Chooze dared to be different.
With its unconventional, mismatched concept, the Dallas-based brand has developed a strong fan base since launching five years ago.
During that time, Chooze has grown from a small casual-shoe collection into a full-fledged lifestyle offering, spanning slippers, baby booties, apparel, backpacks, lunch boxes and more. This fall, a women’s footwear line will debut.
“There is so much repetition in fashion. We offer something unique, and that’s been a big factor in our success,” said founder and designer Sharon Blumberg, who came up with the idea for the brand when her free-spirited daughter, Ayla, took to wearing two different shoes on her feet.
“Our concept has resonated with consumers,” she added. “We’re inspiring young girls to be creative and confident and to have fun with fashion.”
Major retailers have taken notice. After testing the brand online, Nordstrom rolled it out in all of its doors this past spring, and Dillard’s will join the roster for the back-to-school season.
Chooze also boasts a solid following among independent boutiques, including Tip Top Kids in New York, Tops for Shoes in Asheville, N.C., and Coolest Shoes in California.
“One of the strengths of our line is that its breadth allows us to sell into many types of stores, from outdoor retailers to footwear and apparel stores — even gift and resort shops,” noted Blumberg, who runs the business with her husband, CEO Marc Blumberg.
Zappos.com has carried Chooze since 2013, and children’s footwear buyer Alesha Giles said the collection is fast becoming a customer favorite.
“Chooze is so different from other kids’ brands in the market. They push the boundaries — who would think you could get away with wearing mismatched shoes?” she noted. “It’s such a fun brand to buy. I am always excited to see what new prints and colors they come up with each season.”
At Tip Top Kids, Chooze has had a warm reception since it was introduced at the store last fall, according to manager Margot Wasserman. “We’re doing well with the high-top sneakers in particular. Chooze has awesome patterns, and no other brand is doing the mismatched concept,” she said. “Customers like the point of difference.”
Globally, Chooze has seen strong growth in markets including South Korea, Japan, Australia, Mexico and Chile. In fact, several international distributors have had so much success with the collection that they’ve invested in opening Chooze-branded shops in their respective countries. A location recently debuted in Costa Rica, and another is planned in Ukraine. At the moment, there are no plans for U.S. retail stores, as the Blumbergs want to remain focused on building the brand’s wholesale business.
To broaden its audience beyond kids, Chooze will step into the women’s market this fall, banking on its brand awareness and popularity among mothers to pave the way. A small collection of four sneaker looks will come first, to be followed by other styles in spring ’17. Priced at $60, the lace-up vulcanized sneakers feature colorful, mix-and-match prints and mirror-metallic materials.
“We’ve had a lot of requests from not only moms, but older girls who have grown out of our kids’ collection,” Sharon Blumberg explained. “We have a proven concept and demand, so we definitely think we can get into those core women’s stores.”
Also helping to open up new doors is the brand’s fashion activewear collection, Choozewear, which launched during the last holiday season. Designed for kids to wear during exercise, school and play, the offering includes leggings, dresses, skirts, tank tops, shorts and hoodies.
“The apparel business is growing a lot faster than we expected — it’s been hard to keep inventory in stock,” said Marc Blumberg. “We’re now offering four new collections per year to keep it fresh.”
To build on the momentum, Chooze has its sights set on even further expansion. When it comes to new products, Sharon Blumberg noted that the possibilities are endless.
“I could just keep designing on and on,” she said. “There are a lot of different categories we’d love to get into, [such as] swimsuits to bedding. Our concept would translate well to so many things. But we want to be smart about our expansion — a little at a time.”