Women's Designer Shoes: Competitive Landscape

Part
01
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Part
01

Tory Burch - Women's Designer Shoes

Tory Burch is well-known in the designer shoe industry. The brand was launched in 2004. In 2006, the Tory Burch shoe collection really came into the spotlight when she launched the popular 'Reva Ballet Flat'. Shoes in her collection include anything from sandals to boots and vary in price anywhere from $39-$689. Some of her iconic best-sellers fall in the range of $165-$275. When it comes to the brand, specifically shoes, analysis digs deeper into the strengths, weaknesses, unique brand features and competitive advantage.

Strengths

  • The brand has multiple avenues from which a consumer can purchase Tory Burch shoes — Tory Burch retail boutiques, luxury department stores and online and can be found in multiple locations worldwide
  • Retail boutiques have warm and inviting interiors that were designed "to make the customer feel better about themselves." While shopping in the store, you can also expect to find mini refrigerators stocked with beverages and iPads that customers are free to use while waiting and trying on shoes.
  • Heavy use of popular social media platformsPinterest, Instagram and blog — which you can filter and search related to shoes. Social media platforms are also utilized to launch new collections.
  • Shoes are reasonably priced and consist of high quality and comfort compared to similar styles and brands. Because of this, consumers who do not necessarily spend a lot of money on shoes are willing to splurge on Tory Burch.
  • Some of the brand's most popular products to date are shoes, such as the 'Reva Ballet Flat' starting at $198
  • Featured in fashion shows and endorsed by celebrities.
  • Some of her most popular shoes fall in the price range of $165-$275 and come in a wide range of colors, materials and patterns.

Weaknesses

  • Tory Burch has multiple competitors of similar nature and price, especially in the range of $165-$275, including Kate Spade, Micheal Kors, Marc Jacobs and Coach. A detailed graph shows how she ranks in footwear against these particular competitors.
  • Lack of interaction with consumers and followers on Tory Burch social media accounts. One source quotes Tory Burch saying “I think it can be detrimental and hurtful. Social everything has to be treated with care. I actually don’t read a lot of the comments. I try to stay away from politics, but sometimes it’s hard. I weigh in on humanity. That’s important.”

Unique Brand Features

  • Tory Burch gets her inspiration from around the world and stems from her love for history and travel. Inspiration behind her shoes is no exception.
  • All shoes have the iconic "double T" Tory Burch logo and are recognized distinctly as being Tory Burch.
  • Brand authenticity — Tory Burch brand was built with her personal story and history behind it.

Competitive Advantage

  • Tory Burch uses customer-centric approaches, including the use of an application called 'Client Book', which compiles and stores customer data over all channels. This, for example, would make it easy to buy a gift for someone who has purchased from Tory Burch before. A customer can give the sales associate a person's name, and they in turn could recommend the ideal gift based off their profile. Since implementation, the average order value has increased by 62%.
  • Tory Burch's brand authenticity as mentioned above, also serves as a major competitive advantage — she continually shows passion for her purpose and in her philanthropic efforts.
Part
02
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Part
02

IRi NYC - Women's Designer Shoes

Launched in 2017, iRi NYC is a designer shoe company that is still establishing itself in the marketplace. The shoes are unique and bold in design. The Hadid sisters have both been used to increase the brand's visibility

Strengths

  • The unique nature of the shoes is a strength for iRi NYC. The collection comprises a contemporary range of heels and sneakers.
  • The shoes are high in both quality and design, but available at a reasonable price point.
  • Unique shapes and lines are seen as defining features which make the shoes stand out.
  • The shoes are designed for comfort and durability. There is a patent pending on the custom soles.

Weaknesses

  • Designer Janet Yeung has stated there is no middle ground with these shoes. Consumers will either love them or hate them.
  • The company has also acknowledged that their current models won't be long-lasting and future collections will need to adapt if the company is to survive.

Competitive Advantage

  • The company has invested in producing a custom sneaker sole and custom heel that differentiates it from competitors.
  • iRi NYC's high-quality product at a reasonable price gives them an advantage over many other designers in the market.
  • Top models, Bella and Gigi Hadid, have promoted the brand. They appeal directly to the market IRi NYC is trying to capture. One of the benefits of using the Hadid sisters, was it helped the company become more visible, which is fundamental for an emerging company.
  • iRi NYC is equally popular with both genders.

