Brazilian shoe designer Alexandre Birman is ready to expand his U.S. retail presence from New York to Los Angeles with the opening of his second Schutz store at 314 N. Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills on April 19.
Founded in 1995 by chief executive officer Birman, Schutz has 80 stores in Brazil, where the appetite for fashion-forward, accessibly priced high heels is high. His 655 Madison Avenue store, opened in 2012 as a test lab, taught Birman many lessons.
“After taking two years to get it right, we learned the main things is to have local management, so we invested in developing the collection according to the U.S. calendar and styling. We moved all our U.S. management from Brazil to New York in 2015 and can now produce and deliver shoes in less than five weeks.”
Birman, who owns all his own factories, where he also produces his higher-end line, also enlisted his U.S. team to go after American influencers and brand ambassadors, retrofitted the 900-square-foot New York store, and doubled sales of the $145-$395 shoes there last year. His U.S. e-commerce business, which takes inventory from the New York store, also increased sales five-fold. That store is now breaking even despite its $1.2 million yearly rent.
Last year, data research that told him that the California market is not only his biggest, but the ripest for expansion opportunities. “We are very confident the acceptance rate of our brand is much higher with the California girl,” he said. “Also we wanted to be closer to Hollywood and to have a store in place where we could be prepared to have celebrities as customers.”
The 2,800-square-foot store will feature a VIP room and an on-trend, all-white open interior that allows the colorful product to shine along with large LED screens playing videos. As a precursor, Birman opened up a pop-up shop at The Grove, open through April 7.
As with his other stores, the address is also part of the store name, so on Beverly Drive Schutz will also have its red-and-white logo on all shopping bags. Birman estimates first-year retail sales of $1,000 per square foot, or $2.8 million annually. About 20 percent of the merchandise will be tailored to the L.A. consumer, including a Coachella collection that will go on sale between the two weekends of the festival. The Los Angeles store will also house inventory for the e-commerce business.
Birman pointed out that his quick-turn time and opposite seasons in his native Brazil mean he’s still building out the U.S. spring collection based on styles that did well in Brazil, where they are now selling fall product, which will in turn inform the U.S. pre-fall styles.