LONDON — Jerome Espinos, the former president of footwear at Ralph Lauren, is starting his own venture in the footwear industry with the launch of accessories label Violet Tomas.
The Paris-based brand, which is unveiling its own e-commerce store on Friday, is embracing a new concept that puts the focus on a singular vision and a small range of targeted products.
This story first appeared in the June 23, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The company will enter the market with one shoe style, a block-heeled ankle boot with stretch panels called the “Margaux,” that will be available in a variety of colors and leathers. A minimalist shoulder bag is also available in the range.
For Espinos, choosing the strategy of launching one product per season was a result of his extensive experience working with global luxury brands: “Everyone is always asking for more but we are at a moment when women want to be guided and reassured for their purchases. It’s a good way to start a business, you don’t need a lot of product but the right plan,” said Espinos, who has also held roles at the likes of Céline, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy and Emilio Pucci prior to starting his own company.
Understanding the customer and her needs was also key to determining the brand’s direction and its debut shoe style. “I’ve seen a lot of customers and I always take their feedback into account,” added Espinos, highlighting versatility, quality and comfort as some of the most important factors for women when buying shoes.
“My mother, my daughter and my wife went shopping one day and they all came back with the same shoe. That’s why this season I decided on the ankle boot; it’s not too high so you can wear it all day but you can also look chic in the evening and it offers you the ability to play around with different materials and playful details.”
Instead of offering a wide range of product, Violet Tomas will focus on providing a variety of colors and materials, from bold metallic leathers, to leopard leather and camouflage-print suede. It also offers customization services where clients can adjust the heel heights as well as choose from a range of embellishments and color combinations.
“It’s the idea is that you can do whatever you want with the shoe,” said Espinos, adding that the customization services will also be available to retailers, to allow them to create exclusive styles that are best suited to their client bases and respective markets.
The brand has already established a partnership with Paris’ Galeries Lafayette and plans to host an in-store pop-up in the French department store.
Espinos said he wants to focus on direct-to-consumer sales via the brand’s own e-commerce while at the same time developing a few key retail partnerships across a wide range of markets.
“I’m sure that this is a great product for America. I’ve worked there for 10 years and I know from experience that this is the kind of product that women in America will love, so the aim is to work on a partnership with a key department store in the U.S. and also in Asia. It’s a product that can work across the markets and we also have the ability to work with retailers on custom solutions.”
Prices for the collection range from 650 euros for a monochromatic boot style to 795 euros for bags or embellished boots.
“We really focused on the quality and creating shoes that can last forever because this is a luxury price point,” said Espinos, highlighting that all products are made in Italy.
To mark the launch the brand is releasing a video and campaign images created alongside the film director Cédric Klapisch, which captures the brand’s quintessentially Parisian ethos — another key selling factor identified by Espinos. “It’s all about communicating your DNA when launching a brand and the film really brings our message together. It’s very vibrant and shows the personality of the woman wearing the shoes.”
The video captures the spirit of the French joie de vivre that’s loved around the world. It follows the day of a Parisian woman going around the city in a pair of red suede Margaux boots, from sitting in a board room to having wine at a traditional French café.
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