Spyder Footwear executive dishes on the brand’s launch, aspirations
Former Amer Sports sales director Jon Hanson plans to make a name for the nascent brand reminiscent of Spyder's rise to prominence in skiwear
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Spyder has been long renowned for making ski apparel and accessories, and now the licensee of the iconic brand is looking to make a name for itself in footwear.
After a soft launch at Outdoor Retailer Summer in Denver in August, Spyder Footwear is ramping up its presence across the outdoor channel with its new line of men’s and women’s shoes.
Spyder Footwear is owned and operated by Fenton, Mo.-based Footwear Unlimited, and is a licensee of the Spyder brand. The footwear company is separate from the Spyder apparel brand, but the license for both is owned by Authentic Brands Group. Spyder Footwear will launch with products in three categories: mountain sport, everyday active, and lifestyle.
The startup brand has appointed Jon Hanson—formerly the director of sales for all outdoor brands at Amer Sports, overseeing sales for Salomon, Atomic, Suunto, and Arc’teryx—as its executive vice president and general manager.
“Jon’s vision and experience align with where we are headed in the outdoor space,” says Pat Mooney, CEO, Footwear Unlimited. “With many brands in the market more apparel- and gear-focused, Jon’s leadership will help Spyder Footwear become a significant and profitable part of their business.”
The brand’s shoes will be sold in a variety of channels—direct on spyder.com, e-tailers, department stores, and outdoor specialty shops—beginning this fall. And now Spyder Footwear has its own landing page on spyder.com.
To learn more, we spoke with Hanson, who is based in Boulder, Colo. (also home to Spyder’s apparel division) about his plans for the nascent brand.
What is the status of the brand right now? Is product on shelves?
Yes, the product is hitting the floors now. We are starting to see very positive retail results already, which is a good sign that the line structure and design choices were the right ones.
Is this a wholesale or direct play for the brand?
We launched with our primary distribution channels being outdoor and ski specialty, staying true to the brand’s DNA as a specialty ski brand. We have also recently launched on spyder.com.
Which retailers are the brand in now and which ones are coming?
We have launched primarily with specialty retail, DTC, and a handful of other key partners. The plan is to anchor the brand with specialty outdoor and ski and scale from there as it makes sense. We want to follow the consumer and be present where the consumer shops. Ultimately, the consumer will drive our distribution decisions, but we are focused on growing specialty right now.
How many SKUs does the brand have now and how many more are planned?
For Fall 2021, we launched with 74 total SKUs that fit into our three categories: mountain sport, everyday active, and lifestyle. For our Spring 2022 line, we introduced men’s water shoes and women’s sporty wedge sandals. We added 47 new SKUs for our S22 line. We have a ton of new product planned for F22 and beyond as we continue to further develop all three categories.
What is the relationship with the Spyder brand?
Footwear Unlimited has a strong relationship with Authentic Brands Group. And because of that relationship and the trust and confidence they have in Footwear Unlimited, the relationship with ABG is strong. With Liberated now operating Spyder apparel, this will only strengthen the brand and relationship that the footwear team has with the apparel group. In addition, I am based in Boulder, very close to the apparel group, and will be working closely with that team to ensure we are approaching the market with a united front.
How has the brand been received not only by channel partners but also by consumers?
Spyder has a strong following, especially in ski. So, the market has been excited to see Spyder venturing into the footwear category with a strong product lineup that is active and technical, yet modern and fashion-forward. The end consumer so far has reacted positively. With the brand’s DNA in ski, no surprise that the apres-ski looks, fur-lined women’s models, and active lifestyle products have been where consumers have been gravitating. However, the mountain sport category has been well received. The hike product is a more progressive look than much of the product in the market currently, while still being very technical and functional.
What are the expectations for it—both in terms of financial growth but also brand recognition across the outdoor space?
The Spyder brand is already very well recognized and accepted in the industry, so that is a hurdle that we shouldn’t encounter or have to overcome in most regions. Given the strength of the Spyder brand and the strong design aesthetics, we expect this will be a big category for Spyder. While Spyder is generally known for ski, we believe that we will have success in technical categories like hike based on the on-mountain performance. But, while we believe this has a huge growth opportunity, we plan to be patient with the growth since we are not building a brand from scratch. We will be very methodical with distribution decisions, anchoring the footwear category within the brand with specialty retail.