Milestone: Brooks Unlocks Heritage Line

To mark its centennial year, Brooks dug deep into its archives.

The new Heritage Collection, which debuted at retail in March, pays homage to the history and spirit of the sport with reimagined versions of the 1970s Vantage and the Vanguard.

“The collection is a nod to Brooks’ 100-year heritage and the running boom of the 1970s, [when] you have all these enduring images of [running, like] Steve Prefontaine and Bruce Jenner and the 1976 Olympics in Montreal,” said Shane Downey, who helms the Heritage business. “We want to celebrate that history.”

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The $80-to-$90 men’s and women’s collection delivers stitch-for-stitch replicas of the originals. For a contemporary touch, the brand mixed in new colorways and materials, including pigskin, nubuck and handbag-grade leathers. “We could have hedged our bets and modernized the shoes to make them trendier and more fashion-driven, but we wanted to create something authentic and relevant,” Downey said, noting that future collections will resurrect styles from the 1980s and ’90s.

In addition to attracting new customers, Downey said the Heritage Collection is an opportunity to take current Brooks fans deeper into the brand. “When you love and connect with a brand, you want to wear it all through the day,” he said. “We want to give our customers more options.”

And Downey believes the firm’s history sets it apart: “There are very few athletic brands that are this old. We can come in and be a new brand that retailers can bring to their customers, who are always looking for something fresh.”

Retail distribution will be tight, with a focus on the specialty running channel and the sneaker boutique world. On a national level, Nordstrom and Anthropologie are stocking the shoes, allowing Brooks to reach more fashion-minded female consumers.

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