Lucky Brand Gambles to Win

Camuto Group is on a Lucky roll.

The Greenwich, Conn.-based company, which has held the exclusive license for Lucky Brand footwear since 2008, is ramping up its efforts to bring increased recognition to the label.

“We want to define Lucky Brand footwear as a really special [range] of quality, beautiful boots and sandals on a year-round basis,” CEO and chief designer Vince Camuto told Footwear News.

For the fall ’12 season, Lucky will offer an expanded selection of boots, flats and sandals, which are manufactured in China and carry price points of $60 to $250. The Los Angeles-based brand also is planning to sell the shoes in 20 of its 177 standalone stores for the first time this spring, with the goal of reaching 50 doors by summer.

Lucky’s EVP of product, Michael Griffin, said the category was added to the shops as a result of the line’s success on the Lucky e-commerce site. The brand has seen a 117 percent increase in sales since last season, he added. The bestselling style is the Emmie flat, available in myriad prints and solids.

“We see great opportunity in our footwear collection,” Griffin said. “As our clothing has evolved over the years, so has our footwear.”

Wholesale also is growing for the brand, said Camuto, who noted that overall footwear sales have increased approximately 40 percent annually for the past two years. The brand is carried by Macy’s, Dillard’s, Shoes.com and others.

The team at Camuto Group has worked to refine the look and feel of the shoe collection, culminating in a larger offering for fall. The process has included visiting the branded apparel stores across the country. “We have done the research,” Camuto said. “We spoke to the customers, and we learned a lot.”

Christina Santoro, VP of sales for Lucky Brand footwear at Camuto Group, added, “The customer has told us where she wants us to take [the brand]. Two great boot [styles] have turned into 10 great boots. Flats were new for us a year ago; today we have 10 different silhouettes in that category. ”

The expanded line has resonated with Piperlime.com customers, said senior shoe buyer Lesley Clifford. “We have seen great success diversifying the Lucky Brand assortment on our site into other categories such as flats, which tie back nicely to the casual aesthetic of boot offerings,” Clifford said.

At Zappos.com, buyer Kristen Colbert said the e-tailer’s customers have responded enthusiastically to Lucky’s offerings. “[Lucky] footwear merges both practicality and fashion,” Colbert said. “We have a great assortment [of styles] already in place [for spring and fall] that our customers will no doubt be excited to see. While we can still expect a Western influence from Lucky Brand, they now offer great sandals and flats as well, in prints and colors that are fresh and exciting. The design direction is fashion-forward while still reminiscent of the classic Americana influence we expect.”

In fact, that laid-back California look is key for the Lucky customer, who is typically 18 to 30 years old, Santoro explained, and the Camuto Group and Lucky teams have worked together to sync the clothing (which launched in 1990 and is known for its denim and distressed, bohemian and West Coast-inspired styles) and footwear offerings to match that mood.

In addition to expanded categories, higher-quality leathers, biker- and Western-inspired styles, and details such as buckles and studding will be part of the mix for fall ’12, said Camuto. And everything ties back to the main line.

“We love taking details from Lucky’s belts and handbags and incorporating them into the footwear,” said Santoro. “We also adopt prints that the brand uses in its T-shirts and tops and add them in fun ways, whether it be to the wedges on sandals or to the uppers of ballet flats.”

All in all, the brand expects customers will appreciate the addition of shoes to its shops. “Offering our footwear collection in [brick-and-mortar] stores overcomes one major challenge to purchasing online: the option to try it on, right there on the spot,” Griffin said.

Added Camuto, “We see [putting Lucky footwear into the company’s branded stores] as a natural evolution. Footwear is the one accessory that has been selling profusely in stores, and it is the main accessory for a woman today, in any brand. You really need a shoe to ignite and complete [an apparel label].”

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