Nine years ago, OOFOS launched with a new kind of all-foam sandal made for the outdoors and beyond. The brand is doubling down to try and become an ‘it’ shoe of the year.
Once there were Crocs. Birkenstock had its day in the sun. KEEN, Chaco, Teva, and Vibram FiveFingers all come to mind when thinking back over the past few years of footwear crazes.
Steve Gallo thinks OOFOS could be next. As president of the brand, he has a bias. But after working in footwear for 25 years, most recently as a GM at adidas, Gallo is bullish as the brand gains awareness and some key cultural trends align.
GearJunkie sat with Gallo for five quick questions on the Massachusetts-based brand and its 2020 plans for growth.
GearJunkie: Before we jump in, I’m curious: How did the company start working with ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter?
Gallo: We had the good fortune that she came to us a few years ago after purchasing the product and falling in love with it. We have sponsored her with product and watched her career ascend from there. It’s been amazing to see. This year, we may be doing some integrations with Courtney around a recovery and wellness push.
What are some key moves we will see for 2020 with the brand?
There is a lot of cultural focus on recovery and self-care at the moment. OOFOS aligns with that, and this year we will have our biggest-ever marketing push.
This will include a new campaign that will, we hope, bring the company to the forefront of the industry as the leader in recovery footwear. We are also launching a new product called the OOmg eeZee this fall.
What makes OOFOS unique?
The sandals are all foam, and it’s a proprietary formula that we have a long-term license on, called OOfoam. We guard what the foam is made of, kind of like the Coke formula [laughing].
But, really, we have documented that it absorbs 37% more impact than traditional foam footwear materials and is a nice blend of cushion and stability.
It’s a closed-cell foam with a slower rebound, and the footbed has a patented shape that maximizes the properties of the foam.
The shoes and sandals reduce pressure on the body by absorbing impact versus returning energy like most traditional footwear foams do.
Tell us, how has the public perceived the brand and its footwear?
Some of our data shows that an average customer, once they buy a pair, will buy two more pairs at some point. So, an average of three pairs per person.
We are now sold in all REI stores around the U.S. and have seen 40% or more growth of the company’s sales over the last 5 years. Multiple NFL teams have purchased the sandals for their players. We are going to introduce a high-profile athlete ambassador soon this year, too.
However, we have low brand recognition with people surveyed. That is why, for 2020, we’re doubling down on awareness and marketing. The product we know is perceived well once someone puts it on their foot. Brand awareness for us is the No. 1 thing to solve.
What should an outdoor consumer know about the sandals?
They are light and durable. We see a lot of people clip a pair on their pack to complement their hiking or climbing footwear. You can wear them at the end of the day to recover and relax.
The sandals are a closed-cell foam, so they do not facilitate bacteria growth. As an added bonus, the sandals float, in case you drop them on a creek crossing in the wilds!