As a discipline, fashion has a long history of buying products with functional sportswear and reinventing them to create the products consumers want. Before the Second World War, in general, men wore fine sandals on the beach mainly during the summer. Casual dressing at this time may include taking off your jacket or rolling up your sleeves. On the other hand, specific sandals are suitable for leisure activities.
However, in modern times, fashion has become the realm of young people, and subcultures have proliferated, and each subculture has its own unique appearance. Today’s sandals seem to be anti-season, and consumers want to wear clothes for more than six months a year. Therefore, quality and longevity must be established, and fashion cannot be dominated by trends as we hope. Modern style is mainly about details, fit and materials. It can of course be unique to the tribe. Today, even if it is not a discerning consumer, consumers have nothing.
Another key aspect of designing sandals and footwear is the use of technology from the relevant brands. I said that in defining the parameters of sandals, “there is too much room to reinvent and reinterpret our habits over the years. With a broader research theme, it is important to be inspired by art, while also paying attention to specific market.
For a visionary brand, it’s important to research an area that appeals to you. I believe that the advancement of brand inspiration is closely related to their personality. This is a constant theme that they must provide. If they can identify and cooperate with this progress, it will make them a force that cannot be ignored in the next few years.
Known for this iconic open bottle of Fanning sandals, REEF masters the art of blending novelty and comfort to create an outstanding style with lasting power. REEF’s product innovations revolve around fit, cushioning and quality. In fact, the brand’s Cushion Bounce technology has a high-energy rebound insole in some of the best-selling products for men and women, providing true resilience at every step, in addition to anatomical arch support, healing Cupping and high density rubber sponge outsole.
The product lineup of the fall of 2019 includes exciting products, including Matey (the brand’s long-time VP of marketing surf shoes) Mike Matey, and the Heritage collection, which are updated versions of REEF’s oldest collection. Matey was launched in August this year and pays tribute to the surf lifestyle in a lazy style that is easy to match with a folding heel, a cork vamp, a padded bouncy footbed and a high hemp fabric. This shoe is designed for beach lovers who like comfort and convenience, just like Mike Matey. Launched in October, the Heritage collection has a variety of nostalgic styles, including Original Stripe, the first sandal that Reef created in 1984. The updated style includes a webbing made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Smoothy is a popular REEF flip flop in the 1990s with an ultra-soft color ribbon that will be re-released as part of the collection.
This season, a range of fashionable, fun and tacky sandals are offered. REEF is committed to making people a safe and tidy place by giving back to people to make sure everyone has fun on the beach. Last year, they partnered with the Surffrider Foundation to create a Better Beach Alliance partnership to clean up the world’s beaches… because if the beach is dirty, you won’t be able to Free access to the beach. They are also innovating in the product area, offering sustainable sandal options made from recycled materials.
The brand also wants to educate consumers about the importance of beaches. In collaboration with pressure specialist Dr. Heidi Hanna, REEF is studying what they call the “beach brain” concept – the benefits of mental and physical health have been proven on the beach. And, if you can’t get out of it, how to imitate the beach experience at home or in the office to get the same health benefits. I hope that everyone can express their thoughts freely – REEF is proposing Unicode to the emoji management body, adding a trigger emoticon on the keyboard (yes, no one!), because in the end, sandals are beaches and The ultimate symbol of summer freedom.
This month, REEF launched their first Pride collection, which features the sport’s trademark rainbow symbol on the men’s and women’s sneakers, 100% of which will benefit LGBTQ support organization PFLAG. This move is reminiscent of the brand’s call for inclusiveness, especially because it involves the accessibility and openness of the beach, and everyone is free to come and go. Their inclusive marketing efforts also lead the surfing and beach brands.
REEF was founded in 1984 by two brothers from Argentina, Fernando and Santiago Aguerre, who want to share their love of surfing and beach culture with the world. Thirty-five years later, this Southern California footwear brand proudly encourages people around the world to follow a simple rule: Beach Freely, enjoying the beach’s fun, freedom and spirit. This slogan has become the brand’s call for the rally and is deeply rooted in the DNA of everything they do.
