Set to hit stores in September, Coolway Freestyle is a new women’s and men’s brand focused on sports. And according to Scott Home, president of Culver City, Calif.-based Fashion Major Brands, it is on track to become the firm’s biggest-volume seller.
“The whole idea is in the name,” Home said. “It’s comfortable and quick casual footwear.” Featuring an athleisure slant, the shoes are primarily fashion sneakers with a technology and material component.
Using microfibers and thermoplastic reinforcements, the styles are designed to be lightweight and easy to wear, as well as accessible: Retail prices average $75. Response so far has been positive. Home noted that major chains such as Journeys and The Buckle are on board, as are independent retailers such as David’s Shoes in Beverly Hills, Calif.
“Retail isn’t great, except for athletic,” Home said. “Our biggest opportunity to get more shelf space is with Coolway Freestyle.”
Despite today’s shaky environment, Home said that his company is seeing 50 to 60 percent increases every year, which is owed, in part, to two brand makeovers. After launching Coolway USA in 2015 and Musse & Cloud in 2016, Home recently decided to rewire the two labels.
Initially, the Coolway product line was entirely made in Spain, and Musse & Cloud, though similarly made, had a more fashion-focused designer edge. But with only a $10 to $15 difference in retail price, the two brands were overlapping each other.
“We had to re-identify it,” Home said. “We took Coolway and made it a very junior brand with some leather product out of Spain and very trendy product out of China, India and Mexico.”
So with that move, Musse & Cloud has now been able to stand on its own, retailing from $80 to $150. Coolway’s average price is $49.
Retailers have taken notice of the changes and all are capitalizing on the accessible price points.
“When we [debuted] Coolway in March of last year, our main focus was identifying our customer base and catering our assortment to meet their needs,” said Kellee Gaston, Zappos’ assistant buyer for junior casual fashion footwear. “Fast-forward to this year, and we are very happy to see growth in our partnership and with strong product assortment verified by our customers through positive reviews.” She also noted that Coolway’s Spanish-made product remains a strong selling point. “Our customer doesn’t have to compromise quality for price,” Gaston said.
Carol Phillips, owner of Whimsy Clothing in Fort Pierce, Fla., said her customers are also attracted to Musse & Cloud and Coolway. “How affordable they are makes the styles an easy sell at retail, and our customers feel like they’re getting a really good value and unique looks that not everyone has,” she said.
To generate buzz, Fashion Major Brands is relying on help from ambassador Kiersey Clemons, the up-and-coming actress who is set to star in the highly anticipated DC Comics film “Justice League,” alongside Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck as Batman.
The actress also is working on her own capsule collection with the firm. By Kiers for Musse & Cloud is set to launch in October, exclusively with Zappos, with a nationwide release to follow.
For Home, the goal is to reach as large an audience as possible. “It’s wide open, in terms of customers,” he said. “If all three brands hit the 18-to-50 [demographic], I’m doing good.”