Call it an early Easter miracle: Simple Shoes is returning from the dead. The ethical footwear firm, which shuttered in 2011, is poised to relaunch this fall with its first collection in five years. Looking for someone to thank? You can credit Denis Ryan for the brand’s resurrection. The footwear veteran, a managing partner ICB International, acquired the Simple trademark and intellectual-property rights from Deckers in late 2014. After restructuring the Simple brand under a new corporate identity, known as Keep Things Simple, Ryan is working with the product-development experts at Harbor Footwear to reintroduce the brand to the market and potential licensees.
“We came to realize we all believed in the Simple message and knew that there were styles within the product range that were iconic and deserved to be brought back into the footwear market.” Ryan says in a statement. “Simple just needed some time to be appreciated. Legacy styles such as the Simple OS sneaker, the Barney and the Simple Clog will form the cornerstone of the brand DNA moving forward.”
Whether environmental ethics will play a significant role in Simple 2.0 is as yet unclear. Former Simple president Pete Worley blamed the brand’s “too serious” green messaging for at least part of its flagging popularity.
“The original roots of the brand—and the reason it’s called Simple Shoes—was that it was all about the simple life, of which environmental consciousness was a very important element,” he told WWD in November 2010. “But over the years, that eco story took over and became the entire platform, and it even took on a bit of a preachy tone, if you will.”
Still, Dennis Lazar, chairman and CEO of Harbor Footwear is hopeful. “Simple was one of those brands that never left our radar—when the opportunity arose for us to help bring it back to market we readily agreed,” he says. “We look forward to reigniting the spark that was Simple to a legion of new fans while holding true to the core attributes that loyalists expect from the brand.”