Zac Andrews is joining a wave of footwear entrepreneurs circumventing the traditional retail roadmap and connecting directly with consumers.
The former senior design manager at Reef and freelance designer for Vans, Billabong and Sanuk has created Cordwain.com, a direct-to-consumer men’s footwear business soft-launched in February.
According to Andrews, the collection of “California-formal” styles marry traditional shoe and sneaker elements. The debut looks, which will remain in the line, include the Rookwood, a cap-toe boot, and the Herlin, a laceup. These classics incorporate athletic features such as cup soles and air-bag comfort system in the heel.
Moving into spring ’15, the brand’s expanding its offering with shoes that put the emphasis on athletic silhouettes detailed in dressier leathers such as the Paxton, an urban boot, and the Grandin, a trainer, both available in materials such as embossed python and pony hair.
“There’s an oversaturation of Italian sneaker brands in the market,” said Andrews, about filling a void in the fashion-athletic space. “We can fit in between mainstream sneaker companies and the higher-end fashion brands from Europe.”
Andrews, 33, fits the brand’s consumer profile. “He’s not a company man or suit-and-tie guy,” said Andrews, who’s targeting the line at 25- to-35-year-olds. “He has a job where he can dress more fashionably.”
To make sure the brand is satisfying the style needs of consumers, Andrews invites them to weigh in by voting for their favorite looks online. “We plan to launch one or two styles at a time to keep things fresh in the pipeline,” he said.
To date, Cordwain.com has sold 1,000 pairs of the shoes, all retailing under $200. While Andrews initially funded the business himself, he’s since received additional financing from an outside investor.