Former Kurt Geiger and FitFlop veteran Claire Burrows has secured £150,000 to grow her premium comfort shoe business Air & Grace, after winning Worth Retail’s award for best retail start-up.
Burrows’ Air & Grace, which launched last winter, will embark on an online retail and wholesale strategy in partnership with the Worth Foundation following her win.
Pitching against 10 other finalists last Friday at London’s Hospital Club, Burrows convinced judges including Boxpark founder Roger Wade and Worth Retail founders Alex Johns and Paul Soanes that her mixture of premium style with technical shoe-making would be a success.
Air & Grace is in the process of patenting a “triple layering” memory foam sytem that makes footbeds more ergonomic, lowering the amount of bulk needed for comfortable shoes.
Burrows, who has been in the footwear industry for 20 years, has collaborated with technologist Kevin Bann to invent the product, and will use the £150,000 for marketing, PR and awareness-raising internationally.
Burrows told Drapers: “Pumps are very problematic from the perspective of comfort. I’m already taking pre-orders and have had to change my forecasts twice.”
Her first range of ballet pumps retails at £120 to £165, with loafers, lace-ups and boots following in July. Wholesale prices range from £49.90 to £68.50.
Accounts for her debut season are open, with independent retailer Poppy in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, and Gemini Woman in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. Burrows is targeting a broad range of stockists for her next collection, including high-end etailer MatchesFashion.com, Daniel Footwear and multiple Russell & Bromley.