How Jack Erwin Footwear Capitalized On Quality, Price And Direct-To-Consumer In The Digital Age
I recently reviewed a footwear brand who seems to have its finger on the pulse by learning consumer behavior traits that accompany the hyper-connected cultural shift with a strong focus in online social interactions. Jack Erwin footwear is a direct-to-consumer brand that designs and produces a curated collection of mens dress shoes which has a business model that is intended to speak to the way men think about and shop for shoes.
The brand has set out to focus on design, materials and craftsmanship, and has eliminated (what they deem) unnecessary middlemen and costly markups to offer a comparative price that is accessible for the consumer. Launched in 2014 by Lane Gerson and Ariel Nelson, the brand is a new approach to men’s shoes. Let's face it folks; in the current menswear climate, the words "new approach" seems inviting. You won't find a better introduction to the brands short yet complex history than on their website. In my opinion (as a curated menswear expert), it is a spectacular business model that promotes the understanding of not only the origins of good business but the high stakes that were involved in developing the culture and importance of consumer needs today.
Ariel Nelson Co-Founder and Co-CEO and Gerson Lane Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Jack Erwin, launched this vertically integrated fashion brand offering quality men's footwear at an honest price. Jack Erwin offers their own line of lasting products directly to consumers through their online store and NYC fitting room.
I recently had the privilege of Speaking with Ariel and Lane about the brands forward thinking strategy, what men are seeking today in footwear, and why they believe their vibrant and consumer driven collection had gained great success in the mens footwear industry!
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to us about how Jack Erwin became to be. Who launched it? What is the DNA of the brand?
Ariel Nelson:Founded in NYC in 2014, Lane Gerson and Ariel Nelson created Jack Erwin to make beautiful, accessible products for modern, professional and sensible men who take pride in appearances. We are constantly Inspired by the world of global business and travel which gives us the right lense to further create a brand with products for the everyday needs of our growing consumer base.
JD: In your words, what are men seeking today in footwear?
Lane Gerson: Our consumer is more dynamic than ever. He’s on his feet and always making moves; weaving his way through meetings, offices, subways, sidewalks and traffic. His day takes him many places. He needs a shoe that will perform. He is elegant and is influenced by his cosmopolitan lifestyle. He lives his life both inside and outside of his suit, but always dresses well and a needs a shoe to match.
JD: What is the comparative advantage of Jack Erwin?
AN: Over the past two years we have perfected our supply chain and product development process. We are able to be more innovative and creative with quick turnaround while constantly maintaining an exceptional level of quality for everything that makes it onto our site or into our stores.
JD: What are your day to day - week to week job duties?
LG: We have worked to find a system of balance together - where we work together yet have our own expertise. I manage our marketing, customer experience and retail teams – focusing on our most important customer facing touchpoints. Ariel works primarily behind the scenes on managing our sourcing, product development, and logistics operations . –
JD: Talk to us about the current collection
AN: Our design intent is derived from the same principles that guide and inspire our brand. Contemporary elegance, respect for tradition and simplicity are at the core of our vision. The result of these values is a product that can accredit its sophistication to careful details and subtlety. Our most recent collection – “City Collection” – which we produced in collaboration with Arro Studios in Paris, France, we purposely designed a custom outsole that combines the comfort, ease and style of a sneaker with the appropriateness of a more traditional dress shoe. We integrated low profile lugs for stability, Micro texture for traction and created a design inspired by the streets and grid of the city streets all while maintaining traditional chukka and Chelsea boot pattern uppers
JD: If there is one celebrity you would like to see wearing Jack Erwin - who would that be and why?
AN: Seth Meyers he’s smart, sophisticated and refined with a perspective of his own.
JD: Give me 3 adjectives that describe the brand?
LG: Refined, Sophisticated and Relevant.These words can be used to describe our brand and the principles that guide everything we do in working towards our mission of becoming a global leader in mens shoes.
JD: How (if any) is technology implemented within the product or the business operations?
AN: Our ability to get real time feedback from customer surveys prior to launch. We had over 10,000 survey responses for questions regarding our new sneaker collection during the product development process.
JD: What is your growth strategy?
LG: This year we have become hyper-focused. We repositioned our energy away from spending and optimizing ways to continuously acquire new customers but rather hired and spent our dollars on perfecting our supply chain and most importantly our end product. Our retail business has been our core source of advertising, allowing consumers to touch and feel the difference we’ve made over the past years. Our business has grown 30% YoY and our retail stores have shown tremendous success and profitability within in just a few months from opening.