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Fortress of Inca Readies Fall Revamp

Fortress of Inca is building its brand in a big way for fall ’14.

The 4-year-old label, founded by Austin, Texas-based Evan Streusand and co-owned by former United Nude EVP Dory Benami, has overhauled the aesthetic of its women’s offerings for the season. It also added women’s accessories and its first men’s shoe collection.

Made in Peru with prices ranging from $175 to $350, the brand has a fair-trade, sustainable mission. In that vein, the soon-to-debut accessories — multi-colored belts, cuff bracelets and other bijoux — are partially made of leftover leather and textiles from the footwear manufacturing process.

The new women’s shoe looks elevate the label’s boho-chic sensibility to include more classically influenced and fashion-focused styles including leather boots, flats, wedges and booties with patterns, metallics and hardware detailing. “It’s more contemporary and a little more of a high-end look than it used to be,” Streusand said of the fall mix.

Benami noted that adding more complex designs with slightly higher price points helped create a stronger fair-trade focus and a seamless production process. “We ran into a problem making simple shoes in Peru,” he said. “The cost of producing shoes there is not as low as it is in Asia. What [Peruvian manufacturers] are good at is craftsmanship, so we pushed into making shoes retailing at above $200. [To do that] we had to develop more sophisticated shoes that were suitable for women who wanted something they could wear beyond casually, to the office and out [at night].”

As for the men’s line, a three-pair capsule collection featuring leather boots and high-top silhouettes is set to hit retail in fall. Streusand and Benami are planning to launch a Kickstarter.com campaign in April to support the expansion of that category offering for spring ’15. “Our goal is to keep the men’s designs practical but to use good, premium materials,” Benami said.

The company is also looking to garner more wholesale partners with its new endeavors. Fortress of Inca currently has a presence in 120 doors across the country, with independent boutiques, such as Shoegasm in New York and Skylark in Los Angeles, making up the bulk of its retail reach. Larger players like Nordstrom are big targets for 2014.

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