Exclusive: Rebecca Minkoff Talks Camuto Partnership & See-Now-Buy-Now Ahead of NYFW Show

Rebecca and Uri Minkoff are all about evolution. As the brother-sister duo continues to be a leader in the see-now, buy-now runway shift, they are pumping up their shoe business. The team is confident that a new footwear partnership with Camuto Group will expand the depth of the collection, as well as strengthen the brand’s position in the market. “We’re the opening price point in the contemporary space, so we see a golden area where people are willing to trade up or trade down,” said Uri Minkoff.

Alex Del Cielo, CEO of Camuto Group, which is in the process of being sold to Aldo Group, said the Minkoffs’ expertise is critical to the plan. “Rebecca has built a brand we admire — she has a unique point of view, and the customer base is engaged and unwavering,” he said. Retailers also saluted the brand’s ability to tap into consumer needs. “Rebecca does a great job of staying connected with our customer,” said Gemma Lionello, EVP and GMM of accessories and beauty at Nordstrom. “She continues to evolve the assortment based on our customers’ lifestyle and needs.”

This week, buyers will once again visit the Minkoffs’ store in Soho for their Sept. 9 show. After it wraps, the doors of the boutique will open to consumers, who can shop the fall collection straight off the runway and meet fashion influencers. Hear more from the Minkoffs about how they are taking see-now, buy-now to the next level, the big opportunity in shoes and promoting women in tech.

Why is the Camuto Group the right partner for your brand?

UM: “We’ve had a lot of [expansion] in footwear the past couple of years, and we’re excited about the idea of making it our biggest growth area. There seems to be a tremendous amount of retailer support for us to occupy a signi cant space, and Camuto is the right partner to help us explore that. It’s not a license. We’ll work with them on designing and manufacturing.”

RM: “They have an incredible history of quality, t and design knowledge. To be able to tap into their strengths in all of those areas will only help. To be able to tap into someone who’s an expert in the making of a shoe — and is on the pulse of what’s
happening with our design aesthetic — is a really great match.”

What will you do different under the Camuto Group?

RM: “Our goal is to deepen the relationship with our consumer any way we can. We have a great dia- logue with her. By tapping into [the Camuto Group’s] expert craftsman- ship and sourcing, I can get closer to her and do it in a timeline that’s closer to what my girl wants when she wants it.”

UM: “Since we launched the see-buy- wear concept into the fashion space, we wanted to evaluate how Rebecca can [work much faster] on design as well as sample, test, react and ll much closer to need on a more aggressive calendar. Now we are able to say, ‘Here are some sketches, let’s get the samples, test them in our stores and get behind the ones that work.’ ”

Inside the Soho Rebecca Minkoff store
Inside the Soho Rebecca Minkoff store.
CREDIT: Joshua Scott

How will the collection change overall?

UM: “We had reset our price point this past fall ’16 season, so we will continue looking at the market and seeing where our handbags are priced in relation to the foot- wear. The amount of resources that they’re putting behind this, in terms of team size and experience, is amazing. We seem to have the best breed of professionals guiding us through a number of disciplines. That gives our retail partners a tremendous amount of faith.” Across the industry, see-now, buy-now has had mixed results. Are you satisfied with how it’s working for you?

RM: “For sure. The customer really appreciates that we’re talking to her about what she wants now and when she can have it. It’s shown in our sales.”

UM: “We’ve had between 40 to 60 percent increases, year over year, in our direct channels from that pro- gram. Our customer loves seeing the key trends of the season and that they don’t have to wait. That’s an important part of our business. The Camuto Group is on board for allowing us to present that way. Exclusives are key. Maybe you’re one of 50 or 100 that got an item — those are [major] considerations to take into account.”

How will your marketing tactics shift with this new partnership?

UM: “There’s a sea of product on the market, so the customer really wants to know what Rebecca’s key must- haves are. You’ll see in some of our marketing that Rebecca is taking more of a front-and-center role.”

RM: “We did a great campaign last fashion week that was shoe-focused. You’ll see more intense marketing around the shoes. It’s in our feed all of the time, whether it’s in my [Insta- gram] Stories or my Snapchat about what I’m wearing. You’ll see peak moments of targeted, strategic focus. Since I can’t be on a tour bus 365 days a year, I’m taking the products that I love the most and curating and editing it.”

Overall, what have been the biggest brand highlights this year?

RM: “Watches launched in June, and that was a big deal for us. I had a watch inspiration folder for three years, so to be able to throw that away because we did it was really exciting.”

UM: “We just opened our European headquarters in Milan. We debuted a store in Kuala Lumpur, as well as a second shop in Thailand. We’re also launching our rst agship store in Venice.”

You relaunched the Uri Minko men’s line in 2015. How will that collection change or evolve?

UM: “Men’s watches debuted as well, in 40 Nordstrom doors. We had a phe- nomenal sell-through and exceeded their expectations. All of our footwear is currently made in Europe, and starting next year, our bags will be made in Europe as well. We’re having fun with it — it’s become a bigger ac- cessories focus.”

Rebecca Minkoff fall shoe
Rebecca Minkoff gives FN a preview of her fall collection, inspired by the Rolling Stones.
CREDIT: Courtesy of company

The brand continues to focus on high-tech innovations, both in your products and stores. What’s new on that front?

UM: “The tech accessory space has been big for us. Whether it’s chargers or phone cases, it’s been an explosion for us that we didn’t see coming.”

You’ve both been champions for women working in tech. What kind of progress has been made?

RM: “There’s so much more to do. In fashion, you can forget because you see women everywhere, but in a lot of STEM elds and a lot of tech compa- nies, the work is just scratching the surface. I’m still championing it, and talking about it, to get that dialogue raised to the surface.”

UM: “Social and commerce platforms, they’ve changed the way shopping is done — to be able to go on an Insta- gram feed and buy something now. Having more females at the table who are designing technical solutions that will change the way women shop is intuitive for them.”

Would you consider your company a millennial company?

RM: “We don’t necessarily say, ‘We’re only going to hire millennials,’ but we certainly attract a lot of them by the nature of how we market our product. The majority are millennials, and we even have some Gen Z now.”

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