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In tough times, consumers looking for green product are also looking for a good deal.
DeVreese said Simple had been perfoming well for the first few months of the year, and she attributes that, in large part, to the brand’s $55 to $85 price points (comparable with other, less sustainability-focused lines).
“With our sneaker products, the prices are very affordable, attainable and volume-driven,” she said, adding that the green attributes of the product, which include reused car tires, organic cottons, hemps and silks, and low-glue or glueless constructions, are just additional selling points.
Some brands go even further. Barry McGeough, VP of footwear at The North Face, said the San Leandro, Calif.-based company (a division of VF Corp. in Greensboro, N.C.) was deeply committed to reducing its product impact, but also felt that keeping prices low was what would make the sale.
“My job is to make sure we’re offering technology, but people don’t want to pay a premium for it,” he said. “Our motto is, reduce our footprint in every way possible, but have it be price-neutral.”
The North Face is banking on that combo going forward: The brand gave Footwear News an exclusive look at two new collections for spring ’10. One, a men’s casual line called Kyoto, replaces all EVA in the midsole with stacked and folded cotton canvas, eliminating petroleum and reducing the weight by roughly 30 percent.
The second, a women’s casual collection, uses a new process (for which the company is applying for a patent) to attach the midsole and outsole without the use of glues. Retail prices for the lines will be between $75 and $90, a little lower than the standard prices for the brand’s existing casual styles. Price points, McGeough said, matter: “We’re still in business.” [For more on The North Face’s new constructions, click here.]