What do you get when you cross a classic workman’s boot with a graphic art designer known for creating eye-popping murals and shop interiors? A bright and brash collection that’s not for the faint of heart, that’s what. Cat Footwear commissioned French-born, London-based Camille Walala to apply her quirky prints to its classic Colorado style for Spring ’15, and the results are striking. “The Colorado was huge in London during the grunge era of the early ’90s and, of late, we had noticed that some of the city’s influencers were gravitating back towards it,” notes Kelly Ballou, marketing manager for the Wolverine Worldwide-owned license. As sales of the boot have begun to soar again across the pond, Cat decided to search for a collaborator who could jazz-up the style to boost sales stateside.
Cat’s U.K.-based Senior Designer Kirsty Bradford knew just the person for the job. Having seen Walala’s takeover of a London coffee shop (Think thick stripes of bold color going every which way.), Bradford knew the artist’s pop aesthetic could be exactly what Cat needed to appeal to a younger, city-dwelling consumer. Walala was more than willing. “Recently I’ve been working on a much bigger scale, painting on walls and buildings, so it was really fun to work on a shoe,” she says, adding she was a wearer as well. “Cat is definitely party of my youth and I am so grateful to have been able to put my patterns on such an iconic ’90s shoe.”
While the men’s Colorado is accented by peekaboo prints on the tongue and footbed (“It’s a little safer for the male consumer,” Ballou admits.) the women’s styles go all Walala out. An unlined boot folds down to reveal a series of geometric shapes. Another is covered in an all-over print and placed atop a thick, white flatform sole. A creeper-style gets the graphic treatment, too. Walala, who worked hand-in-hand with Bradford to develop the prints exclusively for Cat, cites both the South African Ndebele tribe and optical art as her biggest inspirations. It’s an unashamedly loud look for the heritage boot company, and one that Ballou hopes will catch the attention of the 18- to 24-year-old demographic. “Obviously we have blue collar roots, but we think this is an interesting way to find new consumers,” she shares.
Cat debuted the line to U.S. buyers at the recent FFANY show in New York and Ballou reveals the reception was “fantastic.” So much so that the company is already thinking about continuing the collaboration through next fall. “Buyers loved it. They said it was fun, on-trend and that the bold graphics were an interesting spin for such a heritage-driven company,” she says.