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Stride Rite to launch new PRO-Keds men's collection
Aug '08
The Stride Rite Corporation announced that it has reacquired its rights to the PRO-Keds brand from licensee and hip-hop mogul Damon Dash and will bring the brand back in-house as part of a new strategic direction for the PRO-Keds business.

The new brand strategy includes a brand re-imaging leveraging the PRO-Keds strong heritage, product enhancements to classic styles with fresh materials, colors and other trend details, as well as commemorative limited-edition collections to celebrate the brand's 60th anniversary. The plan also involves a premium positioning within selective distribution channels and a marketing campaign targeting trendsetters.

“We thank Damon for his partnership and efforts on the PRO-Keds brand over the past few years, and we look forward to relaunching the brand under the Stride Rite organization to maximize the brand's full potential,” said Gregg Ribatt, president and CEO of Stride Rite.

“PRO-Keds is a heritage brand and a true American Classic. We plan to tap our archives and re-issue the classic styles with fresh new design details, and to build on the brand's vintage position with a new brand image. We believe there is a strong market out there for shoes that combine old school roots with contemporary styling.”

PRO-Keds was established in 1949 as a performance athletic footwear line primarily aimed at basketball. The first PRO-Keds style was the Royal, a classic canvas basketball shoe offered in high- and low-top versions featuring a red and blue “power stripe” adjacent to the toe. Over the years, new styles were added across the categories of basketball, baseball, football, tennis and track and field.

By the late 1970s, PRO-Keds had become synonymous with some of the biggest names in basketball and professional sports with key endorsers for the brand including George Mikan, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, JoJo White, Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Nate “Tiny” Archibald, among others. The brand attained cult status as the first real sneaker with style among New York City's early hip hop community.

Stride Rite will launch the new PRO-Keds men's collection taking core classic styles -- such as the Royal, Court King and Royal Master -- from its archives and refreshing the silhouettes with new materials, colors, and other trend details, as well as enhanced comfort features.

The shoes will be available in November 2008, with a wider collection forthcoming in Spring 2009. Stride Rite will target the trend-setting consumer through premium stores as its primary retail channel, and plans to do exclusive, limited-edition lines with key fashion boutiques in the coming months.

Stride Rite Corporation

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