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Sloggers’ Move Into Rainboots

Just one season in and the company is making a splash with U.S.-made rainboots.

Amid a recent downpour of novelty rainboots, Sloggers has found itself sitting pretty. Known for its collection of colorful garden clogs, the brand’s taken its expertise in molded footwear to the boot market with the spring ’09 launch of a collection produced exclusively in its U.S. facility.

"We feel as a domestic supplier we have an advantage," said David Hoyt, president and CEO of the Gardena, Calif.-based parent company, Principle Plastics, noting the shorter lead times, quicker in-season turnarounds, no duties and the ability to fill smaller orders.

While Principle Plastics may be new to the rainboot business, it’s been making protective footwear since 1948, when Hoyt’s father co-founded the original company. He introduced Drizzle boots, a series of over-the-shoe styles for men and women sold in accessories departments and shoe repair shops.  

According to Hoyt, Drizzle boots peaked in the ’60s and ’70s—the Crocs of their day. The line continued until 2004, when, Hoyt said, “It was pretty obvious we were making buggy whips,” noting competition from more contemporary rainboots.

In 1996, however, the company updated its product offering with colorful garden clogs, retailing for $15 for the Classic version and $25 for the Premium clogs featuring cushioned insoles.

The clogs found success, but, Hoyt said, the business was limited to the spring-summer season, and distribution narrowly focused on garden stores. So, in a move to create a year-round product offering that would be available from more traditional shoe retailers, the company decided to get in on the growing rainboot category.

With just one season at retail under the company’s belt, Hoyt said the boots, retailing at $35, could eventually account for 40 percent to 50 percent of sales, with distribution targeted to footwear independents, department stores and mass merchants. So far, about half of its current garden accounts have picked up the boots.

Moving into fall ’09, Sloggers will add a rain shoe to the offering, retailing for $25.

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