After remaining largely behind the scenes at his namesake company for nearly a decade, Marc Fisher is ready for the spotlight.
The founder and CEO of Marc Fisher Footwear has a new launch up his sleeve for spring ’15. He is rolling out Marc Fisher Ltd., which will serve as a complement to the main Marc Fisher collection.
“I had an idea in my head that was different and something special. We want to make it big,” said Fisher, who will serve as the official spokesman for his venture.
While the core collection is priced at $49 to $89, the Ltd. selections will be more high-end and feature classic styling. The 30-look assortment, priced from $90 to $160, is set to launch at FFANY next week and will debut at retail for spring ’15.
The line will join a portfolio of brands that include licensed labels Ivanka Trump, Guess, G by Guess, Isaac Mizrahi and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as company-owned businesses Pink & Pepper, Sigerson Morrison and Belle by Sigerson Morrison.
While many of the company’s other labels hustle to keep up with the fast-changing fashion cycle to drive business, Fisher doesn’t want Ltd. to rely on trends.
“There is a lot of footwear out there where one year later you say, ‘Why did I buy that?’ We are looking at shoes and asking if it’s long-lasting. It’s not too funky, and we think these can be a staple in a woman’s closet,” he said.
“Ltd. reflects what I have always believed in: wearable fashion, the right fit, the right materials and at the best value,” he added. “We believe under $200 is the right place to be allowing us to bring the best product to the market while keeping it accessible.”
To support the launch, the founder is planning store appearances and other outreach efforts. Fisher is also gearing up for his first appearance on home shopping channel QVC in September.
“I believe consumers have stronger connections around authentic brands today, those with real people behind them sharing their passion for the products they make,” he said.
Added company president Susan Itzkowitz, “The consumer will be able to reach out and see someone who actually makes the shoes.”
The new collection will be targeted to department stores, such as longtime retail partner Macy’s, which has the exclusive distribution rights for the main Marc Fisher line. (A branded shop could debut at a later date.)
Future category expansion under the Marc Fisher name could include bags, belts and watches.
“We are excited about all of the opportunities we [have for the brand],” Itzkowitz said.
Muriel Gonzalez, EVP and GMM of cosmetics, fragrance and shoes at Macy’s, was upbeat on Fisher’s new venture, though she and her team won’t see the line until next month.
“I imagine it will allow him the laboratory to push the envelope and experiment a little bit more with a new sense of direction,” she said.
More generally, Gonzalez praised Fisher’s deep understanding of the footwear market.
“He is the most passionate lover of shoes and the shoe business, he loves trends, and he’s curious,” she said. “He understands our customer, and he’s passionate about bringing the best every season.”
While Macy’s will be a big target stateside, Fisher is also exploring international distribution in markets such as Canada, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
In the online arena, the company will revamp the Marc Fisher website for fall, with plans for e-commerce in spring to coincide with the Ltd. brand’s launch.
Digital is also a focus elsewhere in the company’s portfolio, with small tweaks in the works for Ivanka Trump and juniors’ line Pink & Pepper.
“We’re adding a new boho aesthetic to Pink & Pepper and making it even more interesting. Ivanka herself is doing some rebranding in terms of logo and expanding offerings in the line that we think will impact the business,” Itzkowitz said.
For her part, Trump is 3 about what’s to come in the months ahead. “I’m confident in anything Marc puts his mind to. He’s committed to the success of this launch and all of his brands,” Trump said, who added that Fisher’s enthusiasm added to the company’s appeal.
“Marc and I have had incredible chemistry from the first time we’ve met. I love people who are passionate about their business. He’s taught me so much,” she added.
Speaking more broadly, Itzkowitz said that with 10 brands now in the portfolio, it’s important to have a distinct strategy for each label.
“We respect the DNA of each brand, brands that work well side by side and don’t cannibalize each other,” said Itzkowitz.
But that doesn’t mean new additions are out of the question in the future. “We’re used to multitasking and dealing with multiple brands,” Fisher said. “They are all very different, and that’s the key to success: They all fill a different niche in the marketplace. We’re always looking and always in hot pursuit.”
For now, the executive is bullish on the potential of Ltd. “I love making beautiful shoes for women, I have been addicted for [35 years],” Fisher said. “With Ltd., I want to truly express myself with my own collection. We are putting a significant amount of resources behind this launch across the entire company. My goal is simple: I want women to look down at their feet and smile.”
The importance of looking ahead:
“I simply do not look backward. I look forward to what is new and innovative and across every aspect of the business. There is no time to waste on rearview mirrors.”
The best advice from his father, Jerome Fisher:
“He taught me to stay focused. Make great shoes and don’t compromise on the quality, be loyal to your consumer, and deliver great product.”
“We have experienced a steady evolution to a more relaxed lifestyle and overarching casual mood globally, which blurs the boundaries between what has traditionally been casual, career and dress. I call this the new casual-luxe. It is a fresh and modern take on what is casual today. Ltd. is created around this lifestyle aesthetic.”
The evolution of the industry:
“The direct-to-consumer real-time access via digital and social platforms is the big game changer. This is a huge win for our brands and our company because we have the ability to harness this information and engage the consumer, while thinking and acting with fluidity and entrepreneurial spirit.”