NEW YORK — Diane von Furstenberg has signed a licensing agreement with Brown Shoe Co. for a women’s footwear collection that will launch for the resort 2016 season.
“I love my legs, but I count on my feet. Nothing is more important than shoes for the confident, sexy woman on-the-go,” said von Furstenberg, founder and cochairman of DVF Studio.
This isn’t von Furstenberg’s first footwear deal. She previously had an agreement with Schwartz & Benjamin. In recent years, DVF has been strengthening her retail, wholesale and licensing operation with the possibility of an eventual initial public offering.
“I’m very excited. This time I’m really putting my feet there. I’m really serious about it,” said von Furstenberg of the Brown Shoe license. She expects her footwear line to address every facet of a woman’s wardrobe. “When you wake up in the morning, strangely enough, you think of where you’re going, and before you even think of what you’re wearing, you think of your shoes,” she said. “If you have to walk, you will wear one type of shoe, if you’re making a presentation and want to look elegant, it’s another kind of a shoe. It’s really from a real woman’s point of view. It’s about beautiful legs, but you have to be able to be comfortable. It’s very woman-solution driven,” she said.
Diane Sullivan, chief executive officer and chairman of Brown Shoe Co., a $2.6 billion global footwear company, added, “This is a great opportunity, for both companies, to continue to build on an already solid and successful global brand. Diane is such an inspiration to everyone, and we look forward to making amazing shoes together.” Brown’s contemporary footwear brands are Vince, Sam Edelman, Franco Sarto, Via Spiga, Fergie Footwear and Carlos Santana. Brown Shoe is also the parent company of Famous Footwear and Naturalizer retail stores.
DVF’s collection will be positioned at the high end of contemporary. Distribution will be targeted to key wholesale partners domestically and internationally where DVF ready-to-wear and accessories are sold. Retail prices will range from $150 for sandals to $595 for boots. The footwear will be manufactured in Italy and China. Sullivan declined to give a first-year volume projection.
“She [DVF] talks about her brand being effortless, sexy and confident. When you think about the footwear that matches that, it’s high-quality footwear, very modern in its aesthetic, but very feminine, and delivering against those principles of her DNA,” said Sullivan.
Asked if she foresees freestanding DVF shoe stores, Sullivan said they will partner with the designer as she opens more shop-in-shops and freestanding stores. “We’ll take what she’s known for — the color and the materials — and build that in the footwear and make it well differentiated,” said Sullivan. The DVF footwear brand, which will be housed at Brown’s showroom at 156 West 56th Street, is overseen by Jay Schmidt, president of the contemporary division at Brown.
A major initiative at DVF has been to maximize its accessories offerings, which, at present, account for 15 percent of the business. DVF’s accessory division is mainly handbags. It also makes scarves and small leather goods. Von Furstenberg designs and manufactures her handbags in-house. “We plan to keep it that way,” she said. Her licensed products range from high-end and fashion jewelry to luggage, eyewear and rugs.
DVF envisions the footwear line encompassing casual and dressy options. Sandals, heels, boots, the “power” shoe and casual shoes will be part of the offering. “I understand shoes,” said von Furstenberg. “Christian Louboutin used to sell his shoes on my kitchen table on 12th Street.”