Dubarry, an Irish brand of shoes that diversified into clothing five years ago, has successfully carved out an interesting niche for its outdoor-inspired products by avoiding the specialty retail circuit and targeting instead a segment of the fashion retail circuit that it likes to define as “premium performance outdoor lifestyle.”
Moncler, Look, Bogner and several other brands of skiwear or more generic outerwear have partly or completely gone in this direction lately.
This is a segment that we generally don't cover. However, many outdoor brands are catering to it as well in response to the demands of consumers all over the world who want the technical benefits of regular outdoor products applied to a fashion product that they can wear anywhere.
Consumers tend to look for these kinds of items in certain fashion boutiques and in department stores such as Harrods in London, where Dubarry has just made it into a space on the fifth floor that it shares with the likes of Barbour, North Sails and Timberland.
Dubarry has just made an important new step in its development by announcing the launch of its first range of waterproof/breathable outerwear with Gore-Tex and Windstopper for the fall/winter 2012-13 season.
While using generic membranes for its garments, the company has been a licensee of Gore-Tex for its Portuguese-made shoes for more than 10 years. The extension of the contract is certain to give a new impulse to Dubarry's clothing range, which still represents only about 12.5 percent of its turnover.
The company's sales have been growing by between 15 and 20 percent annually, reaching a level of €25 million in 2010, but they would have not performed so well if the brand had chosen a more rugged outdoor orientation.
Some of the growth has also been spurred by the growing international reach of the brand. It is now represented in practically every European country, including Russia, as well as in Australia and elsewhere. Dubarry set up its own sales office in the U.K. five years ago and followed up two years later with an office in the U.S.
The Abu Dhabi Telefonica sailing team in the Volvo Ocean Race has been wearing Dubarry's deck shoes since October.
Partly because of its position on the rugged Atlantic coast of Ireland, Dubarry's image is associated mainly with a country lifestyle and with sailing, but its very technical shoes and garments can also be worn for gardening and other pursuits.