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Panama Jack

Known for its comfort footwear, the Spanish brand is now targeting a younger, more contemporary customer

Panama Jack is a relatively young footwear brand, yet over its 20 years it has built an enviable international reputation for technically-led comfort footwear.

Since its launch in 1989, the brand has sold more than seven million pairs of its classic men’s chukka boot, and in the UK Panama Jack is sold through 120 accounts including retailers Sole Trader and Russell & Bromley.

“The brand has a very loyal customer base in terms of both retailers and consumers,” says Chris Dent, partner in Cocoon Partners, the agent representing Panama Jack in the UK. “Once people understand the concept behind the brand they really buy into it in a big way. The range of customers that Panama Jack appeals to is vast, ranging from surf bums to nine-to-five urbanites.”

The Panama Jack concept is, according to Dent, based on a “passion for building quality products with a competitive price architecture”.

The brand’s comfort credentials are exemplified by a rigorous attention to research and development at the company’s marble-clad headquarters in Elche, Alicante, the Spanish hub of footwear manufacturing. Among the brand’s construction techniques are a cushioning system that moulds to each foot, an internal suede heel for added grip and an anti-static system to discharge static electricity, which according to the brand helps relieve stress and tension in the wearer.

Now Panama Jack plans to target the contemporary market. “We want to push the fashion side,” says Robert Sewell, Dent’s co-partner at Cocoon Partners. “Consumers want comfort, quality and value for money, but many want these without compromising on style. That’s why for autumn 09 we’re launching a more contemporary collection with a younger, fashion-forward consumer in mind.”

Priced from £48 to £54, the hand-constructed XL Edition sits at the top of Panama Jack’s price architecture. With its utility-chic handwriting, the range features a three-eyelet lace-up shoe, a slimmed-down chukka boot and a Chelsea boot style available for men in black or brown leather or nappa suede. A women’s boot is also included, and all styles feature a Gore-Tex membrane and an anatomical insole. Each pair of shoes comes with a care kit and extra laces.

“In the current climate buyers are looking for added value touches that will help drive sales,” says Dent. “We’re also sending out a new sales package to retailers carrying the XL Edition range which includes branded mats for shoes to sit on, show cards and branding blocks. Plus, all the core lines have a stock service.”

Last month, Cocoon Partners opened a 700sq ft showroom in Latimer Road, North Kensington, behind the Westfield London shopping centre. “The strategy for us now,” says Dent, “is to give XL Edition a wider exposure. With its younger, more contemporary profile it gives a serious value proposition to the workwear-led market.”

Panama Jack 07769 694463 www.panamajack

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