Business Blog

Urban to Outdoors Trend Gaining Momentum - OLD Dominion Footwear


Getting outdoors today doesn’t necessarily mean taking a walk in the woods. In fact, many outdoor-loving consumers are constrained by work and family schedules, and even geography, so they’re looking for products that reflect their love of the outdoors and being outdoors even if they’re commuting in the heart of the city.

Known to marketers as “Urban to Outdoors,” it’s part of a larger lifestyle trend becoming the new norm in the United States. And it's a trend savvy outdoor companies are picking up on. In a market driven by lifestyle products, lifestyle outdoor gear is hot and getting hotter.


Old Dominion Footwear, headquartered in Madison Heights, Virginia, has penetrated the Urban-to-Outdoors market with great success over the last few years. But they didn’t do it alone. In August 2010, Old Dominion partnered with Realtree to develop lifestyle footwear for two Realtree brands: Realtree Outfitters and Realtree Girl. Both product lines have a classic outdoor look and are clad with Realtree camouflage. But here’s the twist – this footwear is designed and marketed to be worn outside the woods. It is Urban-to-Outdoors all the way.


David Dunevant, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Old Dominion, said after becoming a Realtree licensee, it was just a matter of experimenting with different products to find what consumers wanted. “It wasn’t until we put some Realtree camouflage into the shaft of a boys’ boot that we understood the potential market of lifestyle products. The sales of that boot doubled,” said Dunevant.


Old Dominion soon was successfully targeting other markets, but it wasn’t easy at first. Dunevant said many retailers were skeptical about camouflaged shoes appearing on shelves side-by-side with traditional footwear, but the response from shoppers was so positive that retailers quickly had a change of heart.


Realtree is a very strong brand in social media, and we use that to our advantage. 

— David Dunevant, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Old Dominion


The excellent consumer response was boosted by an active social media campaign.Dunevant said.“Realtree is a very strong brand in social media, and we use that to our advantage. We’ve worked together with Southern Boyz Outdoors to get the word out about upcoming products on their Facebook page,” Dunevant said


Old Dominion is the only licensee able to feature the Realtree Antlers logo and Realtree Girl logo on its shoes. It’s been another great advantage.


The power of the Realtree brand is the reason for our growth​. The antler logo is so strong and recognizable that we can build and market our products around it.​

— David Dunevant, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Old Dominion



The strategy is working and continues to work because Old Dominion offers something for everyone. Consumers can find their favorite recreational footwear in a multitude of colors and styles. The Realtree Outfitters collection features mens’ all-terrain shoes, hiking boots, pull-over boots for wet conditions, thong sandals, slip-on sandals and slide sandals.


Women can find comparable offerings with Realtree Girl, but with a more refined fashion sense and lots of extra color options such as hot pink, purple and lime. Females make up about 35 percent of Old Dominion’s Realtree-branded lifestyle footwear sales, and Dunevant noted the company is always trying to introduce new colors to give female customers as many choices as possible.


“We found what customers wanted,” Dunevant affirmed. “Males want shoes with a more rugged look. They want something casual that can be worn with blue jeans. Women are more fashion-conscience, so it’s important that our footwear reflects that.”


And the Urban-to-Outdoors market even extends to pre-teens. Several of Old Dominion’s childrens’ shoes feature blinking LED lights tucked into the rubber outsoles. Dunevant explained these lighted shoes have a very strong appeal to kids, especially boys. And of course, they are all patterned with Realtree camo.


Sales of Old Dominion’s Realtree-branded lifestyle footwear were brisk in 2014. Dunevant said the company outpaced projections by nearly 90 percent. Now, he’s faced with the enviable task of bettering those figures.


Realtree has a very powerful presence on retail shelves. It’s the most recognized camouflage brand, and we're trying to maximize the drawing power with our lifestyle products.​

— David Dunevant, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Old Dominion



Beyond retail shelves, Old Dominion sees great opportunity for growth online with outdoor-focused web retailers. “There are 60 million outdoorsmen in the U.S., and we need to develop shoes for where they shop,” Dunevant said.


Want to learn more about how Realtree can help your brand can take advantage of the Urban-to-Outdoors trend? Visit our Licensing Opportunities page at the Realtree Business Site.