For Eileen Fisher, shoes have been a long time coming.
After 27 years of creating a line of simple and timeless apparel — and securing high-end accounts, including Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue — the Irvington, N.Y.-based designer is debuting footwear for fall ’11.
“I’m good at doing things in baby steps,” said Fisher, who has tapped Culver City, Calif.-based Chainson Footwear to develop and produce the collection of about 35 styles. “There has been the eternal search for the perfect shoe to go with these clothes, and the timing had a lot to do with finding the right partner.”
Fisher and Chainson President Jessie Chen first connected in early 2009 and took time to develop a relationship before officially partnering late last year. “We work a little differently,” said Chen, noting she first wanted to understand the brand’s culture before coming up with the line.
Chen has kept the focus on Fisher’s straightforward and elegant approach by featuring ballet flats, riding boots, jazz shoes, pumps and platform wedges with added padding, flexible soles and stretchable fabrics. The line, priced between $200 and $500 and made from Italian leathers, will be carried at Eileen Fisher stores and targeted to retailers already carrying the apparel.
While Fisher tested footwear in her stores and online boutique by carrying a small selection by Gentle Soles and Matt Bernson, launching her own collection, she said, allows her to provide a more complete lifestyle offering under the Eileen Fisher banner.
“Our customers definitely want our shoes,” she said. “They want from [footwear] what they want from our clothes: to feel good. They care about fit and they want a lot of options for many occasions.”
Eileen Fisher worked as an interior and graphic designer before launching her apparel line 27 years ago.
Rooted in Fisher’s early wish for hassle-free clothing, the apparel line, which is priced between $48 and $598, spans tank tops and long sweaters to cropped pants and American-made leather jackets.
Eileen Fisher footwear, targeted to department stores and shops carrying the apparel, will be unveiled during FFANY, Feb. 1-3.