The Fenton, Mo.-based brand has been serving the niche size-and-width market since 1991, and its role has become increasingly vital for today’s consumer.
“It’s getting harder for this customer to find shoes since so many [brands] are cutting their equipment and inventory costs,” said Lisa Schmitz, creative director of the company, formerly named Mark Lemp Footwear.
The firm rebranded two years ago to attract younger customers with more contemporary styles, including the fall ’18 Metro Collection of urban casuals inspired by the athleisure trend.
Walking Cradles’ collection of women’s looks comprises over 70 size-and-width combinations, with prices ranging from $99 to $250.
Schmitz said the company’s goal is to encourage 20-somethings to wear properly fitting shoes to avoid foot problems as they age.
To get the word out, Walking Cradles has stepped up its marketing initiatives, with a focus on social media. “We’ve found the majority of our [current] customers are active on Facebook, but younger ones are on Instagram and Twitter,” said Schmitz.
The brand also plans to expand on its current campaign, “It’s a Matter of Fit,” which features everyday women with a range of foot sizes. Those ads now appear on banners, posters and local TV spots, in partnership with independent retailers.
The company works with a network of traditional brick-and-mortar stores, including Globe Shoes in Paramus, N.J., Cartan’s in Fort Worth, Texas, and Tops for Shoes in Asheville, N.C., but also relies on online shopping for its selection and convenience. Some of its digital partners include Zappos.com, Shoes.com and Belk.com.
“While we still have a lot of small independents, they don’t bring in the whole breadth of our line,” said Schmitz.
The distribution strategy has paid off. According to Schmitz, the company expects to experience low-double-digit increases beginning with spring ’18, compared with spring ’17.
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