BRAND Q&A

Propét USA in Focus

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Left: Brad Gebhard, Right: Jon Brookings
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Product fit, particularly sizes and widths for all types of consumers, and strong business relationships are vital at Propét USA, which is slated to celebrate its 40th brand anniversary in 2024. The company, led by footwear industry veterans CEO Brad Gebhard, who joined the Auburn, WA company 16 months ago, and VP of Sales Jon Brookings, is focused on expanding its independent, brick-and-mortar retail presence and diversifying and expanding its offerings in 2024. High-quality, stylish footwear with an emphasis on comfort and fit is the brand’s calling card.

Gebhard, a former member of the U.S. National Cycling Team and past senior executive for Nike, Adidas and The Walking Company, and Brookings, whose industry experience includes prior stints with Ecco, Earth Shoes, Josef Sibel, and Gravity, recently spent time with Footwear Insight discussing Propét’s objectives and vision as the brand heads into its Ruby-esque anniversary year.

FI: Tell us a little bit about the brand’s history and category strategy.

Brad Gebhard: We have a longstanding tradition of collaborating with boutique footwear outlets, local shoe stores, and niche market retailers, reflecting our dedication to diverse market segments… Our trail series and outdoor products are key components of our evolving category strategy to meet our customers’ varied lifestyles. In 2024, we plan to further diversify, focusing not only on enhancing our athletic and outdoor lines but also on expanding our active casuals and dress footwear categories.

For those who might not be that familiar with the Propét brand, whether retailers or consumers, what is the one thing you would like each of them to know?

Brad Gebhard: We have exceptionally high-quality products that come in sizes and widths. And we have a full catalog ranging from hiking shoes to walking shoes to dress casual. We have a full product offering. But it’s about quality, sizes, and widths.

Jon Brookings: How we get to a value story is that we offer more than you would expect in the shoe. And the innovation is what you do when you run out of the expected things to put in the shoe, and you start innovating to add more. And that’s really been the driving force behind the evolution of our line… And if you haven’t taken a chance to look at the brand in the last few years, if you haven’t seen Propét in a while, you haven’t seen Propét.

Brad Gebhard: We’re investing a lot of money into products. That’s one of the main reasons why I came here because I’m a product guy. We brought in a new design horsepower to help us with our product.

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