Unique Brand Features

Research Strategy

We searched a range of industry publications, reviews, company information, interviews, and media stories, to obtain a company analysis for iRi NYC. There was very little publicly available information regarding this company. iRi NYC was only launched late in 2017 and is still gaining market traction. This is probably why there is limited information. We did manage to locate an interview with the designer, Janet Yeung, that addressed most of the key components of the analysis. This has been supplemented with information provided on the company website and by brand ambassadors, the Hadid sisters. Note, all iRi's shows are in the $165-275 range, and those on their website are all unisex.
Part
03
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Part
03

Vince - Women's Designer Shoes

Vince offers sophisticated, stylish and high-quality women's shoes in a quiet California style for aspirational customers. They invest in quality craftsmanship, high-end materials and stick to a distinct intentionally-understated brand story. Vince is coming out of a period of weakness and decreased sales, but its management is striving to make steady, forward progress.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Vince are relatively exclusive with who they partner with to get their products in third-party retailers. These include Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Hudson's Bay Company. This prevents them from having a wider distribution to reach more customers. Additionally, if one of those wholesale partners were to fail or terminate the agreement, this could also put a portion of Vince's profits in jeopardy.
  • At the moment, their international presence is extremely limited. They only have 4 international locations, though their D2C e-commerce site offers nearly-global shipping.
  • Like most fashion companies, Vince is subject to intense competition and extremely market volatility. This can result in pricing pressure, reduced profit margin, failure to grow and reduced market share. Better or longer-established brands can better sustain downturns. Vince is also vulnerable to the increased consolidation in the fashion industry.
  • The company uses a third-party distributor for its US operations, which could be a weakness in functionality.
  • They do not actually own any of their real estate.
  • The brand can be easily confused with another shoe brand called "Vince Camuto", which is also sold in similar stores like Nordstrom.
  • The brand was extremely vulnerable at the end of 2017 and doubtful about its ability to continue. Growth has been happening, though slowly.

Competitive Advantage

  • Vince states their shoe designs focus on a specific style of, "clean lines and understated details".
  • In the past two years, the brand has worked hard to convey its story of being "an L.A. brand". This has helped to reinvigorate customers' interest and engagement.
  • Its subscription rental service ("Unfold") offers a unique way for customers to experience the brand, possibly at a more affordable price point or as a gateway instead of investing in purchases initially.

Unique Brand Features

  • In many places, Vince define their style as quintessentially Californian. To them, this means refined and sophisticated, yet effortless. It's nearly minimal but still stylish and effective.
  • They use high-quality materials in their women's shoes, even doing things like making athletic sneakers out of leather.
  • The brand strives to maintain its "quietness", using that to stand out in an Instagram world, using it as a point customers come to rely on instead of loud or gimmicky statements.
  • Their image is "coastal lifestyle" that is "globally aspirational".
Part
04
of eight
Part
04

Everlane - Women's Designer Shoes

Everlane offers shoes and clothing that are manufactured ethically and in a way that offers complete transparency to customers. The company focuses on producing wardrobe essentials that are sold for less markup than most fashion retailers.

Strengths

  • The company sells direct to consumers through their website or by allowing customers to place orders at their physical store locations. The stores offer access to the company's entire collection so customers can touch the product as well as try items on. This allows prices to be kept low as middlemen are eliminated.
  • Everlane has a strong relationship with its factories, which helps keep quality consistent.
  • The "radical transparency" promoted by the company means that customers know upfront where products are made and how much they cost to manufacture.
  • The company focuses on keeping things simple and providing basic essentials for customers.
  • Because Everlane is so transparent with its pricing, they also have a unique way of dealing with overstock. They have a Choose What You Pay section of their website where products are offered for three different prices and consumers can choose how much profit the company will get on select items. This puts consumers in control of their spending.

Weaknesses

  • Products are mainly available to be ordered which could be a negative for some consumers. Although the company does have four retail locations, many customers will not have a location nearby.
  • There have been times when the company has not been able to keep up with demand and customers had long wait times for products. At one point, the wait list for a particular pair of shoes was over 15,000 people long.
  • It appears that the only option for getting help is through email, which may be a negative for people who want to get a more immediate response.

