Teva, a company known for its supremely functional (translation: less-than-aesthetically-pleasing) and outdoorsy shoes and boots, recently did something quite unexpected: They allowed avant-garde New York City fashion label Grey Ant to play with (translation: completely change) the design of their iconic velcro-strapped performance sandal.
The result, which debuted last week, is a “marr[iage] [of] the Teva® velcro-strap styling and grip-sole construction to a bold 4″ stacked heel.” And it’s priced at $330. New High (M)art, the retailer for the shoe, added this playful note to the product description, “*Not recommended for actual hiking, gardening, mountain climbing, or Phish concerts ”
The Grey Ant x Teva Stiletto in tan. Photos via New High (M)art.
Bloggers freaked out about the stiletto: Everyone from Treehugger to DailyCandy to The Huffington Post to Consumerist covered the collaboration (Conan O’Brien even joked about it in a monologue last Tuesday). The general response from the fashion community is a mix of surprise and interest.
Though the Grey Ant partnership may be a one-off, the executives at Teva are interested in changing the brand’s hippie-dippie reputation. According to Joel Heath, marketing director, “We are looking to push what ‘the outdoors’ means tomorrow. If we find a partner that pushes our comfort zone, we are all ears…the outdoors does not look like it did when we invented the sport sandal category 26 years ago.” The Grey Ant stiletto was a first step in a new direction for the company which, in the spring, is releasing its first sneaker, the Gnarkosi.
As Heath, who seems to have a healthy sense of humor about the brand, relayed to The High Low, “Recently we have shifted our thinking to ‘the outdoors is the moment you step outside.’ Our gear has to perform in the middle of the most isolated places on earth, but it also has to look good with a pair of jeans. We aim to produce technically-driven footwear that is worthy of the grocery store, not just the bulk granola dispenser.”
In addition to the Gnarkosi, there are plans for more styles geared towards younger shoppers. “In Spring 2011, we will introduce a wakeskate shoe that changes what it means to play in water and in the Fall of 2011, another shoe that is being designed by a pro athlete who lives in New Jersey, not a mountain town.”
Though the word “fashion” was never mentioned, it’s clear that, without abandoning its core clientele, Teva also wants to appeal to customers that care more about style than performance.