In addition to numerous shoe shops around the world as far away as Israel or Australia, major outdoor retailers such as Globetrotter in Germany have adopted a relatively new brand of trendy high-tech walking shoes, called Glagla, that can be used for hiking and other outdoor sports. Launched by an Algerian engineer two years ago on the international market, the brand sold 200,000 pairs for the past spring/summer season.
The volume should double in 2012, with distribution in more than 50 countries, thanks largely to an excellent sell-out of last summer's collection and to an expansion of the range to 60 SKUs for the spring/summer 2012 season, including some children's models. Light and comfortable, its functional and lifestyle slip-on shoes will also be suitable for riding a mountain bike or walking on the beach.
Glagla, a word that describes a sensation of cold, still doesn't have a winter line. It is described as a brand whose unique ventilation system, protected by patents, has turned it into an ideal shoe for outdoor activities in the heat of summer. Scientific tests have proven that the foot temperature in a Glagla shoe is 6°C lower than in a regular sneaker, and that sweating is reduced by 50 percent.
Furthermore, Glagla shoes, which are manufactured in China, have an interior lining made of bamboo fibers, which are highly ecological. They are known for their antibacterial, breathable and biodegradable properties.
The brand and its concept were invented by Karim Oumnia, who launched an innovative brand of football boots called Baliston about 15 years ago. They have enjoyed some success in the U.S. They are still sold on a smaller scale in France, where Glagla has its home base, but mostly to amateur clubs.
Curiously, Glagla has a much lower distribution in its native country than in the rest of the world, where it has strong distribution partners such as Cross Monaco, a former distributor of Flipflop shoes for the German-speaking countries; Gardiner in the U.K.; and Raider Canaria, the distributor of Rider and other lines by Brazil's Grendene for Spain. An experiment with France's Lifestyle Company, French distributor of Grendene, has not been very successful.
Based in the French city of Nancy, Glagla International has hired a French shoe industry pro, Thierry Scheydecker, to act as its first commercial director for the French market and to help the company to penetrate new foreign markets, notably in Latin America. A former official of Puma, he was a partner in Le Coq Sportif until 2005. He then got a license for shoes named after the Roland-Garros tennis tournament in France and helped to market other brands such as Royal Elastics, Ellesse and Blowfish.