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Friday, Sep 29, 2023

New Marching Orders

Shoppers in military surplus stores are accustomed to seeing boots and rugged rucksacks issued by the U.S. Army. Now, an L.A. company is set to put the Army logo on more chic footwear and bags.

Philip Simon Footwear Group is poised to launch a U.S. Army Shoes and Bags collection that it describes as the military’s “first move … into the world of footwear fashion.”

“We won’t be selling combat boots. We’re a fashion company,” promises Ariel Weindling, president of the footwear group, a subsidiary of Philip Simon Development Inc., which also makes Ed Hardy brand shoes for French fashion entrepreneur Christian Audigier.

Philip Simon received the U.S. Department of Defense license in July through the Beanstalk Group, a New York company that handles the Army’s licensing program. Beanstalk launched in 2005 and has so far granted licenses to 30 companies.

Among those licensees are makers of sporting goods, electronics, jewelry and bike riding gear. The new shoe line is set to debut in fall 2010 and will include flip-flops, sneakers, sandals, high-rise boots, and other casual men’s and women’s footwear – all marked with the U.S. Army logo and designed in a variety of colors with a camouflage motif.

For example, bags will include purses, backpacks, duffle bags, messenger bags, book bags and gym bags in military green – but also in pinks, blues, yellows and whites.

“Fashion is the key,” Weindling said. “We want very cool and fashionable products that people will enjoy wearing.”

The company is negotiating with major retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s to sell the items, designed locally by Philip Simon. The price points are $15 to $39 for the shoes and $35 to $60 for the bags.

A U.S. Army spokesman, deputy for marketing and advertising Michael Sullivan, said the Army licensing efforts are not just about making money.

“The U.S. Army licensing program supports the Army’s recruiting efforts by generating additional exposure for the brand,” he said in an e-mail.

Philip Simon hopes the line’s appeal will extend beyond the usual aficionados of military-style clothing by capitalizing on what Weindling called “a huge wave of patriotism in America right now in which everyone loves the troops.”

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