New York-based Soludos made its name as an expert in espadrilles, but recent moves — including product expansion, retail outreach and collaborations — are building the brand’s reputation as a bigger player in the women’s market.
“This year was a watershed for our brand awareness,” said designer Nick Brown, who founded the label in 2010. “We’ve had tremendous
growth on social media. There has been a surge in activity and interaction with the brand.”
The most notable change is the introduction of leather sandals and leather-bottom shoes, as well as huarache sandals. After launching with one style, the upcoming collection offers more than 15, from $42 to $159. And the core espadrilles are getting playful embroidery designs — think pizza or a wink — to freshen up that series.
“We’ve taken small steps from our [espadrille] silhouette, and in doing so, we’ve come a long way,” said Brown, adding that the broader collection is still on message. “We are staying true to our core, and we now have a great value proposition [for retailers].”
Boutique Port MA in Northampton, Mass., has been selling the brand for more than a year and is bullish about the latest collection. “The styles they make go beyond classic looks of espadrilles with colors and prints,” said owner Benjamin Glushien. “Next summer’s line looks great. They came out with a lot of nice new styles.”
To produce the larger selection, Soludos broadened its manufacturing base with new factories in Spain. Previously, it had produced mainly in China. “We wanted to focus more on technical and elevated design, and the craftsmanship is there,” said Brown. “We were always looking for inroads into Spain, so we are thrilled to be working there.”
With those updates, Soludos has landed both Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue as accounts for resort ’15 and spring ’16. “It’s a great opportunity to reach a broader demographic, and their shoe floors are both important,” said Brown. The brand also has been raising its profile with existing retail partners. Earlier this year, Brown tricked out an Italian Piaggio scooter, using it as the centerpiece of pop-up shops in Urban Outfitters in New York’s Union Square and at Alchemy Works in Los Angeles.
Another focus is global expansion. Soludos has inked partnerships with Selfridges in the U.K. and Galeries Lafayette in Paris. “Selling espadrilles in Europe is a bit like selling snow to the eskimos,” quipped Brown. “But we’ve developed our designs through the years with enough novelty and differentiation of fabrics and silhouettes that we are in a place where we can succeed, even in Europe.”
High-profile tastemakers are taking notice, too, including model Alessandra Ambrosio and actress Jordana Brewster.
Soludos also has scored key design partnerships, including a capsule collection of six styles with Lemlem and a second installment of the Jason Polan collaboration, both of which debuted this year. “The Lemlem product is made with handmade Ethiopian fabrics,” said Brown. “It’s such an inspirational project — there’s an integrity to the process.”
Overall, Soludos is expecting 60 percent to 70 percent sales growth in 2015 over last year. Brown is bullish that the momentum will continue, thanks to a larger team, including a new VP of sales and merchandising and a bigger focus on the brand’s e-commerce business.
“We do have quite aggressive growth targets,” he said, “and we are building a team here to execute those goals.”