Browse all

Where Skechers comes from

The signing of Harry Kane is only the first step in a broader strategy

Where Skechers comes from  The signing of Harry Kane is only the first step in a broader strategy

When Harry Kane arrived on the pitch with a new pair of football boots after his move from Tottenham Hotspur to Bayern Munich, not everyone recognised the logo on the upper. In fact, the yellow S on the blue side was the first time it had been seen on a football boot, the big investment of a brand that had previously only touched the sports world. But thanks to the lifetime brand ambassador contract signed by Harry Kane, Skechers is now attacking the football boot market, adding a new name to an already rather crowded panorama on the launch pad.

Skechers was founded in 1992 by Robert Greenberg, a veteran of the coaching scene who was already responsible for the success of L.A. Gear. He had a plan to fill the space left by Nike, adidas, PUMA and New Balance with athletic shoes for everyday wear. Skechers has always focused on the extreme comfort of its shoes, even forgoing the race for aesthetics and hype that characterises its competitors, and thus managed to be very competitive on price as well. It's an extremely functional approach that has made Skechers the fourth largest company in the footwear market in the US, after Nike, adidas and PUMA, with annual sales of more than $7 billion in 2022. And this success has led the Californian company to broaden its horizons and move into athleisure and performance. Having already made running shoes for Olympic marathon runner Meb Keflezighi in 2011, MLB pitcher Clayton Kershaw or other sports personalities such as Michael Ballack and Jamie Redknapp who opted for comfort and a handsome sponsorship cheque, Skechers has now chosen the captain of the England national team to accredit with the football that counts.

Harry Kane has chosen a brand that has never made a football boot at any level, not even amateur, after a long association with Nike. In doing so, the former Tottenham striker aims to prove the sceptics right across the board and create his own legacy beyond the football pitch. It seems that the impetus to take on the role of brand ambassador also came from the film AIR, which tells the story that led Michael Jordan to sign with Nike and thus create his empire, and that Kane was as impressed with the Skechers plan as the young Jordan was at the time. According to Greg Smith - Skechers' vice president of product development and merchandising - the deal with Kane was the result of meticulous planning and strategy that the Californian company had spent the previous eighteen months developing on a prototype football boot that was waiting for a superstar to don it. And that world-class footballer was Harry Kane, who, after changing technical sponsors, also changed clubs and went to Bayern Munich after spending his entire career in North London.

And in his first game with Bayern, of all clubs, Kane was finally able to wear Skechers' new SKX_01 model with its bright blue and neon yellow detailing, after having to cover up the new brand's insignia in his last games with Tottenham. Alvaro Morata has taken a similar route, taking to the pitch in Atletico Madrid's first games of the season in all-black football boots rumoured to be Skechers' second model, the Razor. The Spanish striker, who is coming to the end of his contract with adidas, is likely to be the next step in Skechers' strategy as it looks to capitalise on the strong mobility of the tech sponsorship market in the coming months to attract new ambassadors and consolidate its position in a highly competitive world. Skechers, however, will not only have to fight for a place in the sun with its usual rivals Nike, adidas, PUMA and New Balance, but also against a certain public distrust of a brand that has never made performance shoes before. And it must try to reverse the general perception that sees it as a brand that is not exactly cool and has never managed to shape up despite various attempts with celebrities as ambassadors.