First Look at DryDock’s Cobb Hill

Women’s lifestyle brand Cobb Hill has roots in the U.S. but embodies a European fashion spirit.

The first new brand launch from DryDock Footwear Group, a division of Boston-based New Balance, takes an artisan approach to design by incorporating vintage-inspired leathers and metal ornamentation on trend-driven casuals and dress casuals. “We’re bringing the core [comfort] consumer the kind of subtle fashion touches you get from Europe,” said DryDock President Bob Infantino.

For the debut collection, Infantino went trend-tracking in Europe. There, he noticed fashionably dressed women wearing shoes with burnished leather toes. That inspired such looks as the Leigh, an ankle boot, and the Scarlette, a dressier pump. “We wanted to [create] a brand that had a younger fashion feel and then give it a twist,” said Infantino.

And while the line focuses on seasonal trends, Infantino said Cobb Hill’s styling should also be accessible for retailers. “We wanted to get into the heart of the business,” he said. “It [can] be a core brand for a store.”

Still, comfort is key. The range features a proprietary system that includes EVA midsoles, rubber pods in the shoes’ forepart and lightweight unit bottoms, as well as comfort elements from New Balance. Susan Dooley, director of marketing for the firm, said Cobb Hill also will have size-and-width offerings and an open-stock program.

Targeted to independents and high-end department stores, the new brand retails from $80 to $130. Delivery is slated for July.

The Designer
Comfort veterans Bob Infantino (above) and SVP of product John Daher, both formerly of Clarks Cos. N.A., oversee design for Cobb Hill. The two bring experience as retailers and wholesalers.

The Inspiration
Infantino’s hometown of Rochester, N.Y., served as the source of the brand name — he adopted a variation of the city’s Cobbs Hill neighborhood — and its oak trees appear in the logo. “Bob wanted to bring the spirit of what the area meant to him,” said Dooley, noting Infantino formerly operated shoe stores there, too.

The Buzz
“I like the styling and material interest of the line,” said Chuck Gordon, owner of Gordon’s Shoes in Pittsburgh. “There is attention to detail. The shoes look more expensive than [they actually are]. The boots are darn cute and [can appeal] to a younger consumer.”

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