On Nov. 30, Skechers USA Inc. will be honored as Company of the Year at the 36th annual FN Achievement Awards. Below is an article from the magazine’s Nov. 28 print issue about what has been driving its winning streak.
Skechers is unstoppable. This year, the sneaker giant marked its 30th anniversary in ways that many would envy: There were record quarterly results, opportunistic product expansions and buzz-building marketing campaigns, including its Super Bowl ad with octogenarian Willie Nelson that struck a chord with Gen-Z. Its winning streak even caught the attention of Kanye West, who came knocking on its front door, sparking news headlines across the globe and even an “SNL” skit.
His interest in the company is understandable. In the most recent quarter, which saw other brands struggling with dimming consumer demand, Skechers USA Inc. outperformed once again, recording a 20.5% rise in sales to $1.88 billion, led by gains in its wholesale business.
Its retail partners credit the company’s success to its relentless drive. “Skechers continues to demonstrate that being the No. 1 comfort brand is simply not good enough and will not rest on its laurels,” said Brian Burnett, VP and GMM of Rack Room Shoes.
For Skechers president and co-founder Michael Greenberg, it all stems from trust. “I don’t think we would be as successful with people in all walks of life if we were not that trusted brand with everlasting quality and affordability,” he told brand ambassador and TV personality Amanda Kloots in an exclusive conversation for FN this month.
Here, Greenberg and Kloots talk more about Skechers’ big highlights this year and its multigenerational appeal.
Amanda Kloots: Skechers turned 30 this year. That’s a big milestone. What did it mean to you?
Michael Greenberg: I guess first and foremost, it means that I’m getting a lot older. But really it’s about the fact that, in many ways, the brand is still in its infancy, no matter how big the global presence feels. Even though we’re the third-largest footwear brand globally, the potential for growth over the next 30 years still feels very, very strong. And I like to say we have a long runway ahead of us. I can’t really share forward plans, but I can say we have more extensions of the brand coming and efficiencies that will include many more innovations in footwear from our new design center, which should be complete in 2024. The world needs more comfort, and we are the brand to deliver that.
AK: That is definitely something to be proud of. It’s incredible to see that growth. For this year, what were some of the biggest high points for the company?
MG: We had three consecutive growth quarters in 2022. We grew in the first nine months by 20%, and we’re still on track to do $10 billion by the end of 2026. But revenues are not everything. The company is really based around innovation. The hardest thing for corporations and companies to do continuously is to remain innovative, and Skechers is massively innovative. In 2022 alone, we introduced Skechers to the world of pickleball with the Viper Court, our first product launch for pickleball. And Skechers Slip-Ins, our hands-free footwear, has been such a wonderful introduction. We also started the year with two great Super Bowl spots with Willie Nelson. We expanded our family with you, Amanda, and we aligned ourselves with Martha Stewart and pop singers Chesca and Ava Max, and world renowned pickleball pros Tyson McGuffin and Catherine Parenteau, as well as soccer players throughout Europe and regional celebrities globally.
AK: Were there any challenges?
MG: You always have challenges when you’re growing, from infrastructure to talent and meeting the needs of the consumers. With manufacturing and sourcing, [the challenge is] growing without losing what I think is the most important thing and that’s all about quality. You can’t compromise quality for growth. Our design tenets are always going to remain comfort, style, innovation and quality. And this can be found in all Skechers product that we develop. And, of course, resources. We truly believe that we have the most talented and passionate and dedicated team in the world. Finding people who share the company’s vision and goals is always a challenge, but we’re staying ahead of it for sure.
AK: The athletic business is a crowded space. So what do you think makes Skechers stand out?
MG: We’re a trusted brand in the marketplace. And our consumers are incredibly loyal. We have a very strong fanbase and we continue to grow our customer base looking for new opportunities to drive new consumers to the brand. Often, when a consumer leaves a brand and they try Skechers product, our technologies and our comfort really tend to blow them away and they become a brand loyal ambassador for life.
AK: On a personal note, I think Skechers is so unique because just in my own family, from my son and my 2-year-old nephew to my dad who’s 75 and all the people in between, we all were in love Skechers — and that’s before I became an ambassador. It’s just a brand that literally has something for everyone in the family. I think that’s really unique for a company to be able to do that.
MG: And I love hearing that and I love the fact that we are a brand for the whole family and that goes back to what I talked about being a trusted brand. And in a way your whole family are ambassadors to this brand. We may directly have the relationship with you, but through that, we have a relationship with the extended family and we’re proud of that.
AK: Sometimes, comfort can be considered a dirty word in fashion. How much has that changed, and do you think it’s permanent?
MG: Well, if comfort is a dirty word, then I’m choosing profanity all the way. Skechers has always been about comfort, and we shout it. There’s no reason to choose between comfort and style when you can actually have both, and making fashion feel really good, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Thankfully we’re finding that millions of consumers around the world agree with us.
AK: I want to talk more about your legendary Super Bowl ads. You mentioned the spot with Willie Nelson. Is there any pressure to keep topping yourself when it comes to marketing?
MG: There’s always pressure and that’s why we improve year over year. [It goes] all the way back to Mr. Quiggly, our adorable moonwalking French Bulldog in the GoRun commercial. As I sit here talking to you, I’m looking at a little statue of Mr. Quiggley in my office. It was one of my all-time favorite spots, but all I’ll say is tune in in February, and I think you’ll be surprised. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
AK: You have me intrigued. I love a good Super Bowl ad. So you just held your 14th Pier to Pier Friendship Walk, and I got to be there this year. Why is giving back to the community such an important part of Skechers?
MG: Thank you for being there and showing your support for the community. You saw firsthand what took place at it. It’s really incredible. We’ve gone from 14 years ago raising $220,000 in a little neighborhood walk to $3 million this past walk, with more than 19,000 people participating. Since the beginning, we’ve now raised north of $21 million for children with varying abilities and also for public schools and the Skechers national scholarship program, which gives talented kids the ability to go to college and change lives. There’s nothing like knowing that you’re really making a great impact on others. We’re about family as an organization. We think of our team has family, and we treat our partners as such as well.
AK: That’s what I felt there that day. It felt like a big family, the company and the community. You could tell they were just so excited to be there and be a part of it, and it was a beautiful thing to witness. Are there any charity efforts that you’re most proud of? You know, something that really sticks out in your mind — something that you’re really proud of the company doing?
MG: I’m proud of all of them, but really the most personal to me was made in honor of my son Harrison. He loved the ocean and spent his childhood at the Roundhouse Aquarium, which was built here in the late ’70s. It really fell into disrepair, and in 2018, in honor of his legacy, I made a commitment to rebuild the aquarium and make it a world-class destination for future generations to enjoy. It gave new life to a very special place. And I think HG would be, you know, wonderfully proud of the impact that it had on the community.
AK: That’s absolutely beautiful, Michael.
For 36 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental.