Hanna Andersson is stepping out.
The children’s apparel retailer, known for its colorful, Swedish-inspired aesthetic, has partnered with New York-based Vida Group to launch a footwear collection. Beginning this fall, the retailer will no longer carry shoes from other wholesale brands but will instead focus exclusively on its own branded offering. The collection, priced from $45 to $90, will be available through Hanna Andersson’s catalog, website and more than 35 retail stores, as well as wholesale accounts around the country.
“This past spring, we tested a small assortment of Hanna shoes alongside those from other brands, and we found we got much more traction with our own shoes. So we made the decision to move forward with Hanna shoes exclusively this fall,” said Kasia Wood, merchandising manager for footwear and accessories at the Portland, Ore.-based firm.
Wood said that having the shoe collection allows the retailer to offer its customers looks that better pair with its distinctive clothing. “What’s difficult about buying branded shoes is that the colors are different,” she noted. “Now, we can use just the right color palette, prints and details to complement our apparel. We can style it all together.
“ The fall ’14 footwear assortment features a range of casual styles for boys and girls, including sneakers, Mary Jane shoes, ballet flats, chukkas, moccasins and boots. In a nod to the brand’s Swedish roots — Hanna Andersson was co-founded in 1983 by Swedish expat Gun Denhart — there is a series of colorful clogs and clog boots. The fall collection also includes a small selection of infant shoes [in sizes 3 to 7], which will be significantly expanded for spring ’15. “We’re still developing the baby assortment, so the styles we’re offering for fall will be just a taste of what we want to do there,” Wood said.
Comfort is a big focus of the collection, which is available in sizes 8 to 4. “We’re known for the softness of our cotton fabrics, so we translated that to the shoes by using cushioned memory foam insoles,” Wood said. “Vida has done a great job achieving the look and quality level our customers expect from Hanna Andersson.”
Vida, which is managing wholesale sales of the footwear, is targeting higher-end department stores, e-tailers and independents. The firm already markets successful shoe lines for kids’ apparel brands Carters, Oshkosh and Esprit.
Wood said opening up outside retail distribution for the footwear line is part of a larger strategy to grow the company’s wholesale business. “We’re selling the shoes elsewhere and we have some sleepwear at Nordstrom, but the plan is to continue to look at other areas where we can wholesale our products,” she said.
Zappos.com will feature Hanna Andersson shoes on its site for back-to-school.