Consumers might need a pair of dress shoes for work or a wedding, but they’re sometimes faced with a dilemma: How can they buy a high-quality pair of dress shoes that don’t break the bank? High-end dress shoes in department stores can cost hundreds, sometimes even more than a thousand dollars, but Christopher Echevarria thought there had to be a better way to purchase high-quality formal footwear.
To take on the dress shoe market, Echevarria decided to partner with a factory in England that produces shoes for top fashion brands and form his own brand, Blackstock & Weber. Since the factory charged a reasonable price, he was able to pass on a reasonable price to the consumer. And the shoes are high quality: “The English have been making shoes the same way pretty much since the 15th century,” Blackstock & Weber CEO and Founder Echevarria told PYMNTS in an interview. “English shoes are widely known as the best shoes that you can buy.”
The shoes are designed to be accessible to a wide range of clients — and appropriate for different environments. “I wanted shoes that you could take from the office to the pub,” Echevarria said. Overall, he seeks to provide all the classic styles that consumers might have seen their dads wear or even spotted on classic posters with actors such as Steve McQueen.
To provide consumers with more choice, Blackstock & Weber offers a B&W Bespoke Program that allows customers to order custom shoes. The move comes as buyers have become more conservative, Echevarria said, leading to less choices. Hoping to expand the selection for its customers, Blackstock & Weber offers a way to order unique shoes through the program.
“We’re allowing the customer to take any of the silhouettes that we have in the site and do them in over 60 different materials,” Echevarria said. Once they order the shoes, consumers can have them within about 8 weeks, which is fast for the industry, Echevarria said.
But Echevarria is seeking to take the process high-tech by creating a NIKEiD-like digital platform. The new service, which may come within the next few months, would allow Blackstock & Weber to offer the Bespoke Program to customers in more markets: As of now, the program is only by appointment in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Additionally, through the platform, Blackstock & Weber will be able to manage data and see what people design. Through those designs, the company can decide what to offer in its core selection.
The Path Ahead
While consumers can currently purchase shoes directly through the company’s eCommerce website, Blackstock & Weber is exploring retail partnerships. But it’s being selective, and Echevarria is looking to have the best visibility for his shoes with partners in line with his brand’s message. He expects his shoes will pop up at a few retailers over the next eight to 12 months.
Beyond expansion outside its direct-to-consumer channel, Echevarria is also thinking of expanding into other goods. “We’re starting our journey with shoes,” Echevarria said. “[But] we see ourselves moving into other categories of menswear.”
In all, Echevarria wants to be on the forefront of customers’ minds when it comes to all menswear — not just shoes. “I want us to eventually be the shop that you think about when you want a classic style for your wardrobe,” Echevarria said.