The spirit of the brand is best defined by three main pillars: product, surfing/beach culture and influence. It is through these lenses that REEF is practiced. With the concept of innovation, comfort and happiness, REEF puts its products at the forefront of the brand. All of their sandals and shoe styles make you feel relaxed and free. Through the “surf/beach culture” pillar, the brand is loyal to its vision of diversity and accessibility by treating the beach as an all-encompassing destination. REEF regards the beach as the destination for everyone and is committed to spreading this information. As a result, they have become leaders in beach and surf brands, using diversity in marketing and advertising campaigns, represented by people of all races, sizes and races to showcase the beach. It also informed them of their partnership with LGBTQ’s PFLAG in 2019, the brand’s first Pride Pack revenue of 100%, the rainbow-style men’s and women’s clothing has benefited the organization and its united parents’ efforts, the family and the LGBTQ community Confederate.
Through the brand’s partnership with the Surffrider Foundation’s Better Beach Alliance, REEF is committed to helping protect and restore beaches and oceans around the world, giving everyone the opportunity to swim freely. In 2019 alone, REEF helped remove 189,032 pounds of rubbish from the beach. In addition, through the brand’s partnership with Urban Surf 4 Kids, they first introduced more than 1,000 foster and risky children to the beach to educate people about the positive benefits and therapeutic benefits of oceans and beaches. Our goal is to unite and empower the world under the protection of the beach and its amazing interests, and to nurture and protect it all the way.
Recently, I am honored to talk to REEF Marketing Vice President Mike Matey about REEF’s competitive advantage in the industry, how technology can help brand development (including product composition and e-commerce) and why he thinks you need to try this brand!
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about the history of your Reef brand, date and DNA? And your personal background?
Mike Matey: REEF was founded in 1984 by two brothers from Argentina, Fernando and Santiago Aguerre, who want to share their love of surfing and beach culture with the world. They moved to San Diego, California, to create a high-quality sandal that can keep up with their active and fun lifestyle. Through the unremitting pursuit of comfort, quality and fit (and of course excellent style), REEF leads the casual sandals category for 35 years. Since its inception, authenticity, enthusiasm, perseverance and fun have always been at the heart of the brand and have always driven us. Our core is surfers and beach lovers, which is what we do to unite the world around the fun, freedom and spirit of the beach. There are many ways to make yourself feel free, but we find that the beach provides a sense of freedom that can’t be found anywhere else. This is our position.
My personal background – I went to California to go surfing in Southern California, then went to Missouri’s School of Journalism (and found humidity and freezing temperatures for the first time), moved to San Francisco to work on advertising, then went to Seattle to work at Microsoft, then returned to San Diego. Join a digital music startup (and reconnect with my true passion for living on the beach) and continue my marketing career, eventually making my dream job a REEF 5 years ago.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, what is your competitive advantage in the footwear market?
Mike Matey: REEF is a premium sandal brand that promotes beach spirit by providing cushioning, fit and high-quality instant comfort. Instant comfort is our main competitive advantage. Our fit is the best, our comfort materials are the best, and any of our products will never have a “run-in” period. From the moment you step on sandals and shoes, you’re connected to the beach mentality of having a free time.
Joseph DeAcetis: How do you plan to market to Millennials (25-39yo) and Generation Z (under 24) with advertising fees?
Mike Matey: Through our extensive surfing ambassadors, influential people and advocates, strategic media partnerships, environmental and social career initiatives, and fun grassroots activities (for example, a beach pop-up in central New York City) Organic and fee-based social media, and an extensive retail distribution network is the way we promote to Millennials and Generations Z.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, what do men seek today in footwear sandals?
Mike Matey: First of all, men seek comfort in sandals (a practical mindset). Some people prefer soft and comfortable soft foot pads, some prefer arched support, and some are looking for leather sandals that can be worn at work or dinner (when the dress code is required!). Some people want to be a party life, opening bottles of beer with bottle opener sandals (this is the best-selling sandals we have ever had). They want sandals to have a good style, but they require comfort.
Joseph DeAcetis: Discussing the current series in detail with Forbes and why it makes consumers aware of the brand?
