The Reef Escape marble print collection.


Hailee Steinfeld is helping Reef reinvent the flip-flop.

The Carlsbad, Calif.-based surf shoe brand which was founded by two Argentinians, is setting out to launch a new flip-flop they claim is superior to others on the market. Reef has enlisted a celebrity for their advertising campaign for the first time in their 32-year history to introduce their new Reef “Escape” style.

Growing up in the greater Los Angles area in places such as Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks, the California native Steinfeld recalled “ a big pile of Reef flip-flops at the bottom of the staircase in our house for each member of the family.” She recently shot a campaign for the brand with photographer Yu Tsai, who Steinfeld called “one of her favorites” that will launch alongside the sandals on the Reef web site in January. The shoot didn’t take place on a beach as one might expect but was shot indoors in order to help set a fashion mood. Said Steinfeld: “I was really excited to work with Yu and the photos looked like nothing else I had done before. Mixing California beach style with my personal style shows just how versatile these sandals are.” Representing the brand is a source of pride for the actress and singer and perhaps the ultimate payback for her “loyal customer” status. She also hopes those who follow her music and movies will feel the way she does about Reefs.

Mike Matey, Reef’s vice president of marketing, is hoping for the same. He said Steinfeld possessed just the right amount of star quality the brand was looking for. According to Matey, “We wanted to align with someone familiar with the brand who has worn it and embodies the bold, up-for-anything, spontaneous spirit of the sandal” as well as having not too many endorsement deals.

As Steinfeld is an artist on the rise with a crossover of music and acting, it was “sort of a double whammy in terms of the influence factor for reaching an audience that we don’t already talk to,” Matey said. Like many father’s of today’s teens, he witnesses this generation following them on social media, tuned into their comings, goings, likes and dislikes. Steinfeld talent is validated when her full-of-positive-vibes “Love Myself’ video gets more than 150 million views. The brand will also see firsthand Steinfeld’s affect on the brand as she will take over certain aspects of social media and “give it her own spin” for Reef during 2017.

As for the new product, the brand spent years researching and creating a proprietary cushion rubber compound engineered just for these flip-flops after discovering the main weakness of the shoe style was comfort. The footwear, which features a variety of faux marble pattern on lightweight footbeds, comes with arch support and a new technique on the toe thong joint to prevent what Matey calls “blow out” when the structure pops out of the sole.

Timing is perfect for the partnership as Steinfeld is getting a lot of buzz around a possible Oscar nomination for her role in the coming of age flick “Edge of Seventeen.” The actress said when she read the part “she couldn’t think of anyone else to play the part” and calls the experience of the nomination talk “surreal and overwhelming to say the least.” She imagines her character Nadine would have “rocked the Reef Escape sandals” recalling she was really into footwear. The actress is touring with the Jingle Ball franchise and caught up with WWD before her show in Minneapolis, a place she thought of as random when she toured there last year but said it ended up being one of her favorite locales. Steinfeld said the audience was “so loud and supportive, it’s awesome to play in a city where you realize they don’t get this that often.”

Up next for the actress post holiday and tour, is the filming of “Pitch Perfect 3” of which Steinfeld said she is “really excited to find out where my character is going and what she will be doing. I’m in the hurry-up-and-wait period.” One thing is for sure, she will have some comfortable shoes to do that in.

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