Competitive Advantage

  • Everlane's concept of being "radically transparent" sets them apart from the competition because they are doing something that few others in the industry do. For every item they sell, they disclose the total cost for the item, including materials, labor, transport, duties, and hardware. The customer can then see how the total cost of the product compares to the price they pay.
  • The company marks items up by 2-3 times the cost, compared to the 5-6 times they claim the industry typically uses.
  • To ensure transparency around how their items are manufactured, Everlane has links to all their factories on their website with information on where they are located, how the company found them, and who the owner is. Each factory has to complete compliance audits to ensure they are meeting Everlane's requirements in the areas of wages, hours, and working environment.
  • The company also focuses on being environmentally friendly and announced in late 2018 that it would only use recycled plastic in all areas of its operations by 2021.

Unique Brand Features

  • Everlane has a unique contrast heel feature on their shoes.
  • The company wants to design shoes that focus on both style and comfort.
  • Everlane focuses on details that elevate their shoes to the next level. An example of this is covered zippers on their Day Boot.
  • The packaging that Everlane uses to ship product matches the brand well as it is minimal and aims to keep the brand messaging front and center.

Bonus Source

  • The research uncovered an already completed SWOT analysis on Everlane that is being included as additional reference material beyond what was included in this report.
Part
05
of eight
Part
05

Alexander Wang - Women's Designer Shoes

Alexander Wang's iconic, street cool, hip-hop influenced style--featured in his collaboration with Adidas--has made him a pop culture star among a certain cliche of female consumers, dubbed the "Wang Gang." His strengths, competitive advantage, and unique brand features--permeating also his designer women's shoes--emerge from his overall aesthetic, leading him to disrupt the fashion industry by embracing Athleisure, cultivating a select niche of fans, and effectively using social media for marketing. His weaknesses are, in some measure, the flip side of his youth culture aesthetic insofar as his experiments have angered the industry, brought him some bad press over a sweatshop dispute, and made him vulnerable to market pressures because of the exclusivity of his brand.

Strengths

  • BrandZ, in its report on the top 100 global brands, noted that Athleisure brands made gains in brand value while fashion brands, in general, showed far more modest gains. Alexander Wang is mentioned specifically in this report as an example of a luxury designer, who because of his collaboration with Adidas--including women's shoes at the $165-275 price point--was a thought leader influencing more traditional fitness and wellness (Athleisure) brands to "adapt strategies from luxury [brands]."
  • Wang is considered adept at using social media channels--in very unconventional ways--to build relationships with consumers. He is considered a thought leader in transforming the way fashion houses communicate and build relationships with consumers. His personal Instagram and YouTube accounts serve to communicate features of his hip, cool, and "with it" personality in a more spontaneous way. He uses social media hashtags, such as #WangFest and #Wangover, to communicate after parties.
  • Wang is considered a fashion industry disrupter, which has, according to Business Insider, helped his revenue in a very difficult industry. Among the ways he flouts conventions, is his decision to no longer participate in the New York Fashion week, but rather debut his collections more in line with when consumers are turning their sites to new seasons. This move is inspired, in part, with his collaborations with Adidas.

Weaknesses

  • Wang's experiments to debut his new collections during Fashion week--including women's designer shoes--in the Fall 2018 and Spring 2018 was met with "considerable backlash" from the fashion press. He arranged to have these two shoes in off-the-beaten-path venues--an abandoned Harlem theater and empty street in Brooklyn respectively--that made it difficult for the press to cover, while also covering debuts in the more traditional venues and time slots. The Brooklyn venue also created major traffic jams.
  • Wang's unconventionality includes his decision to not develop his brand in coordination with a luxury house--who puts up capital and requires designers to remain for a significant period. Thus, his label is smaller and more vulnerable to market shifts in the fashion industry. His brand, moreover, is only 15 years old.
  • According to a 2018 brand audit, Wang does not leverage brand loyalty for his apparel (including women's footwear) because of the high price point, marketing of it to a select crowd, and limited sizes available.
  • Wang faced a specific threat to his brand when a lawsuit was filed against him for violating sweatshop labor laws in NYC. His sales dropped as a result of this accusation because his specific niche of luxury customers promote social causes like eliminating sweatshop labor in the fashion industry.

Competitive Advantage

  • Alexander Wang, according to Cosmopolitan editor Amy Odell, observed: “If I had learned anything going to his runway shows, it was that young women could be made instantly hip by owning a piece of Wang.”
  • Wang is known for having a cliche of cool celebrities and models that follow his style--the "Wang Gang" and he throws unconventional after-parties where he may feature a pop-up store selling his Adidas sneakers and food stands including McDonald's or 7-Eleven. His after-parties are referred to as "WangFest" parties.

