With all things ’90s in trend, Sole Technology CEO Pierre-Andre Senizergues is revamping one of his company’s skate brands that dominated the era: Etnies.
Out now is the Etnies Icons Collection, a lineup of classic shoes from the brand that avid skateboarders rocked when they first hit the streets.
The first Icons drop was sold at select retailers including Journeys, Eastbay, Size?, Skatedeluxe and Blue Tomato. However, Senizergues confirmed that the second release, slated for spring ’19, will be offered in more stores and feature more sneakers.
Here, the exec talks ’90s fashion, how Icons came to life and his plans to recharge other Sole Technology-owned brands.
What are the skate industry’s biggest opportunities right now?
“The ’90s trend. It’s where skateboarding exploded in terms of creativity, exposure and people wearing the product in the streets. I also think the Olympics two years from now will bring a lot of exposure and talk around skate. And high fashion right now is very connected with skateboarding; the most important trends come from us. Virgil Abloh with Louis Vuitton, for example — there’s a lot of skate influence in the shoes. I see some designs and say, ‘We did these in the ’90s.’ It’s clear for somebody who designed shoes at that time. And the same with other high-fashion brands, as well, from Hermès to Chanel.”
How are you capitalizing on the ’90s fashion revival?
“People are knocking on our door right now, and retailers are seeing the ’90s trend and think there’s going to be a cup sole trend. Etnies is a very strong brand in that area. And there’s a movement to reconnect with brands you lost touch with. You see [it with] brands from back in the day, like Fila — people recognize them and buy them again, or new consumers think it’s cool and new, and get into it.”
Fall ’18 included the Etnies Icons Collection. How did you develop that series?
“It came from retailers asking us to bring back shoes from the ’90s in the U.S. and the U.K. For example, John Lore from Journeys has been asking for a while to bring back the Czar. So we looked in our archive and identified the shoes that were the most appropriate, like the Senix, which is one of the first I designed. [The collection] also came from people on our team and consumers. We listen to our customers on Instagram and social media, and now we’re bringing back those styles [they requested]. What’s unique is, we tried to replicate exactly the way the shoes were made — same outsole, upper, flex, cushioning system. I was surprised because I went skating in the first sample, and even though skateboarding has evolved since the ’90s, they still felt like extremely good skate shoes — still extremely grippy, with good cushioning and a good board feel.”
Who are Etnies’ biggest competitors?
“Vans, because we’re in the same space. And also DC — they’re bringing back some of the ’90s. But for the type of look we are doing — a wider outsole with more rubber so it’s comfy, a taller sidewall and some rubber on the toe — not many brands born in the ’90s have that. It’s Etnies, DC, éS.”
Are there plans to revamp your other skate brands?
“Definitely éS, because we have a lot of momentum in the era — it exploded in the ’90s. It has that athletic look that’s trending right now, so there’s a lot of interest around éS. As far as Emerica, it’s a pure skateboarding brand, so it’s really strong at core skate retail accounts, so we don’t have plans to expand the distribution right now.
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