When a boot-making brand combines more than 50 years of experience with a commitment to innovation, the result is not only good for the company itself, it’s good for the entire Western industry.
We talked with Durango Boots Marketing Manager, Erin DeLong, about the company’s long history, its future and what sets Durango Boots apart today.
Tell us about the brand – who do you make products for?
Durango Boots began in 1966. We are a 55-year-old brand that manufactures Western footwear for men, women, and kids. We are headquartered in Nelsonville, Ohio under our parent company Rocky Brands, Inc. Durango’s mission statement is ‘building authentic Western boots with a heritage of quality. At Durango, we ride for the brand. We're proud of who we are and the boots we build. This is Durango country.’ Over the last few years, our brand has transitioned more into the core Western market, which has been really exciting for our team. We’re now the presenting sponsor of RFD-TV’s American Rodeo and have also developed a Team Durango Pro Team, which consists of 11 pro rodeo athletes. With these new initiatives our brand is aligning with, our product assortment has also evolved to provide even more comfortable and durable Western footwear at a great price.
What is your brand philosophy?
Durango’s brand philosophy is being committed to making durable boots men, women and kids can rely on. We combine the latest materials and advanced concepts with decades of western boot building experience to craft boots that are uniquely capable and comfortable. Whether working, riding, or roping, Durango Boots are made for what you do.
What is new and noteworthy from your latest product release/line?
[The product] we keep expanding on, because it's doing so well, is our Rebel Pro and Lady Rebel Pro offerings. These two collections were developed from direct feedback from a few of our Team Durango Rodeo athletes. Through those partnerships, our athletes brought to light a lot of product innovation ideas to our team, [telling us], ‘hey this is what I'm looking for in a boot, and this is what I'm missing in some of the boots I've been wearing.’ Our product team took those noteworthy comments and thus developed these successful collections. Luke Brown in particular, one of our Team Durango athletes, helped spearhead the Rebel Pro line. In both the Rebel Pro and Lady Rebel line, we included a patented dually shank system technology which includes two shanks inside the boot for twice the support and stability. Every other boot you wear only has one shank, and the shank’s purpose is for medial and lateral torsion stability. We’re the only brand to create this technology and include two shanks in our footwear offering. Those two collections [are] incredibly prosperous and successful for us that we continue to add to each season.
Have any products stood out as a retailer favorite/best seller?
For a long while, our Rebel and Lady Rebel collections have been the breath of the Durango brand. They are tried and true staple products for Durango that offer comfort, support, and durability at a great price. Our American flag boot is the No. 1 best seller for our brand, which originated from the Rebel collection. Another strong collection for us has been our Rebel Pro and Lady Rebel Pro lines, which I mentioned earlier. From a performance standpoint, these boots have resonated well with the cowboy and cowgirl audience and our Team Durango rodeo athletes. They're sharp and sleek looking boots and included a lot of different design and colorway options for consumers. [In addition] we came out with a brand new hiker collection for this upcoming fall. It’s a three-boot package just for men called the Durango Renegade XP. It's derived from our work Western Durango Maverick XP collection, but in a hiker silhouette. Those styles are going to be available beginning of August. It’s a new venture for our brand but has been very exciting to see how well it’s been received thus far!
Are there any trends you’ve noticed in the market lately?
I think new technology is always on the horizon for any brand, especially ours. Our team takes note of that. We want to have something that's current, relevant and answers a need from our customer base. Different camo designs have done quite well in our products, too. I also think any way we can make the boots more comfortable, durable, lightweight, and more supportive [resonates well]. We have begun offering another technology in a few of our styles that includes a 360 degree, breathable/perforated shaft to create maximum airflow in the boot that keeps your feet cool, so they don’t sweat. Another fun trend that we continue to include in our product offering is the Americana red, white and blue patriotic designs. Those styles continue to be strong sellers for our brand.
How do new retailers go about setting up an account?
Depending on their geographical location, we have sales reps across all states and all territories. So initially, we would get the retailer in contact with their Durango sales rep to begin opening them up as an account.
After the ups and downs of 2020, do you feel buyer confidence is returning?
We had a banner year last year as ironic as that is to say, despite COVID. It was a phenomenal year for our whole company but especially our brand, and I think the future looks very promising in the Western industry. We started off 2021 incredibly strong and plan to continue that momentum throughout the rest of the quarter and year.
What is your advice to retailers looking to gain ground in 2021?
Continue to market and expand your presence anyway you can, whether that be in a traditional or digital sense. You can't speak or talk too much about a product. Buzz words and word-of-mouth marketing is your best advertising. From a traditional standpoint, unique ways to merchandise products in-store help capture consumer’s attention the second they walk in, [or] if it's outside, put on weekend events that highlight your store. From a digital standpoint, you can never do too much advertising online as that trend is growing rapidly. Creating and building paid ads on social media is also very effective and measurable. I’d also suggest continuing to expand and enhance your website, by creating a user-friendly shopping experience with your consumers online.
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