Tamara Mellon might be known for designing high-heeled pumps, spindly stilettos and strappy sandals — and of course, wearing her own creations — but even she wants a little comfort now and then. Now, the company’s first sneaker is launching this month. Called OMW, which stands for On My Way, the Italian-made footwear is priced at $395, and comes in two styles, white leather and rubber soles, and a black suede version.
“Her persona and how she’s perceived is sometimes different than how she really is,” said chief executive officer Jill Layfield. “She’s more down to earth and real. Half the time when she comes into the office, she’s wearing yoga pants, a T-shirt and performance shoes for working out like Nikes. It’s very logical for her to launch sneakers.”
Handbags are another new category for the direct-to-consumer footwear brand. The Kiss bag, a substantially sized carryall, is made from vitello leather and is in available in black, bone and tan. Large enough to hold most laptop computers, the Kiss can be worn three ways: over the shoulder, carried by top handles or across the body, messenger style. Priced at $1,095, the Kiss comes with a removable leather pouch that can be used separately.
The company introduced a haircalf version of the Kiss that it’s testing at Mellon’s Los Angeles store. “It’s more designed,” Layfield said. “It’s doing really really well. We’ll launch the haircalf version in a limited quantity and we’re looking at doing a smaller Kiss bag.”
Layfield said the Kiss bag was designed to “feel feminine and elegant, yet sturdy. We didn’t want it to feel too precious and flimsy, but we also didn’t want it to be too bulky and inelegant.” Mellon plans to release additional handbag styles later this year as the brand continues to expand into other categories that complement all aspect of its customers’ lives, Layfield said.
Layfield admitted she was initially worried about the price point, but the company has seen no resistance. “It’s a unique price point,” she said. “When we first started the process, there were $3,000 bags being made in the same factory.”
Because Mellon loves color and prints, sneakers in different hues are at the ready. “If the black and white sneakers do well, we’ll follow up with colored designs,” Layfield said, adding that another new high-top sneaker will launch in August or September.
“We’ve been working on the sneaker for quite a while,” Layfield said. “We bring customers pretty regularly into the office to do consumer research. Half the time it’s about our digital product experience. We also talk to her about her closet and whether there’s something we don’t have. Sneakers actually came up. We definitely made sure our customer wanted us to make a sneaker. All our research says she’s very health-conscious.”