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Skate Companies Went Out and Comeback: Es Footwear

Skate Companies Went Out and Comeback Es Footwear

Es Footwear Story

Es Footwear’s story within the skateboarding industry is a captivating tale of pioneering spirit, market adaptation, and a strategic return to form. Founded in 1995 by Pierre André Senizergues, a visionary leader in action sports footwear and former freestyle skateboarding world champion, Es emerged to fill a critical void: the need for advanced, technical skate shoes.

Es’s initial success stemmed from a two-pronged approach. Recognizing the limitations of existing skate footwear, the brand prioritized functionality. They invested heavily in research and development, crafting shoes that provided superior board feel, impact protection, and durability. This commitment to technical innovation resonated with core, technical skaters seeking peak performance. Back then, skateboarding shoes were (or seemed) pretty simple in my opinion, and Es capitalized on this opportunity by introducing advanced technology into the market.

Simultaneously, Es built a formidable marketing presence. By sponsoring a stellar skate team featuring legends like my all-time favorite skateboarder Eric Koston and Tom Penny, and strategically placing advertisements within prominent skateboarding magazines and video productions, Es established itself as a leader in the technical skate shoe market.

The Rise of Vulcanized Styles: A Challenge to Es’s Core Identity

The late 2000s witnessed a significant shift in consumer preferences. The market gravitated towards vulcanized, slimmer skate shoes, prioritizing aesthetics over technical prowess. While Es attempted to adapt by introducing vulcanized versions of their core models, the brand struggled to compete with established players like Vans and the emergence of new challengers. 

By 2012, facing intense competition and a changing market landscape, Es Footwear went on a strategic hiatus. This decision allowed Sole Tech, Es’s parent company, to focus resources on its Emerica brand, which better aligned with the prevailing market trends and was already well-positioned in the vulcanized skate shoe market. Those Reynolds 3’s with diamonds were nice!

Importantly, the hiatus wasn’t a complete shutdown. Es remained a cherished brand amongst core skaters, particularly in international markets like Japan, as mentioned by Es Footwear EVP Don Brown in his interview on the Nine Club

Recognizing this continued demand, Es made a strategic comeback in 2014. This re-emergence wasn’t a desperate attempt to regain market share. Instead, Es meticulously crafted a plan that leveraged its rich heritage. By re-issuing iconic models like the Accelerate, the Accelite, and the Accent, Es tapped into the nostalgia factor within the skateboarding community. Select skate shops worldwide carried these shoes, including Pharmacy Hollywood in California, KCDC in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Pitcrew in Frederick, Md. This wasn’t a full-scale relaunch, but rather a strategic way to reintroduce themselves. Es followed up by reissuing iconic shoes like the Accel OG in the coming months, paving the way for their complete return to skateboarding.

Es’s comeback wasn’t solely reliant on past glories. The iconic skate shoe brand embraced the digital age, establishing a strong social media presence and engaging with a new generation of skaters.  This digital marketing strategy ensured brand awareness and resonated with a digitally-native audience.

Furthermore, Es didn’t abandon its core identity of technical innovation.  They continued to develop new models such as Swift 1.5 and Silo modes just to name a few alongside re-issues such as the recently launched Chad Muska’s signature shoe, ensuring a product portfolio that appealed to both nostalgia-driven shoe collectors and performance-focused skateboarders.

Es Footwear’s story is a testament to the brand’s resilience and its commitment to strategic adaptation.  By prioritizing technical innovation in its early years, Es carved a niche for itself within the skateboarding market.  When faced with a changing skateboard market, they made a calculated decision to step back and reassess their position.  Their strategic re-emergence, leveraging their heritage while embracing the digital age, has secured Es Footwear’s place as a key player within the action sports industry.

A Look at Sole Tech’s Broader Success

Es Footwear’s story is just one chapter within the broader narrative of Sole Tech’s success.  Sole Tech, a global leader in action sports footwear and apparel, boasts a portfolio of leading brands like Emerica and Etnies.  The company’s commitment to innovation, strategic marketing, and a deep understanding of the action sports market has fueled its impressive growth, exceeding $200 million in revenue and establishing a global presence.

Es Footwear’s journey demonstrates that success in the skateboarding industry requires more than just an iconic logo and a roster of world-class skaters.  It demands a deep understanding of the ever-changing skateboard market, a commitment to innovation, and the ability to adapt to evolving consumer preferences.  By staying true to its core identity while embracing strategic reinvention, Es Footwear has ensured its continued relevance within the ever-changing world of skateboarding.

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