Milestone: Partners Weigh In

Todd Welsh, design director of Via Spiga, Eastman Footwear Group (men’s footwear licensee)
“Until now, Via Spiga men’s has been more moderate to upper-end. For spring ’11, however, we will be doing a new collection at $185 and up, targeting Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, as well as current Macy’s doors. Macy’s had always loved the Via Spiga brand for their men’s business. However, they wanted to get into the $135-to-$165 range to expand distribution beyond their Herald Square New York location. Macy’s thought [Via Spiga] was a great men’s [label] and that it had potential for expansion. It’s a gender-neutral [name] and also has an Italian connotation. We wanted to be more trend-right and interesting [than the competition]. [Men would] see the label, then [realize] they’ve heard of the [brand]. Women shoppers also recognize it. A lot of women who shop with their husbands and boyfriends know and appreciate the brand and [encourage] them to try it.”

Patrisha Sweeney, chief merchandising officer, Shoebuy.com
“Shoebuy.com has [carried] Via Spiga since 2005. The brand’s sexy silhouettes are right at home with the designer collection that we offer our sophisticated and luxury customer. With more than 3,000 women’s designer shoes available on [our site], and price points ranging from $65 to $500-plus, the Via Spiga brand is a wonderful complement to our assortment and growth in the category. We are always excited to view the new season’s offerings, knowing that [Via Spiga’s] sleek direction remains true to its history. [It offers] alluring design surprises, quality and — the best part of all — shoes that are very comfortable.”

Mike Normart, senior director of brand development, Zappos.com
“Our first sale of Via Spiga was in the fall of 1999. Via Spiga has always been a very fashionable brand, but with the new [direction of the] collection, it has taken a step forward. Cutting-edge styles with sleek lines are why we are surpassing our sales [of the brand] from last year. The fall collection is absolutely beautiful, so sales should continue.”

Lori Andre, owner, Lori’s Shoes, Chicago
“We began with the brand in the late 1980s. What led me to [it] was that it had a very specific customer in mind. It created a strong niche for itself. When you looked at a pump, you recognized by the look that it was a Via Spiga pump. They definitely stepped away from who the customer was over the years [but] have come back with a better understanding of what customers want, [which is] wearable footwear with a fashion edge. We’ve been buying more from the brand in the last couple of years. We don’t buy a ton of styles, but buy depth in [our] key stores and keep reordering.”

Liz Rodbell, EVP of merchandising, Lord & Taylor
“The Via Spiga and Lord & Taylor business goes back to the 1980s. Via Spiga has always stood for great, polished fashion serving the contemporary customer. Today, with Paola Venturi’s design aesthetic — which is very modern, clean and focused — combined with Brown Shoe Co.’s attention to perceived value, there is a winning combination. The bridge customer has responded positively, and we’re looking forward to continued growth.”

Terry McCormick, president, Trebbiano (handbag licensee)
“We looked at our product mix over the past three years and were searching for the right brand. [Having the Via Spiga license] gives us an opportunity [for] entry into prominent retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. We were paying close attention to which brands were performing at the highest level in the shoe arena, and one of the brands that [retailers] thought strongly about was Via Spiga.”

Christopher Shyer, president, Zyloware Eyewear (eyewear licensee)
“Via Spiga has a remarkable story and an interesting niche. It continues to [offer] fashion that’s [timely] at a reasonable price. The brand sells up to the average consumer, even if the price points are a little bit of a reach. It’s also a brand that’s aspirational enough to upscale consumers as a fun purchase. We knew that Via Spiga’s fashion story translated to eyewear at a time when there’s been a growing appreciation for [the category] as a fashion accessory for women. The Via Spiga customer accessorizes her outfit with shoes and will [likely] be the first person to buy multiple pairs of eyewear.”

Katherine Greiner, owner, Brenchley Shoes & Accessories, Mandeville, La.
“We’re a huge fan of Via Spiga and have been carrying them for eight years. We did take a small break, but came back about five years ago, when they checked back into what they were known for, [which is] top-quality leathers, comfort and high fashion. They’re always in gear and have their finger on the pulse of fashion. They’re known for not being too far over the top. The line is chic, streamlined and always seems to nail both quality and fit. They’re one of our top three brands.”

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