SALT LAKE CITY — After more than two decades focusing on footwear, Merrell is now betting on bags.
The offerings include two collections, Outventure Packs and Transit Bags, as well as a condensed line of small accessories, which will arrive at stores in June. Styles range from larger messengers bags, backpacks and computer bags to wheelie luggage and pouches for the company’s smaller items.
“We have established a loyal customer base and strong retail partnerships with our footwear line,” noted Jacques Lavertue, president of Merrell’s parent company, Wolverine Worldwide Inc. “Developing packs and bags is a natural extension of our brand and a logical next step to worldwide growth.”
But the collections are not what one might expect from a rugged, outdoor shoe company. Merrell’s footwear injects more and more fashion each season, so the company decided to take that direction with its bags, as well. While the Outventure line is designed to be more functional and appeals to a rugged outdoor customer, Transit aims for a more fashion-forward customer. With the urban customer in mind, many of the smaller bags come with music and/or hydration ports for ease of management of headphone cords or hydration tubes.
Suggested retail prices in the Outventure line range from about $85 for a small backpack up to $230 for a wheelie suitcase, while Transit prices go from $42 for a small bag up to $160 for a wheelie. In addition to the two lines, there is a selection of cosmetic and personal items that retail from about $6 to $50. Company executives declined to give sales projections for the lines.
The primary retail focus will be outdoor specialty stores, but Keith Anderson, director of marketing, said all channels of Merrell’s current distribution have expressed interest in carrying the bags, including some department stores.
— Melonee McKinney