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In My Shoes With John Hibbard, Red Paddle Ceo
Taking adventures from dry land to the open ocean, our hybrid water shoe ATL Coast Red could’ve only been crafted in collaboration with one brand: paddle boarding authority Red Paddle Co.
At the company’s helm is John Hibbard, an ex-professional windsurfer who discovered a passion for stand up paddle boarding back in 2007. We catch up with John about changing perceptions, driving innovation and all things Clarks x Red.Discover More
Tell us about Red Paddle Co… what inspired you to launch the brand?
I started Red in 2008, when hardly anyone knew about SUP (stand up paddle boarding). Everyone I took paddling loved it, but they didn’t love the weight and size of the large glass fibre boards available at the time.
That’s what spurred me on to launch the brand – the idea that you could enjoy all that paddle boarding has to offer, without any of the hurdles presented by the boards. I really wanted to challenge the status quo that said inflatable paddle boards were for occasional use only. I wanted to change perceptions.
Thanks to a lot of old-fashioned hard work, Red is now the world’s leading provider of inflatable stand up paddle boards, and still as passionate as ever about getting people out on the water.
What does a day in your shoes look like?
These days, I’m as much a guardian of the brand as anything else. As the Red Paddle Co team has grown, I’ve been able to spend more and more time on the big picture stuff – making sure everything we say and do aligns with our values and wider purpose.
I try and get out on my board in the evenings during spring and summer, testing out existing ideas and inviting inspiration for new ones. Innovation is at the heart of the brand, so I stay close to product development and oversee exciting collaborations like Clarks x Red.
- Atl Coast Red P Navy Shop Now
- Atl Coast Red P Navy Shop Now
- ATL Coast Rock NavyShop Now
‘It was a no-brainer that we would work together on the ATL Coast Red shoe, combining Clarks’ shoe-making expertise with our insights into exactly what stand up paddle boarders require from their kit.’
How did the Clarks x Red Paddle Co collab come about?
I had some discussions with the team at Clarks about the classic wetsuit shoe and why it just wasn’t cutting it for our customers. We discovered that our brands shared similar values, both driven by constant innovation, and dedicated to providing products that help people make the most of every activity.
It was a no-brainer that we would work together on the ATL Coast Red shoe, combining Clarks’ shoe-making expertise with our insights into exactly what stand up paddle boarders require from their kit. We aligned on the aim to produce a shoe that would enhance customers’ SUP experience, and through extensive testing in the design room and on the water, we’ve managed to do exactly that.
Why is it important for stand up paddle boarders to have the correct shoes?
Stand up paddle boarders aren’t always heading to sandy beaches to get on the water. Sometimes we’re walking down gravel tracks to launch on canals, or contending with slipways to access a secret cove.
We want more from our shoes than just steady grip, though. As paddlers, our typical days involve time on the water, time on our feet and perhaps even the occasional pit stop at a cafe or pub. Bare feet don’t fit the bill, neither do wetsuit boots. We want to be comfortable and feel steady as the terrain beneath us changes, but looking presentable when we rock up at the pub is important, too.
When working with Clarks on ATL Coast Red, the shared aim was to create a true hybrid shoe that was fully optimised for wear on dry land and in the water. We crafted its upper with a quick-drying mesh that doesn't get waterlogged, and carefully moulded its outsole from Rock™ rubber that lets water flow through and around it. It offers great traction, too, which is perfect for a varied sport like paddling.
Paddle boarding has soared in popularity recently, why do you think that is?
It’s just so accessible. Paddling allows you to escape the chaos of life without investing in endless amounts of kit. Unlike some other water sports, it doesn’t rely on a specific set of weather conditions, so it’s something you can enjoy doing on a pretty regular basis. But, like most things, it’s best when the sun is shining!
As the sport grows in popularity, we at Red Paddle Co become more focused than ever on our mission to support the community in whatever way we can. For over 15 years we’ve been all about encouraging people to explore the water in safe, enjoyable ways, and we don’t see that changing any time soon.
‘I try and get out on my board in the evenings during spring and summer, testing out existing ideas and inviting inspiration for new ones.’
- ATL Coast Rock Navy