CEO of shoe startup OB/VS talks about exploration-focused footwear

Today on Digital Trends Live we had CEO and founder of the shoe company OB/VS, Kelly Dachtler, to talk about the company’s unique shoes and what it is doing to be innovative in the footwear industry. For anyone who is just hearing about OB/VS, Dachtler gives a quick rundown of his company.

“First and foremost we are a footwear company, specifically we make footwear to enable people to better enjoy exploration and experiences around the world in new places and unfamiliar terrain. We make shoes to better equip people to do that than anything that has been out there before.”

OB/VS started in the unofficial shoe capital of the world, Portland, Oregon, which gave Dachtler the unique opportunity to have the best of the best join his shoe journey.

“Our team for instance has more than 40-plus years of combined experience, working for the big brands, Nike, Adidas, Puma, as well as technical  smaller brands like Salomon. We really came together because, candidly, we just got tired of business as usual. The playbook right now for the big brands is to make shoes using lower and lower quality materials for less and less money and selling for higher and higher prices. They are doing that to pay for athlete endorsements … we really wanted to focus on the quality of the materials to give the wearer a better experience.”

Dachtler brought his firm’s flagship model, the Explora One, to talk about its features.

“What we did is just a ground-up rethinking of what an adventure shoe could be. It’s a sneaker silhouette, but it gives you all the performance and durability of a hiking boot and then some … It came down to not only the material, but the fit as well. Our commitment is that this shoe fits like no other on the market, it’s going to lock in your heel in a way that no other shoe is going to lock you in, it’s going to give you comfort in the forefoot and it’s going to give you traction like no other shoe on the market. In that way it’s a one-of-a-kind piece that does more for the wearer.”

One of the features of the Explora One is the material that it’s made from, Merino Wool.

“An added benefit is it’s made from Merino Wool, which for the unfamiliar, is one of the most incredible fibers on the planet. It gives your foot temperature regulation, it keeps you warm when it’s cold out, it keeps you cool when it’s warm out, it also wicks away moisture better than any fiber and it’s super comfortable.”

As a kid, Dachtler grew up as a sneaker head He mentions that he always loved the design of shoes more than anything else, but as he grew older he realized that shoes are more than just an accessory, they are one of the most important thing for your everyday life.

“We like to say it’s your most important gear to have with you and I think we are just entering a time in the footwear landscape where you know half the shoes on the market are, to be honest, socks glued to a foam piece and not giving you what you need out there.”

OB/VS’ newest shoe, which will be released in January, is the Adapt, a shoe that will work in any environment.

“The Adapt was born with an experience that I had, a travel experience, I found myself on four different continents, three or four completely different climates, from the glaciers in Iceland to the beaches of Southern California in one trip … but I also found myself packing six or seven different shoes for that experience. If it wasn’t for the shoes I could have done the whole thing with just a carry-on, but instead I am lugging around a bunch of footwear. That was really the “aha!” moment. We started thinking about whether or not there could be a single pair of shoes that could actually adapt to all those different environments. So we came up with a three-in-one system that allows you to have the optimal piece of footwear for any environment that you are in.”

The shoes are fully drainable, meaning that they can be fully submerged into water and no part of the shoe will take will be wet. It also features an insert for the wintertime, a liner that turns the shoe into a waterproof, insulated trail boot.

“The other piece in the Adapt is every part of the shoe can be used on its own or as part of the system. The liner is a shoe in its own right, it’s a Merino wool knit construction bootie with its own rubber out sole that can be worn as a compression and as a recovery slipper as well.”

The shoes can be purchased on the company’s website, and at its flagship store in Portland, Oregon. Also check the firm out on Instagram for updates on upcoming releases.

Digital Trends Live airs at 9 a.m. PT from Monday through Friday, with highlights available on demand after the stream ends. For more information, check out the Digital Trends Live homepage.

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