Bought by Nashville, TN-based Genesco Branded Group two years ago, the new-and-improved H.S. Trask re-launches for Fall ’13 as Trask, featuring a premium line of footwear, leather goods and accessories for men and women – all made from hand-selected hides. “When we decided to do this we knew there was space out there in the marketplace on to use some unusual materials and take this vision of outdoors and authenticity, Americana and independence, and really make it special,” says Jon Caplan, president of Genesco Branded Group.
Inspired by the spirit of the west and the brand’s 20-year heritage, Trask’s “secret sauce” is the integrity and uniqueness of materials and craftsmanship. “When we decided to elevate the brand and try to make it even more special we were really intrigued by what the Horween leather company in Chicago had been doing with cowhide,” Caplan says, explaining that the tanning process for Horween Chromoexcel takes 89 steps and spans 28 working days, stuffing natural oils and greases into the leather to give it a really supple, high quality feel. “No one had done it in bison so when we decided to re-launch the brand we asked if they would try it.” From there the company added full latex rubber outsoles from France and proven comfort midsole technologies to bow an update on the Gallatin, one of the brand’s original styles, as a casual hiker and the foundation of the new men’s collection, which spans plain toe oxfords to handsewn chukkas and boots.
On the women’s side, flats and western-inspired boots are made from the softest Africa lambskin and elk, while wool panels add textural interest to menswear-inspired saddle shoes. Wholesale prices range from $70 to $225, though a limited-edition, U.S.-made Reserve collection will retail up to $500. “We’re aiming this at premium distribution because it’s so important that the product is sold at places that can really tell that story,” Caplan insists.
After successful showings at Outdoor Retailer and FN Platform, Trask will hit select shelves in September. “At OR we had a lot of people come by who remembered the original H.S. Trask from 20 years ago, and we had a lot of young people who had never heard of the brand but loved the shoes. The product really transcends age group and it’s more about lifestyle and state of mind,” Caplan says, adding that the line is meant to go with relaxed apparel like denim. “You can dress it up, but the DNA of the brand is more into the time when you’re having fun and doing what you want to do,” he says.