White slip-ons are in, thanks to ‘Squid Game,' good news for Vans

Footwear brand’s parent gets a revenue bump from popularity of classic sneakers

The dystopian hit "Squid Game" is giving Vans slip-ons a boost. 

The South Korean survival drama revolves around financially strapped adults playing traditional Korean children’s games on a secluded island for a cash prize of about $40 million. Contestants all sport white, slip-on sneakers, akin to the ones that Vans sells, and green tracksuits. 

"I’d call it a small spike," Steve Rendle, chief executive and president of Vans parent VF Corp., told analysts Friday on the company’s second-quarter earnings call. He cautioned, however, that "this is not a Vans annual event."

"This … has helped raise some media attention that we’ll leverage," he said, noting that the company will continue to build on its connection to pop culture. 

Squid Game

'Squid Game' is on track to become Netflix's biggest hit ever. (Netflix)

Mr. Rendle said the company will focus on "things that we can control" and new products. 

The Netflix show has become a global phenomenon since it premiered, hitting No. 1 in more than 90 countries, including the U.S. For Netflix, "Squid Game" also serves as a source of merchandise. The streaming giant this month said it was teaming up with Walmart Inc. to create a digital storefront on the retailer’s website that will offer merchandise tied to "Squid Game" and other hit shows.  

Dressing up like the characters from the show has become a popular costume option for Halloween.

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VFC VF CORP. 14.71 +0.40 +2.80%
WMT WALMART INC. 68.90 +0.99 +1.46%
NFLX NETFLIX INC. 669.02 -17.10 -2.49%

While the Vans brand got a boost from "Squid Game" in the latest quarter, it was still the weakest performing brand when measured by revenue growth of those under VF’s umbrella, which also includes the North Face, Timberland and Dickies. Vans logged single-digit global revenue growth for the fiscal second quarter that ended last month, whereas revenue growth for the other three brands was all in the double digits.

Total revenue at VF rose 23% from the comparable quarter a year earlier to $3.2 billion. Profit jumped to $464.1 million, up from $256.7 million. Both revenue and adjusted earnings missed Wall Street’s consensus estimates, according to FactSet.


The company saw product delays and reduced traffic into its stores during surges of Covid-19 cases weighing on its business, according to finance chief Matt Puckett.

"Retailers remain bullish on the upcoming holiday season, and we are focused on delivering products in time to support strong demand signals," Mr. Puckett said.


Covid-19 lockdowns in VF’s key sourcing countries have led to more manufacturing capacity constraints in its second quarter, the company said, with port congestion and other logistical challenges contributing to delays. VF said it is expediting freight as needed, and that most of its supply chain is currently operating.