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Hi-Tec | New footwear range | Shoes for any useAbove left: Hi-Tec SA MD Mickey Mallett examines the V-Lite Rio Quest i. On the table are some colourful styles from the new V-Lite Flash collection that will be introduced later this year. Above right: After a stint at Hi-Tec Amsterdam and Canada, Ben van der Westhuizen (left) is glad to be back on home soil, where he is standing in for marketing manager Joanne Esterhuizen, who recently gave birth to a future Hi-Tec wearer.
May 2015

Go walking,

invites Hi-Tec

Hi-Tec’s latest footwear range was developed to make walking better, more comfortable, and more attractive. They know that everybody walks — whether just around the house, to commute, for sport, to enjoy the outdoors, or to conquer mountains — and therefore produced a versatile range to suit all walking needs

These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do … sang Nancy Sinatra in the 1960’s. Or, as Hi-Tec paraphrased it in 2015: Walking just got better … Our shoes are made for walking.

Whether walking to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, shopping in a mall, exercising the dog, commuting on foot, hiking in the mountains, or walking across a continent for a cause ... ALL able-bodied people walk.

The latest Hi-Tec campaign is not only about promoting the enjoyment of walking, but more specifically about informing walkers about the benefits of their new Walk-Lite series. The unique technologies make walking more comfortable, less fatiguing and more enjoyable, is the message.

The emphasis in the casual everyday wear Urban and Coastal series will be on style, comfort and utility, while the iconic Altitude will be available in the Outdoor series.

The trend for more versatile footwear has opened huge opportunities for growing sales, explains Hi-Tec SA GM Mickey Mallett. “There is a big market for outdoor inspired footwear for everyday use.”

A traditional hiking boot has a specific look, which will look out of place at a social function, but the multi-purpose styles have a much wider appeal as they can be worn everywhere, from work, to an evening out, or when walking for exercise, he says.

The move to strengthen the everyday outdoor styles has been an evolving process for the brand, explains Mallett.

“At first Hi-Tec was mainly an outdoor and sport footwear brand, but gradually we’ve added new categories, for example, the Walk-Lite collection, which is an outdoor inspired shoe, but sold through customers catering for a wider market than just outdoor enthusiasts.”

Therefore, expect more colour, more cross-over styling and more cutting-edge technologies from Hi-Tec for the coming Spring/Summer season.

Expect super-light footwear with advanced technologies like the unique Rolling Gait System midsoles, the Vibram soles, ortholite odour-resistant removable sockliners, breathable, waterproof Dri-Tec membranes in the uppers, to name a few of the comfort solutions.

The Walk-Lite Collections

The Walk-Lite series includes the V-Lite Rio Race and V-Lite Rio Quest, V-Lite Walk-Lite Witton’s and Super Lite Ezee’s Collections.

While not losing sight of their outdoor roots, Hi-Tec now also cater for the city walkers with the Walk-Lite Mens Collection: attractive, comfort-driven, lightweight, everyday shoes with all the technical bells and whistles.

This collection features technologies like lightweight Vibram soles incorporating the Rolling Gait midsole system, which was specifically developed for Hi-Tec to support the natural rolling movement of the foot while walking, durable leather uppers and a contoured footbed to add comfort while hitting the pavements and pathways ... all in a stylish multi-purpose design.

The Rio Collection, featured on their billboards, continues this multi-purpose lightweight walking trend for summer with eye-catching colours and a more athletic styling.

Features that will add comfort during long summer walks or strolls along the coast include grippy, supportive soles and i-shield water- and dirt repellant coatings, a versatile lacing system to provide a secure fit and a stroballed EVA layer between the footbed and midsole to provide additional underfoot cushioning.

This collection represents a cross-over between Hi-Tec’s traditional leather hiking boot and the multi-purpose urban shoe. Features like moisture-wicking, waterproofing, dirt resistance, insulation and comfort adds versatility to this lightweight leather and canvas range. The result is a trendy footwear range equally at home in the city that looks good when worn with jeans, chinos or shorts.

Growing traditional hiking

“The Altitude family has been at the core of our business — from the very top end to the higher mid-pricepoints,” says Mallett. The boot has represented Hi-Tec’s massive lightweight hiking category for the past twenty years or so, as it was one of the early adopters of this trend started by the Sierra.

The tough Altitude hiking range features an ortholite footbed to provide cushioning, a durable waterproof leather upper and a breathable membrane to keep feet dry. The stain-resistant i-shield repels water and dirt to ensure a comfortable hike.

But, while the big push is now for everyday multi-purpose walking shoes with a more stylish cut, Hi-Tec will continue to grow and maintain their traditional hiking ranges, which have a core following of hiking enthusiasts.

Walking better campaign

Hi-Tec’s current global Walking Just Got Better campaign has a distinctly South African flavour, as the catalogue, was photographed locally. Apart from scenes on billboards and other advertising media, several clips on YouTube demonstrating the benefits of walking and technologies in the Walk-Lite collections, will look very familiar to Capetonians.

The message of the campaign is that people are becoming more aware of the health benefits of walking across the world — they take stairs instead of lifts, walk instead of taking a bus and walk to enjoy nature. The entertaining videos suggest that this will force cities to accommodate walkers by widening sidewalks and that taxis, bus stops and stations will be used for other purposes because walkers will no longer use them.

A locally filmed TV advert showcasing the colours, styles and light weight of Hi-Tec clothing and footwear will be aired 33 times during the Vodacom Super Rugby matches throughout May. This will increase consumer awareness of the brand and what it stands for. The TV advert, also available on YouTube, stresses the brand’s outdoor heritage and also feature their urban footwear, technical outdoor apparel and outdoor equipment.

Just as their clothing range, equipment like backpacks and related products, tents, walking poles, etc. have been selling well since they were added to their footwear ranges a few years ago, confirms Mallett.

Bucking the sales trend

Bucking the trend, Hi-Tec SA had a very good year in 2014. Their clothing range, light hiking, traditional hiking, everyday urban wear, sandals ... all categories did well, despite the unfavourable Rand exchange rate placing an even bigger burden on cash-strapped consumers’ disposable incomes.

When the economy is tough, customers are more likely to buy a trusted brand at a reasonable price, acknowledges Mallett.

He therefore contributes their good performance to “a mixture of people staying with the brands they know when money is tight, and some stores just doing well despite the economy, because they know their customers well. Also, our offerings were very good. One of our strengths is that we offer good value and an honest and reasonable price.”

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