July 03, 2014
By Greg Monteforte, Style Insider, PGATOUR.COM
- Street-style shoes have taken the golf world by storm, and ECCO Golf was a pioneer in introducing these non-traditional shoes to the game. PGATOUR.COM Style Insider Greg Monteforte talked with Jesper Thuen from ECCO about the importance of Fred Couples being an early adopter of the brand's street shoes, how he helps PGA TOUR players find the right kicks to fit their personal styles, and the challenges the street shoe movement faced at the beginning. (Courtesy of ECCO Golf)
Style Insider: ECCO was a pioneer in street-style shoes. Initially, what challenges did you face in getting PGA TOUR players to adopt spikeless shoes?
Jesper Thuen: Our staff players understand the technology and craftsmanship that go into each pair of ECCO shoes, so they are trusting when it comes to our new designs. Hybrid shoes were a mental hurdle for them at first, but after much testing they found out firsthand how our E-DTS outsole provides excellent traction and stability across all surfaces. They quickly realized ECCO was evolving golf footwear technology and that the durable TPU traction bars could provide a TOUR-caliber platform from which to swing.
Fred Couples in action during the first rounds of the 2010 Masters, left, and 2014 Masters. (Harry How, Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
SI: Fred Couples' performance at the 2010 Masters brought a lot of attention to ECCO's original street shoe. What did it mean for the whole street-style shoe movement, and ECCO in particular, for a player like Fred Couples to have success in the shoes on a worldwide stage?
JT: Fred is obviously one of the most popular players in golf, so when he chose to compete in them at the 2010 Masters, it was a defining moment for not only us, but for golf footwear as a whole. ECCO benefitted tremendously in terms of both brand awareness and sales, but more importantly, he validated what we knew all along. By surging up the leaderboard in ECCO Golf Street, he showed the world that hybrid technology can be trusted by those at the sport's highest levels. At that moment, the hybrid category was born and consumer demand continues to soar.
ECCO Golf Street EVO One series shoes. (Courtesy of ECCO Golf)
SI: The Street EVO One is the latest version of ECCO's street-style shoe. What are the major improvements over the previous models?
JT: We are always pushing the envelope of innovation, looking for ways to improve from one collection to the next. Street EVO One gives the wildly popular Golf Street added technology in the form of an integrated shank piece. This additional lateral stability coupled with a wider heel seat, provides exceptional traction even to those with TOUR-level swing speeds. The two-colored uppers and eye-catching outsole can be seen on the feet of our newest staff player Ernie Els.
Ernie Els in action during the first round of the 2014 Quicken Loans National. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
SI: Graeme McDowell favors the classic-looking Tour Hybrids, which are a perfect fit for his sophisticated style. Fred Couples and Ernie Els tend to wear the more casual BIOM Hybrids and Street EVO Ones. How much do you work with PGA TOUR players to find a shoe that not only performs well, but also fits their own personal styles?
Graeme McDowell in action during the third round of the 2014 Irish Open. (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
JT: With every new collection we are speaking with our staff players to determine which models fit their personal styles. G-Mac prefers a more classic, tailored look so the traditional white Tour Hybrid wingtip is his go-to shoe. Fred and Ernie as you know are more relaxed, so the sport-casual look of the BIOM Hybrid and Street EVO One nicely complements their personalities. As one player told us, the better you look and feel, the better you play.
SI: How does feedback from PGA TOUR players influence the design and performance of ECCO shoes?
JT: ECCO staff players make regular visits to our design facility in Denmark. Wearing the golf shoes day in and day out, our athletes provide us with valuable feedback that helps make our products stand out both technically and stylistically. ECCO is fortunate to have such excellent insight, all of which is incorporated into each new model.
SI: What can we expect in the second half of 2014 from ECCO in terms of new products and styles?
JT: There are sure to be new introductions coming, but the ECCO philosophy centers around surprising consumers with new, innovative products that will help them further enjoy their golfing experience. Whether it's through new leather stories, technological developments or fashion elements, ECCO is always a shoemaker first, one that strives to keep customers happy each step of the way.