PSUDO: Creating a Buzz
PSUDO: Creating a Buzz
The Los Angeles-based sneaker brand PSUDO, founded in 2020 by industry veterans Michael and Kortney Rich, is developing positive buzz with retailers and consumers thanks to its eye-catching styles, as well as its ethical, small-batch, and on-demand sneaker manufacturing process. With its slip-on shoes made from recycled water bottles and designed using sublimation printing with zero-waste, PSUDO is not only working to tackle sustainability issues within the footwear industry, but is also delivering a product that is unique in the marketplace.
The company has a factory in Los Angeles where the products in its core line are made. In addition to its USA Made line, PSUDO also recently launched its newest style, PSUDO blu, in partnership with Blumaka, allowing the sneakers to be made with 85% recycled foam insoles and soles. PSUDO blu sneakers will be produced near-shore at the Blumaka solar-powered factory in El Salvador, and while the styles are the first PSUDO products to be made outside of the U.S., they will contain more recycled content than PSUDO’s current USA Made sneakers.
PSUDO’s Made in USA styles are priced at $130+, while the PSUDO blu styles are priced at $94. In addition to selling on psudo.com, PSUDO blu is also being distributed into independent stores & boutiques, department stores, and specialty retailers.
Michael Rich spoke to us about PSUDO in a recent Footwear Insight Extra podcast. (You can listen to the podcast at footwearinsightextra.com.) A footwear industry veteran, Rich told us the initial idea for the brand came from his desire to make a shoe as simply as possible in order to make it in the United States. He came up with the idea which is PSUDO’s calling card — sublimation printing on a singular fabric, creating the look of a more complicated intricate sneaker but in a one-piece slip-on style.
After launching in 2020 and keeping the brand alive through COVID, the brand caught the eyes of some investors and this year began selling wholesale, landing in several of the top independent footwear retail accounts across the U.S. PSUDO opened its factory in LA last October, where the brand can control its own supply chain and manufacturing.
Rich describes PSUDO sneakers as a “premium product” with an “uber comfortable” insole, and says the ability for PSUDO to sublimate color on sneakers is helping it stand out. “The consumer is responding very positively to color,” Rich tells us. “We have black sneakers and we have white sneakers, but the most vibrant sneakers are our best-selling sneakers, and that clearly is going to be our niche.”
Because PSUDO can do very small batch manufacturing, the brand can test new styles to see what colors consumers are reacting to. PSUDO can also do special orders of colors for specific retail accounts. And at its LA factory, which has 17 employees, the brand is able to replenish product on-demand with quick turnaround times.
“We kind of say we hacked the sneaker industry because it’s very enviable to be able to replenish product at once, on-demand,” Rich explains. “We’re not predicting what we need, necessarily, but we’re reacting to those needs. So, if, say, we’re running low on size elevens of a style, we just replenish on those. And even going out to wholesale we found that we’re almost doing custom-type product for some, where if a retailer likes a particular style that we don’t have in stock, we are making it for them. We can produce in these very small batches and replenish them in a two-week or three-week turnaround time, even for wholesale. As long as we have the raw materials in place then it’s a very nimble business.”
Rich says PSUDO is selling about equally amongst men and women, and sees the 30–60-year-old HOKA or Birkenstock customer as the sort of customer PSUDO falls in line with.
He also touts PSUDO styles as great travel shoes. “It’s easily packable,” Rich says. “Our fabric is one of our secret sauces, where literally you can smash it down, pack them very tightly together and they pop back up. And traveling through the airport, it’s been terrific. You have no metal in the sneakers, so it’s easy to go through security and they slip right back on.”
On a Mission: Blumaka
California-based insole maker Blumaka, founded in 2021 by Stuart Jenkins, a 40-year veteran of the athletic footwear industry, is on a mission to deliver high-performance, high-comfort products made from recycled materials. Blumaka insoles are made from 85% recycled content.
The brand recently expanded its product line to add Low Profile and Arch Support models of its Konnect and Comfort insoles. The company says the expansion comes after months of extensive athlete testing. The Comfort line features insoles designed to provide cushioning and protection from shock and pounding. They have an antimicrobial top cover for added protection. The Konnect line is centered on the performance needs of athletes, particularly with the insoles’ ability to provide traction inside the shoe itself. According to Blumaka, a textured, anti-slip surface on the insole grips the foot, reduces slipping, and allows for superior energy transfer between the athlete and the playing surface.
Blumaka insoles are available for consumers to buy online at Blumaka.com and through Blumaka’s partnership with Drymax, which also handles Blumaka’s team pricing. Additionally, the Blumaka team tells us they are targeting growth into brick-and-mortar retail locations. At this time, Blumaka insoles are available in-store at a few retailers, including Santa Barbara Running Company and Dallas | Fort Worth Running Company.
Recent brand partnerships for Blumaka with footwear brands PSUDO and Proto Collective feature Blumaka’s product in PSUDO’s blu line and Proto Collective’s Iris-D sneaker.