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How the FJ ICON Came About: Interview with FJ's Jack Erickson

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This summer, FootJoy will set a new standard for luxurious golf footwear with the introduction of FJ ICON. Created with design inspiration from FootJoy's deep heritage in the game while integrating proven technological advancements such as memory foam and a perforated alloy stability bridge, FJ ICON delivers beautiful, traditional style, a comfortable fit and tremendous stability. We recently spoke with FootJoy's Vice President of Golf Footwear, Jack Erickson, about the research and development of FJ ICON. Jack is responsible for FootJoy’s global footwear development process- from initial concept through final production. Click here to see all the styles. Click here to see players who wore FJ ICON at THE PLAYERS and click here to see all the styles on FootJoy.com.

What was your role in the development of FJ ICON? My role was to ensure that our team stayed focused on developing FJ's new ultra-premium golf shoe. I work closely with the Design/Development, Product Management Teams and Tour Department from start to finish. What was the inspiration behind the FJ ICON? To be honest, we draw inspiration from every shoe we've developed over the last 100+ years and we believe FJ ICON embodies the best of FJ - finely tailored upper designs, premium materials, performance-infused outsoles and seemingly endless customization options. Like those that came before it, the FJ ICON shoes have been in development for literally years now so it is impossible to pick out a specific time or specific inspiration that triggered the concept. In truth, this project has been a collaboration of the ideas, suggestions, lengthy discussions and debates from our entire product development team, as well as ongoing feedback from Tour players. To simplify, we strive to make great products that will exceed the expectations of those who are most in tune with their feet and require elite performance products: Tour players. The ultimate goal was to produce elite-level shoes for elite players, period. One of the benefits of having an extensive line of shoes that covers all major pricepoints and satisfies golfers of all abilities, is that when working on a project such as this, we don't have to start from scratch. In fact, we have incorporated several proven features from other categories into the process of creating the FJ ICON line. For example, we have utilized the proprietary waterproof technology from DryJoys as well as comfort and stability features from the tour-proven SYNR-G category. As for the upper patterns, it was a natural progression to draw inspiration from our strong Classics heritage yet have the vision to also create looks that have a contemporary flair. As a result, we accomplished the goal of developing a new premium, high-performance category of golf shoes that exemplifies tradition and performance. Do you see FJ ICON as a replacement for Classics or the evolution of Classics? How and why? No. FJ ICON shoes were never meant to replace Classics. They are also not the evolution of our Classics franchise. They are an entirely new category of performance golf footwear with styling that will appeal to a golfer seeking a golf shoe with traditional design. Explain some of the key features in the FJ ICON shoes?

  • Number one is stability. The Design/Development Team created an outsole with a traditional profile that incorporates tri-density TPU and a perforated alloy stability bridge to anchor the foot firmly to the ground during the golf swing. Stinger 3 cleats from Champ will also provide exceptional traction and we also built in our Dual OptiFlex zone technology for additional flexibility while walking. Finally, we have integrated memory foam in the collar and under the tongue, which has been a huge success in the SYNR-G shoe. This will deliver even more stability during the swing, but also unmatched comfort and a more precise fit.
  • Number two is waterproofing. We've incorporated over twenty years of breathable waterproof technology into the FJ ICON’s construction to provide golfers with the added benefit of dry, comfortable feet in any condition.
  • Number three is styling. The goal was to create a technically advanced golf shoe featuring a blend of traditional and contemporary styling. This has been accomplished through a combination of upper designs and the latest calfskin looks from our European tanners. The result is one of the most beautifully refined golf shoes we have ever produced.
  • Number four is comfort. In addition to offering four different width options, memory foam is strategically placed around the collar and in the tongue to optimize fit. A properly fit shoe is the first and most important step in finding a comfortable shoe. The comfort of FJ ICON is further enhanced with full leather linings and PU-cushioned footbeds. PGA Tour players walk over 5 miles every day in our shoes and demand comfort.

 

What is the significance behind the name FJ ICON? The FJ ICON moniker suits this category perfectly. This collection is our new flagship product– the styles will represent our rich heritage as THE iconic footwear brand in golf. In addition, we already have many of the best players in the world wearing these shoes- several of whom are considered to be today’s icons of the game. What type of golfer is the FJ ICON targeted towards? Golfers who demand superior stability, comfort and traditional/contemporary styling. What's been some of the feedback from the Tour players? We have been developing FJ ICON shoes for a select group of Tour players for some time now and the response continues to be phenomenal. In fact, the first prototypes we tested with Tour players featured the new FJ ICON outsole with a stock upper pattern and no discernible FootJoy branding. These were made 'under the radar' just to get initial feedback on the performance aspect of the shoes. We were pleasantly surprised to see several of the players, including Camilo Villegas, Ian Poulter, Davis Love, Hunter Mahan and David Toms immediately put these prototypes into play during tournament rounds! It spoke volumes about the confidence players had in the shoes' performance. Overall, the feedback from the tour players has been tremendous - they have expressed excitement about the performance, fit and comfort, upper designs and virtually limitless customization capabilities.

Listen, you don't have to take my word for it, click here to check out some images from THE PLAYERS Championship. This was the first week production-spec FJ ICON shoes were made available to our players and several put them into play right away, including runner-up and fashion icon, Ian Poulter.


