Craft Sportswear Creates a Beer for Runners
Running brand Craft Sportswear has teamed up with the Swedish brewery, Spike, to make what it bills as “the ultimate post-run beer.” The beer, suitably named Craft Beer, is packed with extra B vitamins (such as B6, niacin, riboflavin and folate), minerals (including potassium, magnesium and phosphorus) and dietary fiber. It also contains antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols which contribute to overall well-being.
“We’re all about supporting runners and running culture as much as possible,” explains Niklas Moberg, head of brand at Craft Sportswear. “Sometimes it’s by making the best possible shoes and gear, sometimes it’s about sponsoring great athletes and sometimes it’s about maximizing the experience for the ones who enjoy a post run beer.
The beer was created together with Swedish microbrewery Billdale Brewing and launched during UTMB, the world’s biggest trail running event. It will tour other running races and events throughout the year.
Nike Opens Running Store in Tokyo
Whether or not it is a sign of the Swoosh’s plans to focus on run specialty globally – and perhaps even in the U.S. – word comes that Nike Ginza, a retail experience store created to serve the city’s running community, is the newest Nike Rise store to open in Tokyo. The store’s Running Hub offers regular NRC Live training sessions led by NRC coaches and Nike Ginza pacers. Runners can use an in-store locker service to store belongings when running in downtown Tokyo.
Runners can also browse group run opportunities in the city through the store’s three-story digital screens. Nike Ginza offers sessions with Nike store athletes to give runners personalized product recommendations. It also has a Recycling+Donation program where customers can drop off gently worn apparel to give it a second life.
Tailwind Nutrition Donates To Hometown First Responders, Athletes
Tailwind Nutrition, the provider of nutrition products, has updated its product line and donated the remaining stock of its Active Hydration to seven local organizations within the Southwest Colorado community. The donations are part of Tailwind’s commitment to give back to its hometown of Durango, where the company was founded and where its headquarters and manufacturing facility are located.
Two local fire departments will receive donations: Durango Fire Protection District and Upper Pine River Fire Protection District. The physical nature of firefighting means that staff battle dehydration year-round in their work and training, and
Tailwind is also donating the product to five athletic programs that are inclusive of a variety of disciplines, abilities and age levels: Adaptive Sports Association, Durango Winter Sports Club Freeride, Fort Lewis College Athletics, Fort Lewis College Cycling Team, and Durango High School Athletics. These groups exemplify how Tailwind serves as a support crew aiding individuals and teams in reaching their goals.
“Tailwind was founded 11 years ago in Durango, and we have remained committed to supporting our hometown community since day one. We are proud to work with these exceptional community partners,” says Chris Jacobs, Tailwind’s chief revenue officer.
Kane Launches Collab Shoe with Matt Choi
Kane Footwear has launched a collaborative Revive design in partnership with running influencer and personal trainer Matt Choi. The shoe features a sky blue base color with yellow and dark blue speckles, along with Choi’s tagline “Limitless” on the sole of the shoe.
Choi has recovered from multiple marathons with the Revive recovery slip-on and this new collaborative shoe captures his approach to athletic performance: the tagline Limitless is meant to remind athletes that they must unlearn limitations to live to their full potential. Choi is a sub three-hour marathoner and has completed endurance challenges like the Grindstone 100 mile ultramarathon. He has built a community of nearly 500 thousand runners and athletes across multiple social media platforms that follow his mission to push his limits.
Aetrex Launches FitStarter Technology Platform
Aetrex debuted FitStarter, a personalized footwear recommendation platform designed to help retailers improve their shoe fitting service for shoppers, reduce returns and increase customer satisfaction, during The Running Event in Austin, TX, last month. Developed in partnership with shoe fit testing company Heeluxe, FitStarter is a turnkey starting point to Aetrex’s AI-powered shoe match-making platform, FitGenius. Retailers can easily add FitStarter to their existing Albert 3D foot scanner software.
To support FitStarter, Aetrex is establishing multiple Fit Labs to analyze shoes submitted by participating retailers each season. A member of the Aetrex Technology team will analyze the shoes using the patented Hank Jr Shoe Fitting SmartLast system developed by Heeluxe, which leverages pressure sensor technology. Within days, retailers will have footwear and fit recommendations available within their Aetrex Albert software. Once Aetrex collects shoe data within the Fit Lab, the FitStarter platform will analyze each customer’s unique 3D foot scan data collected in store alongside the Fit Lab data to provide immediate, personalized fitting recommendations.
“While FitGenius remains our gold standard fit recommendation offering for retailers, not every retailer has the capacity to quickly collect the required 5000 foot scan data points necessary to feed the AI platform,” explains Larry Schwartz, CEO of Aetrex. “With FitStarter, retailers can provide accurate shoe fit recommendations from day-one of installation while also collecting the foot scan data points needed to upgrade to the premium FitGenius AI.”
The FitStarter program provides in-store shoppers with personalized fit recommendations, while FitGenius has the capability to provide ideal footwear recommendations to consumers both in store and online. After a shopper completes an Aetrex 3D foot scan at a participating retail location, FitStarter will rank the retailer’s footwear inventory based on the likelihood of a good fit for that individual from excellent to poor. It will also display a graphic of the consumer’s selected shoe, highlighting areas that fit well and potential areas of pressure. FitStarter also considers the shopper’s preference for shoe fit, ranging from snug to roomy.
FitStarter will be available to existing and interested Aetrex foot scanning partners on January 1, 2024 on a service subscription model.
Lowa Expands All-Terrain Collection
Lowa Bootsunveiled expanded performance technology in its All-Terrain Running (ATR) by Lowa collection. The Fortux GTX and Fortux GTX QC, available online and at select retailers Spring/Summer ’24, “broadens our performance trail running series and adds another core style to support trail running in challenging climates,” according to GM Peter Sachs. “This addition builds on the successful launch giving running devotees a solution for performance in Mother Nature’s worst conditions. We were eager to launch ATR this past summer and break into the trail running space and it was only natural to add an all-weather style.”
The Fortux GTX (MSRP: $190), adapted from the Fortux distance trail running model, features Gore-Tex Invisible Fit incorporated into a durable jacquard woven upper for all weather protection; speed lacing for easy on and off; and a rocker style providing a natural rolling motion to conserve energy.
The Fortux GTX QC (MSRP: $210) is a lightweight waterproof speed hiker with the soul of a trail runner. Like the Fortux GTX, the Fortux GTX QC features a jacquard weave upper and Gore-Tex Invisible Fit. It has great traction and cushioned comfort underfoot, plus the ankle support for tricky terrain. The smooth rocker sole design allows for a natural rolling motion every step of the way.
New Balance Partners With District Vision
New Balance and District Vision recently joined forces on a collaboration that supports the notion that setting out on a physical journey and searching for the path to inner peace may be one in the same.
In this collaborative take on the Fresh Foam X More Trail, District Vision takes New Balance's premier trail runner and applies symbolic earth tones to the engineered mesh upper. Haptic print overlays are utilized for the 'N' logo on each side and used again at the toe tips, heel counters and eyelets. The stacked Fresh Foam X dual-hardness midsole gives the shoe a super-stacked height, while the trail-ready Vibram outsole provides enhanced traction anywhere you may roam.
The New Balance x District Vision Fresh Foam X More Trail was available exclusively via DistrictVision.com in early December and globally via NewBalance.com. MSRP: $175.
United Sports Brands Acquired by Norwest
United Sports Brands (USB), the parent of Shock Doctor, McDavid, Cutters, Nathan, Pearl Izumi and Glukos, was recently acquired by Norwest Equity Partners (NEP) from Bregal Partners. The transaction closed November 20.
NEP’s had originally acquired Shock Doctor as part of its consumer products portfolio. During its initial six-year investment period with Shock Doctor, NEP worked with CEO Tony Armand and management to enhance its position in the performance and protective equipment category and create and acquire new product lines. Shock Doctor merged with Cutter Gloves in 2012.
NEP then sold Shock Doctor to Bregal Partners in 2014, which became USB after expanding the brand portfolio through acquisitions under Armand’s leadership. The acquisitions included McDavid and Nathan Sports in 2015, Glukos Energy in 2020 and Pearl Izumi in 2022.
Armand joined NEP as a partner in 2018 and with the acquisition of USB, NEP will again leverage his experience and knowledge of the business and consumer products industry.
Merrell Names Tamaskar New CMO
Merrell has hired Pallav Tamaskar as its chief marketing officer, responsible for “leading global marketing strategy, creating and integrating global marketing campaigns, elevating full-funnel media planning, and driving cultural relevance through innovative product collaborations and brand-purpose programming.” Tamaskar joins the company with a strong consumer packaged goods and media background. Most recently, he was the EVP and managing director of Myprotein (THG) North America.
Craft Sportswear Streamlines Operations
Craft Sportswear North America recently announced the progressive transition of its U.S. headquarters to Seattle, WA, in 2024. The company will join the family of brands under parent company, New Wave Group, situated in the Pacific Northwest. This strategic decision is intended to bolster the brand’s expansion in outdoor and specialty retail, all while streamlining operational efficiencies.
As part of this transition, Eric Schenker, the long-time CEO of Craft Sportswear US, has decided not to relocate and will be stepping down from his role. The company will bring on Jake Rawson as CEO in his place. Schenker has played a pivotal role in establishing the brand in the U.S., most recently the successful launch of run footwear and propelling omni-channel sales in the highly competitive market.
Rawson brings extensive expertise in sales and marketing, international licensing and product development from his 25-years at Cutter & Buck where he most recently served as Global Concept Director managing brand and product development, sourcing and strategic planning.
"The relocation to Seattle presents an exciting opportunity to enhance our operations capabilities and to work in lockstep with our sales partner, Waypoint Outdoor,” says Rawson. “I look forward to building on the strong foundation laid by Eric and working with the talented team at Craft to achieve new milestones."
New Balance Breaks Ground on Londonderry Factory
New Balance recently broke ground on its sixth U.S. athletic footwear manufacturing plant in Londonderry, NH. New Balance’s $70 million investment in the factory will add more than 150 jobs at the 102,000-square-foot single-story building, which it plans to begin production in 2025.
“The Granite State is known for its strong economy and skilled workforce, and we look forward to New Balance Londonderry being an integral part of our growing domestic factory base,” said Joe Preston, NB president and CEO, at the groundbreaking event. “This new factory will help us meet our significant U.S. and global consumer demand and drive future business opportunities that showcase our longstanding pride in American craftsmanship and innovation.”
New Balance already employs more than 1500 in manufacturing across its factories in Norridgewock, Norway, Skowhegan, Lawrence and Methuen. Its U.S. workforce prepares, cuts and molds athletic shoe materials and components and then sews, presses and assembles them into the final product. New Balance Made footwear is produced in the U.S., has a domestic value of 70 percent or more, and makes up a limited portion of its U.S. sales.
Ciele Athletics Names Gravatt Head of Sales
Ciele Athletics, the technical performance-running brand from Montreal, Quebec, has named Scott Gravatt as its new head of sales for the U.S. and Canada. Ciele Athletics, running-industry veteran, joins the company following a 15-year tenure at Nike.