Designer Robert Stock, the man behind the lifestyle brand Robert Graham, will bring his whimsical approach to men’s footwear with the launch of a companion collection this fall.
The line of casual and dress looks has been licensed to LJP International, based in Edison, N.J., which will oversee product development, sales and distribution of the line, retailing from $200 to $500. “LJP knows how to build a shoe [with] a comfort level,” said Stock, referring to industry veterans Larry Paparo, president and CEO, and Paul Vando, VP of design. “We can bring excitement [to the] color, fabric and trim.”
Stock has a passion for shoes. His personal collection numbers in the thousands of pairs. And his own wardrobe of custom and ready-to-wear looks inspired much of the line, he said.
Like the brand’s eclectic apparel and accessories, the footwear will be based on classic silhouettes infused with a sense of playfulness. “I always have a fun touch or surprise,” said Stock, 67. “Even my basic shirts have a playful, quirky element, [like novelty fabrics that peek out of the cuffs and collars].”
The debut shoe collection, set to deliver in July, contains mixed-material wingtips, python-printed sneakers and hiking-inspired boots with velvet trim. And because comfort is key, all styles feature cushioned footbeds and leather linings.
“My [designs] are for people who want to be seen,” said Stock, noting that he has a wide-ranging consumer base, including musicians and retired Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera. “[The shoes] have the DNA and pedigree of the brand, [but are] wearable for all consumers.”
The line will be targeted to Robert Graham’s current distribution channels, including top-tier department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as footwear independents. Robert Graham retail stores and shop-in-shops also will carry the new category. “The shoes can stand alone,” said Stock. “We want to make sure what we design is right for the product category.”
Robert Stock co-founded Robert Graham in 2001, after a career that included an eponymous men’s collection that sold from the mid-1970s to 2000. He continues to be recognized for his irreverent approach to dressing, incorporating hints of his novelty fabrics in many pieces.
Todd Tice, owner of The Club in Carmel, Calif., has been carrying Robert Graham apparel since 2006. “He offers wild to mild and everything in between,” said Tice, adding he expects the shoes to appeal to a range of customers. “They’re for the gentleman [ready] to step out of his comfort zone with his shoes, but not too far.”
“I start with fabrics and colors,” said Stock, “then pay attention to the details.” For fall ’14, images of New York — from townhouse doors to street signs — appear on his fabrics.