What Does It Take To Do Business With Nordstrom?

It’s all about breadth, according to Kristin Frossmo, EVP and GMM of Nordstrom’s shoe division.

She sat down with FN editorial director Michael Atmore to talk all things shoes on Monday in New York. The two were part of Nordstrom Live, the retailer’s three-day summit held for its top sellers and stylists across the country.

When it comes to growing its brand portfolio, Fossmo said, Nordstrom is looking for companies that offer expansive assortments.

“We have an ability to talk to brands and they listen. There’s real receptiveness. You look at Gucci or Valentino [with] this massive breadth, and that [enables] us to pull together a line that really has a huge range of classifications,” Frossmo said. To do business with Nordstrom, she said, “You have to have penetration in all these classifications, by season, and have the flow and choices. We are fortunate in the sense that we spend a lot of time in those conversations [with purveyors] because we want to grow and do more business with brands that are relevant to our customer.”

Newness is also a key to success, on both the brand and retailer side, which is why Nordstrom’s new New York City flagship will have more than 55 shoe exclusives when it opens to the public on Oct. 24.

Frossmo acknowledged New York’s already abundant shoe choices in this enormous market. “No one needs another place to buy shoes in New York,” she said. “But when you see the way we’ve brought together the mix of brands, the point of view and [how we’re] really trying to deliver the essence of each brand to the assortment and how it comes together in the most spectacular space, that I have confidence in. That’s what I’m most excited about.”

As far as trends are concerned, boots are back and will be spotlighted for the debut of Nordstrom’s New York store. Prominent styles will include combat boots, to-the-knee boots and boots seen in animal prints and colors, Frossmo said. Other looks for fall include the Mary Jane and a mix of feminine yet tough silhouettes coming from Dior, Malone Souliers and Gucci.

A major part of Nordstrom’s women’s shoe business is sneakers, accounting for 20% of sales.

Atmore said, “Market saturation isn’t always the end or the beginning of a trend. It’s just evidence that there was so much demand. Sneakers are a staple and it’s something everyone wants in their wardrobe. The question is which shoe?”

“That part is changing pretty quickly,” Frossmo responded, noting Golden Goose and Alexander McQueen as brand standouts. “Right now, it is the clean white sneaker. Sneakers are an entry point for our customers. That’s where they start and they grow with us in other parts of our business.”

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