End of the Road for END Footwear. UPDATED. TWICE!

END Footwear, purveyor of Environmentally Neutral Designed trail and running shoes, is to be no more.

On Friday last, we learnt via SNEWS, that the company's new owner -- as of June 2009 -- LaCrosse Footwear announced its strategic decision to discontinue END Footwear (Environmentally Neutral Design) as a standalone outdoor and running brand. plans to "leverage the END platform of innovative lightweight designs into the LaCrosse and Danner product lines and distribution channels for Fall 2010."A rather sudden 'strategic decision', given that END had been showing their line-up for 2010 at the Outdoor Retailer trade show barely two weeks earlier.

All of which kind of makes the headline of our first post on END (June 2008) read somewhat ironic - Greener Footwear for the Long Run. Especially they only started shipping out shoes in August 2008.

What was exciting about END Footwear was their ability to be game changers by thinking outside the square. At first glance you might think to design outdoor shoes which were environmentally neutral, a company would simply use recycled materials and low toxic adhesives and dyes. But this wasn't really the path END ran down.

Instead they worked hard to make a shoe do more with less. Less materials, less weight, less production time, less production dies and jigs, less production and distribution energy. Not 5% or 10% less, but in some cases 60% less materials and weight compared to other shoes on the market. All the while retaining the performance attributes with athletes require. To the point where END was awarded "Best Trail Running Shoe Debut" and "Best Road Running Shoe Debut" by Runner's World magazine.

But for all the company's swiftly gained success, it seems the acronym that made up their name was rather prophetic.

The Portland Business Journal report "Basically, the challenges in the current economic environment to start a new brand and new channel are just very steep," said David Carlson, LaCrosse's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "We like the technology, we like the innovation, and we think we can do a better job of getting it launched under the Danner brand."

We trust LaCrosse will retain the people whose skills and drive got the project to this point. And that the innovation in environmental design will continue.

Vale END Footwear.

UPDATE: 12 August 2009
We just had word from our contact at END Footwear, Paul Curran, who tells us:

"Yes, all of us have been redeployed...which is a great thing! We're all excited to take on new roles within LaCrosse Footwear, Inc.
- Jeff Wammer, developer for outdoor product (his role is to incorporate the END product development and material innovations into the Danner/LaCrosse outdoor products)
- Donald McLellan, PLM for outdoor footwear and accessories (his role is to lead the effort to incorporate the END design innovations into the Danner/LaCrosse outdoor products)
- Drew Linth, PLM for LaCrosse/Danner military and law enforcement footwear
- Vince Price, Special Projects
- Jessica Filaroski, Danner/LaCrosse Customer Service
- Andrew Estey (END co-founder) remains on contract with LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. fulltime to work on design projects for LaCrosse and Danner products."

NB: if you were wondering, a PLM can be many things, but in this case we imagine it refers to Product Line Manager.

Paul himself, becomes Corporate Public Relations Manager for LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. And he already off the starting blocks, finding good stuff to pass on, like the following:

"More positive info [t]hat I recently found about the LaCrosse/Danner operation...LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. [LFI] was recently called a "visionary business" for choosing Clean Wind power from PGE (Portland General Electric) at its corporate headquarters and used Energy Trust incentives to invest in high efficiency warehouse lighting, hvac equipment and radiant heating to reduce CO2 emissions.

LFI encourages recycling programs, manufactures a complete line of Danner boots in America (Portland, OR), operates the Danner recrafting program (http://www.danner.com/category/recraft.do) to expand the life of products, and offers financial incentives for carpooling to work.

LFI also donates to several charities that support the environment and families in need. There is much, much more that LFI can achieve in corporate and environmental responsibility. The willingness is there."

UPDATE 2. LaCrosse tells SNEWS why it put an end to recently acquired END Footwear

::END Footwear
Photo: END Footwear
More END Footwear
END Outdoor: Greener Footwear for the Long Run
END Footwear Hits the Trail Running
END Footwear Is Finally Out Of The Box
END Footwear Now Likes it Hard and Wet
That Was Pretty Darn Quick. END Footwear is Bought

Tags: Footwear | Oregon | Recycling | United States