The vice president of hard goods for Speedo USA, Barry McGeough, thinks brands should stay within their boundaries.
“I have a very strong philosophy about brand permission, and I believe that brands should stay inside that brand permission,” McGeough said.
Though its footwear line — set to hit retail stores in December 2013 — includes a running shoe for triathletes, McGeough said Speedo is very much still coloring within the lines of its water specialty.
“We’re staying inside our boundaries,” McGeough said, while adding that the company's expanding beyond the pool and broadening into water sports that take place both on land and in water.
The swimwear giant's 42-model, lightweight footwear line, including select models of running shoes and sport sandals with Vibram soles, will debut at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013.
Speedo has offered a footwear line in the past, but this time around McGeough tapped into his previous experience at The North Face and Teva to make more technical product that can be used in and out of the water (versus Aqua Socks and flip flops). The result is the FST (MSRP $110) running shoe for triathletes.
“The triathlon is the apex predator of what you’re going to be doing in and out of the water,” McGeough said. “It’s the most aerobic, most intense, most demanding — and in a lot of ways, it’s the sexiest and most appealing of the amphibious-oriented sports.”
Speedo’s FST is a technical, neutral, minimally cushioned running shoe that comes in at 7.6 ounces.
“We believe in cushioning — minimally cushioned — because people still run on their heel,” McGeough said.
Because of Speedo’s knowledge of water products and Vibram’s knowledge of rubber and traction, McGeough said he thinks the product will resonate with triathletes and pure runners alike.
“It’s made for being in and out of the water,” McGeough said. “You can run on a trail, run through a creek, do your triathlon and run on the grass. It dries fairly quickly and doesn’t really absorb water.”
The shoe’s mesh is made from monofilament, the same material as fishing line.
“It does make it quite different in the marketplace for people who are running wet weather,” McGeough said. It’s also appropriate for dry land runners who run in humid climates like Miami and “don’t want to wait a week for shoes to dry.”
Speedo will continue to make the footwear it’s known best for — sandals — but will pump them up with Vibram outsoles.
One of note is the fitted Quantum Sports Sandal with Vibram outsole for both men and women. The sandal’s microfiber lining makes it soft against the foot and McGeough said it’s lightweight
Targeting triathletes is a smart move for Speedo. More outdoor retailers have begun to seek out and carry gear for triathlons to reach this key market with some extra money to invest in its activities.
The most recent Sports and Fitness Industry Association study, released in 2012, said an estimated 1,992,000 individuals completed at least one triathlon in 2011, up from 1,702,000 unique participants in 2010. The sport saw 17 percent growth over the course of the last year, and the total number of unique triathlon participants rose 59 percent from 2008 (1,251,000) to 2011 (1,992,000), according to the SFIA report.
According to the Active Network 44 percent of triathletes make more than $100,000 a year and 28 percent make between $60,000 and $100,000 a year.
“The demographic is known to have a little bit of disposable income,” McGeough said. “We’re being asked what we’re doing in the tri space and we feel like we are reacting to a need that is global.”
In addition to its footwear line, Speedo is launching a line of triathlon caps, goggles and wetsuits.