Before the autumn leaves have finished falling, Jambu Kids is already focused on next year’s spring showers, with its new Spring ’18 collection of water-friendly styles.
Retailing for $55 each, the Anthozoa collection features a lineup of four waterproof hybrid shoes—two for boys and two for girls—that combine all the functionality of a sneaker with the design elements of a sandal.
Crafted with a lightweight, flexible EVA construction that allows for plenty of movement, the Anthozoa styles also feature a full rubber traction that works on any terrain or surface, along with a customized knit upper.
“From an aesthetic point of view, it’s something that is so trend-right,” said design director Naly Lee. “We’ve kind of streamlined the look and made it less bulky, and we’ve put this hot melt over the toe, giving it that durability on top of the knitted mesh.”
The shoes also include side panel cutouts, which allow for easy drainage and extra breathability. And, perhaps most appealing to the moms who buy them, the shoes are also machine washable—a first for the brand.
Another area in which Jambu Kids is experimenting next spring is with more gender-neutral styling. “When we first started the brand, our big point of difference was having really feminine styling for girls, and then very athletic styling for boys,” Lee said, pointing to glitter-laced knits for girls and color palettes of navy and neon for boys as evidence of the gender-specific styling of old. “This is kind of the first launch for us to do a uni-gender pattern, where the styling is a little bit different and we’re going with the same pattern feel for both genders.”
This unisex approach seems to be resonating with retailers—including Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Von Maur and Amazon, who are all set to carry the line when it debuts next spring.
Lee said Anthozoa’s lineup of hybrid sneaker-sandals also fills a void when it comes to a more versatile shoe for children. “More and more, as we try to learn about the Millennial mom and what she’s looking for, I think she’s looking for more things out of a shoe today than she’s ever been,” she said. “Instead of buying an athletic sneaker and then a sandal and then a dress shoe, this whole athleisure, versatility trend is really pushing for shoes that do more than just one function.”
This focus on do-it-all, dual-gender styles will also carry into Fall ’18, Lee said, adding that the brand is working on a lineup of closed-toed and mid-cut waterproof styles, as well as shoes with a quick-fastening closure system and a little less bulk.
“Typically in the past, when we think of a waterproof shoe, it’s very heavy, it’s not flexible, it’s clunky. So we’re changing up the mindset of that,” Lee said. “I think the mindset of Jambu KD was always designing with kids in mind, designing for that kid on the go.”
But as many children’s brands have discovered, it’s crucial to strike a balance between the aesthetic kids are looking for and the durability parents are seeking. “The quality and the fact that the product can last is probably first and foremost important for the parent, and the other portion is the styling aspect,” Lee said.
“I feel like parents are way more current than they’ve ever been, and the children have a lot more buying power than ever. So you take the two forces together and it really pushes the design to warrant those two things,” she added. “Because if the styling is not correct, the kid isn’t going to pick it up. And if the product doesn’t last, the mom’s not going to trust the brand to buy it.”