  • I am excited to see the new ICON line, but as always, am frustrated that women\'s shoe development lags so far behind men\'s.  With more and more women playing golf, what about some gender equality and side-by-side line development?  Women deserve the same high-quality, on-time, performance wear available to the guys!

  • I was disappointed in your closing of the Ma shoe factory. Corporate personnel expect Americans to support their new products while shipping our jobs overseas. The end result is higher profit margins, higher prices and lower costs. I have four pair of Classics and bought them because they wereAmerican made and great shoes. What will I buy in the future is anyone's guess. These corporate leaders might want to check their zip codes and decide whether they want their communities to progress with their sales or decay like so many cities before them.

  • Your Icon designs are great...just like you once had for so many years.  And there is just enough "updating" to make them refreshing and competitive with the many brands on the shelf these days.  Congratulations for looking "backward" and "forward" at the same time.  Harry Haisten

  • Will these shoes be available by order with spikeless/teaching soles?

  • Interesting to see Foot Joy's new "flagship", Icon product being imported from where? China? Vietnam? It doesn't seem to say. Disappointing to say the least. Sadly, maybe the US market doesn't currently support US made footwear- but I had to think you guys could have hung in there until it came full circle, and it will, in which case you will no longer have the capacity to fulfill the need. Makes me sad.  And makes me look at other manufacturers. Bye.

  • There is no question that the golf industry as a whole has suffered monetarily during tough economic times and FootJoy has been one of several companies affected by the recent recession.  However, the Classics were a small representation of the greatness this country once possessed in manufacturing quality American products. To suggest that closing the factory in Brockton, MA and outsourcing the production of the new golf shoe is a great step for the average golfer is ridiculous. Tour players receive endorsements to wear these shoes.  Did Mr. Erickson feel the employees in Brockton facility lacked the technical skills required to produce the new line of shoes?  I own four different styles of the Classics, and I take pride in the fact the shoes were made in America.  I am sad by the fact that Footjoy elected terminate a true Icon and replace it with an outsourced, overseas product.

  • Wish you would have continued US production and just emphasized the "Made in America" Customers worldwide would have responded.  Anybody can make another "off shore" jazzie shoe.  To bad!

  • I have worn FJ shoes for 25 yrs and have been looking for a new pair for a month. Could not find any that I liked until I saw the new FJ ICON. It makes me want to buy several pair. I am in the men's clothing business and I think these are the best looking golf shoes ever.

  • Tom:  Thanks for your post.  Yes, we do know what zip code we are in and we also know what time it is ---- and time stands still for no company, not even FootJoy.   If you have time, read my post from March which explains the Brockton factory decision in some detail :

    www.footjoyblog.com/.../fj-classics-update-from-jim-connor

    If we could have kept the factory going in Brockton, we would have ---- it was no different than sitting down at your kitchen table month after month and seeing your bills pile up faster than your income.  At some point, you have to cut back to live within your means.  We spent the last 20 years subsidizing our Brockton facility when every other brand and company had left in the 70's and 80's for the same reason --- they couldn't afford to make shoes there anymore.  That simple.

    Hope you give the new category a try --- they are gorgeous shoes that perform in all kinds of conditions on a golf course.  That is why FootJoy exists.

    Regards,

    Jim Connor

    President - FootJoy

  • Don:  We "hung in there" for 20 years longer than anyone else in this business and long after financial and logistical common sense said "quit".  I disagree with you ---- footwear manufacturing is not coming back to the U.S. in yours and my lifetime.  The costs are too high and the infrastructure to support shoe making left the U.S. years ago.   Realistically, Don, how many pairs of Classics would you buy every year if they were at an unsubsidized, "true" market price of over $500 a pair?  If the answer is several, we needed a lot more Don Johnsons than we had to make the Brockton facility sustainable.  I'd encourage you to try the Icons before you go elsewhere to find another "off shore" golf shoe made by another brand --- I think you would be amazed the comfort and quality of this new category.

    Regards,

    Jim Connor

    President - FootJoy

  • When will we be able to custom order the FJ Icons?

  • Mr. Cuccinello -

    We are taking pre-orders for FJ ICON shoe immediately and we are shooting for a late summer launch of FJ ICON in our MyJoys program.

    Best Regards,

    ML

  • I think this is a positive development. I have always thought the Premier Classics were glorious, but the heel wears quickly and the leather soles are not good in the wet. As far as I can see, these are the Premier uppers with a more functional all-conditions sole. That makes it an ideal golf shoe. The fact it will soon be customisable is better still. I only wish the Reelfit versions weren't so hideous... Could we have more styles available as Reelfit? I like that technology, but I hate the style of the uppers. The Icons will do me for everything from winter mud to summer rounds, and at around $220 on websites, the price is fair.

  • I have purchased many pairs of Classics and Classic Drys over the past 20 years,  One of the main reasons was the fit and quality of the FJ product.  I will reserve judgement until I try a pair from this new line but from what I read I fear for both.

    As an A width is there really a shoe in any FJ line that truly delivers on the promise of an elite shoe built for the needs of serious players?  Walking 18 or 36 in a less than perfectly fitted shoe is certain to end my devotion to what has to this point been a superior shoe.

  • I'm not impressed with the SLIGHTLY "dressed up" DryJoys (Icon) but I'm VERY impressed that the president of the company has the class to respond to these posts. Good going...