When 30-year-old fashion-comfort brand Aerosoles began to show some mileage, it was time for a tuneup. So the Edison, N.J.-based company began to update its styling and comfort technology.
“[Our] strategy is not to walk away from the DNA of Aerosoles, but to modernize the product and make it more relevant for today’s consumers,” said Sandy Coviello, chief product officer.
That process — intended to appeal to both core and new, younger consumers — called for the introduction of more relevant toe shapes and heel heights, as well as more emphasis on the sport-fusion category, according to Coviello.
At the same time, it was important to retain the key Aerosoles characteristics of flexibility and lightness. “The athletic market doesn’t have to own how you feel in shoes and what you can do in them,” said CEO Shawn Neville. “The industry has gravitated toward three pockets: fashion, traditional and athletic-comfort. We want to lead in the fusion of performance and fashion.”
To enhance the comfort aspect of the brand, this spring Aerosoles launched its first removable footbed (complete with arch support and memory foam) in select styles and will expand for fall ’17. “We [initially incorporated] the new footbeds into more tailored and casual looks and are now moving the concept into higher heel dress shoes for fall,” said Coviello, noting that this is the brand’s first technology update in five years.
Beyond technical changes, Aerosoles has been upgrading the quality of its collection over the past two years, with better-grade materials and product finishes. However, that move came with slightly higher price points. “Chasing some of the older styles without updating them created price commoditization,” said Neville. “The same consumer buying the same product was looking for a deal. By giving the shoes a slightly better feel and upgrade, we’ve been able to re-establish [the brand].”
For spring ’17, for instance, Aerosoles’ average prices ranged from $69 to $89, which is up from $59 to $79 in spring ’15. The fall ’17 line, meanwhile, will retail from $69 to $199 for boots.
“We’re not trying to move [customers] up $30, but we want to shift her up $10 or $15, while giving her something just slightly better,” said Neville.
Courtney Barry, merchandising director for men’s and women’s at Shoebuy.com, which has been selling the line since 2001, is on board with the new pricing strategy. “The [brand’s] aesthetic has been elevated,” she said. “I believe the customer will understand why some of the price points have been raised.”
Mark Shively, owner of Shoe Stop, a two-unit family store in Owensboro, Ky., said Aerosoles’ moderate prices make it a good fit with the store’s higher-ticket comfort lines. “A lot of our casuals are well over [their prices],” he said, “so the brand has room to move without bumping up against them.”
Aerosoles has not walked away from lower-priced product, however. It continues to offer sister brand A2, priced in the $59 to $79 range and sold in chains such as Kohl’s and JCPenney.
The core line, meanwhile, has been placed in Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and other stores. “Going forward, A2 will sit as an opening price point for us,” said Neville.
Today, Aerosoles is sold in 10,000 doors in 40 countries, operates 90 full-price stores in the U.S. and has 250 partnership stores globally. In addition, 35 to 40 percent of sales are generated through its e-commerce site.