Mike Matey: We are a 35-year-old authentic surf/beach sandals brand. Our men’s, women’s and children’s sandals range meets the needs of ordinary sandal consumers. With our latest collection, we are most excited about Cushion Bounce sandals. They are the perfect combination of soft, soft fabrics and support and energy feedback, offering a wide range of styles (three-point belts and rails) in any situation at an affordable price. This year, we partnered with the Surfrider Foundation to strengthen our commitment to keeping the ocean and beach clean. Together we form the “Better Beach Alliance” where all consumers can participate in this campaign to protect our beaches for the next generation of beach lovers. An authentic brand with an excellent product line helps keep our oceans and beaches clean – that’s why consumers need to understand REEF.
Joseph DeAcetis: If you can choose a celebrity to wear your brand, who would it be and why?
Mike Matey: The original Dos Equis “the most interesting person in the world” – “I don’t always wear sandals, but when I wear sandals, I prefer…”
Joseph DeAcetis: Talking to Forbes about how technology can help you develop your brand, including product
Mike Matey: On the product side, REEF has a long history of product innovation in three consumer segments (entertainment, comfort and sustainability). Our most famous “technology” is the patented bottle opener at the bottom of Fanning sandals. TQT (the thirst quenching technology) undoubtedly captures the spirit of our brand love. Everyone loves to drink cold drinks on the beach, and you don’t always have to use this bottle opener. This idea has led to many other problems, including storage bags on the heel of sandals to store valuables, and even a flask for sneaking adult drinks to concerts or sporting events. In terms of comfort, REEF pioneered the three-point revolution that our founders said, describing the fundamental developments of the basic triggers of the 1980s and 1990s. We pioneered several manufacturing techniques to greatly improve the suitability of triggers. REEF is the first person to use airbags in sandals and always has a sophisticated foam composite for the top and midsole. Our sandals use anatomical bottom techniques that are often associated with running or walking shoes, so they fit and give a surprising feel. As surfers and beach lovers, we have to protect our natural environment. This enthusiasm has fueled more than a decade of research on sustainable product design, both in renewable raw materials and in biodegradation before the end of the life cycle. We will screen all materials according to the list of restricted substances to avoid any toxins such as PVC. We are proud to say that REEF does not contain 100% PVC. By the spring of 2020, 100% of our webbing will be made from recycled PET. About 10% of our products have biodegradable additives that significantly accelerate the biodegradation of active landfills. We are currently researching and developing carbon-negative renewable foam compounds and are committed to more sustainable packaging. Finally, we are exploring additive manufacturing because it uses less material, produces less waste, and allows us to shape new shapes into a midsole that is not possible with conventional molds.
In terms of e-commerce, we have a digital mindset and a mobile-first mindset at REEF and leverage our best-in-class e-commerce platform solutions to help drive our business. We continue to push the boundaries of brand stories and trading commerce on Reef.com to find the right balance. Both sides of the equation are very important.
Joseph DeAcetis: What is your daily responsibilities?
Mike Matey: Leading a team of talented and passionate marketers who build deep and meaningful emotional connections with consumers around the world to inspire them to “freestyle” in REEF sandals and shoes.
Joseph DeAcetis: Where is the product produced and why?
Mike Matey: REEF’s products are produced in Southeast Asia, mainly in Vietnam, China and Cambodia. We produce products there because most of the best footwear factories are located in the area. The region has many advantages over other regions. They employ a highly skilled workforce and have an effective infrastructure to support the manufacture of high quality, high value footwear. We have a non-negotiable code of conduct that all our factory partners must follow. We believe that real progress will be made when plant management understands that a leaner, greener, and empowered workplace will bring a more successful business model to everyone.
Joseph DeAcetis: Please speak: Discuss with my audience why they should try this brand?
Mike Matey: The REEF brand is your gateway to freedom. Our sandals and shoes are vehicles. If your audience wants to be free, try REEF.
Joseph DeAcetis: If Reef is a song, what would it be and why?
Mike Matey: Ramones’ Rockaway Beach. This is to escape the pressure of life and go to the beach. We totally agree.
Joseph DeAcetis: What are your future plans and growth strategies for the next few years?
Mike Matey: We focus on high quality, long-term sustainable growth, and we see opportunities in the market to understand this and align with their values, design the best products, and work with great retailers to achieve this.