Unique Brand Features

  • Wang's general aesthetic (exhibited in his designer women's shoe collection), according to Highsnobeity Magazine, exudes a "youthful spirit," incorporating themes from street culture, drawn from his observation of New York City's nightlife scene "in a way that high-fashion hadn't been accustomed to" and mixing elements of high and low culture (like this example of furry, plastic, rhinestone women's heels). On this latter point, Highsnobiety describes his approach to women's high fashion (including shoes) as if the apparel were stolen from "their cool quasi-skater boyfriend" but in such a way that eliminated the need for the boyfriend altogether.
  • Wang's (brand) name is "casually dropped in rap songs" and can boast fans, such as Rihanna and the Kardashians; the celebrity endorsement surrounding his brand image has enabled him to become well-known in pop culture. Kourtney Kardashian, for example, showed off her Alexander Wang, high-heeled slingback sandals on Instagram, which are also interestingly mismatched (one has a strap for the big toe, while the other has a V strap across the toes).
  • Wang's collections, including his third season collaboration with Adidas, purposely printed "mistakes" or crafted "imperfections" considered cool to young fashionistas embracing an "ugly" trend.

Research Strategy

To locate sources that examined the strengths, weaknesses, competitive advantage, and unique brand features of Alexander Wang's designer shoes aimed at women, the team focused on business periodicals (Business Insider), fashion magazines (Vogue and Highsnobeity), and industry reports (BrandZ and a brand audit by Autumn West). While many of the sources focused overall on his brand--encompassing clothing, footwear, and accessories, the team searched within these sources for specific reference to his designer women's shoes. We also did some specific searches on his footwear based on information gathered from the above sources about his collaborations with Adidas and his celebrity fans, such as the Kardashians.
Part
06
of eight
Part
06

M. Gemi - Women's Designer Shoes

M. Gemi, launched in 2015, is a Boston-based e-commerce brand selling luxurious handmade Italian footwear created by small artisanal workshops across Italy. M. Gemi has a range of affordable, high-quality shoes as compared to other brands in the luxury footwear market. They have collaborated with Draper James, a clothing brand by Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon, to reintroduce some of their bestsellers with new touches.

Strengths

  • Though many of the M. Gemi footwear is at the pricier end, there are many products like loafers, sneakers, moccasins, and flats which come under the price range of USD 165-275. By cutting out the middleman, M. Gemi can sell handmade products with Italian craftsmanship at a reasonable price point.
  • Rather than creating season's worth of designs together, mini-collections are launched every Monday for a limited time. This gives the shoppers a reason to keep coming back to the store for fresh designs every week.
  • The company has expanded its business to bricks and mortar stores in New York and Boston, where customers can walk in and try all the designs currently available with M. Gemi. However, shoes aren't meant to be purchased from these stores, rather, shoppers can sample different shoes and then order them online via tablet on the spot or later through the company website.

Weaknesses

  • M. Gemi is notorious for its out of stock products. The company follows a small scale and handmade process, which means production in limited batches and this leads to frequent sellouts.
  • Most of the styles available with M. Gemi are launched for a limited period, except for few styles like Felize and Corsa. Therefore, it is difficult to get customer attention and engagement within a short period.
  • The brand is well-known for its quality, but certain items like sneakers are expensive compared to other competitors in the market.

Competitive Advantage

  • One of the most popular shoes for this brand is Felize. It reached a record wait list of 36,000 in 2018 and has more than 600 five star reviews on its website. This made the brand social media famous, as compared to its competitors.
  • M. Gemi has used a gelato truck, which travels around the U.S., to act as a showroom for its styles and an excellent marketing technique for the brand.
  • The brand has an active presence on social media through a fresh Instagram profile and in tapping the influencer market. Collaborations with Reese Witherspoon to reintroduce some of the brand bestsellers in new styles has helped generate a buzz online.

Unique Brand Features

  • Innovative yet timeless designs using exclusive-to-brand materials like naplak leather, water-resistant nubuck, and textured saffiano are being created by M. Gemi.
  • New styles and collaborations every Monday helps them deliver products that change consistently.

Research Strategy

Research included industry publications, media articles, and reviews in order to obtain an overview of the company and its products. Most of the publicly available information was restricted to reviews about a few famous products, yet, we managed to find articles about its products that addressed the required components of this research supplemented with information from the company website. Since M. Gemi has products under various price ranges, only those products that are between the price range of $165-$275 were considered.


