PF Flyersâ€™ Posture Foundation technology was patented in 1933 claiming to be the first real technology in sneakers. Since the â€˜30s PF Flyers has maintained their position on the cutting edge of sole technology providing consumers with comfortable and stylish footwear. Drawing inspirations from BF Goodrich catalogs to vintage PF models on eBay, and collaborating with the likes of Bob Cousy, graff artist Bua, and pro-athletes, the brand is on a constant mission to refresh ideas and designs.
â€œWe like premium and timeless, we mix old world luxury and futuristic, we search for the new evolution of materials and are proud that PF Flyers has made a name for itself in the sneaker world as having best in class, sophisticated materials that really set it apart from its competitors.â€
Format: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your role at PF Flyers?
Michel: My name is Michel Laflamme and my title is Senior Product Development Manager for PF Flyers and New Balance Lifestyle. I have been focusing on the product development of PF Flyers for the last few years.
Format: The brand holds a lot of nostalgic imagery; do you often find this heritage inspires your new designs?
Michel: We scout the Internet for old BF Goodrich catalogs and vintage PF Shoes on sites like eBay that we constantly use to refresh our collections.
Format: As a brand based on Posture Foundation insole technology developed in the â€˜30s, how have you updated your technology? What are some current technologies used in your line?
Michel: For our â€˜Archival Reissue Collectionâ€™ we stay true to the original Posture Foundation technology of the â€˜30s and â€˜40s. For our more modern collections we use our New Balance expertise and techniques in fit and comfort to build PF footwear that will rival our competition. We upgrade our foot beds to a variety of molded inserts using materials such as TPU and Memory Foam, we pay attention to last shapes for both fashion and comfort, and we use materials that are comfortable and breathable.
Format: The Archival Reissue Collection features of some of PFâ€™s most popular historic styles. Have these been successful in todayâ€™s market, or is the modern take on PF style a stronger sell?
Michel: The answer is â€˜both.â€™ Take the Archival Reissue Center Hi/Lo, which was re-introduced in the first collection of our era in the Spring of 2003. It was our most popular shoe at the time. Then a few years ago the market favored some of our more modern classic styles such as the Number 5 and the Albin. We are now seeing a strong resurgence of the Center Hi/Lo here in the US. And it also depends where one looks, for instance the more modern Number 5s are still strong in Europe while the archival reissues are consistent winners in Asia and South Africa.
Format: PF has brought us some huge milestones in sneaker history, including the first-ever pro-sports player collab and some of the most successful and enduring designs. What do you consider one of the biggest milestones with the brand?
Michel: The Posture Foundation technology was patented in 1933 and was the first real technology for sneakers, it set a new standard for comfort and was the basis for our brand name PF Flyers.
Format: You still feature the Cousy design, from the 1950â€™s Bob Cousy collaboration. What gives this style relevance today?
Michel: In 2007, we were looking to refresh our line of archival reissues and came upon the Bob Cousy vintage shoe. We liked the shape, we liked the look, and we liked the story. We didn’t know if Mr. Cousy would be interested in supporting this re-introduction of his old shoes but he couldn’t have been any more obliging. He provided us with all kinds of paraphernalia that we used in various marketing events. Once again, he entrusted us with his treasures, and his time too.
“When they are right, collaborations can yield good product, good sales, and they often challenge us creatively.”
Format: Can we look forward to any future collaborations?
Michel: We have had various collaborations over the years such as with the graffiti artist Bua when collaborations were the new â€˜inâ€™ thing and the DDC Collaboration, which netted us our current creative directors in DDC LAB owners, Savania Davies-Keiller and Roberto Crivello. When they are right, collaborations can yield good product, good sales, and they often challenge us creatively. So it is safe to say that we will probably have more in the future.
Format: The Spring 09 collection features materials such as metal woven mesh and bead embossed leather. Can you tell us a bit about these innovative materials?
Michel: We travel the world to find materials with the latest technology, leathers with the newest finishes, textiles with the trendiest prints. We like premium and timeless, we mix old world luxury and futuristic, we search for the new evolution of materials and are proud that PF Flyers has made a name for itself in the sneaker world as having best in class, sophisticated materials that really set it apart from its competitors.
Format: With a variety of colorways in each style, you appeal to many aesthetics. Whatâ€™s your status on exclusives?
Michel: I think we do that already. Every season we come up with what we call “Wow” styles that we think will generate hype. For instance we had our limited collections of Bua shoes, Tyvek Paper PFs, Wood Grounders, Neon Pintails, and for fall 2009, our Color Reveal Patent collection. This latest collection is made of patent leather, which, as the shoes break over time, reveals another color under the surface.
Format: With a design that is seen as similar to many Converse styles, how to you keep PF Flyers discerned from your competitors?
Michel: We decided early in our brand’s resurgence that we wouldn’t compete with Converse; they had already captured the vulcanized price point canvas market when we started. So we decided to go up-market by introducing premium materials and investing in the shoes for better fit and comfort. It is paying off; we have become known for this strength and many are now turning to our brand.
Format: In your view, what are some sneaker trends for 2010?
Michel: I think it is still exciting times in the footwear industry despite â€˜the Economy,â€™ just look at all the wild women’s high heel shoes that are emerging from Louboutin, Blahnik, Dior, and Prada… As for the Sneaker industry, the mix of sport and fashion is still offering tons of opportunities in the market. We want to provide trendsetters and celebrities with sneakers that are beautiful, distinctive, cool, and comfortable. And how are we doing that? Stay tuned!