La Sportiva has hired Gary Banik, the man who directed the development
of Salomon's outdoor footwear category from 1998 to Sept. 2001, as the
company's new product development manager for footwear.
Though La Sportiva casts a slightly smaller corporate footprint than
Salomon, Banik feels he's found the perfect position match for
utilizing his skills in product development, research and design.
" One of the greatest strengths I have is the command of the product
development process -- knowing when to do what," Banik told SNEWSÂ®.
"That strength is certainly a key reason La Sportiva brought me on
board so that I would leverage that experience to help the company
focus on developing product suitable for the North American market and
Banik told us that La Sportiva would be building on its heritage as a
company for climbers by expanding its product offering into more
footwear choices for mountain athletes. Mountain running shoes, for
example, with sticky rubber outsoles, of course.
Banik will also be seeking to develop the sandal line, again, focusing
on what climbers and mountain athletes want -- fit, grip, and control.
"The right fit for the right product is critical to success," says
Banik. "And, in La Sportiva fashion, sticky rubber will be featured
again throughout the sandal line."
As for what retailers and consumer can expect from Banik, look for what
he calls "transparent function," where products express what they will
do for the user from the features that are evident and the design that
"You look at our mountaineering line and that is well detailed and
works well, and the climbing works well and is, in fact, a reference
product for consumers and many competitors," says Banik. "We are
looking to create a reference product in the mountain athletic category
by developing our own aesthetic that will be more feature and
functionally derived than stylishly influenced."
Banik also tells SNEWSÂ® that while distribution might expand in the
months to come, don't expect La Sportiva to drift from its specialty
"Our main focus right now is the specialty retailer and what we have to
offer them and what they offer us," says Banik. "We have a warehouse in
Boulder that allows us to be very responsive to the dealer's needs
which is something that makes us very competitive with any footwear
company. Of course, as we go forward we might look at perhaps changing
the distribution mix a little, like going to specialty running shops
for our running products -- but we'll always stay specialty."