Footwear brand Blackstock & Weber on Friday launches one of two limited-edition styles at J. Crew as part of the retailer’s many collaborations and partnerships to come.
The buzzy brand known for its loafers developed a suede penny loafer with pony hair and cow print for the retailer, which will retail for $345. The second style will launch in mid-October.
“We started talking in the beginning of spring and working diligently to have this happen for fall,” said Blackstock & Weber founder Chris Echevarria. “We have a really cool rollout planned.”
Earlier this year, J. Crew appointed Supreme alum and Noah founder Brendon Babenzian as creative director of J. Crew Men’s and the brand confirmed it’s actively searching for opportunities with new brands much like B&W, which launched in 2018.
The project is a full-circle moment for Echevarria, who worked at J. Crew in 2008 at the Liquor Store concept shop in TriBeCa. “I developed a relationship with [former chief executive officer and chairman] Mickey Drexler there and had input on collaborations and the In Good Company program. The connection from the store to the corporate office was very close.”
After J. Crew, he worked at Gant Rugger, Stone Island, Filling Pieces and Cotton Inc. in retail, wholesale, brand managing and trend reporting roles with the intent to learn the ins and outs of the men’s fashion industry.
“Without all of that, there wouldn’t be a Blackstock & Weber,” Echevarria said. “I’ve been able to draw on my own experiences, be in the trenches building and launching a brand, designing brands and creating new experiences. All of it culminated in who I am today and the brand is an extension of who I am.”
Since B&W’s launch, the brand has partnered with New Era, the Philadelphia 76ers and podcast Throwing Fits, and is carried at stores 3Sixteen and Kith, where it is the centerpiece of the retailer’s dress shoe offering. The brand is one of many laying the foundation for a more dressed-up men’s wear landscape post-pandemic.
“We’re not saying the sneaker is dead,” Echevarria said, “but there’s other choices out there and can integrate into your wardrobe. I think the larger conversation is around the consumer wanting more from the brands that they buy from. I think that a loafer is just a loafer if you throw it on the shelf. The idea of the brand is more of an ethos, creating a dependable brand for guys that can say they always do something dope. For now, that story, if you zoom in, is what our loafer is all about.”
Though the brand is forming more retail partnerships, Echevarria prefers to focus on their direct-to-consumer business.
“We try to create organic situations so New Yorkers have first access to our stuff and see and try on and experience the brand in person,” he said. “Wholesale isn’t a big component of our business.”
As for the future, Echevarria declined comment on upcoming collaborations and partnerships but said the “deck is stacked through 2023.” He’s also delving into stand-alone retail in spring 2022.