Fittingly, Jodie Fox, Shoes of Prey’s co-founder and chief creative officer, is always on the hunt for ways to innovate in the footwear industry by changing the dynamics of how consumers shop for shoes. Dedicated to mass customization, on-demand manufacturing and technology, Fox shares why she’s an advocate for challenging the traditional retail model — and why it’s working.
Footwear News: It’s been a year since Shoes of Prey relocated from Australia to the U.S. What has changed?
Jodie Fox: Prior to us moving to the States in 2015, the U.S. represented 20 percent of our customer base, but today it’s half. It’s a massive shift, and it’s because we’re here in the U.S. market. Culturally and operationally, it has made huge difference in understanding the American customer. As an Australian woman, it’s never too cold to wear ballet flats, but here that’s not true, so we recently introduced boots at different lengths. It’s something we didn’t realize coming from another market.
FN: As other brands get into customization, how are you remaining competitive?
JF: What excites me is that [customization] is become mainstream. It’s not just something customers find interesting; it’s now something they expect. As long as we keep up with the technology available, that’s how we’ll stay ahead. We develop all of our technology in-house, and have our own factory because we couldn’t find that anywhere in the world to offer it at scale. Those are two things that we have that I don’t believe others have.
FN: What new technologies are you pursuing?
JF: We have been experimenting with 3-D printing for some time now. We foresee a future in which you would be able to share dimensions of your foot using a photo from your phone. We would then 3-D print the lasts and all the related components on demand, which would reduce our factory floor space and the amount of capital tied up. That could also give us the potential to open local manufacturing hubs in areas of high demand, which would dramatically reduce time from order to receipt of shoes. In the last 12 months, we’ve averaged two weeks to make and deliver a pair. When we started seven years ago, it was eight weeks.
FN: What are your plans for brick-and-mortar?
JF: We recently decided to wind down our offline shop-in-shop operations at Nordstrom and David Jones — in total, six doors. Omnichannel retail has been hugely important for our success to date. It gave our customers the experience they needed at the time, when this idea was so new. But we looked at the numbers, and our offline retail operations represented 25 percent of our cost base in the business, but just 15 percent of sales.
FN: You recently designed your first collection of shoes for the brand’s Inspirer Collection. What was that like?
JF: It’s the first time I’ll have my own collection labeled Jodie Fox by Shoes of Prey (available Dec. 19). It’s very monochromatic and edgy — something you can feel great in and just own your day and night. The shoes are made mostly from black and white Italian pebble materials and include two flats, two boots and a heel. I’ve integrated a shiny gold material for a feature shoe, and I can’t wait to launch it at the end of this year.