19 April 2014

why not skechers ...?

this week i had an unexpected encounter with a footwear buyer for a running specialty retailer. while in conversation he noticed that i was wearing a pair of skechers GOrun ultra and he commented that he’d heard from some other runners that they were impressed by the footwear being produced by skechers performance division.  

but then he said that he wasn’t interested in buying from them for the store that he represented. 

as a skechers brand ambassador this naturally piqued my curiosity – and as he went on to explain his position, he described how he had issues with the fact that ‘you can buy skechers in just about any department store.’  the implication was that his store was focused on running-specific product that should in some sense only be available through a running-specific retailer.  i admit to probably having a bit of a dumbfounded look on my face at that point.   i didn’t offer a particularly intelligent rebuttal, but in my head i was thinking “but you probably carry nike, saucony, new balance – all brands that i can find in the sears catalogue.”

it's a head-scratcher to me that a retailer who is expressly about providing the running public with the best products possible would consciously choose not to stock brands that are consistently delivering positive reviews by recreational and elite athletes alike.  on top of that many running retailers carry items that receive mixed reviews at best because such brands might limit their market to running-specific products.

this isn't really a rant - it's more of a positional post asking the question that's in the title:  why not skechers?  
  • you can't lean on the argument that skechers markets too broadly because other powerhouse manufacturers like nike and adidas have their share of skateboarding and non-technical casual shoes
  • you say they have no history of technical footwear design?  how about kurt stockbridge's 18 years with nike working in materials innovation and as Senior Product Developer in their performance division.  or david raysse, who designed shoes for NBA players grant hill and jerry stackhouse with fila, and then moved on to be director of basketball design with adidas?
  • have they priced themselves out of the specialty market?  just because their best shoe lines are around $80 USD does in no way mean that they have skimped on quality or features.
  • still hung-up on the shape-ups?  i get it.  outrageous promises, lawsuits.  but it's history now ... and just in case you think that one wonky design mars an entire brand, let's just showcase a few others for our viewing pleasure ...
i feel that it's high time that the running-specific community recognize that skechers is a serious player in the field.  they have a proven product at every level of training and competition.  it disappoints me that three of my favourite retailers with whom i have running connections - running free, running room and mountain equipment co-op - carry no stock in skechers performance footwear.

maybe there's a reason that i'm a skechers performance brand ambassador.  maybe that reason is that i was wearing and recommending skechers long before i was approached about the ambassador program.

like skechers, i believe in getting the best products to the people.  whether or not that's through running-specific retailers is not the critical issue - we have enough of an exercise-deficient epidemic in north america that there's no room for exclusivity and/or elitism.

if you're a runner who's never tried skechers - or never even thought of trying skechers - please accept this as your invitation to explore the world of the skechers performance division.

and #GOlikeneverbefore!


  1. The problem is the distribution and not the shoe. In the UK it's a real problem. At the end of the day, no matter how good the service in the running specialist shop is, the product is not unique and people do sadly get the shoe details from the box and go on google. It takes a few seconds to find a discounted price. Asics, Nike etc. all, to a certain extent restrict their footwear range to allow this two tier distribution to take place because they benefit from having their shoes sold with advice. However, Skechers have not done this.

    1. thanks for reading, and for your comments gareth! that's a shame about the distribution strategy - i know that here in canada skechers has its own retail outlets as well as distribution to some more generalist department stores - but their performance line is not readily available at the department store level (to the best of my knowledge). as i understand it they are trying to break into the specialist shops with their performance division products but it doesn't appear that they are being readily accepted.

      i agree that a two-tier distribution approach would work both for manufacturer and specialist retailer. i'm hoping that skechers will get some more traction that way sooner rather than later - both here in canada and in the UK!

  2. They sure seemed to work well for Meb today! Why not Skechers??

    1. you ain't just whistlin' dixie there mike! meb was outta this world today - and what more could Skechers ask for in terms of an ambassador for the brand?!?

    2. For sure...one of the true good guys in running. I loved when he had a "bad" race at New York but powered on and finished when so many other elites would have just called it a day. He's pure class, and a great ambassador!

    3. anyone know which model Meb wears??

    4. great question! seth hasty, the promotions/social ambassador for Skechers USA says this: "He does most of the bulk mileage in the forthcoming Skechers Performance GOMeb Strada (coming soon), and mixes in easy runs with a prototype GOrun 4 but all tempo/track workouts are done in the GOmeb Speed 3 he wore yesterday [at the Boston Marathon]."

      as far as i know none of these shoes are currently available in retail distribution.

  3. my only problem with Skechers from the start has been their sizing. i wear a large size (usually 15) as i measure a 14 and need a 14 1/2 or so to be comfortable. after a long period of frustration i read a review in Running TImes that stated the reviewers for the Go Bionic Trail actually needed to go down a size in order to be able to do the review. I immediately ordered a pair of 14's. The fit like a dream. I LOVE those shoes. They were fantastic in the snow (and on ice). I burned off the lugs running on pavement ,tho. I have now found the Go Bionic Ride in 13 ill fit if I don't wear socks and remove the insole-liner. Also, I somehow found a 15 of the original Go Run on amazon.com. to my knowledge they never made a 15, was this some sort of prototype? I like the Go Run 1, but nothing compared tot he Go Bionic Trail (amazing) or the Go Bionic Trail (words cannot do justice). Also, I have seen the Go Bionic Prana online. Does anyone know anything about it? thanks.

    1. thanks for reading and commenting b.j.! sizing can always be a bit tricky (as i'm sure that you're well aware!) between different manufacturer standards, but even within a particular brand. i know that wear sz 9.5 in the GOBionic Prana (one of my all-time favourite shoes, by the way) and the GO Bionic Trail, but sz 10 in the GORun 2, GORun Ultra and GOMeb Speed 2 - and that doesn't even include the playing around that i do with insoles.

      i'm glad to hear that you are enjoying your Skechers, and truly hope that you will continue to get more enjoyment and positive feedback from your running as a result!

  4. I am not an athlete, or runner by any means. I am a graphic designer however, and I am located in an area of California that has many skechers store fronts. In my observation of the company I can assume that the reason runners do not shop there is because of its reputation. The demographic that is socially recognized (amongst the target audience) is that of lower class. We as a consumer believe that adults whom buy skechers have chosen them for their children or have very little money to invest in the shoes with a more prestigious brand. In a way it is seen as worse than generic walmart shoes. The Shape Ups built their brand in the eyes of women and men because the purpose out weighed the perspective. but that did not last long.

    This does not mean that the quality of skechers is lesser than that of a higher priced running shoe. On the contrary, it may be able to preform as one of the best on the market. The sad thing is the company will never gain the respect it desires unless people can find a new low cost versatile bedazzeled shoe brand for the family. At that point they could redirect their market towards the athletic male.

    1. great observations, and thanks for posting! it's interesting that a brand that has a history of perceived target marketing of a certain socio-economic layer might somehow be then viewed by the general population as disqualified (or perhaps less qualified) from delivering products that could be considered performance- or even elite-rated.

      i would hope that the work that Skechers Performance Division has been doing would maybe be seen as creating a revolutionary shift in the performance footwear industry, and actually revealing more and more that running is (and should be) an indiscriminate activity - because anybody can run, and run well, regardless of their income level or living standards.

      here's to Skechers giving more running power to the people!