By  on January 23, 2012

NEW YORK — Sigerson Morrison mysteriously disappeared last fall — but the footwear brand is being strategic about its comeback, starting with its spring and pre-fall collections.

Users visiting the past few months have been informed the brand is “on holiday” — via a kitschy message set on a sun-drenched, palm tree-ridden backdrop and a countdown with how many days until the spring 2012 collection and a new site will launch (now at eight days). It also directs customers to the online home of Sigerson Morrison’s contemporary counterpart, Belle by Sigerson Morrison, which has since occupied the brand’s freestanding store on Prince Street in NoLIta here (its store has also seen a 75 percent increase in sales for Belle’s fall collection, year-on-year).

This all comes on the heels of Kari Sigerson and Miranda Morrison, creators of the 21-year-old footwear brand that was acquired by Marc Fisher Footwear in 2006, exiting the company last March. According to industry sources, the fall 2011 collection — the last one designed by the duo — failed to get traction from department stores and was never produced.

Following the departure of its co-founders, former Teen Vogue and Marie Claire editor and street-style darling Taylor Tomasi Hill was tapped as a creative consultant to refresh the line and produce editorial content for the brand’s soon-to-be-launched online home. Additionally, Sweden Unlimited was brought on to design the new site and creative agency Lloyd & Co. to “refocus the brand from an image standpoint,” according to Susan Itzkowitz, president of Marc Fisher Footwear. Lloyd & Co. conceptualized and executed the image campaigns that will appear on the revamped site next week, part of the brand’s dual strategy to grow its online presence and roll out a slew of new digital marketing initiatives.

“The reaction to our pre-fall collection was very positive, from both retailers and editors alike. The high caliber of quality and design, in conjunction with disciplined price points, very much invigorated the conversation people are having about Sigerson Morrison,” Itzkowitz said of the new range, which retails from $295 to $495 and is 30 percent less from the previous entry price point of $395.

She projects healthy growth in sales this year for the brand — a 25 percent increase from the spring 2011 collection, the last one designed, produced and sold at retail under the direction of Sigerson and Morrison. This will start with the pre-fall range, the first collaborative effort between the Marc Fisher team and Tomasi Hill.

“I have a newfound appreciation for creating color palettes and choosing materials — there is so much to choose from, and I think we put together an amazing assortment. We included so many rich textures, [including] suede, snake [and] spazzolato — my new favorite material,” Tomasi Hill said of her first collection with the brand, a predominantly taupe, gray, brown and black color palette infused with pops of burgundy and teal. Silhouettes include classic pumps, boots, wedges and flats with details such as croc-stamped leather, patterned ponyskins, trompe l’oeil cutouts, metal toe caps and oversize kilties.

Tracy Margolies, Saks Fifth Avenue’s vice president and divisional merchandising manager of women’s footwear, called the pre-fall collection “very strong” and added: “The design direction was focused and the materials were elevated. They were able to capture the mood of the season in a more sophisticated point of view, which was refreshing to see at this price point.”

Next month, the brand will debut its fall 2012 collection.

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