Keith Shelton, Senior Director of Merchandising & Product Development, talks us through the new revolutionary Slip-ins from Skechers GO GOLF.

    How successful is Skechers globally, both in and out of golf, and more specifically in the UK?
    We’ve seen some phenomenal growth over the last few years. We really hit hyper speed in 2022, and we were right around $7.4 billion in annual sales. We are the number three athletic footwear company in the world, remarkable for a 30-year-old brand. This is due to our design focus: comfort, innovation, style, quality, all at a reasonable price.

    Skechers is a multi-category business, what are your lead performance categories in other spaces and what can we expect to see in the future?
    Skechers is THE Comfort Technology Company™ with almost 30 divisions across casualwear, lifestyle, and sport. In my division we concentrate on performance comfort, but comfort is definitely one of those things that crosses over all the categories.

    All of our design and develpment leaders are extremely intimate with each other’s businesses. We all communicate what’s working in our divisions. In the performance division we have running, we have golf. Pickleball is growing rapidly. A lot of the innovations start in performance, and they trickle down into other sports categories and eventually into lifestyle.

    Matt Fitzpatrick and Brooke Henderson both had tremendous seasons in 2022, what influence do they both have in the development of technology and new styles?
    Extremely involved. One of the things that we pride ourselves on is we don’t have a huge stable of athletes. We don’t go out and sign anybody who’s willing to wear our product. We’re very specific about who we want to go after. We work really closely with them. My team takes an athlete first approach, so they are the CEOs of our division. We are working with Matt Fitzpatrick and Brooke Henderson regularly on how to evolve our products. These athletes are able to articulate what they want from their footwear. We’re able to give them a prototype. They’re able to test it very specifically, tell us what they like about it, what they don’t like about it. My team, we’ve got a combined 250 years of experience in footwear, but we still can only get the shoe to about 70%. Matt’s insights as a US Open champion really helps us get that shoe 100% right.

    Matt is currently wearing our Pro 5 Hyper. The midsole features a Hyper Burst® foam. It’s unlike anything else in the industry. We pioneered the material. Super critical foam is mechanically blown. There’s no chemical reaction at all. It’s created through heat and pressure, and we’re able to make a much lighter, much stronger cell wall type foam and we put this into our high level athlete shoes because it’s very lightweight. It’s super responsive. Any weight we can save we will as over the amount of mileage these golfers walk, it’ll be more comfortable for them.

    Matt is a big Sheffield United fan. The first idea we started talking about was taking attributes from a proper football boot which are just always amazing. They look fast, like they’re moving when they’re just sitting still on the shelf. We actually use a vacuum forming technology very similar to how football boots are constructed.

    Brooke likes to be lower to the ground. She’s very specific about what she likes. She is more hands on in the aesthetic of the shoe. She wanted a sustainable shoe that didn’t use cow leather. And she loves painting and watercolours, so we created a motif on her shoe that expresses that watercolor interest.

    Slip-ins technology is your big introduction for Skechers GO GOLF 2023. Can you explain what it is and how it helps the golfer?
    We call it Skechers Hands Free Slip-ins® technology. Skechers Slip-ins increase accessibility, so if you’re a golfer who maybe has a little bit more around the midsection, or are just always needing to be in and out of your shoes fast with a busy schedule, having a product that you can slip on and off is going to make it easier.

    Our exclusive Heel Pillow™ technology really locks the foot in and it gives you a great fit. For most golfers, you’re going to be able to just slip your foot right into this shoe. Having the Twist Fit dial helps produce the correct fit for golfers who like their shoes to feel snug. Once you have that dialed in, you can then slip in and out of the shoe as often as you need. You really only need to twist the dial if you need to adjust that fit.

    Skechers Slip-ins also work for Brooke Henderson and Matt Fitzpatrick. When they are going for those big swings, they really need to be locked into the shoe. The last thing that we want our golfers thinking about is their feet. You’ll definitely see us further expanding this throughout the golf category as we head into 2024.

    What other shoes and technologies are you excited for in the 2023 range?
    We just launched Skechers Slip-ins here in the in the US and it’s been phenomenal out of the gate. We are having a hard time keeping up with inventory. We will continue to expand this out into tour level products and lower price points as well.

    You are going to see a lot more technologies that start with our running division products coming across into golf. Creating better outsole compounds, better midsole foam compounds, more comfortable footbeds on the inside.

    Arch Fit® is in the footbeds of our shoes. Its main component is contouring of the footbed from the ball of the foot back into the heel. This is from research from outside of Skechers, collaborating with expert podiatrists, based on over 120,000 unweighted foot scans to create this contour. Another key feature is the heel, with a deep molded heel pocket that provides more shock absorption. Finally, the footbed is made of a plush and springy polyurethane foam. So, the shoe is going to be ultra-comfortable but still provide you with the support you need.

    The in-store display areas in pro shops are a key engagement area for customers to experience your new technologies and continued comfort messaging. How does Skechers help support retailers with this?
    We’re in the Belfry, we’re in Auchterlonies, which are famous high end locations. More importantly though we are doing a great job with Foremost, TGI and our green grass golf accounts.

    In-store is key. We’ve looked at the accounts who just take Skechers golf shoes and put them on the wall, compared to those that utilize a Skechers in-store display. That’s why we offer in-store wall displays, POS, fitting stools. We have assets that utilize our athletes and the product. These accounts that utilize the in-store marketing assets do much, much better. And the options are scalable dependent on the size of the store.

    With so much technology introduced into your Golf Shoes, Skechers clearly has a lot of messages to communicate to golfers. How will Skechers be driving golfers into the retailers to ask for Skechers?
    We do an amazing job at Skechers on marketing, not just in the performance divisions but across all our divisions. Jamie Redknapp has really helped. Any time that we can use our tour staff in our advertising, we will feature Matt Fitzpatrick and Brooke Henderson. It is incredible to have two major winners in a commercial promoting Hands Free Slip-ins. We do a multitude of marketing and advertising which really helps tell those stories.

    A lot of golfers might not come in and understand all the stories, so you don’t have to know how the cake is made. But when you taste it, you know it’s delicious and that’s what people experience with Skechers GO GOLF footwear. The proof is in the pudding. Golfers just want their feet to be comfortable at the end of
    the round.

    If a retailer doesn’t stock Skechers GO GOLF currently, why should they in the future?
    They’re absolutely missing out. We’ve got the best technology. We’re one of the few brands that truly is advertising and marketing. We’re willing to come in and cooperate on in-store displays. We also pride ourselves on offering some of the best margins in golf footwear. Every pair that they sell, they’re going to put more cash in
    the register.

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    As an avid golfer since the age of eleven Dan lives and breathes all things golf.  With a current handicap of eleven he gets out and plays as often as his work life (and girlfriend) allows. Dan confesses to still being like a kid at Christmas when it comes to seeing the latest golf equipment. Having served as GolfPunk’s Deputy Editor, and resident golf geek for the past 13 years and working for golf's oldest brand, John Letters Dan brings to GOLF RETAILING an excellent understanding of the sector.