The men’s sneaker revolution is not about to die down anytime soon, as young consumers head to the office and beyond in a pair of athletic-inspired looks. However, for some traditional men’s footwear brands, they are enticing consumers into a pair of classic looks — from cap-toe oxfords to monks — with the help of influencers, celebrities and comfort-driven products.
Here, brands weigh in on their tactics to entice the next generation into a pair of wingtips and more.
President and COO, Weyco Group Inc.
“We utilize an influencer platform, working with Dandy In The Bronx and Parker York Smith. Most of our influencers are in their early 20s to mid-30s and have a similar style aesthetic to Florsheim. They reach younger audiences not familiar with traditional dress-oriented brands. We’ve also embraced our heritage, going back to our logo from the 1900s since these younger customers think what’s authentic is cool. Our public relations agency has [helped] obtain celebrity placements that have included Chris Evans, too.”
GEORGE GLASGOW JR.
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CEO, George Cleverly & Co. Ltd.
“Over the past few years, we’ve introduced younger styles and more casual models, with a selection on Mr. Porter, featuring loafers and chukka boots on rubber soles. For a [smaller] family business like mine, social media has been important. We’re on Instagram every day with videos, [showcasing] our workshop, which is getting the interest of the younger client. We also have some cool celebrity customers, such as Henry Cavill, Daniel Radcliffe and Jason Statham. We’re proactive when it comes to working on films doing shoes for ‘Hobbs & Shaw,’ as well for the ‘Kingsman’ franchise. We’ve [also received] press [coverage] from ‘British GQ’ and Mr. Porter’s ‘The Journal,’ which has international distribution.”
VP men’s footwear design, Bruno Magli
“Dressing influencers is valuable when it comes to [attracting] younger consumers, while social platforms offer increased awareness of our luxury collections and storied heritage. Since our dress shoes have a long association with red carpet [events], during awards season demand for our formal looks is exceptionally high. However, as market trends shift, it has become necessary to develop more comfortable dress product, such as styles on a Bologna construction, detailed with soft calf and deerskin uppers. Throughout the collection, there are also classic styles paired with contemporary last shapes and unique detailing. These elements appeal to younger consumers who gravitate to similar detailing in high-end luxury sneakers.”
Creative director, footwear, Paul Stuart
“When people think of Paul Stuart, they think of dressing up. To elevate that brand awareness to younger guys, we’re now wholesaling the footwear [collection] instead of just selling it in our three stores. The line is [available] in 30 or 40 locations, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman. We’re also [updating] our product. While sneakers have become a part of a man’s wardrobe, they don’t have to be the must-wear footwear for every occasion. We’re making classic dress shoes with the comfort of a sneaker by softening toe counters, toe boxes, materials and adding cushioning. We’re also using rubber and composite soles from the athletic world. However, we don’t want to do phony, techy things.”
Partner, Cobble & Hyde
“One of our focal points is targeting recent graduates through age-appropriate ads in local publications where our retail partners are located. It includes discounts to entice this group to become brand ambassadors. As sustainability is important to these consumers, we’re educating them as to the comfort and longevity aspects of handcrafted, all-leather Blake and Bologna constructions, and to think of our shoes as an investment to be worn for years to come in contrast to mass-produced shoes that end up in landfills after one season of wear. We do in-store events and trunk shows to promote the brand, and as we’re based in Philadelphia; we have enlisted Eagles captain Malcolm Jenkins to wear our shoes.”
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