Etnies CEO looks back on 35 years, discusses what will define 2022 – Footwear News


By skater, to skate the Etnies brand was created in 1986 to offer everything to meet the needs of skaters underfoot. More than three decades later, under the leadership of owner and CEO Pierre-André Senizergues, nothing has changed.

Last year Senizergues – who holds the titles of owner and CEO of Etnies – celebrated the company’s 35th anniversary at a time when skateboarding is perhaps more popular than ever. Skateboarding made its Olympic debut in Tokyo with much fanfare, and Etnies hosted its first public event, Red Bull Paris Conquest in Paris in August, since COVID-19 forced the world inside a year earlier.

Additionally, over the course of the year and with more people needing to engage in more individual sports and fewer team activities due to COVID-19, skateboarding has thrived. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, 6.3 million occasional skaters, or people who have skated 1 in 25 times, skated in 2020, a 48.1% increase year-over-year from to the 4.3 million who participated in 2019. As for grassroots skaters, or people who skated 26 or more times, the number jumped 9%, from 2.3 million in 2019 to 2.6 million in 2020.

Meanwhile, new and old skateboarders have turned to Etnies. Senizergues confirmed to FN that the brand saw double-digit sales growth in 2020, and is expected to experience the same for 2021.

Below, Senizergues shares the victories of 2021 and reveals what will define Etnies in 2022 and beyond.

What defined 2021 for you?

Pierre-André Senizergues: “I think 2021 has basically been through the ups and downs of the last 35 years, starting at the beginning, surviving and figuring out how to get there, from France to the United States, surviving to California, expanding internationally, moving from the 2008 global recession to later with COVID, logistics and everything. ”

What were the highlights of 2021?

PS: “The growth of the brand. COVID was complicated – of course it’s still complicated today – but we had growth in 20, growth in 2021. And we had our first major event in a while in Paris in August with Red Bull Paris Conquest just in front of the Eiffel Tour where I grew up skating. It was a huge thing for us because we obviously saw the popularity of skateboarding explode in 2021 with more people doing individual sports than team sports. It was also a big challenge if the event was even to take place because COVID is so uncertain. And with Tokyo passing the Olympic flag to Paris for the 2024 Olympics, we hosted the event right after the [Tokyo] Olympics in Paris, which is Etnies’ birthplace, and it was great fun because the Olympics were basically locked. the [Olympic] the runners went from their hotel room to the event there were no spectators then went back to the hotel rooms so they were quite disappointed and it was difficult for them to stay in isolation for that long . When we hosted the event in Paris, it was open to everyone – the number of people allowed by the city of Paris was always limited, but every day of the competition was packed. It was crowded and it was an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. It was kind of like a time when people were breathing and sitting down like, “Whoa, this is amazing, we can get back together.” Because it was in Paris, some PSG footballers introduced themselves, like Neymar. “

Red Bull Paris Conquest winner Trevor McClung, supported by Etnies owner and CEO Pierre-André Senizergues (C).

CREDIT: Courtesy of Etnies

How has the resurgence of the skate market impacting Etnies sales?

PS: “Our sales increased in the double-digit average [in 2020]. People needed more skate shoes. For ’21 again, I’m sure they also saw medium double-digit growth. Also, what we saw that was really interesting was that it wasn’t just guys who were skating. There are a lot more girls now who skate. I was talking to some skateshops and they would tell me that 50% of the sales were from girls buying skateboards. Maybe five years ago skate shops said that 10% of the customers who walked into them were girls, and now it’s gone to 50%. We’ve seen a lot of girls come into the market, and guys and kids, of course. What was also interesting was the dad who came to a skate shop. The father comes because his child is skating now.

While talking to skate shops, did you discover that fathers came to buy for their children? Or were they also buying for themselves?

