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The iconic footwear brand is plugging in to current trends and playing on its music scene heritage.

Kickers has ridden the wave offashionability since its inception in the 1970s. Back then it was a favourite of rock royalty such as Elton John and David Bowie, but it enjoyed a more recent heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it was adopted by the rave scene.

Now, as part of the Pentland Brands portfolio, Kickers is experiencing renewed interest. Managing director Ian Blackman says sales are 20% up on last year. As a result, the brand has returned to its heritage to produce a collection of streamlined core styles as well as trend-inspired versions of its classics for spring 09.

Kickers is one casual footwear brand that can boast a truly iconic shoe – the distinctive Kick Hi boot. The triple stitching, green and red tab detail and clover-shaped swing tag are instant markers of the brand.

“Kickers has gone in and out of fashion,” says Blackman. “The brand has got great heritage and iconic style like Timberland, Converse or Dr Martens, but we’ve never shouted about it. We’ve had buyers come to see us who have never really looked at the brand before, but they’ve come because they know other retailers who are doing really well with it,” he says.

For spring 09 the collection is split into three segments: the heritage range, for the likes of Footasylum and Office; the mainline, with a broader distribution that includes retailers such as Barratts, Next and Littlewoods; and the special collaboration collections. Retail prices range from £10 for a sandal to £175 for the collaborations, with an average retail price of between £50 and £70 on a 2.25 mark-up.

The brand has 350 accounts in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Men’s products make up half of sales, with women’s and kids’ ranges sharing the rest. Kickers also has a substantial share of the back to school market and, while not competing with the supermarkets on price, the brand works to maintain a “cool” status with children.

Blackman is happy with the distribution, but is trying to grow the women’s business, with the introduction of more fashion-led styling. In that mood Kickers has slashed the amount of overall product by half, and introduced more variation on core styles.

So a classic Kick Hi women’s shoe now also comes in a dip-dyed patent-look version, while for men it has a gingham lining. There is also a nod to the Japanese trend for hiking boot-style detailing with hook eyelets, plus plenty of flats, pumps and desert boot styles.

Such fashionability will be precious to the brand’s core customers this season. These are split into the 17- to 25-year-olds and the older shopper who has grown up with the brand and has always had a strong association with music. Next spring, that connection will continue with a collaborations range featuring footwear styled by punk band the Buzzcocks, New Order’s Peter Hook and indie band The Ting Tings.

Kickers 020 8970 2342

350: Number of accounts in the UK and Republic of Ireland
1970: The year that Kickers was founded in France
£65: The brand’s average retail price
25: Number of people working in UK office

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