Its mix of science and style has struck a chord with comfort footwear shoppers and now the leg-toning brand is expanding its collection.
Created by a maverick entrepreneur and with scientific promises to tone its wearers’ muscles, FitFlop has grown at breakneck speed in the footwear world. From a standing start in 2007, the brand has racked up sales of 2.5m units for its sandals and boots so far in 2009, across 37 countries. The UK – the brand’s home territory – comprises 30% of those sales.
Managing director Scott Thomson is acutely aware of the need for sustainable growth. He says: “We are underselling the market every season and will continue to focus on key indie accounts. We don’t want to over-proliferate.”
Still, FitFlop’s growth has repaid Thomson for backing the concept: “In the early days we faced a lot of rejection and our first order was for just 90 pairs. We delivered that out of my garage and my wife was the delivery driver.”
Then managing director of footwear supplier Peter Black, Thomson had been approached by beauty entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore to help develop the FitFlop brand. Kilgore – founder of spa and cosmetics brand Bliss, was an outsider in the footwear world but, Thomson says, she had tried other toning footwear and found it “expensive and ugly”.
She set about creating her own brand and drafted in Dr David Cook at London’s South Bank University to develop the wobbleboard technology in the sole, which mimics the action of walking on sand. Thomson is keen to point out that every style is fully tested and the brand is even withdrawing a bestseller because it is not entirely happy with how it performs.
While it is not the only footwear brand offering toning properties, retailers have told Drapers it is the best for combining style with science. Pablo Barclay, managing director of footwear etailer Rubber Sole, praises it for feeding in key looks like snakeskin gladiator sandals and purple styles before some fashion-led footwear brands.
Thomson says: “Our secret weapon is Marcia Kilgore – she seems to know what women want even before they do.”
It was Kilgore’s original mantra to create FitFlops at an affordable level. Consumers have willingly paid the mid-price point of £45 for styles and, “if anything”, says Thomson, “retailers
are asking for better product at higher price points”.
Meanwhile, short and tall shearling boots sell for £125 and £199. Autumn 10 will see the boot offer ramped up with leather and suede versions. Next year the brand will also extend its kids’ and men’s offers and deliver its first “shoe” in the women’s category – a casual leather lace-up.
Typical mark-up on the FitFlop range
Number of UK accounts
Number of US accounts
Number of countries the brand is sold in
FitFlop 0845 603 9802