When you think of running shoes the usual candidates spring to mind, Nike, Adidas and Asics, but when Meb Keflezighi was first over the line of the 2014 Boston marathon another brand cemented themselves as worthy candidates in the marketplace.
Keflezighi, who became the first American to win the race since 1983, was sporting a pair of GO Meb Speed Skechers, which legitimized the footwear company as a serious player in the sportswear sphere.
Founded in 1992 by Robert Greenberg, the man behind the launch of LA Gear in the late 1970s, Skechers is now one of the biggest footwear brands in the world, amassing billions of dollars in revenue each year.
Perhaps still recognised more as an everyday shoe, Skechers knew that in order to be taken seriously in the sporting world it would have to develop something which could compete with the rest of the market.
“In order to be legitimised in the sneaker business you need to have a premium level or a performance level, which is why we now have that, ” says Skechers Managing Partner Marvin Bernstein.
“We recognise that we’re a lifestyle brand but a lot of it stretches into performance so we approached that end of the business, and made some headway in the running business.
“Including marathons and events around the world.”
In order to get a running shoe which can compete with the market leaders, Bernstein says their team take inspiration from what’s already out there and add to it by asking athletes what could be added.
“We have runners and they tell us what they need, different features that would be good on the shoes and what we’re lacking, if anything.
“We look at our competitors and see what they’ve got.
“I don’t know anyone who has an original thought, honestly.
“Nike and Adidas has that edge and now we do too.”
Skechers were in fact the first to add Memory Foam innersoles to their line of trainers, which other sports brands have now adopted.
Speaking exclusively to Sport360 at their customer showcase event at the Meydan Hotel, Bernstein admits the company’s success has not come as a surprise, having worked with the brand since the beginning.
He credits the accomplishments to a driven CEO who along with being an astute businessman has retained his love of sneakers for all these years.
“The only way you get this big is by having that vision, you don’t go into business thinking it’ll be nice to have a $50million company, get that, and then look for a $100million company, you have to have to always have that drive at the top.”
In a bid to conquer every possible market, Skechers releases thousands of new shoes every year, with 4,000 of those being released in the first quarter of this year.
Along with the sports shoes, there’s are shoes for back-to-school, special nurses footwear with non-slip souls, construction shoes with steel-tips, glow-in-the-dark kids trainers and even smart Dress Knit range to wear with a suit in the office.
The UAE is an ever-growing market for Skechers, sitting only behind the United States, Europe and China in terms of popularity.
And while the company has long been established in many parts of the world, the UAE is only just getting started.
Bernstein adds, “Dubai and the UAE is already a huge market for us, and more importantly it’s not over.
“There’s a footwear brand to build and also an apparel line, so it’s just getting started here.”
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