It’s challenging to break into the high-end shoe world today, but Mercedes Castillo’s deep industry experience is helping her find early success with her eponymous brand.
The designer will show her modern, architecturally driven fall collection this week at FFANY following a spring ’17 launch. Her debut line is rolling out at top retailers in the U.S. and globally, including Nordstrom, Net-a-Porter, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lane Crawford and Level Shoes.
“The brand connects with how people want to dress today. Its essence is about creativity, imagination, inspiration and optimism,” said Castillo, who is working with Camuto Group on the venture. The designer, who built the Tory Burch shoe business with Camuto, also served as creative director of contemporary brands at the latter, before launching her own business. “Mercedes is an extraordinary, talented designer that has been with the organization for many years,” said Alex Del Cielo, chairman and CEO of the Camuto Group. “The collection offers a bold point of view that is very wearable. Retailers instantly responded with enthusiasm and support.”
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Castillo and the Camuto team were determined to develop shoes with a sharp price point that would be competitive for retailers — and attractive for consumers. The spring ’17 collection is priced from $198 to $595, while fall retails for $198 to $850.
Major retailers are upbeat about the potential for the brand, which is produced in Brazil and Spain and imports some materials from Italy. “The collection is just that — a true collection. It has a distinctly identifiable point of view,” said Anne Egan, VP and DMM of designer shoes at Nordstrom. “Mercedes has an amazing sense of color as evidenced in her first collection. She applied a wardrobing approach to the line with the potential to sell multiple pairs to one customer.”
Sara Wong, DMM for the Lane Crawford account at Pedder Group, said Castillo’s slides, mules, block heels and architectural heels resonated with consumers in the Asian market. “Mercedes not only placed emphasis on the right silhouettes and fit but also has amazing details ranging from leather pleating to beautiful architectural hardware that is very cohesive throughout,” said Wong.
While Castillo is making a statement with her shoes, she is also determined to succeed in handbags, ready-to-wear and jewelry. She said, “We definitely believe it’s a lifestyle brand, and that’s how we want to establish ourselves.”