“Beverly Drive is the best street in L.A. for contemporary young fashion,” Birman told FN at the launch of the shoe label’s 314 North Beverly Drive store on Thursday. “You are a block away from Rodeo Drive, so you get the tourists — but you still have the locals who prefer to shop here.”
The Brazilian brand has expanded its presence out west after seeing success — and demand — following the launch of its New York location on Madison Avenue, and a six-week pop-up store at The Grove in March.
“We had amazing sales there and that gave us confidence that our brand would perform well in L.A.,” Birman said.
It also helped Birman confirm what he already knew about L.A. consumers.
“She’s what we expected,” he said. “She is very casual, she loves ethnic styles and she loves boots in the summer, because in New York people don’t buy boots in the summer, but they do here all year long. There’s also a metro look — much more color.”
The new digs feature 2,800 square feet of space that includes a high-definition video wall, backlit mirror panels, custom box shelving, a private celebrity-VIP room and a “pump wall” lined with heels. Birman said it reflects the brand – modern and simple.
“We have over 10,000 pairs of inventory with an average price of $190,” he said. “We have 600 SKUs in the store, so it’s the biggest.”
In addition to core and seasonal collections, a percentage of Schutz’s merchandise will focus on footwear for the L.A. woman.
“Based on our product development capacity and our vertical production facility, we are able to understand customer needs and react very quickly to bring what she’s looking for,” Birman said. “Our time to market is within 40 days. Our design team is still working on our summer collection to be in the store in June — we didn’t think about pre-fall. We wait to react on customers; 30 percent of our business is based on reorders.”
After wrapping the launch, Birman said he had more work to do as the head of Schutz’s parent company, Arezzo.
“We operate over 560 stores in Brazil,” he said. “Mother’s Day is our second-most important retail day in Brazil, which is May 8, so I’m going back and I have a great team based in the U.S.”
But when he’s not overseeing operations, the designer said he shifts his focus on his other passions. “I’m a triathlete, and last week I did the South American Championship and I got third place,” he said, adding that he breaks a sweat wearing ASICS sneakers. “I have two little daughters to give attention and a wife, so it’s a lot.”
Birman said it was his love for the outdoors that inspired his earliest designs.
“My first shoe was a rugged sole with a combat boot,” he recalled. “I was only 18 years old when I created the brand. I was a mountain biker and I was doing shoes for my type of girlfriend, but after two years I came to L.A., and that’s when I started to do more feminine high-heel shoes.”
Among Birman’s longtime fans, Alessandra Ambrosio, Chanel Iman, Olivia Palermo, Whitney Port and Olivia Culpo feted the designer on the big night.
“I was the first Schutz girl, and I did a campaign for a year and a half,” Ambrosio recalled. “I launched a whole collection in New York and when he told me he was opening here, I was really happy because I’m a big fan and I’m happy to support him.”
Port said Schutz’s Madison Avenue shop “pales in comparison” to the West Coast extension of the brand. “It’s such a beautiful store and makes you want to go shopping,” she said.