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Skechers are an American footwear brand founded by Chief Executive Officer Robert Greenberg. He launched the Skechers brand after leaving the fitness clothing and footwear brand LA Gear in 1992, a brand he had helped to build and become successful. Initially the Skechers brand began as a distributor for Doc Martins but they soon launched their own brand of footwear onto the market hoping to capitilise on a niche market for casual street shoes for men. The brand was lucky or had researched the market well because no one single footwear brand had cornered the casual street shoe market. Nike had not yet fully diversified and was still concentrating upon athletic wear. Skechers found themselves a niche in the market and avoided going up in competition directly against an established brand.
Early Skechers products included skateboard type shoes and general purpose boots, chunky and functional in design. The first successful launched by the brand was the release of the,’Chrome Dome’ shoe. It was 1993 and the Seattle Grunge Music scene had exploded onto the scene and the band Nirvana were dominating the charts with each subsequent release. The Chrome Dome shoe was manufactured to look worn. The heels looked scuffed and the shoes looked well used. In essence the Chrome Domes were Grunge and quickly became popular and sought after. Appealing to both of the sexes, the shoe was an urban street boot that reflected the increasing popularity of the ‘grunge’ look among younger consumers and it matched perfectly with a faded pair of jeans and plaid shirt.
Skechers were able to capitilise on the popularity they were receiving with the Chrome Dome and establish themselves as a brand that appealed to the image conscious young music fans. By 1998 the brand was well established and was expanding rapidly, ready to expand into the athletic footwear market dominated by sportswear brands like Nike and Adidas. The expansion was timed well as athletic brands began to become crossover from the track to the street. Sports shoes were by this time becoming commonly worn as everyday shoes Skechers U.S.A. had its first big break under its own label in 1993, with the introduction of a design known as the ‘Chrome Dome.’ Appealing to both sexes, this shoe was an urban street boot that reflected the increasing popularity of the ‘grunge’ look among younger consumers:
The brand has always been image conscious and makes a concerted effort to appear hip, trendy and stylish even if the shoe designs are not particular original and often resemble competitors designs with a Skechers make over.The most innovative models that have been released by the brand in recent years like the Tone Ups and the Shape Ups are merely copies of existing shoes launched by other brands but it still exemplifies Skechers ability to read the market and remain current to consumer demand. The Shape Ups range closely resembles Karl Muller’s MBT design. Masia Barefoot Technology was the brainchild of Karl Muller. He simply noticed that if a person walks barefoot on a soft, natural surfaces such as the ground they are forced to make minute adjustments in balance with each step.
This essentially can be understood as a similar principal to resistance training, each step becomes more than simply just a step but effectively a mini workout or that is how Skechers have tried to market the technology in the Shape Up and Tone Up ranges of shoes. Muller also observed that they would have to balance with each single step but what really inspired Muller to develop MBT was the fact that he frequently suffered from back ache which could be relieved temporarily by walking barefoot over soft surfaces like paddy fields whilst he was in Africa.
The Tone Ups and the Shape Ups launched by Skechers continue the aggressive niche marketing used by the brand thus far and although there has been controversy and law suits along the way, it seems the footwear brand Skechers is now well established and will continue to be successful in the future.
write by Agatha