Sunday, June 13, 2010

Florsheim Shoes

SINCE Father’s Day is just around the corner, I thought I’d commemorate it by posting a piece that I wrote for the Manila Bulletin in 2007 about a shoe brand favored by our old men. With a long and rich history of crafting some of the most sought after traditional dress shoes and loafers in the market, very few can hold a candle to the created that Milton Florsheim named after himself.

And if the latest models are any indication, Papa is not the only rolling stone. Men of all ages can have their Florsheim kicks as well.


SINCE it was established by Milton Florsheim way back in 1892, the Florsheim brand of boots, loafers and wingtips have outfitted generations of American boys and men for school, work, weddings and funerals.

But even as Florsheims are now sold in more than 50 countries across the globe, the traditional image of the brand has remained largely unchanged—for better and for worse. Not anymore. Addressing criticisms of “outdated styling” while at the same time realizing the existence of much “hipper competition,” Florsheim’s latest collections aim to show that it remains relevant in the new millennium. Thomas Florsheim, Jr., great grandson of Milton Florsheim himself admits as much during a recent interview with the New York Times.

“We know what people think when they think of us. They think of wing tips, the capped toe, the really brogue shoes and that we had gotten to a point where we were very stodgy,” the younger Florsheim says. “But we’re moving the needle in terms of style.”

“They’re not quite your father’s shoes anymore,” echoes John Plummer, President of Florsheim Asia Pacific, who was in town for the opening of the latest Florsheim concept store in TriNoma. “If you look around our store now, you’ll see that brand has moved with the times, in line with the market trends. It has moved from a brand designed for the corporate person to a brand designed for all occasions.”

Plummer says Florsheim now has a good number of shoes that you can wear with jeans and chinos, such as the increasingly popular Comfortech line. These are shoes that feature Florsheim’s patented cushioned footbed technology where “comfort features are built into the shoes.” These light Comfortech shoes also boasts of the Sofred System with Toe Off, Weight Transfer and Air Flow shock resistant zones designed to reduce leg and back fatigue.

“They’re high density insoles that bounce back for maximum comfort,” says Plummer. “And if you remove the insoles, you also got a shoe that’s ready for an orthotic, that thing that replaces the footbed for a better, more comfortable fit. Not too many shoes in the market serve that kind of dual purpose.”

The new, modern day Florsheims are also characterized by contemporary styles made from a wide variety of materials and colors including rubber soles cow, calf, goat, elk, suede and nubuck leather. Plummer says much of Florsheim’s new designs and innovations in recent years have successfully expanded their target market. “Over the years, we’ve managed to expand our demographics from the 35 to 60 years old bracket around 20 years ago to the 20 to 60 year old bracket that we have today,” he points out.

The current Comfortech line include penny loafer types (i.e. Wayne), casual slip-ons (i.e. Connelly, Hutton), boat shoes (i.e. Lockwood) and more. Outside of Comfortech, the classic dress shoes (i.e. Lyndon, Lexington, Berkeley) that defined the Florsheim brand are still very much available. It also has its Imperial line of classic wingtips (i.e. Florence), capped toes (i.e. Lawrence), brogues (i.e. Kenmoor) and moccasins (i.e. Lombard).

Aside from the footwear themselves, Florsheim stores also carry a complete line of shoe care products from dubbins to shoe creams which Plummer says are part of a specialized shoe care program designed for specific models made of specific materials.

Plummer is proud of the fact that Florsheim also has a very strong market here in the Philippines with sales that “would compare favorably with the rest of the world.” Florsheim’s TriNoma store is the 13th in the country for the last 15 years.

“Even as we tend to move away from making traditional footwear, our still popular dress shoes will always be a part of what Florsheim is all about” says Plummer. “Florsheim continues to evolve. We really haven’t done anything revolutionary, it’s all evolutionary. I guess more than our adherence to market forces, a big reason why we’re still around is because of our uncompromising drive to maintain high quality standards.”

Florsheim shoes are exclusively distributed by Retail Specialists, Inc. and are available at Florsheim concept stores in Shangrila Plaza, Gateway, Robinson’s Galleria, TriNoma, Glorietta, Powerplant Mall, Festival Mall, Alabang Town Center, SM Mall of Asia, Ayala Center Cebu, SM Davao and SM Cagayan De Oro. Also, visit Florsheim's official site here.

No comments: