Lucchese Looks for Growth

Looking ahead to its 130th anniversary next year, Western boot brand Lucchese is marking the milestone with a string of retail and product initiatives. 

Spearheading them is industry veteran Bill Zeitz, recently named EVP of marketing and brand marketing consultant. “We’ve recognized that Lucchese is a special brand with a lot of potential,” he said.
Last fall, the label made its first move into the lifestyle category with the launch of Spirit by Lucchese, a collection of women’s contemporary boots, shoes and sandals inspired by its rugged roots. It retails from $75 (for sandals) to $400 (for tall boots).

“Spirit goes after that fashion customer,” said Zeitz. “She’s a little younger, has more attitude. It allows us to go beyond our core Western stores and into fashion retailers.” Current distribution includes Dillard’s, Nordstrom and the Sundance catalog.

Prior to Spirit, 90 percent of Lucchese’s sales were targeted at core Western accounts such as Cavender’s Boot City and Pinto Ranch. “There was not much fashion distribution,” said Zeitz. “There was opportunity for growth.”

Growth also has come from Lucchese’s own retail footprint.

Just last month, it debuted a 4,000-sq.-ft. branded store in Nashville, Tenn., complete with a custom design center where shoppers can detail their own one-of-a-kind boots. (The area is overseen by the great-grandson of company founder Sam Lucchese.)

“Nashville is [the home] of the music scene, making it a great place for a store,” said Zeitz. The opening follows on the heels of the relocation of its Santa Fe, N.M., store. And next year, the brand plans to remodel its San Antonio, Texas, location.

According to Zeitz, business for the privately held Lucchese has been up  between 10 percent and 12 percent annually over the past several years, fueled by sales to its core customer base of 40-and-over affluent men and women, said Zeitz. “They tend to live in the South and Southwest and incorporate Western wear into their daily style.”

And while in the past Lucchese had focused on the U.S. market, Zeitz said it is now eyeing international distribution.

“There’s an opportunity to expand outside the U.S.,” the executive said, noting that emerging markets such as Russia, China and Brazil are top targets, and Europe is also on the list. “Europeans travel to the [American] West. They have a fascination for it. They tap into that lifestyle.”

Lucchese boots retail from $500 to $12,000 for exotics and are produced in its El Paso, Texas, factory by 270 craftsmen.

“For certain customers, U.S.-made means a lot,” Zeitz said about capitalizing on the current trend toward domestic manufacturing.

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