New Brand: Autry
Excuse me, have you heard of Autry?
Text: Ernie Beckmann
The broad portfolio of brands available at HHV has been expanded with another attraction. The brand Autry Action Shoes, or briefly called Autry, has recently been added to the range. However, Autry is not a new born star in sneaker heaven as the question mark at the end of the headline might imply. This is not due to a lack of quality or poor design, but to the fact that Autry is not a new brand, it even has a long and strong history which is hardly known over here. We want to try to change this and have therefore decided to take a closer look at the history of the brand and to present their current Spring/Summer ‘21 collection to you.
It’s not that easy to get information online about the brand Autry. You have to dig a little deeper to find out how the brand started and how it developed. But annual figures or even exact dates about its foundation and its intermediate dissolution are hardly comprehensible. What is certain is that the brand emerged from the Autry Rubber Company, founded by Isaac Calvin Autry, which under Isaac’s son Jim Calvin Autry later became Autry Industries Incorporated. If you visit the website of Autry Action Shoes it says that the brand was founded in 1982 in Dallas, Texas. Interestingly enough, however, the first entries for »Men’s, Women’s and Children’s Shoes« under the company name Autry Industries, Inc in the American trademark register are dated as early as 1976. A logo that the brand still uses on today`s boxes also dates back to 1976. The term »Athletic Shoes« was first found in connection with Autry Industries in 1978.
We can only speculate about how these ambiguities in the company’s history come about, but to be honest, it does not make any difference for the legacy of the brand. Because there is no doubt that Autry brought some good and successful models onto the market during their first period of existence. Right from the start, the decision-makers in Dallas concentrated on just a few sports instead of spreading out and serving all common sports with performance shoes. This fact allowed the developers at Autry to respond to the special needs of the selected sports. Their focus was on basketball, aerobics, running and tennis, which were very popular in America at the time. With the aerobics shoe Becky, Autry met the ravages of time, because a few years earlier, Jane Fonda had cast a spell over America with her gymnastics principle. The Becky, which was being advertised with the trend-setting slogan »High Tech and High Fashion Pair At Last«, struck the zeitgeist perfectly.
But it was in particular Autry’s running and tennis models that caused a stir with innovations in design and technology. With the help of what was at the time sophisticated marketing, which included major advertising campaigns in the leading lifestyle and sports magazines, CEO Jim Autry made the brand known especially on the North American continent. Autry’s Wildcat, Concorde, Whirlwind and Jetstreamers running shoe models were popular among runners. The Concorde, for example, was declared the »Lightest, High Performance, Custom Fitting Training Flat«. The shoe particularly impressed with a lacing that was adjustable in width and therefore individually tailored to the athlete. It had a Blucher lacing that was open towards the toes and could thus adapt to any foot shape. With such a lacing, the shaft parts that get tied are sewn on the side as attached straps onto the shaft across the instep and thus enables the aforementioned »custom fitting«. Another running model took credit for something completely different. The worldwide published »Runner’s World« magazine gave the Jetstreamers model the coveted »5-Star rating«, a decoration that assesses the quality and functionality of a running shoe.
But it was Autry’s tennis segment that drew the most attention back then and is again today. Women’s tennis shoe Princess and its counterpart for men, of course called Prince, had some specially constructed, outstanding outsoles, which based on the construction of so-called radial tires. In this construction, the grooves are arranged at an angle of 90 degrees to the direction of motion. This has the advantage of better adaptation to the ground and thus better power transmission. Another interesting tennis shoe in Autry`s collection was the CLC. It was described in the American »Tennis Magazine« as a »superbly designed shoe«. The model Medalist which is the center of Autry`s Spring/Summer Collection 2021, was even named the »finest shoe in the market« by the same magazine in 1985, according to the Autry Action Shoes homepage. Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine whether this statement relates to the look or the built-in technology. Fact is, however, that Nike’s Mack Attack and Challenge Court, and also adidas’ Lendl Competition, were on the market around the same time and apparently got outpaced by the Medalist back then.
Perhaps it was this fact that led the new owners of Autry to bring the Medalist back onto the market as their flagship. After Autry Industries Inc. ceased production of its shoes in 1987, a Franco-Italian corporation called Autry International S.r.l. based in Padua owns the rights to the brand Autry today. The Italian sportswear legend Alberto Raengo, who helped the jacket manufacturing brand Holubar to make a comeback in 2010, together with Italian compatriots Gino Zarelli and Marco D’Oro took over the brand. With Régis Billard from France, an experienced master agent and business developer in the world of sportswear was involved in the business.
The Medalist makes it easy for the consumer because its design is so strong, despite the relatively minimalist look. Less is clearly more here. The exterior of all versions of the Medalist includes a window that is cut into the side of the upper, in which the Autry lettering and an American flag are placed. An Autry logo is embossed at the heel patch and in the rear part of the midsole you can see the logo mentioned above: an arrow incorporated into a capital A, pointing upwards. The curved shape of the eyestay, the mudguard and the heel counter give the shoe a beautiful dynamic. An additional layer is located between the mudguard and the eyestay. It opens up various possibilities to play with colors and materials. The current season’s collection shows that the Autry design department did not miss out on this. The basic version of the Medalist has an upper made of smooth leather. It gets combined with materials such as suede, nubuck and cracked leather. Kevlar and nylon offer a welcome variety on other versions. The Medalist is also available completely made of goatskin, or with a shiny lamination across the whole upper. In addition to the material, the range in color design is huge. The Medalist is available in a wide variety of colorways, so that it can be combined with almost any look. It is a real everyday shoe, in the truest sense of the word because it convinces with the necessary comfort to really wear it every day.
Discover Autry at HHV: Autry I HHV
Visual Content: Maxmdy