For this family-owned Majorcan footwear brand, fashion is all about standing on your own two feet.
The opening of the Westfield London shopping centre last week provided a chance for its 265-plus retailers to open new store concepts.
Among them was Spanish footwear brand Camper. And, amid the ribbon-cutting hubbub, Camper’s store was unveiled with a smooth sense of routine. For the Majorcan footwear giant, new shopfits are the norm – of Camper’s 100 own-brand shops around the world, no two are the same.
This innovative spirit also infuses its product. To find out why, you need to understand the brand’s roots. For a global brand, Camper has humble origins. It was born in 1975 when Majorcan Lorenzo Fluxá drew on his family’s three generations of shoemaking expertise, which started when his grandfather Antonio Fluxá established a shoe factory on the island in 1877. Proud of this rich past and the local culture, Lorenzo named the brand Camper, which means peasant in Catalan.
Communications manager Ruth Coughlan explains: “When Lorenzo set the brand up the mission was to create a casual, unisex shoe. In post-Franco Spain that was pretty radical.”
Coughlan says the brand has stayed true to its single-mindedness. “We’re not a fashionable brand,” she says. “The aim is to pursue our own line of thinking. But by coincidence we do sometimes happen to be on trend.”
Plenty of the brand’s key styles have hit the right note. The classic Pelota remains a favourite but when the brand first arrived in the UK in the early 1990s, sandals were key. UK sales manager Mark Clarkson was a fan back then. “It was really edgy and you had Japanese shoppers snapping them up in Harvey Nichols,” he says. “Today certain products are more relevant at certain times, like the Nautico, which picks up on the boat shoe trend. But the brand has its own DNA.”
The brand’s mission statement is to combine quality and comfort with style, but there is also a quirky element. Take the Twins range, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, where the left and right shoes are not identical but carry the same theme.
Although the brand marches to its own drum the beat is not static. Ian Currie, manager of young fashion indie Dogfish in Norwich, says: “The product has evolved and has a younger edge. It had become a bit of a teacher’s favourite – they would buy a pair and because it’s good quality they would last for ages. Now there’s more of an appeal to people in their late 20s. The girls like it too because it has some amazing boots.
“But the greatest thing about Camper is the business and its staff. They all have such passion and it really feels like a family firm.”
The brand is still owned 100% by the Fluxá family but it is a global player now with more than 100 standalone stores in 28 countries. In the UK, there are 62 accounts for the adults’ range and 32 for the kids’. Clarkson says: “It’s not a case of trying to up that to 100 accounts now. The plan is to grow with our current stockists. Business is about relationships and our retailers are genuine partners.”
60/40: The UK sales split in favour of women’s styles over men’s
3,800: Number of accounts worldwide for the wholesale business
45: Number of countries in which the brand is sold