Sports Group Denmark has obtained a four-year license for the development and global distribution of an expanded line of Kawasaki footwear, with a new and updated concept. It is talking to new and old distributors of the line with a goal of firming up the range and the international sales structure by August for a launch during the spring/summer 2019 season, backed by a marketing campaign. Company officials feel that the timing is right as canvas shoes are apparently coming back in fashion after five-six years of soft sales.
Kawasaki footwear entered the Danish market in 1972 with a line of badminton shoes. After Asics, Nike and other sports brands came out with sock-absorbing models, the Kawasaki brand refocused like Converse on the lifestyle market, developing a line of distinctive badminton-inspired canvas shoes with a rubber nose that became very popular in Denmark and other countries, especially among female teenagers at the start of the new millennium.
The colorful shoes from the iconic Danish brand are still been sold on websites like spartoo.com and other channels, but they are closeout models, as their former licensee, Aceline, has been liquidating its inventories. The owner of the brand, Bo Stanley, cancelled the contract in April 2016 after 13 years of collaboration and took Aceline to court, winning the suit last August.
Stanley left Aceline in 2012 and was followed last summer by Jan Guldbaek, who was running the Kawasaki project at Aceline and is now running it Sports Group Denmark, where he is also responsible for sales of Mizuno's new range lifestyle shoes in the Nordic countries.
Formed in 2012 by former managers of Sanita and Active Sportswear, Sports Group Denmark is currently developing, sourcing and distributing 12 brands of its own. It has some sales responsibilities for Mizuno and other brands such as Björn Borg and CMP, particularly in Scandinavia.
Like the former Kawasaki line (see Shoe Intelligence Vol. 8 N° 23 of Dec. 13, 2006), the new one will use a former vulcanizing factory of Bata in the Czech Republic.