Feet at the run­way-ready: we meet the co-founders of e-com­merce shoe re­tailer Martha Louisa

It’s a great time for peo­ple who love to get their feet run­way-ready. KIM BUI KOL­LAR meets the founders of e-com­merce lux­ury shoe re­tailer MARTHA LOUISA

#Legend - - SPY CAM -

LET’S GET DOWN to busi­ness – the shoe busi­ness. I’m meet­ing Christoph and Su­sanne Botschen at the Cril­lon be­fore their first press event for their new on­line shoe em­po­rium, Martha Louisa. The hus­band-and-wife duo started the Ger­man spe­cial­ity fash­ion bou­tique MyTheresa, then launched an e-com­merce plat­form of the same name, which con­sumers loved and Amer­i­can-based re­tail group Neiman Mar­cus ac­quired in 2014. Dur­ing their three-year non-com­pete agree­ment af­ter the sale, they trav­elled the world and had a lot of fun. But they wanted to get back to busi­ness – do­ing some­thing they love.

The pair bring a great pres­ence to the room, even one as fab­u­lous and hushed as the main bar at the Cril­lon. Christoph is very tall with­out be­ing im­pos­ing, but he’s the qui­eter type – it’s easy to tell that Su­sanne is the zeal­ous voice of their busi­ness. She’s wear­ing some amaz­ing fine jew­ellery with flour­ish, paired with a satin bomber jacket in pas­tel colours.

What would you say is the state of lux­ury fash­ion to­day?

In terms of ready-to-wear, it’s not my topic any­more. Things are chang­ing. The way peo­ple dress is more solid and more laid back, but it’s also more so­phis­ti­cated. It doesn’t mat­ter that ev­ery­thing is su­per­high-end. There’s a re­turn to pretty. It’s not so stuck any­more – I love it!

[She cuts away to or­der a salad in per­fect French, then turns to Christoph to ask if he wants to split a sand­wich, in what sounds like per­fect Ger­man, and con­tin­ues.]

It’s the con­tem­po­rary lux­ury price point. At the end of the day, peo­ple don’t want to spend that kind of money any­more. Not be­cause they can’t, but they don’t want to.

And they don’t have to. I think this is tes­ta­ment to style con­fi­dence.

This is ex­actly why we think there’s a need to do shoes. This doesn’t ex­ist in the e-com­merce space, any­where. We have all the ma­jor brands on board, but at the same time, this af­ford­able lux­ury – there is so much out there. There are so many great brands and prod­ucts.

How in­ter­est­ing, though, to go from multi-brand and multi- cat­e­gory to specif­i­cally one cat­e­gory. It’s not even shoes and bags, which is the tra­di­tional pair­ing…

It’s re­ally just shoes. First of all, we don’t think shoes have any­thing to do with bags. We think it’s high time for a spe­cial­ist, par­tic­u­larly in the e-com­merce sec­tor, which plays the ma­jor role to­day.

The big guys are be­com­ing are so mas­sive. It’s such a jun­gle of mer­chan­dise. They have to in­crease their turnovers, the bud­gets are get­ting big­ger – which means that ev­ery heel height, ev­ery colour, ev­ery ver­sion is se­lected. There isn’t a true cu­ra­tion. But even shoes, as a cat­e­gory, is so big.

So we tried to cu­rate what we think is beau­ti­ful and spe­cial. We aren’t afraid of spe­cial. We don’t go purely com­mer­cial. But if some­thing is com­mer­cial and good, we em­brace that too. It’s just about the best of shoes. There will be a lot of brands unique to us.

The ad­van­tage that you have in your court is the emo­tional quo­tient of shoes. Sweaters and dresses don’t seem to con­jure those pure emo­tional re­ac­tions – but on a re­ally good shoe day, some­body will cross the street to pay a com­pli­ment.

100 per cent! And shoes make you so happy. Peo­ple don’t even have to wear them. Just own­ing them makes you happy. What girl doesn’t love shoes?

What will be new about the func­tion­al­ity of Martha Louisa?

Don’t ex­pect a new in­ven­tion. We have learned a lot devel­op­ing MyTheresa. Peo­ple have learned how to shop on­line for some time now. I think it would be wrong to in­vent a new “wheel”. Peo­ple want prod­uct. They want it now and with flaw­less­ness. We aim to be cus­tomer-ori­ented.

Any lessons from MyTheresa that you’re bringing to Martha Louisa?

We have been re­tail­ers for a long time. [Christoph pipes in: “For­ever!”] Our ex­per­tise is that we know cus­tomers and their needs, and we re­ally take that se­ri­ously. But at the end of the day, it’s prod­uct. We have ex­pe­ri­ence with cus­tomers all over the world. We know the size needs of the dif­fer­ent re­gions, and that Asia needs more sizes at both ends of the range, from tiny ( 34 and below) to big­ger

( 39 and above).

What else are you ex­cited about?

The prod­uct! There are some great con­tem­po­rary brands that we can’t get enough of. But also in the more el­e­vated space is Fabrizio Viti, Chloe Gos­selin, Sa­muele Failli – these de­sign­ers who cre­ate the shoes for the houses like Louis Vuit­ton and Valentino, but have their own brands to ex­press their vi­sions. I love Suzanne Rae and Gray Mat­ters, both based in New York. We have a Ger­man – af­ter Jil San­der, there was no­body – but Aeyde is fab­u­lous; they’re based in Ber­lin, great price for su­per-cool booties. We also have quite a few ex­clu­sive cap­sules. There’s one with Le­an­dra Me­dine-Co­hen aka the Man Re­peller. The Prada ex­clu­sives are also one of my favourites. We’ve got ev­ery­thing un­der one roof – only shoes, only women. No­body else does this.

When the idea came to you to launch a shoe con­cept, which was the first brand you ap­proached?

Prada! #

This page: The Prada ex­clu­sive cap­sule for Martha Louisa

Op­po­site page: The MR by Man Re­peller ex­clu­sives

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