The rivets are always the giveaway marking of a Hammitt bag.
The company didn’t spare that detail on its sandals — its foray into footwear — with the hardware and buttery soft leather that have become synonymous with its handbags. Hammitt today launches footwear with three sandal styles: the T-strap called Max, retailing for $250, $275 Jesse gladiator sandal and the company’s take on the traditional flip-flop, which it’s calling the Winston, priced at $195.
“Women love their bags and we know they love their footwear,” said Hammitt chief executive officer and executive creative director Tony Drockton. “We wanted to make sure we developed our handbag line around functionality and fashion.… We tried to bring the DNA of what’s made us successful in handbags into footwear.”
It’s a casual sort of style that’s true to the company’s Southern California roots and new headquarters in Hermosa Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway, while at the same time being luxe enough in its materials and construction for special occasions.
“We’re a Southern California brand that’s casual but dressy,” Drockton said. “These aren’t flip flops; these are beach sandals.”
Footwear has been in development for over three years now for Hammitt. About 14 months ago, the company began working in earnest on the first set of silhouettes, with the help of Concept 21. The footwear design consulting firm was founded by Brent James who worked at Nike in its early days.
The footwear launch is starting off modest at retail with roughly 30 of the company’s 350 retail doors offering the sandals. The exclusivity is intentional, Drockton said, as the company tempers its rollout to ensure a smooth expansion.
Spring will see additional sandal styles followed by a fuller expression of footwear in fall 2017, when Hammitt expects to introduce a full shoe collection, including booties, and expand to begin offering the line at more than 100 doors.
“We hope that footwear becomes just as large a success, if not larger [than handbags],” Drockton said.
When asked if the company is exploring additional categories to branch into, Drockton said Hammitt is always weighing its opportunities even when it comes to international distribution and licensing, but is ultimately measured when it comes to growth.
“I try to play one game at a time when it comes to running this business,” he said. “Right now, our focus is on footwear.”