Walking the walk
For those who don't remember the 1980s and '90s let's be clear: Airwalk was a big deal. But 25 years later, the once must-have skate shoe is trying to remind consumers who they are.
As Gen-X paved the way for Gen-Y, the brand went from the third most visible shoe brand, to, well, being sold at Payless Shoe Source. But a second wind may be brewing as the iconic skate brand is taking a page out of Vans' marketing book and going back to square one.
To celebrate the quarter-century mark, Airwalk is re-releasing twelve of its most popular and game-changing shoes.
"I think the evolution of skate product has slowed significantly," said Eric Dreyer, vice president of brand management at Airwalk. "You see a lot of reversion back ... skate getting back to its roots."
What's a better way to get back go your roots than relaunching old shoes?
"It's more of celebration than a relaunch," Dreyer says.
Sorry, a "celebration."
"I think in skateboarding, action sports and society in general there's a lack of substance -- there's a lot of cookie cutter and same old sort of thing," said Mike Vallely, professional skateboarder and on-and-off again face of Airwalk since the late-'80s. "What they're doing is getting in touch with their past. They're doing something like Vans has done. Vans' consistency is building off their roots. That's what Airwalk is trying to do and it feels right to me. Skate shoes are a dime a dozen. There are classic designs and they're classics for a reason -- Airwalk has a lot of those."
The campaign unofficially started in January, when the company re-released the "Jim Tennis." The success is purely anecdotal. Sure they've sold out in each of the shoes released, but the company only made 300 available. It's is, says, marketing expert Dreyer, more about buzz.
"I can't deny it, I stick out like a sore thumb sometimes, but I'm big on the tennis ball tennis shoe," said Ronnie Renner, Airwalk-sponsored motocross rider about one of the re-released pairs of shoes. "People notice it -- I'm 34 -- an old man in a young man's sport. Its not too often you see people in their 30s wearing popping shoes. But guys like it. And when I go to my son's school the kids are always trying to hit me up for them. Any time you get those two demographics (30-somethings and school kids) talking about the same thing, you've done something right."
For Renner the formula for getting that "something" done right is to stay true to one's self, be original and be authentic.
"It comes down to principles, the theory of original styles is something I do, and I walk what I talk. They set the bar and started something. It was a revolution," he said.