5 Questions for Jack Rogers’ Creative Director

Jack Rogers is ushering in a new era.

The 52-year-old women’s label is refreshing its image with a revamped logo, relaunched website and new social media initiatives — including user-generated content on its site through Instagram. And on the product side, fresh footwear styles such as the label’s tasseled smoking slipper debuted for fall ’12 and a handbag offering will launch for spring ’13.

In addition, a renovation of Jack Rogers’ flagship on New York’s Madison Avenue is on the horizon, plus a branded retail expansion, although the company declined to give details on the timeline or locations for additional stores.

The label, which retails from $110 to $390 for shoes and $149 to $348 for handbags, also is available in major department stores such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus, as well as more than 400 specialty stores worldwide.

“[The new initiatives] are a natural evolution for the brand,” said Pamela Damonte, creative director for Jack Rogers. “We want to build our lifestyle brand image to eventually not just offer shoes and bags but a full assortment.”

Amid all the changes, though, Damonte said Jack Rogers will continue to revere its rich history, including iconic constructions such as its Navajo sandal, which first appeared on the scene when Jackie Kennedy wore it in Capri in the early 1960s. “Our roots are in our heritage, so we have to stay grounded, but we also have to constantly look to the future to evolve with our customer and client base,” she said.

Here, Damonte spoke with Footwear News about where the brand is headed next, the rise of social media and why a challenging economy isn’t always a bad thing.

You mentioned that Jack Rogers is careful to balance innovation and tradition. How do you maintain that equilibrium?
PD:
It’s about being aware of what is trending, but at the same time always remembering your heritage and [maintaining] things that are appropriate to the brand and in keeping with what people expect from the brand. The trick is just to home in on what is iconic and signature — [for example], our whip stitching and handcrafted details. It’s about translating that into different products and styles. The new logo is actually [based on] a vintage Jack Rogers logo we found. It felt fresh and new, even though it is vintage-inspired.

Where do you look when you need design inspiration?
PD:
I’m inspired by my travels. I have been to Morocco, and our inspiration for [spring ’13] is Morocco, which is all about lush colors and hints of metallics. I also look at vintage books and magazines, and I do a lot of online research. I love people-watching, too. I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., in an area where so much fun is happening in the way of fashion. There are all kinds of people — lots of moms with their children and people walking their dogs and going to work. They are all very fashion-conscious, but at the same time they have an effortless elegance.

How is your consumer base changing as the label evolves?
PD:
What we are seeing as a company is people turning to their computers more to shop online. Our e-commerce business has tripled over the past year or two, and it is still growing. We also are finding that, although we are very rooted in the East Coast and our [brand presence] is strongest from New England down to the South, we are penetrating the Midwest and the West Coast.

Why is social media important to the Jack Rogers brand?
PD:
It’s about staying modern, and we now have this free-flowing dialogue with our fans, which is such a pleasure to watch. Someone tweets [at] us and we [are] able to respond immediately. We also are integrating imagery with content to get our fans excited about our collections, including a new “World of Jack Rogers” Facebook tab.

How are you feeling about the market as a whole right now?
PD:
We are on a growth spurt, so we feel optimistic. We are also in a niche of casual-yet-dressy, where there always has been a demand. [Because of that], the ups and downs of the economy don’t affect us as much. People are coming to us for what we are recognized for — our heritage — and we are building on our core, which is successful for us. People are looking for classics and value, and women are looking for comfort in what they wear. As a company, we were fortunate to be able to respond to that because it’s just part of who we are.