The founder of wellness footwear brand FitFlop tells Mandy Cohen how she is giving women what they want.
FitFlop has sold more than 8 million pairs of shoes in 48 countries and is fast becoming a footwear phenomena. How do you feel about that?
I feel very flattered. You never get anywhere by marketing a product that’s not great.
It makes us know we’re doing the right thing as we’re giving the customer what she’s looking for and she’s coming back to buy more.
Why has wellness footwear become so relevant as a footwear category over the past 18 months?
I think wellness becomes relevant at a certain age. When you’re younger you don’t necessarily take care of your body. People want to feel better for their age more than ever and I think it starts with their feet.
Wellness shoes have a reputation for not being visually desirable. How did you break that stigma with FitFlop?
I found that, in general, [those people] in science aren’t necessarily visual or fashionable, so we let the technologists work on the technology and let the designers work on the designs. We started out with something that literally looked like a lump of coal with strings. We tried and tested it, but when
I looked down I thought I wouldn’t wear that. That’s when we started the process of trying to make it commercial, making a sandal that someone would actually want to wear.
How have you seen FitFlop grow in the past three years?
It’s gone from two sandals into trainers, boots, men’s and kids’ footwear. We had two styles in 2007 and now we have about 150 styles for women, 40 styles for men and 40 styles for kids.
How far do you see FitFlop expanding?
We could be just huge. Christian Louboutin does $250m (£157.6m) at retail annually; we also do $250m at retail annually and $120m (£75.7m) in wholesale - if not more. We’re expanding our resources so that we’re able to test and offer more shoes and have a broader collection for the different channels of distribution. We’re also trying a small sporty collection because we have many sports stores interested. The possibilities are endless.
Which is your favourite style and why?
Our new Short Leather Super Boot, especially for this kind of weather. It’s waterproof, and the insoles are built in. It’s kind of biker chic and it doesn’t look like a typical wellness shoe.
Why haven’t you opened a standalone FitFlop store?
Up until now we didn’t have a full collection to sell in a store. We had lots of sandals, but you can’t sell sandals in the winter. Now that our winter collection has expanded, I think next year we will have a store.
What style is your biggest seller?
In the winter it’s been Mukluk (pictured) and in the summer Electra.
What was the last thing you bought?
A baby blue cashmere jumper from Harrods for my husband.
Who is your favourite designer?
What is your motto?
Keep your feet on the ground so that when you fall over it doesn’t hurt too much.
Where do you like to shop?
Dover Street Market in London.
Marcia Kilgore is founder of wellness footwear brand FitFlop