Wolverine World Wide is reliving its fashion past with the launch of the 1,000 Mile Collection, a series of high-end men’s looks inspired by the Rockford, Mich.-based brand’s 125-plus years.
The debut fall ’09 line is built around the collection’s signature 1,000 Mile boot (at right), a remake of the 1,000 Mile shoe produced by the former Wolverine Shoe & Tanning Corp. in the early 1900s. Originally made of durable horsehide, the shoe was advertised to withstand more than 1,000 miles of wear.
According to Roger Huard, VP of product development for Wolverine Footwear Group, the workwear-as-fashion trend inspired the collection’s launch. “We had an old boot hanging around, and pictures of shoes and old ads staring us in the face,” Huard explained about the decision to create a line of fashion-driven Goodyear-welted looks.
The move into upscale lifestyle product also offered Wolverine the opportunity to expand its brand portfolio overseas, Huard said, noting the company’s current focus on core work and industrial product. “These [workboot] looks are out there in Europe and Japan. If anyone can claim to be an authentic bootmaker in the U.S., it’s Wolverine. The 1,000 Mile Collection is an opportunity to take [our brand] up a notch. We’re doing this to give the Wolverine name exposure and peak distribution.” And, he emphasized, “it helps boost the reputation of the rest of the [brand’s] product.”
The new collection is expected to attract consumers and retailers outside the traditional work market, according to Christina Vernon, Wolverine’s international market development manager. “We’re looking at ways for people to get to know the brand in a different light,” she said. “They now see this beautiful collection of footwear and understand the brand from a different point of view.”
Tapping into the Wolverine brand’s existing DNA, the 1,000 Mile Collection is built on a durable welt construction and features stacked leather outsoles and leather uppers with a weathered finish. In addition to the namesake 1,000 Mile boot, the offering includes the Gentleman collection of vintage work styles; Garrison, a series of military-inspired styles; and Gentry, outdoor-inspired field boots. Set to retail from $200 to $350, the line will deliver in August, with distribution targeting better specialty stores, independent shoe retailers and select department stores.
Cat Footwear, based in Rockford, Mich., is stepping up the comfort features of its work collection with the addition of D3o, a proprietary material from U.K.-based D3o Lab. The material is designed for flexible impact protection and will be incorporated into Cat’s new Ergo FlexGuard men’s workboot, a metatarsal-guard style that will have the ability to bend and flex as the wearer moves, while protecting the instep and metatarsal areas from impact. In addition, the boot features Cat’s patented iTechnology construction, which combines durability with athletic-shoe comfort and a slip-resistant rubber outsole. The Ergo FlexGuard shoe is slated for a July delivery and will retail for $125.