For the past few years, J/Slides has been churning out season after season of fashion-focused women’s sneakers.
And this fall, the New York-based label has soft-launched its first men’s line. A small selection of trendy looks are available now for $150-$200 on the J/Slides website, with a larger collection set to debut next spring.
FN caught up recently with Jay Litvack, president of J/Slides, to get the scoop on the men’s line and also find out predictions for the upcoming spring ’18 women’s styles.
What does your men’s collection offer the market?
“When it comes to men, when that customer finds a great shoe that he wants, he’ll buy two or three or four pairs in different materials. Unfortunately, they don’t have as many choices as women. If you shop the department stores, everything is very same-old, same-old. So what we’re doing is taking the classic sneaker styles and updating them constantly with new materials and new excitement. The two-gore slip-on and the laceup, those are the two biggest silhouettes in men’s, and depending on the season, we’ll offer other looks. For the fall ’17 soft launch, we did a high-top boot, and we’ll do an espadrille or boat shoe for spring ’18.”
Who is the target customer for this new line?
“It’s a contemporary man who is wearing suits, but a lot of men today are wearing sneakers with suits. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a lawyer, but it’s your advertising executive, your fashion retailer or your digital media professional. You’re talking about a very cool, upscale customer who wants that special quality but doesn’t want to spend a lot of money. To find this fashion product in the past, it was $450, $600. But when we decided to launch J/Slides [in 2014], we wanted to be in that $150 to $200 price point. For consumers, it’s not about the brand name anymore; it’s about the price, the styling and the comfort.”
What can we expect from the women’s collection for spring ’18?
“The core of the J/Slides business has been the casual sneaker, and we update it with different constructions and different kinds of materials. Basically, what we feel for spring ’18 is that it’s about pearlized metallic washes and softening the palette. We don’t have many black or tan sneakers. It’s about softness and giving her a feminine touch to what she wants to wear.”
Would you consider branching out beyond sneakers?
“We have some really nice shower shoes [for women] for spring. Sandals are fairly new to J/Slides. People have asked us to do it, but we’re only doing things that are in the DNA of the brand. We did a style here and there in the past, but this is the first time that we took a construction and made it part of the J/Slides DNA.”
J/Slides works with some big department store accounts. Are you concerned about what’s happening in that channel?
“It’s challenging because they’re groping. I believe that less is more, so the floors need to be cleaned up, and they need to give a lifestyle trend to the customer. The days of having a table for a brand, with all the different classifications, is over. If she wants a platform sandal, she wants to go into the area where all the platform sandals are. I feel like retail needs to figure out who they are. They need to identify their customers and where they’re making the most money with their current vendors.”