Reef’s 30-year heritage was born out of an idea by Fernando and Santiago Aguerre, entrepreneur brothers from South America with a love of surf and beach culture, to create a high-quality active lifestyle sandal. 30 years on, Reef is thriving and proving that their high quality footwear, signature heritage styling and brand ethos is still winning hearts globally.
At the 2018 SBIA Awards, Reef were crowned winners of the retailer voted categories, Footwear Brand of the Year and Breakout Brand of the Year. We caught up with Reef’s Australian Brand Manager, Tim Barr about what’s happening in their world and what we can expect to see from them in the lead up to Summer.
SBIA: Reef lives by the “Beach Freely” mentality, can you tell us a little bit more about what this means?
TIM: Our beach freely campaign encourages all people to come together and enjoy the beach and embrace the feeling of fun and freedom that embodies the beach lifestyle,even if its just for a day. The beach is for everyone to enjoy on their own terms, in any manner they see fit. Hopefully people can take a bit of that home with them. ‘Beach Freely’ aims to be inclusive, everyone should have an opportunity to enjoy the beach and the ocean. We also believe in the idea that if we look after the beach the beach will look after us.
SBIA: Reef is well known for its ambassador program that supports some of the best wanderers and wave-riders around the globe including Mick Fanning and Coco Ho. Tell us how important these personalities are to your brand and what impact they have?
TIM: Our ambassadors are really important to us, they help define and shape our brand and what we stand for. Obviously Mick Fanning is very well known around the world he’s and incredible ambassator, but we have also had long standing relationships many others Rob Machado, Longboarder Victoria Vegara, Environmetalist and surfer Brinkley Davies, Shane Dorian, Big Wave world champ Billy Kemper, Mason Ho and more recently, Coco Ho and Skimboarder Blair Conklin. Our ambassators are key to help us spread the Beach Freely vibe. The impact our ambassators have on our brand is really immeasurable in terms of a direct ROI, but we feel strongly about the assoication they have with our customers and what that means to our retail account base. I do want to say to though that as much as the ambassators take the limelight our Reps, Customer service and warehouse crew are all equally important.
SBIA: Congratulations on taking out the 2018 Footwear of the Year Award! Reef’s signature style is certainly iconic. Tell us how your award winning footwear has evolved over the years whilst still maintaining its heritage.
TIM: Thank you, we were really stoked to take it out. The competion in all categories is intense but especially footwear where we see alot of the non-endemic athletic brands flooding the core market. I assume your refering to the Fanning style, and yep its iconic or at least we hope so.
We are always looking to evolve our footwear with new materials and constructions but without losing focus on our fit, quality and comfort. Quality has always been at the top of our list if when we continue to deliver product at the highest level of quality possible we know our retail partners will apprecite it and our end consumer will keep comming back. I believe we have been able to maintain or heritage by staying true to who we are as a brand and what we represent to our customer base.
SBIA: What is the best selling style from your range that your customers can’t get enough of?
TIM: Our ‘Cushion Bounce’ product for both mens and ladies is performing really well for us, our ladies business in particular has grown rapidly over the last 12-18 months.
SBIA: Reef also took out the retailer voted category of Breakout Brand of the Year, Congratulations on another massive achievement from a brand that kicked off in 1984. What are you doing to keep things fresh and exciting our retailers?
TIM: We did, this was so cool to be recognised as the breakout brand, its quite an honour especially as its a retailer vote and we have been around a while. I feel we took a risk with our beach freely messaging and its for the most part its been well accepted, we have lauched some great new innovative product which performed really well, and we have more new really innovative products coming for 2019.
We have bought some fresh and succesful product to market such as the cushion bounce series and our voyage water proof boots but to be honest i think sometimes its not always the fresh and exciting but getting the basic’s right thats appreciated, our quality is top notch, we have very minimal clearance, our deliveries ok, and we have stayed true to our account base and not over distributed ourselves.
SBIA: Environmental and sustainability practices are front of mind for everyone in our industry at the moment. What environmental initiatives are Reef working on to contribute to this initiative?
TIM: We do alot of things that we don’t necessarily make a song and dance about but we know that they are right. For example as a brand we are 100% PVC free, PVC is recognised as one of the worst plastic’s its a known carcinogen, its very harmful to workers and it never ever breaks down. We use 100% water based solvents in all our products, where possible we use recycled EVA’s and rubbers, our packaging is 100% biodegradeable. Many of of products now contain the ‘eco-one’ additive which makes them bio-degradeable in landfill, our escape rubber thongs for example will completely biodegrade in landfill wihtin 18 months. Also our factories must adhere to strict social comlipence and environmental practices.
We have a long way to go still but we are mindfully doing our best to reduce our footprint.
SBIA: What brand activity can we expect to see from Reef in the lead up to the Summer sell-in period?
TIM: You’ll see a continuation of ‘beach freely’, a continued investment in our retail partners and some killer new product, look out for an expansion on our Cushion Bounce franchise, the new Reef One, and beach casual shoes, the Matey and Escape sling.
SBIA: Congratulations again on your achievements at the 2018 SBIA Awards, we hope to see Reef again this year!
TIM: Thanks me too