Retailers Cheer Leifsdottir Shoe Debut

NEW YORK — Expectations are high for the spring footwear debut of Leifsdottir, Urban Outfitter Inc.’s new venture.

The collection will be featured at a presentation today at New York Fashion Week and was also shown at FFANY in New York and FN Platform in Las Vegas. And key retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, have already picked up the line. (The brand will not be sold at Urban Outfitter stores.)

“[We] chose it because it stood out in the market and did not look like anything else,” said Brooke Jaffe, fashion accessories director at Bloomingdale’s, which already stocks Leifsdottir apparel. “The product was unique and forward and stands for something different. There is a great deal of value to these fashion-forward shoes.”

The collection includes between six and eight styles of platform wedges, sandals and pumps, featuring metallic accents and exotic textures such as python and feathers. Price points are $225 to $295.

“We like the newness, we love the materials and the quality is superb,” said Robert Yeganeh, owner of Lovemyshoes.com. “With all the changes we’ve made at Lovemyshoes, [we’re] trying to upgrade and bring in a better level of goods, and [Leifsdottir] fits in [with] the higher spectrum of price levels.”

For her part, Leifsdottir Creative Director Johanna Uurasjarvi noted that the brand, which launched as apparel in 2008, is part of Urban’s overall strategy to become a multicategory player.

“Leifsdottir was conceived from the very beginning to become a total lifestyle brand, incorporating multiple categories,” she said, adding that the firm was undeterred by the still-uncertain economy.

“We can’t control the economic environment, but what we can do is … ensure we [have] a designer-level experience at a contemporary price point.”

Uurasjarvi — who grew up in Finland and attended design school there — said her heritage shaped the vision for the brand.

“Everything I do is based on my Finnish background — modern roots, form and function, an element of nature and even fairy tales. I have a very Scandinavian design hand,” she said.

For the spring line, Uurasjarvi took inspiration from her vacation last year to the Amazon rainforest. She described the footwear looks as “a high contrast of vivid beauty and the darker side of nature.”

“[The customers] feel they haven’t seen such [a high] level of craftsmanship and a unique, modern and feminine look,” added Uurasjarvi. “[The product] looks different on the selling floor. There is a distinct personality in the [footwear], and [the reaction] has been positive all the way.”

Uurasjarvi expects 25- to 35-year-old fashion-forward women to gravitate to the brand. “We have a very feminine look, but it also has this modern edge to it [with] European [style],” she said.

Looking ahead, the brand plans to dive deeper into the shoe business.

“Based on the reaction and excitement we’ve gotten, we’re definitely in [the shoe market] for good. And right now, we’re focusing on the right partners to build the business with,” said Uurasjarvi.

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