Since taking home brand of the year honors at the 2016 FN Achievement Awards for his Schutz label, the designer and CEO of Brazil-based footwear empire Arezzo & Co. has had yet another successful year on all fronts.
In addition to launching a New York showroom for Schutz and his namesake label, he has amped up operations with the hiring of Arezzo’s new COO, Alex Michail. And with his eponymous high-end line continuing to push the envelope in design and the contemporary Schutz collection resonating in the marketplace with young consumers, growth remains a focus for Birman.
Here, he discusses the meaning of the FFANY award, his spring ’18 collection (which just showed in Paris) and what’s to come in the year ahead.
How does it feel to be honored at FFANY Shoes on Sale?
“It’s amazing. I’m very honored to receive this award and to participate in such an important cause. Breast cancer is a disease that affects women, and we work for women. To raise funds and awareness for women and breast cancer, I’m very honored and excited for the night and to raise a good amount of money. We will be donating our best-sellers, such as the Clarita, for the evening, as well as offering a financial donation.”
What can we expect this spring from the Alexandre Birman line?
“We saw an opportunity to develop beautiful fabrics and leathers. The collection has new silhouettes, including flats and a flatform. We’ve had great reception from buyers. They are very excited about the collection. It’s bright but wearable at the same time. I’m extremely happy with the kitten heels. For the first time, we are doing the Clarita in a kitten heel. This spring line has a big [material] range, from natural tan leathers to shining fabrics.”
What are your main goals for the Schutz brand in the coming year?
“Our priority at the moment is to grow our wholesale business. In department stores, we’ve grown over 40 percent compared with last year. We are also going to open two retail stores next year. We are negotiating with very important, high-traffic malls. Our strategy up to now was to focus on our new flagship store that had the purpose to create an image. Now we are going to go more toward building the two stores that will be the more commercial stores and are [expected to launch] in 2018. It’s going to be a very important year for us.”
What are you most looking forward to in 2018?
“First is opening those two commercial stores for Schutz. Also, we have a great partnership with Nordstrom and will be starting a drop-ship program with them, so we’ll have a chance to grow our Nordstrom distribution. We also have plans for the global expansion of the Alexandre Birman brand. Although the brand is distributed in over 30 countries, our main [focus] has been the U.S. I’m very excited about the [progress in the United States]; I go there every month. [But] we need to concern ourselves about our strategy globally and [focus on] how to increase brand awareness everywhere.”
How do you feel about your company’s success so far?
“It’s a lot of work. But Arezzo turned 45 this year; our company was founded in 1972. My father is very happy. Imagine — he created the company, and he was only 18. To last 45 years is a matter of perseverance and a lot of hard work.”
Click through the gallery to see Birman’s spring ’18 collection.
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