I began working for the Skechers Performance Division (SPD) in July of last year. Well before I took the job, I’d become familiar with a few of their models and had written about how impressed I was. BMort1 had hooked me up with a pair or two and then Kurt2 had sent over a couple of others. The GO Run series had become part of my regular rotation, along with the Kinvara, Adios, Tarther (RIP), 1400 and beloved Launch.
At first, I was hesitant to trumpet the merits of Skechers product because I was a shoe snob–the wrong kind, really, leaning more toward brand snob than anything. But I was digging the shoes so much that eventually I couldn’t hide that I was wearing them on more runs than not (I still have the almost unused Kinvara, Adios, 1400 and Launch to prove it. They’re in the closet, and we still chat, though mostly now it’s like when you run into an old girlfriend and you’re married with kids and you’re like, soooooooo, how’s it going?)
And then last summer I got a message from my man Seth, who was working on the SPD marketing team at the time, that I should send my resume tout de suite. Some things happened after that, obviously, and I ended up at the Intergalactic Sales Conference in Manhattan Beach. If you’ve never been to Manhattan Beach, CA, it’s the kind of place where everyone smells real, real tan and you get sand in your parts, whether you want it there or not. Also, if it gets below 60 degrees, they call FEMA to bring in some long sleeve shirts, because you never really know.
Several people asked me, upon my return from MB, seriously, dude? Skechers? Just like I’d been asked when I was reviewing the shoes. Yes, Skechers. Specifically, Skechers Performance Division.
There are some challenges I really, really enjoy. If there is an underdog quality to the challenge, I’m all over it. And Skechers Performance is an underdog in the specialty running market, so the excitement was immediate and visceral. The challenges are real—most of you probably didn’t even know that Skechers makes performance running shoes, and even more of you probably only knew of the Shape Ups and all that. And running specialty is well aware of it, so there’s the challenge. How to introduce to the public a really, really, really good product from a brand that has previously not been associated with performance product?
The idea is to change the perception of the brand. Most people probably don’t care that the product team is as good as it gets and is making product that is as good or better than anything I’ve seen in 30-something years of running.3 Most people probably won’t even raise an eyebrow that Meb wore them when he won Boston, because truth be told, most people don’t follow the sport in that way. All it really takes is to get the shoes on some feet. It’s that simple; and it’s not. Obviously you can’t just go around giving away all your shoes, can you? No, but all it takes is a few who are willing to try. Word of mouth, and all that.
We know that if you’re looking for a shoe to try, there are really two fundamental variables to consider: fit and feel. The shoes have to fit your feet well enough that they function the way they’re supposed to. Both the shoes and your feet, that is. And they should feel as if you’re really not wearing anything at all. They should disappear on your feet. Neutral, maximal, stability, whatever. The shoes should allow your foot to move unrestricted. And that’s the idea behind SPD product: To make the smoothest transitioning footwear possible.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt when you get to rub shoulders with Kara and Meb.
Skechers is now carried at Rogue Running. Stop in, try ’em on and see for yourself!
1 Dude is fast, but he puts his pants on one at a time, just like you and me.
2Stockbridge. VP, Technical Development, Performance Division. Good people.
3Note to self: Edit, using actual math.