This Outdoor Lifestyle Brand Is Gearing Up to Launch a Performance Label for Adventurers

Lems has built its business with consistency, but the outdoor lifestyle brand recognizes it needs newness to take shelf space from marketplace giants.

In June, the Boulder, Colo.-based label will release the Mesa, its first athletic-inspired silhouette. The look will be the brand’s latest model since the release of the Trailhead, a $130 low-cut minimalist hiking shoe for men and women that debuted in October.

Prior to the Trailhead, Lems’ product line was sparse.

“When we launched the Trailhead, it was the first product we released in four years,” said the company’s marketing director, Audrey Smith. “That was a wake-up call to [Lems founder] Andrew [Rademacher] to say, ‘We need to release more shoes.’ Now we have six styles, and we’re cranking out designs faster than we ever have before.”

Despite the limited lineup, Lems has experienced a consistent 20% year-over-year sales bump since entering the market in 2011.

But there are factors that could stunt its growth — specifically convincing retailers to stock Lems rather than larger brands it considers competitors, such as Vivobarefoot, Forsake and Xero.

“A lot of stores want to stick with the tried-and-true, especially with footwear, because they know it will sell. But they want to offer something new; they just don’t know how it will sell,” said Lems sales director Steve Perna. “We’ve got to convince them that we could become a tried-and-true brand.”

What could win stores over is its entry into performance footwear. To round out its business, Lems is developing a second brand, Fiant, which will act as its adventure-ready arm.

“If you’re looking for a shoe to hike the Appalachian Trail, Fiant is what you’re going to do it in,” Perna said.

The label is slated to launch in 2020.

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