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Taking the Long View
Many brands predicted that sustainability will only become more important down the road, which is why they’re busy implementing new initiatives.
Hagen said REI’s work to understand its climate impact has put the company in a stronger position to adapt to new regulations from the Obama administration.
And Jim Weber, CEO of Bothell, Wash.-based Brooks Sports Inc., said green product will be more important to his company’s shoppers going forward, which means developing product now. “You can’t build for a season,” he said.
In that vein, Brooks will unveil a lightweight shoe in spring ’10 that pushes its green initiatives to new limits with more sustainable ingredients. Calling the shoe a “key way to communicate to runners,” Weber said, “We think runners are going to care [about the environment], and this shoe will be a huge way to talk to them about it.”
Richard Polk, owner of Boulder, Colo.-based Pedestrian Shops, agreed that customers in the future would come to expect green features. “It’s just like comfort,” he said. “There was a point in time when comfort was a category, but now, who would make a shoe that wasn’t comfortable? The same thing is eventually going to happen with green. People are just going to manufacture things as responsibly as they can.”
New Balance CEO Rob DeMartini told FN that as more brands jump into the green arena, the cost of doing business there continues to shrink. “As more of the industry moves in that direction, the [price] premiums [on green materials] will decline,” he said.