Columbia’s Footwear Business Is Taking Off — Here’s Why

Columbia Sportswear Co. had a strong fourth quarter — and footwear played a critical role.

During yesterday’s earnings call, the firm’s chairman, CEO and president Tim Boyle noted footwear from its namesake label, Columbia, outperformed the brand overall during the period ended Dec. 31.

Last year, Columbia released its buzziest collection in recent memory, dubbed Sh/ft, which consists of trail-ready footwear with street-style aesthetics. The line launched in August with two colorways of its lead shoes, the Sh/ft OutDry Mid and Sh/ft Low.

The company enlisted musician — and FN cover star — Zedd to help promote the line, outfitting him in the looks as he toured and featured him in campaigns.

The fresh additions to its footwear lineup put Columbia in front of new consumers.

“I was in a sneaker store in Prague two weeks ago and the entire front of the store was Columbia Sh/ft product,” Boyle said in the Q&A portion of the earnings call. He continued, “I think the whole concept of us putting together the athletic shoe comfort and a traditional hiking shoe…is going to really be the right way to go.”

Columbia Sh/ft OutDr Mid "Energy Purple"
Columbia Sh/ft OutDr Mid “Energy Purple.”
CREDIT: Columbia

Columbia also saw success with traditional outdoor styles, including the Ice Maiden, Newton Ridge and Bugaboot.

“I’ve been talking about this since we went public 20 years ago. [Footwear] should be the biggest product category for the company,” Boyle said during the Q&A portion of the earnings call.

Boyle continued, “I’m just very convinced that we’re going to have a very solid business over time. It’s not growing as rapidly as we’d like, but it’s still growing at a high clip and faster than our apparel business in the Columbia brand.”

Columbia Bugaboot III
Columbia Bugaboot III for men.
CREDIT: Amazon

Aside from the namesake label, Columbia Sportswear Co. saw success with its cold-weather brand Sorel, which improved 13% to $143.5 million during the period.

Although he did not name specific styles, Boyle applauded Sorel’s evolution to a “year-round function first footwear brand” and said he expects the label to remain the firm’s fastest-growing brand. The exec also noted Sorel’s ability to marry fashion and function in its products — which have been key in attracting female consumers.

Moving forward, Boyle said Sorel’s fall ’20 line will include men’s product for the first time in its casual footwear range.

The executive also mentioned the strong sell-through of the firm’s PFG line — which features footwear and apparel — that surpassed $200 million in 2019 sales.

Sorel Blake Lace Bootie
Sorel Blake Lace Bootie.

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