Gola is growing its distribution in the U.S.
For several years, the British sporting goods brand worked with a distributor in the U.S., but about three years ago, in an attempt to increase business in the North American market, Gola took back distribution, incorporated in the U.S. and reentered the region.
“No one takes care of a brand like you do your own,” said Steven Weinreb, president of U.S. operations at Gola Classics. “The brand didn’t have enough presence here and they wanted to change that.”
Weinreb has been tasked with elevating Gola’s brand awareness. He started out by selling the shoes in specialty shops including Fred Segal, DNA Footwear and Tani. Last season the brand started to work with larger national retailers including Lord & Taylor, Zappos and Nordstrom.
“Right now the challenge is to figure out the new retail landscape and tweak the distribution so you have the right mix of accounts,” said Weinreb. “Fortunately none of our current challenges are product-related. People are embracing heritage brands.”
Collaborations have also been important. Last year Gola partnered with Engineered Garments and Slightly Alabama. This year they will partner with J. Crew on an exclusive capsule line.
Weinreb said Gola, which was founded in 1905, has doubled down on its heritage styles and frequently goes through archives to bring back silhouettes the team believes will be relevant today. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Harrier style, one of Gola’s signature sneakers. Over the years, the shape has transformed, but Gola is going to rerelease the original style.
“When we introduce things, the best thing to do is [not to] sell the product,” said Weinreb. “Just tell the story of the brand or the style. People will either get it or they won’t. The harder you try to sell it, the more people will push back.”