The future of Simple Shoes is about to get a whole lot more complicated. Deckers, its parent company, announced plans on Tuesday to cease distribution of the eco-friendly shoe brand, effective Dec. 31, according to WWD. Deckers will shift its focus instead to Sanuk, a casual footwear brand it acquired last month for $120 million. “Given that there is some degree of overlap between Simple and Sanuk consumers, and Sanuk’s positive outlook and global appeal, we make this difficult decision knowing it is in the best interests of the brands, the company and its shareholders,” Angel Martinez, Deckers’ CEO and president, said in a statement.

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SHAKY GROUND

After 20 years of business, Simple took an abrupt turn after Teva and Simple president Pete Worley took over in January 2010. Simple, Worley told WWD in November, had lost its identity. “The original roots of the brand—and the reason it’s called Simple Shoes—was that it was all about the simple life, of which environmental consciousness was a very important element,” he said. “But over the years, that eco story took over and became the entire platform, and it even took on a bit of a preachy tone, if you will.”

After he took over in 2010, Worley implemented a new agenda for the brand: keep the green elements, but ditch the eco-only association.

Consumers found the brand message “too serious,” according to Worley, who implemented a new agenda for the brand: keep the green elements, but ditch the eco-only association. “We believe that has held Simple back and caused it to be less approachable than it should be,” he said. “[Simple’s] high-water mark, sometime in the late 1990s, was just north of $30 million. Since then the brand has lived in the $15-to-$25 million range in global sales. That’s barely scratching the surface, so there’s huge potential out there.”

Requests for comment were not immediately returned.

Update: Deckers is currently evaluating their options for the Simple brand, according to spokeswoman Errin Cecil-Smith, but the Dec. 31 cutoff will still hold.

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