The footwear market first caught a glimpse of Morenatom when Brazilian designer Cristina Germann debuted her women’s line in 2004. However, before it could gain much traction the brand went on hiatus in 2008 while Germann battled cancer. Today, the designer is healthy and back in full force, creating a variety of heels and flats in soft leathers and a rainbow of colors, with a price point of about $200 per pair. Morenatom re-emerged at retail this fall, with limited deliveries to about 50 boutiques across the country (including Tani Shoes in New York and Lori’s in Chicago), but the brand’s co-owner and U.S. representative, Pantha Imports Ltd., said it expects that number to double by this spring. Germann spoke to Footwear News from Brazil about her aspirations for the collection and how the market has changed over the past seven years.
1. What is your strategy for increasing Morenatom’s presence in the States?
CG: Our plan from the start was to place Morenatom in independent [boutiques] around the U.S. For spring we [have signed] several more [accounts], but it’s too early for an actual number. Long-term, we may want to add online retailers and one or two better department stores, but for the first few seasons, we want the product in full-service, loving environments surrounded by compatible footwear. In Brazil, we are selling to the very top fashion independents, and we plan on keeping that direction in the future.
2. What are the most significant market changes you’ve noticed since your initial launch in 2004?
CG: There were many more independents [in the U.S. in 2004]. The biggest change now is the [demand for] “special product.” Before, having a good product that was similar to everyone else’s was acceptable. Today, retailers seem starved for authentic product that has its own handwriting. Retailers want to offer the customer something different, rather than chase the hot design of the moment. But this is [actually helpful] for us, as we strive to make our shoes collectables that can be worn and admired for years. The difficult economy is a problem for everyone, but … we hope to entice women to own something special at a fair price.
3. Why is it important to keep Morenatom’s production based solely in Brazil?
CG: The look and feel of our product can’t be reproduced in Asia. Morenatom will always have a handmade look. We use very particular leathers and local artisans to make the product looked lived-in and [feel] comfortable. Our feeling is the feeling of nature — natural leathers and colors found in the wildlife of my country. [They are shoes] to make the wearer feel like part of the earth.