by Jeni Bone
For four generations, the Spanish brand Camper has been synonymous with fashion-forward footwear based on old-fashioned craftsmanship and values.
Dalia Saliamonas from CAMPER at the announcement that CAMPER will sponsor the America’s Cup team. 6/8/2011
In fact, the brand’s very name is associated with its humble heritage – 'camper' means 'peasant' in Catalan (a co-official language in some regions of Spain).
The Camper story is explained in the travelogue that comes with every pair of shoes, generally printed on a tag or in an accompanying brochure. The model and means may vary, but the message is the same: These shoes come from Majorca (Mallorca), a Spanish island in the Mediterranean, inspired by farmer footwear and steeped in island tradition.
The heritage is as much a positioning statement and marketing tool as it is the brand’s origin. Lorenzo Fluxá, who founded Camper in 1975, conveys the brand’s indifference to fashion when he says 'We don't like the fashion world at all. We're trying not to take ourselves too seriously.'
A fourth-generation shoemaker, Fluxá comes from a long line of shoe innovators. His grandfather is renowned for having sailed to England to haul the first pieces of automated shoe-making machinery back to Majorca.
Fluxá's father was born in the family shoe factory; ultimately, he took over the family business, Lottusse, which specialized in dress shoes. When it was his turn, Fluxá found that he liked the shoe business, but he wanted more. His friends from mainland Spain kept asking him where he bought his slip-ons, espadrille-style footwear fashioned after old peasant shoes that islanders would cobble together from cast-off canvas and recycled rubber.
Sensing an opportunity, he asked his father to help him launch his own line of casual shoes.
At first reluctant, eventually Fluxá's father agreed to let him try the experiment with his espadrilles. And once the Franco dictatorship fell from power in Spain, and blue jeans and other casual clothes made their foray into Spain, Fluxá convinced those outlets to carry Campers and sales took off.
In the mid-1970s, new styles, new concepts, a new spirit of adventure flourished in Spain. The solid support of a century old tradition, allowed Lorenzo Fluxà, Antonio’s grandson, to create Camper in 1975, to reflect this new lifestyle and new way of thinking based on freedom and embodying comfort and creativity.
Camper - a peasant pedigree
In 1981, the first Camper store opened its doors in Barcelona. In 1992, international expansion began when retail stores opened in the major fashion capitals London, Paris and Milan.
Today Camper is an icon brand not only in its native Spain, throughout Europe and the world, thanks to a distinctive red triangle and its name prominent on a sail for the Volvo Ocean Race, the world is reminded of the massive profile of this footwear with the peasant ancestry, and a dose of humour.
Camper for women
According to Dalia Saliamonas, marketing manager and Project Director of the Camper Volvo Ocean Race, Camper is very strong in Europe and Asia. 'We have some 300 shops worldwide and over 3,000 of the finest retailers worldwide. In Australia and New Zealand, Camper has various retailers and has launched its Eshop.'
The brand’s association with the VOR is all about raising the profile of the brand and its credentials as a Mediterranean icon. 'We as a company are proud to take part in this premium event, and hopefully it will be a positive vehicle to bring brand awareness on a global level,' says Dalia Saliamonas.
More at www.camper.com/en/volvo-ocean-race