Eager to reinvigorate a stodgy brand in the wake of the Americana fashion trend, Bass is preparing a new marketing campaign aimed at “hipsters,” Harbor Footwear spokesman Jason Lazar told Ivy-Style.
Curious, we probed Lazar, the excutive vice president for Harbor, which holds the footwear license for G.H. Bass & Company (which is owned by Phillips-Van Heusen). Here’s what he had to say:
IS: Tell us about the resurgent interest in Bass shoes.
JL: Bass Weejuns first hit the market in 1936. They are a collection of timeless styles that aren’t subject to fashion whims. At various times their popularity has fluctuated in a relatively narrow range, but they have always been a part of the mainstream. With the resurgence of all things Americana, coupled with that vintage vibe that’s been increasingly prevalent, Weejuns are again enjoying widespread acclaim and approval in the marketplace.
IS: How are you reinventing the brand to attract new customers?
JL: Past marketing efforts have portrayed the brand in a very New England manner: i.e. lots of picket fences, clapboard barns and very pretty people. Starting with Fall 2010, we’re showing the evolution of the brand that reflects its downtown, coolly sophisticated appeal. Gone are the fences and barns, though the pretty people still remain. Photo locations include Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, a far cry from the Nantucket scenes of the past.
Models this season have also edged noticeably younger to better reflect our targeted demographic. It’s a strategic move to better capture its attention through more realistic, real-world cues and attributes. In addition, we’ve committed to a billboard overlooking the High Line Park during the month of October, just to be able to reinforce the Bass message in a new medium in a location that is outside the usual expectation. Bass for fall will definitely have people talking. It’s not what people have been used to, and that’s a good thing.
IS: What are some of the shoe styles you’ll be targeting at the younger demographic?
JL: Women’s and men’s bucks and saddle bucks on brick-color soles, and classic Weejun pennies along with the drop-tassel Weejun in black and burgundy box leather.
IS: What about quality? Longtime Weejun wearers are quick to note a steady decline over the past couple of decades.
JL: The Weejun of today is by far the best quality shoe in the marketplace priced under $100. It is a true-moc construction and handsewn on the last. Many consumers may think that the quality has declined over the years due to the fact that the Weejuns are no longer made in the USA, but all materials and workmanship are consistent with the Weejun made years ago.
Pictured above is a shoe from the Mark McNairy for Bass collection.