Alexandre Birman showed $12,000 crystal fringe boots and new eco-friendly styles at the Ritz Paris during fashion week on Saturday.
The collection, inspired by Art Nouveau, was displayed on a decorative staircase, and shoes were intermixed with Tiffany lamps. “We launch our fall collection in New York, and then I develop our runway collection for Paris,” said Birman, who presented several of his own favorite styles, including an intricate boot inspired by stained glass windows, embellished crystal platform sandals and complicated laser-cut styles.
The entrepreneur and designer also is ramping up his sustainability efforts, and emphasized looks made from recycled cotton and cardboard, and chrome-free leather.
Birman said he and his team in Brazil worked hard to develop materials that were both environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing. “I don’t want to have a line that’s not going to look like it’s mine,” the designer noted.
Arezzo & Co., Birman’s Brazilian shoe powerhouse, aims to implement several new sustainable practices this year, including recycling 100% of waste generated during production and utilizing all renewable energy as well as recyclable packaging.
All told, the company expects to produce 16 million pairs of shoes in 2020 for its own brands as well as Vans, which it is now licensing and distributing in Brazil.
Arezzo — which is responsible for managing Vans suppliers, logistics, distribution, franchising, e-commerce and retail expansion — plans to open 15 stores with the brand in 2020. “Vans is super strong in Brazil, but it’s very hard to operate here. It’s a very challenging country with 26 states. Every single one has a different law,” Birman said.
While 85% of Arezzo’s overall revenues come from its home country, the company is making a notable play for the U.S. market, which, according to Birman, grew 52% last year. “We’ve invested a lot, and 2019 was a moment when we learned what to do and what not to do,” Birman explained.
The executive noted that the company’s logistics system allows it to drop-ship on a daily basis and serve department store partners and its own retail and e-commerce operations effectively. “Our sell-throughs are very strong,” Birman said, noting that digital growth is a critical part of the equation.
Looking ahead, Birman believes that Arezzo is well positioned to weather obstacles related to the coronavirus outbreak. The company controls its entire Brazilian supply chain and derives much of its revenues from an extensive store base.
“It’s a challenging moment for sure, but we just have to stay calm. We don’t depend on factories and we don’t depend on retailers. We are already growing because we have the product. If someone comes to me and says they want product for April, we can produce it,” Birman said.