with Kristin Käpplinger,
Head of the Business Unit superfit
"Cool designs, a high-quality and modern material mix paired with the perfect superfit fit. At superfit, all shoes are developed on special, child-friendly lasts to take account of the anatomy of a child’s foot."
– Kristin KäpplingerHead of the Business Unit superfit
superfit celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022!
That’s right, in 2022 superfit will be 50 years old! We are celebrating our anniversary – together with our retail partners and consumers. With extensive communication on shop floor, in social media and with press activities. Because we’re convinced: true heroes don’t get older, they only get better.
Have the demands on children’s shoes changed in the past 50 years?
Parents want and have always wanted only the best for their children. And, of course, that still applies to the choice of children’s shoes. What has definitely changed is the demand for fashion, which is often reflected even in children. While, in the past, the fit and material quality played a decisive role, the design aspect is becoming equally important. And kids have more of a say in purchasing decisions today than they might have 50 years ago. Children’s shoes must also please them. Of course, processing and production methods have also evolved. superfit is and has always been on the pulse of the respective era. We’re therefore proud to have been developing and producing the highest quality children’s shoes for 50 years. With the highest level of dedication, perfect fit thanks to development on child-friendly lasts and a contemporary, cool look.
50 years of expertise are certainly an important argument for mothers. For children, on the other hand, it’s the look that counts. How does a brand manage to stay young even at 50?
For 50 years, superfit has been ensuring that children discover the adventures of the world on healthy feet. In doing so, we give parents the security of knowing that, with superfit, they are doing the best for their children’s feet. Of course, it’s also important to inspire the kids. That’s why our design team takes account of current trends and developments and incorporates them into the collection. Whether it’s the latest trend colours, patterns or applications, special materials or closure systems, such as the BOA®Fit system. What’s more, our shoes aren’t just put through their paces by experts during the development process, they are also examined and evaluated by our target group, the children themselves. Our claim “Loved by kids. Praised by doctors.” isn’t just a marketing slogan, it’s part of our entire design and manufacturing process.
Has the shape of the foot, for example, changed? Because shoes sold today tend to be wider or larger than those in the past?
Studies show that the shape of children’s feet has changed in recent years. They have become larger and also wider. Naturally, we also take these developments into account when developing our collections. In addition, we recommend having children’s feet measured regularly at a specialist retailer to ensure that the superfit children’s shoe fits optimally in terms of length and width. It’s essential to prevent potential foot damage.
Children’s feet grow even during a pandemic. As a result, children’s shoes were winners in the crisis – or at least not losers. How have superfit’s sales developed in the various markets in which the brand is sold in recent years?
That’s right. Compared to women’s shoes, for example, it was clear that children’s shoes belong to essential purchases. It goes without saying that, despite the pandemic, it’s important to buy well-fitting and quality children’s shoes to best accompany the development of their feet. superfit has always maintained an intensive relationship with good specialist retailers. Despite the pandemic, we were therefore able to position ourselves as a strong and relevant partner for our trade customers and further strengthen and expand relationships. In the DACH region as well as in our European export markets.
What growth have you experienced online?
We provide our consumers with a holistic brand experience through our brand store superfit.com. With an extensively available collection and plenty of relevant additional information about our products and the brand in general. Because even if children’s shoes are still often bought in specialised stores, parents like to inform themselves extensively in advance.
What role does WMS play for you?
WMS is the seal of quality for high-quality, well-fitting children’s shoes and for decades superfit has had a close relationship with the German Shoe Institute.
How has your team’s work changed during the coronavirus pandemic? How do you create a collection? Where do fashion impulses come from when travelling is almost impossible and trade fairs are limited?
Of course, the constraints of everyday life have affected the work. However, trends and inspirations still exist and are shaped by the development of the pandemic. Impressions from nature, consumer behaviour and needs, but also trend studies played a decisive role for the creatives in our team. The pandemic has also shown that there are no limits to creativity. And, as a team, we are still connected with online tools. The fact that we as a company focused on digitalisation of internal workflows at an early stage is certainly an advantage in our day-to-day work during the coronavirus pandemic.
How does a children’s shoe brand manage to stand up to the growing competition from sports brands?
With cool designs, a high-quality and modern material mix paired with the perfect superfit fit. Because at superfit, all shoes are developed on special, child-friendly lasts to take account of the anatomy of a child’s foot.
Do you also offer barefoot shoes? If so, what are the arguments for this segment? If not, what are the arguments against it?
We are seeing an increased demand for barefoot shoes in the children’s footwear segment, so we are very pleased to cover this segment in our superfit collection with the “superfree” range. We’ve been uncompromising in the development of the range. We’ve even created our own name, which reflects our aspirations with barefoot shoes: barefit. The asymmetrical last shape offers sufficient space especially for the big toe so that there are no limits to natural movement. The extra-thin insole and PU sole with minimal heel pitch support the barefoot feeling. High quality, super soft leathers ensure maximum comfort and breathability. At superfit, we will definitely continue to pursue this segment and expand the collection in this direction.
Sustainability is a very important and current topic, especially in the children’s shoe sector. What is superfit’s strategy in this area? Do you work more sustainably, for example by using geothermal energy, solar cells, etc.? And are the sustainable aspects of superfit shoes increasing? If yes, how?
At superfit, we particularly aspire to sustainability when producing shoes. For example, our slippers are manufactured exclusively in Europe. As part of legero united, we aim to be CO2 neutral by 2030 and are taking numerous measures into account to meet this goal. For example, we offer a variety of models that are manufactured in a particularly resource-friendly way, without harmful additives and dyes – for example, with chrome-free tanned VIOS leathers. To ensure compliance with our strict quality standards, we work together with selected partners and production facilities and the materials we use are continuously tested by recognised test institutes. We pay particular attention to environmentally friendly production and the shortest possible transport routes for a low CO2 footprint. We have also committed to participating in key industry initiatives: not only do we participate in the HIGG index, but we have also committed to participating in the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). We are also a member of the CADS initiative, an association of the largest shoe manufacturers in the German-speaking region and their suppliers. It continuously develops environmental and social standards for our industry. In addition, we favour cooperation with leather suppliers certified by the Leather Working Group LWG .
The interview with Kristin Käpplinger first appeared in schuhkurier 5/2022