JOIN THE PACK

Di­rect-to-con­sumer la­bel Wolf & Shep­herd is of­fi­cially mak­ing the move from on­line to in stores.

Footwear News - - JOIN THE PACK - By Char­lie Car­ballo

Wolf & Shep­herd, a DTC brand, launched in 2015 with a nar­ra­tive tar­geted to pro­fes­sional men with ac­tive life­styles. Its sales pitch: de­sign light­weight Ital­ian leather dress shoes that feel like sneak­ers.

Founder Justin Sch­nei­der, who pre­vi­ously worked in prod­uct de­vel­op­ment for New Bal­ance and Adi­das, ap­plied his back­ground in run­ning shoe tech­nol­ogy to en­hance the com­fort in ca­sual dress footwear.

The for­mula seems to be work­ing. From 2016 to 2017, Wolf & Shep­herd grew nearly six­fold, ac­cord­ing to Sch­nei­der. “Within our first 12 months, we did more than $1 mil­lion in rev­enue,” he added. “Now we’re do­ing well over $10 mil­lion in rev­enue. We’ve sold 20,000 units to date.”

In ad­di­tion to sell­ing on its e-com­merce plat­form, the brand has de­vel­oped whole­sale re­tail part­ner­ships. It is stocked in 60 stores through­out North Amer­ica, and last year, that seg­ment of the busi­ness in­creased by 50 per­cent.

“On­line is a great place to be when start­ing a brand, but it does tap out over time,” said Sch­nei­der.

Next, the El Se­gundo, Calif.-based com­pany is open­ing the doors of its first bou­tique con­cept on Aug. 15 in L.A.’s Westfield Cen­tury City shop­ping plaza. There, Wolf & Shep­herd will be sur­rounded by a mix of up­scale and af­ford­able men’s stores, in­clud­ing John­ston & Mur­phy, Cole Haan and Louis Vuit­ton. Mak­ing the move even more ap­peal­ing is the lo­ca­tion’s large male de­mo­graphic, traf­fic flow and street-side fa­cade, Sch­nei­der added.

Westfield Cen­tury City’s se­nior GM, Louis Schillace, called Wolf & Shep­herd the per­fect fit: “Wel­com­ing in­no­va­tive, cut­ting-edge re­tail brands from the world of e-com­merce … is just one of the many ways we are break­ing down bound­aries be­tween dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal shop­ping to cre­ate one seam­less and fric­tion­less ex­pe­ri­ence for our cus­tomers.”

Sch­nei­der pre­dicted that this new sales chan­nel won’t af­fect his brand’s “healthy” mar­gin. “The cost of mar­ket­ing is be­ing re­placed by leases. We don’t have to mar­ket the store as we do on­line, and in­stead of pay­ing Face­book, you’re pay­ing a land­lord,” he said. “Re­tail drives profit on­line and vice versa.”

A ren­der­ing of the Wolf & Shep­herd store at Westfield Cen­tury City

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