After three decades cornering the rain boot market, Joules is out do the same in lifestyle footwear. Starting this fall, the company, based in Market Harborough, England, has expanded its offering of leather boots, shoes and sandals for men and women in response to customer demand.
Bil Waring, senior footwear buyer, pointed out that the brand stepped into the leather footwear category seven years ago, but it wasn’t until the 2014 debut of a women’s Chelsea boot that consumers took significant notice. “It brought a lot of our old customers into the category, and it started to take off ,” he said.
This fall, the spotlight is on men’s with the introduction of the Bourne Chelsea boot, the Hyde lace-up and the Keel brogue, retailing from $78 to $143. “[Our prior men’s collection] was something we did without any real conviction,” said Waring. Joules is also growing its women’s business for fall with the launch of the Compton, a tall boot with a suede shaft, and the Finchdale, a mid-height shearling boot in water-resistant leather.
Spring ’19 will welcome several new women’s leather sandals. “They were something we’ve been asked for quite a lot [by retailers and consumers],” said Waring. “We had them before, but having two styles in two color ways, it got lost. We’ve now built a range.” In addition for spring, the label will launch loafers and canvas sneakers in the U.S. for the first time. The entire line retails for $65 to $220.
Today, footwear represents 27 percent of Joules’ U.S. business, with distribution in major accounts including Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Belk, Anthropologie and Zappos, as well as regional stores such as Shoe Station. While the brand is staking a greater claim in traditional shoes, by no means does it plan to abandon its signature rain boots.
“We’re finding the leather side of the business is growing so quickly, it’s catching up with rubber,” said Waring, “but it’s not taking sales away from that [category]. Instead, the customer buying rain boots is also buying flip-flops and Chelsea boots.”