Forget the piercing cold. A sandal brand was awarded the prize for Most Export Potential at the eighth annual Footwear Friends Awards Ceremony in London last week. Solillas, a young Spanish brand known for its leather slip-ons, was given the honor by the British Footwear Association and FN Platform. As part of its prize, the brand will receive a booth at this February’s Platform show in Las Vegas.
“We feel it is most important to showcase new and emerging talent,” said Leslie Gallin, president of Footwear at Advanstar Communications Inc. “It takes a village, which is why we chose to collaborate with the British Footwear Association in reinforcing the USA as a meaningful frontier. Business is challenging, and our gesture is to help make doing business in the USA a bit more inviting.”
Jonathan Matthews, founder of Solillas, echoed Gallin, discussing the difficulties facing retailers entering the U.S. market.
“Our two key challenges are the distributor vs. direct-selling conundrum — which is particularly pertinent in a market now dominated by online majors — and PR and marketing budget, which drives the requirement for a very selective approach on export locations,” Matthews explained.
Solillas sandals are handmade in Menorca, and focus on the community’s tradition of craftsmanship.
“This is an amazing opportunity [for us] to bring our cult London brand to the US market … Receiving recognition like this gives us the confidence to keep designing and share our passion beyond the U.K.,” Matthews said.