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Posted February 18, 2016 in Podcasts by Tom Brassell
It was great to catch up with Ecco Footwear President Dieter Kasprzak at the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show in Ecco’s booth.
Ecco is synonymous with comfort, and Dieter explains the comfort story, along with the history of Ecco not only as a brand, but in golf as well. Check out both the video of our time together below, or the audio version on our website, Soundcloud or subscribe free for the GolfBetter Podcast on iTunes.
But, most importantly, make sure to try a pair of Ecco golf shoes on at your nearest Worldwide Golf Shops location.
You won’t be sorry that you did.
Tom Brassell: The PGA Merchandise Show in the ECCO booth with our good friend, Dieter Kasprzak. It’s been a while, Dieter. Good to see you again.
Dieter Kasprzak: Thank you very much. It’s always nice to be here at the greatest and biggest show in the world for golf.
Tom Brassell: After one day, what’s your take on the show so far? It seems like there’s a lot of buzz going on that’s great for the game and great for golf footwear.
Dieter Kasprzak: Footwear, actually, I have to say, I’m not aware about all the details and the secrets from the competition. I concentrate on our collection, what we have to do. We try, like always, to be the best, if possible, make it as comfortable and as stable for the better players. There’s a lot of good competition around, of course. We don’t believe that we are the best in the world, and the rest is nothing. We know there’s competition, but we’re trying our best to do better and better every single year.
Tom Brassell: Well, you’re passionate about it. You’re not only a designer. You’re a golfer. Talk a little bit for our listeners and viewers about how ECCO got in the golf shoe business.
Dieter Kasprzak: It was actually quite funny. The founder of the company got a little present for his sixtieth birthday. We didn’t know, both of us, I was not a golfer then at that time, what it is. Quite a high, small package and then we shake it around a little bit. It was metal in there. We didn’t know what it is. It came out it was golf clubs. Then, of course, we started to test the clubs, and so on. I tried on the driving range with not very good success in the first time, but I’m a little bit about competition. Then I tried again, and then I started golfing. Having some shoes, of course, I brought in some, I can’t remember, six or seven pairs. It came out that they are not really fitting like we believe they should fit. It was the first impression. Then we started to develop a shoe, in size forty-four first, because we’re both forty-four. Then gave some shoes to some friends. It came out, “This is really a good idea.”
It started slowly in Denmark, actually, and then Germany. We had good success in the first couple of years, but then on one point of time, we had to decide whether we are really going to the golf business or it is just a little detail in our collection for friends. We decided to go for. From that point on, we took it really serious. I found out first that, in the ladies’ business, there’s really a gap. We’re shoemakers. We’re making fashion shoes. We’re making comfort shoes. There was nothing really in the ladies’ business, so our first success with golf shoes was actually in the ladies’ area.
Then after a couple of years, we decided really to go for it. We started an entire range, with a couple of spike or cleat shoes. Then I had the idea to make actually something without the cleats because I found out that most of the golfers, and I still believe that, they don’t need really cleats. This is just in people’s minds, where they think that they should have it.
We developed the shoe. Then lucky enough, we met a guy. His name is Freddie Couples. He wore the shoes on the Masters, I think it was, without socks, and you don’t do that, normally in golf. Golf is quite conservative sport, to be honest. So you don’t do that. I was focused on, and from that day on, the hybrid explosion, I can call it, came.
Today, we are really good in the business, let’s say, and decided also to keep quality and keep the highest possible quality level. That means the shoes, they cost a dollar more than others, but this is the only way to make real leather shoes, make leather linings if needed, make partly leather soles, and so on and so on. We believe we on a good way, and we want to continue.
Tom Brassell: You’ve been with the Edwin Watts brand, from I want to say, since the early 2000s, and the message has always been comfort. Then when like, you said, when Freddie Couples hit the home run, comfort kind of merged with cool because everybody loves Freddie and the cool, and you get both together.
Dieter Kasprzak: Yeah, that’s right. I think it is also on the right point of time there came a little bit more fun in the shoes because it was quite conservative. No colors, no … so we came with colors because we are shoemakers. We are not club makers, or how do you call making clubs and so on. We came with colors because we are used to. All the time with new styles, with new materials and so on. It was a little bit more funny for everybody, and this was actually the success.
Today, if you look around, there are colors there. Everybody makes shoes with colors.
Tom Brassell: If you have not tried the ECCO shoe, you need to try it on. Dieter, thanks so much for your time. It’s always good to hook up with you, Dieter. You’ve got a lot of people out here waiting to see you. We appreciate the time. Thank you so much.
Dieter Kasprzak: Thank you very much. You’re welcome. Thank you.