Shoe industry veteran Evan Wert wants to do with Icebug what previous distributors failed to accomplish: make its traction story stick at in specialty retail.
However, the Icebug USA president — who previously spent 13 years at SuperFeet — admitted that the task has been challenging.
“Because the shoes are studded, [retailers] believe that they’re only to walk around in ice and snow, and that’s not true,” Wert said. “Our studs are dynamic and will move within the shoe. If you’re running on asphalt and into ice, you just keep running — the studs work like a studded snow tire.”
Sweden-based Icebug entered the U.S. market in 2003 and has flirted with different distributors — including a stint with outdoor brand Garmont — until Wert assumed control in 2013.
Over the past three years, he has worked to grow Icebug’s retail distribution to 120 doors domestically, with a goal of 170 by the end of 2017. And according to the exec, Icebug has experienced a 40 percent average growth year-over-year since 2013, despite marginal sales growth in 2016 due to an atypically warm winter throughout the country.
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For fall ’17, Icebug is taking cues from today’s aesthetic-driven marketplace, offering two fresh footwear styles for men and women: the new lace-up Solus boot and the updated Metro with zipper entry and streamlined sole.
“We’ve been making our soles less winter-boot-looking and more fashion-looking without giving up the traction story,” Wert said.
Icebug will also focus on bolstering brand awareness, with an emphasis on partnership marketing via Facebook. “Smaller brands are always challenged because it’s costly to do marketing,” Wert said. “This is a great way to help each other.”