Retail Guide: Men’s Shopping List

Jason Brown, CEO
Store count: 2 (average 3,000 sq. ft.); est. 1994

Hunting for: “We’re sticking with the core classics. Whatever major name brands we’re going after, we always make sure to have their signature iconic products. We’re looking for more of the staples that are functional and fashionable.”

Buying strategy: “We’re still going to buy more, and we’re going to add more of the iconic brands to the mix. In particular, men are responsive to the big brands and the signature products.”

Shoes you can’t keep in stock: “Clarks’ Desert boots for men are very popular in our store, as well as the core basic Converse Chuck Taylors.”

Best price point: $100 to $150

Hottest new brands: “Hush Puppies is not a new brand, but we’ve seen some old brands starting to pick up again. Hush Puppies is one of them, and certainly Dr. Martens has been tremendous for us as of late.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re betting on: “Any product that has vintage leathers with not a lot of embellishments. The vintage leather and retro looks are very popular with our customers, so we’ll be chasing anything in that category.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re passing on: “We’ll be passing on the very tailored looks and what would be considered in the dress category for men. We haven’t had a lot of response for that, at least for our type of business.”

Mood at retail: “[Customers] will be buying fewer units but better-quality and higher-priced items.”

What you’re doing to get people to buy: “We’re doing e-blasts and a lot of social-media marketing, including on Facebook. But the best advertisement is having the products and styles people are looking for.”

Brett Teilhaber, COO of men’s
Store count: 1 (17,000 sq. ft.); est. 1929

Buying strategy: “Now that the U.S. dollar is at a 15-month low to the euro, we’re expecting better buys in both exotic and leather shoes [from Italy and Spain].”

Best price point: $69 to $350

Hottest new brands: “Blackstone’s fashion comfort shoes and a new one for us, Polo.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re betting on: “We really like all the suedes we’re seeing in fashion colors, as well as comfort boots and exotic skins.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re passing on: “Sheep- and fur-lined boots. You just never know how Mother Nature will treat us in the South.”

Mood at retail: “It’s picking up as people are looking to start off fresh with a new attitude.”

What you’re doing to get people to buy: “We have taken the social-media plunge with Facebook and Twitter and also do email campaigns as well as drop more [direct] mail to customers. We also do trunk shows.”

EPAULET, New York & Brooklyn, N.Y.
Adele Berne, co-owner
Store count: 2 (average 800 sq. ft.); est. 2008

Hunting for: “We’ll be expanding our collection made with Carmina. Our customers really come to us for the ‘next thing’ in footwear. We’ll also be doing a lot more dress shoes with slimmer European lasts.”

Buying strategy: “As we continue to grow our own in-house collection, we’re definitely tightening up our assortment of outside brands we stock. The Carmina collection, all handmade in Spain, is an exclusive assortment made just for our shop.”

Shoes you can’t keep in stock: “Carmina Shoes’ double-monk style practically flew off the shelves. Our guys love it. And, of course, we always do very well with our exclusive Alden wingtip boots. The Brixton wingtip boot is a style we’re known for.”

Best price point: “This varies season to season, brand to brand, but generally around $450.”

Hottest new brands: “We just started stocking the Wolverine 1,000 Mile boot, and it has done very well. Our customers love that the boots are made in the U.S., age beautifully and are well priced.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re betting on: “Shoes with slimmer lasts and European shapes. Menswear will continue to move from the heritage look into dressier styles.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re passing on: “Wellingtons and rubber rainboots, which are too casual for our store. Our customers come to us for rare and dressed-up styles.”

Mood at retail: “We’re excited for the spring season. We can really play with a lot of color and prints, and our customers are always ready to shop.”

What you’re doing to get people to buy: “We continue to pump out exciting product for our customers almost every week once we’re in the meat of the season. And we’re obsessed with online media. We love contributing and interacting in the infinite Internet world.”

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