The direct-to-consumer efficiencies of e-commerce have become the go-to business model of many a fashion start-up. Following in the well-trod footsteps of companies like Everlane, Flint & Tinder and Harry’s shaving products comes Greats, a new men’s footwear concept that launches in August.
Founded by two footwear industry veterans, Jon Buscemi and Ryan Babenzien, the company will offer classic shoe styles, beginning with retro-looking sneakers, with high production values and accessible prices. “The footwear industry is incredibly inefficient. By disrupting the traditional retail and e-commerce model, Greats will be able to make a premium-quality shoe and offer it to the consumer at a much lower price,” said Babenzien, who has been the chief executive officer of tennis apparel maker Boast since last year, but is stepping down from that position this month.
Apart from its founders’ own seed money, Greats has been funded by a small group of angel investors, including New York-based High Peaks Venture Partners and NFL player Adrian Wilson of the New England Patriots.
The company has tapped Nickelson Wooster as “stylist in residence” and a member of its advisory board. Wooster exited his role as senior vice president of product development and design of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. earlier this year.
The initial launch at Greatsbrand.com will offer two sneaker styles, each in three color options. The Wilson, priced at $59, is a low-top retro basketball sneaker in cotton canvas based on the silhouette of the Converse Chuck Taylor shoe, available in red, white or blue. “We’ll be working on the most classic men’s sneaker silhouettes and reinterpreting them in a hyper-relevant way,” explained Buscemi.
The Wilson is actually priced higher than the basic version of the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, which starts at $50. The price of the Wilson is reflected in premium materials and construction, such as a synthetic pigskin foot bed, leather toe cap and an innovative elastic shoelace with a toggle closure that eliminates the need to tie your shoes, said Babenzien.
The Royale is the second available style, an upscale take on the Sixties tennis sneaker based on the classic Adidas Stan Smith silhouette. Priced at $99, the shoe is made from deerskin and lined in calfskin leather, with a decorative felted quarter panel on the side.
Buscemi likened the look and quality of the Royale to similar versions from higher-priced brands like Common Projects, Buttero and Visvim.
Greats will expand into a range of casual and dress shoe styles down the road, with some product made in Italy, which will push up prices. Currently, the product is manufactured in León, Mexico, an emerging center of shoe production.
Deliveries will be fulfilled by a third-party service with warehouses in California, Pennsylvania and Canada. Greats will only ship to the U.S. and Canada at launch, with international deliveries coming at a later date.
Babenzien has been ceo of Boast since last year, prior to which he was global director of lifestyle marketing at K-Swiss from 2008 to 2011. Earlier, he was director of entertainment marketing at Puma from 2005 to 2008.
Buscemi was cofounder and chief marketing officer beginning in 2006 at Los Angeles-based Gourmet Footwear, where he remains a minority owner. Earlier in his career, he was a men’s category director at DC Shoes.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty