BUSINESS 2.0: Bottom Line Design  
Thinking Outside the Shoe Box
Spanish brand Camper thrives by encouraging its designers to ignore what's in fashion.
By Susanna Hamner

(Business 2.0) – Lorenzo Fluxa's family has been making shoes since 1877. But when it came time for him to take over the business in 1975, Fluxa found the company's dressy styles a bit old-fashioned. He was more fascinated by the bohemian tourists flooding into Majorca, the Spanish island where the company was based. Sensing that fashion was going in a more casual direction, Fluxa set off on his own to start Camper, a line of casual and eco-friendly footwear.

Fluxa, now 58, refused to look to the runways for inspiration. He thought Camper's style should instead reflect the rural sensibilities of Majorca; the brand name comes from "camperol," a Catalan word for "farmer." That antifashion strategy has turned Camper into a global trendsetter. Since expanding into Europe and the United States in 1992, Camper has reaped double-digit sales gains every year. Today the brand is sold in 46 countries through Camper boutiques and upscale stores like Bloomingdale's, and last year the privately held company's sales rose 13 percent to more than $135 million. Here's how Camper's unorthodox tactics turned it into one of the hottest cult shoe brands in the world. --SUSANNA HAMNER