Flashy Feet: Return Of Light-Up Shoes Brightens Skechers’ Bottom Line

Skechers’ ‘Twinkle Toes’ for girls line is experiencing a renaissance. Even Steve Madden’s daughter owns a pair.

If you were in elementary school during the ’90s, chances are you owned a pair of L.A. Lights, or coveted those magical sneakers with lights in the heels, flashing red with every step and telling your peers that you were hip. As it turns out, a more advanced form of the classic light-up shoes are hot again with kids today and racking up millions in sales for Skechers.

Skechers’ “Twinkle Toes” for girls line “is experiencing a renaissance over the past 12 to 18 months,” Marc Rosko, vice president of product development for Skechers Kids wrote in an email, citing improved products and marketing. “The sneaker boots featuring lights were new for 2012 and a huge success for Skechers and our wholesale partners. Lighted shoes have also experienced explosive growth in our girls sport line as well as being the centerpiece of our Skechers boys line.”

Skechers had a 16% share of the $900 million kids’ lifestyle athletic shoes market, which includes light-up shoes, last year — so the styles likely account for some proportion of $144 million, according to Matt Powell, an analyst at SportsOneSource. Coincidentally, Skechers, with $1.56 billion in annual revenue, was founded by the creator of L.A. Gear, one of the first light-up shoe makers, about 21 years ago.

While the light-up shoes of yesteryear consisted of one blinking light in a removable heel cartridge in the midsole of a shoe, there are as many as 14 on a single sneaker today “that flash like an absolute light show,” Rosko said. Colors now include green or blue, and they’re featured on sneaker boots, sandals, and more styles, he said.

Essentially, they’re a small rave for the feet of 10-year-olds.

Last week, an analyst at Sterne Agee referenced the fact that Steve Madden’s young daughter owns at least one pair of “over-the-calf Twinkle Toe sneaker boots” as an example of Skechers’ appeal right now. The company is “poised for a good run” after posting a 12.2% increase in same-store sales during the first quarter, Sam Poser, the analyst, wrote in the note.

“We like to say we don’t build shoes, we build toys for the feet,” Rosko said.

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