Part
07
of eight
Part
07

JOIE - Women's Designer Shoes

JOIE, a contemporary women clothing brand, is an affiliate of the Collective Group. It is one of 3 labels owned by the company. The two others are Equipment and Current/Elliott. JOIE is also a designer shoe maker, with a variety of popular models priced between 150-250 euros. The brand represents 75% of Collective Group, but suffers from a lack of stores outside the U.S.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • JOIE is mainly an apparel brand and its business is driven by this category, and not shoes.
  • The company has a lack of presence outside the U.S. with no stores of its own.
  • Despite being famous in the U.S., it is not as popular worldwide.
  • JOIE lacks a merchandising team to create the link between the New York sales team and the design team.
  • The umbrella company that own JOIE has important liabilities and is heavily dependent on the backing of its controlling shareholder.

Competitive Advantage

Unique Brand

Part
08
of eight
Part
08

Women's Designer Shoes - Price Range Specific Insights

Additional insights for the market of women's designer shoes within the price range of 150-250 Euros (approximately $165 — $275) showed that in the sneaker category, shoes within this price range are on the high end. Also, women's designer shoes priced between $165 and $275 are among the best-selling shoes, but they are not among the most expensive, which typically starts from $500.

Five Additional Insights for Women's Designer Shoes of $165 to $275

  • According to a report by NY Mag, some best women's designer shoes in the sneaker category between the price range of $165 — $275 are in the high end, as some shoes in this category start from $50. Based on the report, women's designer sneaker shoe brands within $165 — $275 include John Elliott x Nike Air Force 1 ($165), Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 ($270), Frye Ivy Sneakers (from $188), Converse Chuck 70 Hi ($195), and others.
  • Branded Girls' report listed the most expensive women's designer shoe brands and the price range of each. As per the report, women's designer shoes regarded as expensive typically start from $500 and go way up to $10,000 and above, showing that shoes within the price range of $165 — $275 are not among the most expensive options.
  • Shoes priced between $165 and $275 are among the 2019 best-selling women's designer women shoes, according to Blooming Dales' report. Within this price range are products from brands like Aqua ($199), Via Spiga ($275), Dolce Vita ($160), Marc Fisher LTD ($249), and others.
  • The bestseller list by Blooming Dales' report indicated that women designer's shoes priced between $165 and $275 attracts significant interest from buyers, which is also indicative of a saturated market, as they were among the most sold women's designer shoes.
  • According to a report by Who What Wear, the average monthly spend on clothing, including shoes, is about 5% for those earning around $3,000 per month, which amounts to $150/month. This information revealed that women's designer shoes priced between $165 and $275 are better targeted at people earning above $3,000 monthly, considering the average per month budget on clothing in the US.

Research Strategy:

The research team examined market studies, news articles, and media reports relevant to women's designer shoes in search of insights into those priced approximately from $165 to $275. Specifically, we investigated how shoes in this specified range compared across different categories, among the most expensive options, within the bestseller shoes, as well as insights into the type of people who buy shoes within $165 — $275. This investigation produced reports by NY Mag, Prisoner of Class, Branded Girls, Bloomingdales, and others, with the needed insights.


Sources
Sources

From Part 05
Quotes
  • "In late June 2016, Wang announced that he’d be taking on the roles of CEO and chairman, positions previously held by his sister-in-law, Aimee Wang, and his mother, Yin Wang, respectively, in addition to remaining the company’s creative director. Similar moves have prompted skepticism in the past, as leading both the creative and business sides of a house can risk compromise, but the consistent clarity of his brand messaging and continuous support from consumers prove that Wang can effectively balance both responsibilities."
  • "In her 2015 memoir, Tales From the Back Row, writer and Cosmopolitan editor Amy Odell recalls, “If I had learned anything going to his runway shows, it was that young women could be made instantly hip by owning a piece of Wang.”"
  • "Wang’s seamless merging of business with pleasure through events and collaborations has enabled consumers to feel as though they are buying into a brand culture and lifestyle, not just cold wearable commodities."
  • "In the end, it’s not difficult to grasp the success of Alexander Wang. Of course there’s the spectacle of it all: the dazzling parties, celebrity endorsements and an effortlessly cool clique of supermodel glitterati. But more so, there’s the sentiment of a designer who’s never shied away from celebrating his youthful spirit and thrill for good times, which makes the brand’s ethos all the more relatable, though the price point remains decidedly aspirational. This is the designer who ushered in the “high/low” movement, after all."