Bene Rialto hosted a breakfast last Friday to showcase several emerging Spanish shoe brands that are targeting the U.S.
Labels in the spotlight included Pons Quintana, Mislita, Muitt Madrid, Ecoalf and 5yMedio.
Clara Alfaro, the founder and designer behind 5yMedio, said a lifelong love of footwear (and her personal inability to wear heels or ballerinas) sparked the idea for her collection, which is built on heels five centimeters (a little over two inches) high.
“I’ve always been really keen on shoes and wanted to do something that was all made in Spain, with the best leathers,” Alfaro said, noting that quality and comfort are key.
After opening a small studio and showroom in Madrid recently, the designer has sold hundreds of pairs — which retail for 200 to 300 euros, or $222 to $333 at current exchange — to local shoppers. Now, in her third season, Alfaro is eager to begin exporting the collection.
Gustavo Berteli, the export manager for GB Footwear Inc., which represents Muitt Madrid, said the brand is showing for the first time in the U.S. and will make a bigger play in the market next year with a trade-show presence.
With shoes that are priced competitively — ballerinas wholesale for $78, while boots wholesale around $138 — the brand is targeting independents as well as department stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.
While many of the labels in the showroom were playing up their fashion-forward styling, Letje Klaver, who heads international sales for Ecoalf, said her brand’s most important message is sustainability.
Ecoalf’s clothing and kicks are made from car tires, recycled rubber and other reused materials.
“We have a complete process that is very sustainable,” Klaver said. “We’re really pushing the recycled stuff.”
The brand stocks a few styles at Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters online and is ready to expand its distrbution.