First Look at Tempur-Pedic’s Shoe Line

Tempur-Pedic, known for its contouring mattresses, will introduce a collection of lifestyle footwear this fall that taps into its proprietary technology.

St. Louis-based Elan Polo International will produce and distribute the line of casual shoes and slippers, under an agreement with parent company Tempur Sealy International.

All footbeds incorporate Tempur, a material that conforms to an individual’s shape. Tempur is based on a pressure-absorbing substance created by NASA scientists in the mid-1960s to reduce the effects of the G-forces experienced by astronauts during flight. In the 1980s, a Sweden-based company further refined it, creating an open-cell viscoelastic foam for consumer use. Tempur-Pedic founder Robert Trussell brought the material to the U.S. through his line of mattresses.

“The shoes automatically customize to the foot and deliver support where you need it,” said George Watermann, brand manager and VP of sales for Elan Polo. “What’s better than putting the same material found in a comfortable bed into a comfort shoe?”

The line will debut in September with at-home looks that include cozy clogs and flip-flops for women, as well as moccasins and scuffs for men, retailing from $40 to $125. All feature lightweight indoor-outdoor bottoms. Casuals will follow in October and retail from $130 to $160. A concise slipper collection, currently available from Tempur Sealy, now will fall under the Elan Polo umbrella as well.

This is not the first time Tempur-Pedic has ventured into footwear. From 2000 to 2004, former women’s brand Modellista used Tempur in a series of clogs.

According to Elan Polo, future product opportunities for Tempur-Pedic are wide ranging. Watermann said plans include slip-resistant shoes targeted to the medical and duty markets, in addition to a line of after-market footbeds. All products will include a Tempur-Pedic hang tag, as well as a sample of the Tempur material. The collection is targeted to better department stores, catalogs, independents and select e-tailers.

The Inspiration
Millions of Tempur-Pedic mattresses have been sold since the firm’s founding in 1991. “The shoes are a way to introduce [additional] people to the Tempur-Pedic brand,” said Watermann, whose target audience is consumers ages 25 and older. The brand also offers a collection of dog beds featuring the trademark material.

Brand Leader
George Watermann is a 30-year footwear veteran with roots in the slipper and casual shoe markets. Prior to joining Elan Polo nine years ago, he worked for such brands as Timberland, Keds and G.H. Bass & Co.

The Buzz
“The line brings one of the most recognizable brands associated with comfort and relaxation to the footwear category,” said Michael Rugo, footwear buyer for Herrington Catalog of Londonderry, N.H. “The product will naturally appeal to the millions of bedding customers who enjoy the product on a nightly basis. It’s also a more affordable way for millions more to experience the comfort and benefits of the Tempur material.”

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