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Vision Street Wear Eyes Footwear Return

NEW YORK — Vision Street Wear has set its sights back on footwear.

Executives at the Collective Licensing International LLC-owned brand, which exited the market four years ago, said demand for retro trends and skate nostalgia opened up space for the label’s return.

“There is a large group of people out there, both retailers and consumers, who know Vision, love the brand and continue to ask us about what was next for it,” said Eric Dreyer, VP of brand management at Collective. “We dramatically invested in product creation, and our new product team at Vision understands both the heritage of the label and what it takes to make a brand fresh and relevant to today’s youth consumer.”

The collection of 11 men’s styles and seven women’s styles will retail from $45 to $75. Teen retailer Journeys is testing Vision Street Wear online and at select doors this fall, though the Genesco Inc.-owned chain declined to comment.

Although the brand will have distribution at shopping malls, thanks to Journeys, Vision brand manager Mark Encinias said the retail approach will be slow and steady. The strategy centers on specialty boutiques in the sneaker and skate markets, aided by limited capsule collections such as the one it debuted earlier this year with New York-based Opening Ceremony.

“We’re not out here trying to shove the brand down everybody’s throat or begging for orders,” Encinias said. “We want to build from the ground up with retailers who are into the brand.”

Erin Gill, buyer and store manager for The Sneakery in Seattle, said the label’s legacy in skate encouraged him to buy Vision this fall and for spring ’14.

“It’s the brand that all the skate kids wore back in the day, and we’re stoked to be carrying them,” Gill said. “They’re bringing back the styles that were cool, and from there, they have the opportunity to build with new colors and new patterns.”

Encinias noted the brand’s skate heritage will serve as a solid platform for a footwear reboot. For instance, the label plans to remake many of its iconic styles, such as the Suede Hi and the Supertrick, which once were worn by top skaters including Mark “Gator” Rogowski and Duane Peters.

“You can’t create a heritage brand overnight,” Encinias said. “We have the heritage products that people are looking for right now, and consumers are ready.”

Still, executives could find it hard to sell to people under the age of 34, who might not remember the brand’s past.

To that end, Vision will rely on grassroots marketing to connect with young consumers. For spring ’14, the brand aims to collaborate with personalities outside footwear.

“We’re trying to get back to the roots of music and art,” Encinias said, mentioning musicians such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Yelawolf and Bad Religion as ideal partnerships. “We were one of the first brands to work in those genres in the mid-’80s, so we need to do it again in a way that’s relevant to today’s market.”

The Sneakery’s Gill said that as long as Vision stays close to the ethos that made it popular in the 1980s and ’90s, it should find success. “There are a lot of brands we don’t carry anymore because they decided to go a whole new route that’s not their heritage,” he said. “If Vision doesn’t lose focus on what the brand is about, they’ll continue to grow.”

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