Shoe Companies Quiet on Drought, Historic California Water Reduction Mandate

Gray knit Skechers
Gray sneaker with mint-green color pops by Skechers
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On the heels of California Gov. Jerry Brown’s order for statewide mandatory water reductions, experts say California-based footwear and apparel companies should remain largely unaffected by the historic mandate. Gov. Brown’s order, on Apr. 1, followed the lowest snowpack ever recorded and the third driest water year in 119 years of the state’s history, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Among its provisions, according to a release from Gov. Brown’s office, the order directs the State Water Resources Control Board to “implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent”—leading to chatter that it will be increasingly expensive to do business in the state.

While the former might be true, there’s not a lot of upheaval in the footwear and apparel industry stemming from the law just yet.

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“80 percent of California’s water use is agricultural so that industry is most definitely buzzing about it,” said Jeff Van Sinderen, analyst for Los Angeles-based B. Riley Co. “I honestly don’t think it will have much impact on the footwear/apparel industry at this point.”

Van Sinderen said other issues, such as currency, are currently having a stronger effect on retailers in the Golden State.

The laws other provisions include the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping and a requirement that campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use, according to the release.

One California-based shoe company, Deckers—parent of Uggs and Teva, said it already has measures in place to help with water conservation.

“Deckers is committed to minimizing its impact on the environment,” a company spokesperson told FN. “As such, our new Goleta-based headquarters is built to the LEED Silver green building standards and has many water saving features integrated into the buildings such as drought tolerant landscaping, drip irrigation and water conserving fixtures in the kitchens and bathrooms.”

California is also home to shoe companies Skechers, LA Gear and Vans Inc, a subsidiary of VF Corp.