Local footwear company inks a deal with Disney

Biion Footwear, the little company that could, has grown in less than two years from Rick Buchanan, founder of Biion, taking a prototype to a PGA show in Florida looking for orders, to signing a licensing deal with the Disney Corporation earlier this month.

The shoes are now available in 16 countries around the world.

"Originally, we had to start someplace with this, it started when I forgot my golf shoes one day and I wore a pair of EVA shoes much like a Converse knock off, on the golf course and thought, these were amazing."

Believing that he could improve on this, he went into design, and the business formed quickly.

He knew a lot of people from his background in the fashion industry, including having a business relationship with a factory owner in China, to having a friend in Shanghai who helped do some sourcing to help Buchanan find the right factories and finally, there was the PGA merchandising exhibition, the largest golf industry show.

And as he tells it, it's been crazy every since.

Buchanan's strength comes from his career as a fashion industry executive and his sophisticated style sense, particularly using unconventional materials and technologies to create one of the most original sport shoes the industry has seen.

"We launched in golf but we knew it was only a matter of time before we transitioned off the golf course so we are hitting three targets, golf is number one, the yachting and boating industry, and then fashion and lifestyle." said Buchanan.

At this year's PGA Merchandise show, Biion presented their new line of children's golf shows for ages three and up.

Called Noiib the shoes are available in designs and patterns in more than 20 colours and also feature the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants.

The EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate) that Biion uses has been upgraded to patented technology so that it is form fitting, unlike the popular CROCs which uses thicker foam for cushioning, and will fit all sizes of feet from A to EE because the material stretches and forms to your feet after a while, Buchanan explains.

"These shoes fit like your sock because you want them to move with the movement of your swing," said Buchanan.

The adult shoes also come in about 50 colours where traditional shoes only ran the classic five or six.

"We carry the classic colours as well, but I have to tell you that our weakest category are just the black and white." said Buchanan. "Everyone from eight years old to 80 years old likes the colours and the patterns, they just want to wear something fun and funky."

In keeping things fun, particularly for kids, Buchanan was able to secure the licensing agreement with the Spongbob design last summer and will be shipping this summer, and as for the Disney contract, expect to see Star Wars, Marvel designs and the Princess patterns. Buchanan hopes to be shipping a couple of patterns by the Fall.

"We designed these for the other 99% of people who go out to golf just to have fun and when we went down to the last PGA show we found it was actually green grass shops and pros that really like the shoes," said Buchanan. "I never dreamed that we would be out on the tour with pros wearing the shoes

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