PS: “They buy themselves to skate with their child. Parents, they want to do something with the kids, of course. They come back to the skate shop they were going to, buying the brands they bought before. It’s cool because they’re getting back to it, they’re excited. Also, one thing in particular really surprised me was that there were a lot of dads who started skateboarding for the first time, which is not easy. I also noticed that a lot of girls start skateboarding but were not yet confident to meet other girls who skate or meet other people who skate, they want their dad to skate with them as a kind of skating system. support.

What is the impact of supply chain issues on Etnies?

PS: “It’s complicated, for sure. From raw materials to assembly, production, shipment by sea or by air and its procurement. For us in the United States or in Europe, it is a constant battle, and very costly too. Sea freight is much higher, maybe five times that, and on top of that, we also ship by air because we want to deliver, and air transport is extremely expensive, so it erodes our margin. We also increased the prices to get some of them back, but it’s very noticeable in skateboarding in general because people can only afford the same price for shoes, which is different in running shoes or running shoes. basketball because they are a little more expensive. than skate shoes, but has as much technology as there is in other shoes. It is a constant battle to ensure that the shoes are affordable and extremely durable. The supply chain has been a problem, we had a few months of delivery delay, but people love the brand, and there is so much participation but there is not a lot of supply, so everyone wants to take what he can. We’re trying to distribute our inventory evenly across the market, and I think overall we’ve been pretty good at overall delivery, but it’s not like we’re near the peak of our performance. “

How, if anything, did skateboarding’s debut at the Tokyo Olympics help the sport?

PS: “We always try to create a culture of skateboarding and skateboarding as a whole because we are really passionate about skateboarding and we all skate. I’m 58, but I still skate every week, and I’m going to try the shoes because I’m passionate about it. But the Olympics helped skateboard gain acceptance by the masses. Parents and even grandparents see the Olympics and start to recognize and hear the names of these athletes on TV, so skateboarding is now widely accepted – it helps a lot. And with more infrastructure, it’s easier now to have a skate park now than it was 20 years ago. The government helps a lot because it allocates a budget to these national teams and it sees that there are a lot of skateboarders in the world. Tokyo made a big difference with acceptance, and over the next seven years it’s Paris in three years, then Los Angeles in seven years, so there’s a basically runaway that we’re going to see more and more. skateboarders because there is a lot more structure at a state level and a government level to push skateboarding.

What is Etnies’ place in the great skate culture both historically and today?

PS: “Historically, we are probably the first company to make shoes specifically for skateboarding. We had never made other shoes before, we started right away with shoes for skateboarding. We also created the first pro model with our shoes in 87. And today we have continued to make the best shoes possible. For the past five years we have worked with Michelin tires, they approached us to work with Etnies and gave us an exclusive contract to make outsoles for skateboarding, so our shoes last three to five times longer and they also grip better and are more comfortable on impact.

Etnies Estrella

Etnies Estrella.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Etnies

There are several collections expected from Etnies in 2022. What are you waiting for to stand out?

PS: “From the start Etnies was in a rebel sport, skateboarding was a rebel sport. It was about inventing and creating. Our Rebel Sports collection uses colors and design from the era – we had a lot of red, black and white – and we add geometric patterns to it to make it super cool and exciting. Also, Ryan Sheckler, he’s been riding for us since he was 7 I believe, we’re releasing new shoes for him called Estrella. This is a shoe that our designer, along with Ryan and I worked on. They have a great aesthetic, we are bringing something different to the market. And, of course, we use all the usual Etnies tech, things like the Flo2 tongue so the shoe doesn’t get too hot and the best foam for skateboarding. We worked on this evolution of foam for 10 years before putting it on the market. We also have these shoes called Marana which is one of the shoes we made with Ryan Sheckler 10 years ago. We keep pushing the shoe to make it the most durable for skating, and we use Fiberlite technology, which makes it extremely durable. It’s in our DNA to push the boundaries with any product. We now have a vegan offer in our collection, and being environmentally friendly is very important to us. We are reducing our footprint and one of our big initiatives 10 years ago was to plant forests. We have planted over 2 million trees in the past 10 years, starting in Costa Rica, then in Brazil and Africa.


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