New Balance sports brand lines up move into fashion

Athletics brand New Balance is to launch a range of fashion sport shoes, its first dedicated fashion line. The PF Flyer brand will be launched in April in the UK, Italy, France and Japan.

The brand will launch with low-cut and high-cut styles in two or three colours. A leather range will follow in August. The line will include replicas of original PF Flyer shoes, which were available in the US during the Thirties.

The shoes, which will be priced between &£35 and &£100, will be available from independent retailers as well as footwear chain Office, which will stock them in four London stores.

Martin Jouanneau, brand manager for PF Flyer, says the shoes are being launched as a casual brand rather than as performance shoes. A range of clothing is expected to follow by 2005.

New Balance has already relaunched PF Flyer in the US, where the brand has been dormant for the past ten years. The brand, owned by BF Goodrich, was originally launched as an orthopaedic sports shoe. Goodrich was bought by Converse in 1971 but it was forced to sell PF Flyer to settle a complaint from the Department of Justice that it was monopolising the sports shoe market.

PF Flyer was owned by footwear supplier LJO between 1991 and 2001. It was bought by New Balance, which also has an orthopaedic background, in February 2001.

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