Birki’s is building upon existing technologies with the addition of its Dynamic Footbed System to be featured in some closed-toe slip-on styles, followed by a sandal offering in spring ’13. Dynamic Footbed enhances the comfort factor with a layer of memory foam.

According to Taylor, about 25 percent of Birki’s total offering eventually will incorporate the Dynamic Footbed System. “We have the opportunity to make [active/outdoor] 10 percent of the business,” said Taylor. “We’re looking at a 15 percent increase [for 2013] due to the new technology, distribution and marketing push.”

Marketing initiatives will help communicate the new message, said Matt Hundley, marketing communications manager. Included in the initiatives is a partnership with the American Park Network, publisher of visitor guide magazines that began this past spring.

Moving forward, the brand will actively pursue outdoor accounts such as REI. “We want to become one of the top brands in active recovery in all channels of distribution,” Taylor said.

Birki’s are sold in outdoor-oriented retailers including Whole Earth Provision, where Taylor hopes to garner more shelf space with the Dynamic Footbed System technology. The collection is also available in better independents such as Footwise in Eugene, Ore., Harry’s Shoes in New York, Littles Shoes in Pittsburgh, uniforms shops, on QVC and through e-tailers such as Onlineshoes.com.

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