This Classic Slipper Brand Has a New Look for Millennials

After more than 70 years as America’s go-to slipper brand, Dearfoams decided it was time to hit the refresh button. Last fall, in a move to capture today’s modern consumers, the brand began updating its collection with styles that are more comfortable, versatile and fashionable.

Spearheading the initiative is Tricia Bouras, who was named brand president in 2018 and reports to Bob Mullaney, president and CEO of parent company R.G. Barry Corp.

“Being a heritage brand, we don’t feel we’re irrelevant; in fact, we feel we’re stronger than ever,” said Bouras. “It’s about understanding how the consumer landscape is changing, the importance of millennials and [determining] their needs.”

Acknowledging consumer demand for products that deliver enhanced functionality, Dearfoams has created styles that can be worn beyond the home. “Slippers for everyday indoor-outdoor comfort is our goal,” said Bouras. “Consumers want that price-value relationship we bring to the table.”

Director of product Angie Kenney agreed, noting that versatility is a key brand component for Dearfoams. “We continue to see indoor-outdoor bottoms as sales drivers in the market,” she said. “We’re seeing more consumers wearing slippers beyond the mailbox.”

Kicking off the refresh was the fall ’18 soft launch of Fireside, Dearfoams’ entry into the shearling arena. The collection retails for $59 to $120, a notch above the brand’s core price range of $26 to $59.

“Fireside is a little higher-priced, but we’re excited about the response,” said Bouras, adding that distribution is being expanded for fall ’19.

Also hitting stores this fall is Supply Co., a series of cement-construction styles that retail for $50 to $60 that Bouras believes can fill a void in the market for multiuse footwear. “We’re starting to push the envelope a bit to see how far the consumer wants to go, and we will [follow],” she noted.

The design team has also raised the bar on comfort by adding extra heel and arch support for underfoot comfort. And spring ’19 marks the debut of Freshfeel, a proprietary cooling technology used in a range of seasonal styles.

To spread the word about the new collections, Dearfoams decided to eschew high-priced traditional advertising and instead opted to work with bloggers and influencers. “There are no paid ads,” said Bouras. “It’s authentic, genuine content.”

So far, Dearfoams’ new product launches — which follow on the heels of a logo and packaging update in 2016 — have resulted in sales gains, according to Bouras. “We had single-digit growth last year on a very mature business and are expecting double-digit growth in [2019],” she said. “We see great momentum at our point of sale. Consumers are resonating with our product.”

Those consumers now include kids, following Dearfoams’ launch of its first children’s line for fall ’18. And the brand also aims to grow its business beyond the fall selling season with seasonally appropriate spring looks.

However, while Dearfoams is charting a new course, executives said the brand remains committed to offering value-driven products that resonate with its loyal 45-and-over customer base, and it will continue to sell through mass and mid-tier retailers including Kohl’s, Walmart, Macys.com and Von Maur.

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