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'Trek' Kicks Bound for Payless

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Ready for Star Trek: The Sneaker? Discount footwear retailer Payless ShoeSource is launching a broad line of Star Trek-inspired Airwalks at 4,000 stores this fall, via a global licensing deal with CBS Consumer Products.

The sneakers will sell for around $50, at the retailer, which is known for its $15 footwear and buy-one-get-one bargains. The shoes, designed by jeffstaple (aka Jeff Ng), will be styled after the colors and designs of Starfleet crew uniforms.

Airwalk, which had its peak in the early ’90s, has technically become a Payless house brand through a series of acquisitions. Payless bought Collective Licensing International, which manages Airwalk, in 2007 along with Stride Rite, at which time the operating company was renamed Collective Brands. Airwalk is still managed autonomously by the Collective Licensing International unit and is sold primarily at Payless in the U.S.

Liz Kalodner, evp and general manager of CBS Entertainment unit CBS Consumer Products, brokered the deal on behalf of the property. She sees many advantages to exclusive retail offerings, and she’s made several recent matches for stores and properties such as America’s Next Top Model, Mighty Mouse and 90210.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity in today’s market for direct-to-retail deals because they allow a retailer to differentiate itself and to have a great margin while doing so,” Kalodner said.