The Top 10 Independent Shoe Retailers To Know Now

Kith NYC Ronnie Fieg
Ronnie Fieg of Kith.
Courtesy.

Maurice Breton
President; Comfort One Shoes
This year marked the most successful in Comfort One’s 22-year history, with the mid-Atlantic chain pulling in record profits and comp-sales gains topping 10 percent. Two new stores opened in Virginia, bringing the door total to 20. To boost traffic and combat online competition, the retailer hosted 185 in-store events, including wine tastings, yoga classes and wellness seminars.

Laure Hériard-Dubreuil
Owner & Co-Founder; The Webster
Hériard-Dubreuil’s luxury retail empire continues to expand. In December, the French fashion maven is set to unveil The Webster’s third location, a 5,000-sq.-ft. space in Houston’s upscale Galleria shopping center. Earlier in the year, she partnered with Paris’ Le Bon Marché on another coveted collaboration, this time a curated offering of all-white shoes, apparel and accessories from designers that included Chanel and Dior.

Isack Fadlon
Partner & CEO; Sportie LA
Last month, Sportie LA kicked off its year-long 30th anniversary celebration, which will include special events, new footwear collaborations, pop-ups with vendors and a commemoration by the City of Los Angeles. To showcase the fusion of the art and sneaker worlds, the retailer is teaming with renowned street artists on projects around the area. A remodel of sections of the Melrose Avenue flagship is planned for 2016, with the goal of introducing more tech elements to the shopping experience.

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Ronnie Fieg
Founder & Owner; Kith
In a splashy $2 million project, Kith expanded and renovated its Brooklyn, N.Y., location — sweetening the deal with the addition of a cereal and ice cream bar, Kith’s Treats. The retailer also tested the waters out West, staging a pop-up shop in Los Angeles’ Venice Beach earlier this year. Next up, Kith will open its first women’s store in Soho and launch a children’s line.

David Astobiza; Danny Astobiza
President; CFO; Sole Desire
Marking 25 years in business this month, Sole Desire has expansion on its mind. The California-based fashion-comfort chain opened its 19th location, with an additional six doors slated by March 2016. All existing stores were remodeled over the past 18 months under a new format that organizes shoes by category rather than vendor.

Isack Fadlon & Tarek Hassan Isack Fadlon & Tarek Hassan. Courtesy.

Tarek Hassan; Sam Hassan
Co-Owners; The Tannery, Concepts
The Tannery is about to get even bigger. The Hassans are prepping to add a fourth floor to their Boston store next year, which will bring its total square footage to nearly 30,000 — though they are keeping a tight wrap on specifics. On their strength in the high-end segment, the retailers are scouting Japan and Italy for new collections to introduce to the States. Cold-weather gear, led by brands that include Canada Goose and Moncler, continues to drive double-digit sales increases.

Sarah Lerfel
Founder & Owner; Colette
Lerfel kept the fashion crowd — and the celebrity set — flocking to her chic Paris boutique with one hot collaboration after another, including a kitschy collection with McDonald’s and standout shoe capsules with Diadora, Asics, Nike and K-Swiss. The store also hosted a Louis Vuitton pop-up shop this summer that paid tribute to the late British designer Christopher Nemeth.

Carol Lim; Humberto Leon
Founders; Opening Ceremony
Looking to take the label’s branded footwear collection to the next level, Opening Ceremony — which operates shops in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo — turned to an industry giant for help. Under a new licensing deal, Aldo Product Services will oversee manufacturing of the collection and work to expand Opening Ceremony’s wholesale distribution, starting next spring. Backed by minority investor Berkshire Partners, the retailer also is plotting additional stores.

Danny Wasserman; Lester Wasserman
CEO; Tip Top Shoes & Tip Top Kids; Owner; West
Tip Top celebrated 75 years as one of New York’s leading retail footwear destinations, but the Wassermans are firmly focused on the future. They continue to scout the city for potential sites for a second location. Expanding the store’s online business also remains a priority. Sibling shop West, meanwhile, is boosting its profile in the sneaker world with high-profile collaborations.

Peng Cheng
President & Owner; Bait
California-based retailer Bait tackled yet another store opening, this time in San Francisco. And it seems the ambitious Cheng is just getting started: He’s looking to build his barely three-year-old business into a national chain. His shops kept sneakerheads buzzing with a steady stream of killer collaborations, including a nostalgia-inducing, G.I. Joe-inspired capsule with New Balance.

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