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Milestones Matter

Milestones come in many forms. They can be personal—a big birthday, a weight loss goal, or, in my case, a cycling season’s total mileage, part of an ever-increasing lifetime milestone that recently hit 125,000 (Lycra-clad) miles. Milestones can also come in the form of school graduations. For example, my daughter is receiving her BFA in Acting from Ithaca College this month. Please excuse the proud papa plug.

Milestones can also be experienced collectively—and sometimes unexpectedly. Millions of New Jersey and New York residents, for instance, felt their first earthquake in April. That’s one milestone I never want to exceed, thank you very much, Mother Nature. On the other hand,  I’m all for witnessing another solar eclipse. That was a first for me, too. While it wasn’t a total eclipse from my perch in Riverside Park, it was totally cool! The bonus: standing among hundreds of people united in celestial awe. That’s a milestone of unity I wish we could enjoy far more often.

We regularly acknowledge industry milestones within the pages of Footwear Plus. Our Green & Heard section (beginning on p. 8) is chock-full of companies aiming for and hitting new milestones involving an array of sustainability initiatives. These efforts are as innovative as they are inspiring. And while the holy grail of circularity may seem a long way off, every step in the right direction is laudable. The alternative (not trying at all, giving up, or greenwashing) is unacceptable. Kudos to those who care, like Asportuguesas, our Brand Focus (p.12). The Portuguese company is driven to be as low-impact from an environmental perspective as possible. Chief Director Pedro Abrantes has been pushing the sustainability envelope ever since his clever flip-flop design won an annual contest sponsored by Amorim, the world’s biggest cork supplier. Over the ensuing eight years, Asportuguesas partnered with Kyaia (makers of Fly London) and North American distributors Bos. & Co. to steadily evolve into a quirky, comfy, eco-friendly brand. It stands out while standing for something. Over 31 years at Footwear Plus (another personal milestone), I’ve reported on my fair share of brands with potential, and Asportuguesas is one to take note of, if you haven’t already.

Then there’s our A Note to My Younger Self series, a collection of careers filled with milestones. This issue’s Note (p. 18) is no exception. Athletic/outdoor industry veteran Jim Van Dine’s impressive resume includes leadership positions at some of the biggest and most influential brands of the past three decades, including Reebok, Vans, Keen, Hoka, and Birkenstock. Those companies all hit mega-growth milestones during his tenure with them. He has the Midas touch for leading big runs. Van Dine reflects on equally memorable personal milestones. He has interviewed more than 1,500 applicants over the course of his career, hired several hundred of them, and strived to give everyone an opportunity to succeed. There’s also Van Dine’s pre–shoe biz milestone: An elite runner in his twenties, he helped pace Bill Rogers to a world record for 25 kilometers. (That sure puts my cycling milestones into perspective.)

Of course, milestones can also take the form of recognition from colleagues. The Oscars, Grammys, and Tonys spring to mind, as do our Plus Awards recognizing excellence in design and retail. This year marks their 25th year. In honor of our own silver anniversary, we’re recognizing select major anniversary milestones in the industry. There are some real doozies, and some industry gamechangers that made me think, “Has it been that long already? I knew you when you were just a baby.” All will be revealed in our special 25th annual Plus Awards issue this September.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to feature all sorts of industry milestones in our issues because milestones matter. They deserve to be celebrated. They serve as a source of motivation, determination, and satisfaction. They inspire others to want to succeed personally and collectively. And they make for interesting, inspiring reading. That’s all for now. It’s time to clip in and log some more miles toward my next personal milestone.

The April/May 2024 Issue

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