Abby Bruning and Pam McNelis discuss designing Arc’teryx footwear.
Arc’teryx prides itself on living in—and creating for—the mountain environment. Based in the Coast Mountains of North Vancouver, B.C., since 1989, Arc’teryx now has an additional home, this for footwear. And in Portland, arguably the global capital of performance footwear and only 300 miles from Arc’teryx headquarters.
While Arc’teryx has had footwear in its catalog for years, by opening a Portland office solely focused on the category, the brand aims to create new mountain-ready offerings and craft footwear silhouettes that become as iconic as the Alpha jacket.
“What is drastically different this time is the amount of resources and investment we are putting behind footwear and the focus,” says Ovidio Garcia, Arc’teryx vice-president of footwear. “Our design declaration is the same, but there is more emphasis and more focus.”
Ovidio Garcia, vice-president of footwear, Arc’teryx, left, discusses design with members of the … [+]
The Portland Arc’teryx office opened in temporary space in 2021. Now with five veterans of the footwear industry—the Portland area is home to a who’s who of footwear brands and ancillary resources—and still growing, the brand is currently building out 8,800 square feet of space with the help of Skylab Architecture in the northwest Portland Slabtown neighborhood walking distance to its flagship store and 5,200-acre Forest Park.
Garcia says the resources available in Portland, from biomechanics to design to contractors, allows Arc’teryx to tap into the knowledge available while working with experts at the North Vancouver headquarters’ advanced concepts department, allowing the brand to build its muscle of footwear knowledge and expertise.
Katie Becker, chief creative officer, sees footwear as a new anchor for the company, especially as it becomes a 365-days-per-year brand.
Abby Bruning, director, global footwear creative, Arc’teryx, highlights technology focused on … [+]
The Portland-based footwear creators have spent time in Portland and North Vancouver, learning the ethos of Arc’teryx and sharing a fresh perspective on everything from materials to process. “It has been fun,” says Dylan Petrenka, director, global footwear design, “there has been a micro and macro energy where we are focused what we can do today and thinking long-term what’s the vision that is going to take us to the next five years and 10 years.”
With the new focus, Garcia says that initially the Arc’teryx footwear line won’t expand, it will contract “to define what we stand for as a brand.”
The goal of Arc’teryx is to look and feel different in the outdoor space, bringing together a “very aesthetically beautiful and functional product.” The footwear will take cues from the brand’s design, separating itself from the previous offerings created with the help of sister brand Solomon. “When you walk into our stores or go into our online portal, it will be easy to see what we stand for and what we are solving for,” Garcia says.
Arc’teryx athletes work closely with the footwear design team to help lead the next generation of … [+]