Bogs Tackles New Territory

CHICAGO — Bogs is making evolution a priority.

The Portland, Ore.-based company, a division of Milwaukee-based Weyco Group, will continue pushing aggressively to develop its successful boot brand into a year-round outdoor business with new categories, plus establish a headquarters in northwest Portland with room to grow.

“We’re enthused about what we have in Bogs and the transformation of the brand,” said John Florsheim, president and COO of the Weyco Group. “The boot business is very strong for 2014, but we feel that we’ve got a lot of interesting and compelling new product that takes what consumers like about Bogs and extends that into other categories.”

“We are at the early stages of our evolution into a four-season brand,” added Bill Combs, founder and president of the brand.

Under the direction of veteran VP of product Kelly Santos, who joined the company 18 months ago from Keen, the brand has added winter insulated boots, hiking boots, and casual leather boots and canvas boots and shoes, all of which hit retail for fall. And for spring ’15, it is entering the sandal market.

“My overall goal is [figuring out] how we balance this business across men’s, women’s and kids’, seasonally and even regionally in the U.S. [and overseas],” Santos said. “There are more materials, more innovation and more technology being brought in, but the DNA they’re known for of durability and comfort is always there. We’re totally focusing on comfort, fit and performance.”

Combs said technical innovation — like the launch of Rebound, a non-compressing midsole material that Bogs will incorporate into almost every style going forward — will play a big part in the brand’s growth plans.

“Our next big milestone is the launch of our Hudson flip-flop, which is constructed entirely of Rebound. It was one of our best booking styles for spring ’15, and we anticipate a strong reception from consumers at retail.”

Bogs has also been taking steps to make sure its products are getting in front of new consumers.

The brand relaunched its website at the beginning of this month, according to director of marketing David Cook. It features mobile-friendly responsive design and works to better integrate video and tell the technology story of each piece.

Connecting those groups, he said, is the brand’s continuing focus on city farming, which it’s expanding this year with broadened urban-farm partnerships in the U.S. and Canada. The firm will also launch new ads this fall.

The initial response to the initiatives is strong: Sales for the brand rose 36 percent across all trade channels in the second quarter.

Retailers agree that the label is making progress. “We’re excited for some of the casual pieces that have that outdoor function,” said Morgan Bramble, footwear buyer at Salt Lake City-based Backcountry.com. “There’s going to be much more we’re going to see from them, and we’re trying to grow into those new categories.”

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