Marc Joseph New York is mad about mocs — and it’s betting that consumers are, too.
After successfully carving a niche in the moccasin category, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company has been expanding via its own chain of stores.
The first Marc Joseph New York retail location opened 18 months ago in Palm Beach, Fla., followed by a second door in Bonita Springs, Fla., in December 2014. This fall, the company is readying a store in the Mall of San Juan in Puerto Rico, and another is due to open in spring ’16 in Princeton, N.J. More expansion is on deck, possibly into Saudi Arabia.
“We plan to grow [our own retail] gradually but consistently, so we can further cater to our growing client base,” said Joseph Antebi, Marc Joseph New York’s COO and creative director. “Our retail vision is to strategically increase our points of distribution as well as enhance our brand by showing customers the full spectrum of what we are — a lifestyle brand.”
Family-owned Marc Joseph launched in 2006 when Antebi’s father, Marc Antebi, a successful entrepreneur, was looking for a new venture for his family. He found the answer right at home.
“My father looked in my mom’s closet, saw so many shoes and said, ‘We need to get into this business,’” recalled Antebi.
But instead of focusing on the tony looks that Marc’s wife, Jacqueline, had amassed, the Antebi clan — which also includes brothers Asher (CEO and CFO) and Jacob (director of sales) — opted to focus on classics such as drivers and loafers.
To learn the shoe business, the family spent 18 months in Brazil, where the line is manufactured.
“It’s all about luxury with value,” Joseph Antebi said about the brand’s women’s and men’s shoes, which retail for $145 to $255 and are available in a range of colors and materials. “[They’re] an alternative to a higher-end Tod’s or Ferragamo.”
While mocs and loafers comprise 80 percent of Marc Joseph’s collection, the brand also produces women’s sandals, pumps and boots.
For spring ’16, the label will expand its offering with a boat shoe and sandals for men, and a women’s performance golf shoe for on and off the course.
Antebi said the company opted to move into the sports market after seeing strong moccasin sales in golf pro shops. “The shoes appeal to the personality and lifestyle of this customer,” he said.
In addition to its own stores, the Marc Joseph line is available at independent shops as well as department stores, including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Von Maur.
Internationally, the collection is sold at U.K.-based shoe chain Russell & Bromley and at the David Jones department store in Australia. Antebi estimated that overseas sales account for 40 percent of the business.
The company also operates an e-commerce site that has turned in year-over-year sales gains, and in spring ’15, Marc Joseph New York introduced a print catalog. Overall, Antebi predicts that total sales this year will rise 15 percent, with an 80 percent increase in points of distribution.
At men’s specialty store James Davis in Memphis, Tenn., Marc Joseph shoes are typically an add-on item, according to Lee Feil, manager and buyer for the shoe department.
“The brand has an [accessible] price point, plus interesting looks that mix colors and textures,” said Feil. “I have customers who will buy a $600 Ferragamo and at the same time a red Marc Joseph sport moccasin. They can add that second or third fun style for $175 to $185.”
Alex Carr, owner of Tops for Shoes in Asheville, N.C., focuses on the women’s mocs, offering them in 10 to 15 colors. “They can be dressed up or down, making them very versatile,” said Carr, adding that the brand’s signature Cypress Hill driver is a go-to style for customers with narrow feet.
Antebi noted that independent retailers are drawn to the company’s in-stock program, which allows stores to reorder anywhere from three to 3,000 pairs at a time from the warehouse at its Brooklyn headquarters. “It’s one-stop shopping for everyone,” he said.
[Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in print 08/03/15]