Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ugg’s “little sister”: Koolaburra.
The Santa Barbara-based footwear label, which was acquired by Deckers Brands more than a year ago, is now being re-positioned as Ugg’s “more affordable” sister brand, where everything will be under $100.
“In terms of positioning, Ugg is a premium brand that’s sitting on the upper end of the marketplace,” says Jennifer Somer, VP for Ugg women’s and lifestyle and general manager for Koolaburra. “We saw a need for products for more accessible retail channels, and that’s where Koolaburra comes in. It has Ugg’s DNA in it but at the same time, it’s also a separate brand that has its own unique view.”
While Ugg will continue to have its standalone stores, Koolaburra won’t have its own boutiques anytime soon. Instead, Somer says that Koolaburra will be distributed in mid-tier department stores and regional retailers, where the focus is set on giving young women in the U.S. stylishly casual shoes that are not expensive.
“We’re also launching an e-commerce site come September 1,” says Somer. “In addition to that, Koolaburra will also be available on Amazon.”
The relaunch as a whole will start to materialize this Fall 2016, with a lineup of fleece-lined, solid-colored boots that have cutesy details such as fringe and bows. Furry slippers will also be on-trend.
“Based from our consumer research, a lot of active women, such as college students and millennial moms, want shoes that are trendy but comfortable. They want shoes that they can wear in different occasions,” says Somer. “And those are what we want to give to our customers.”
Another ongoing consumer behavior that Somer has noticed is the “mommy-and-me” trend, which has moms going out with their daughters in matching outfits and accessories. In line with this, Koolaburra is also gearing up for an upcoming kids line next year.
“We were often asked by retailers if we had kid versions of the shoes that we’re selling to them,” says Somer. “So venturing into doing kids’ footwear just seemed natural.”
According to Somer, Koolaburra’s core business will be in the U.S. only for the meantime, although she clarifies that Deckers Brands has a long term vision for it to become a global lifestyle brand, too.
“I think we’re going to have our hands full in the next few months or year ahead,” says Somer. “We’re excited to go beyond footwear and expand into other categories as well.”
—Eugene Y. Santos