A decision to focus on trend-led styles has paid off for the contemporary women’s footwear brand, with spring 11 orders up 50%. Now it is looking to grow outside Europe.
Designer footwear generally retails at between £500 to £600 and I realised there was a gap in the market for designer-quality shoes at a more affordable price point,” says Kat Maconie, owner of the eponymous footwear brand, for which wholesale prices range from £45 to £90 with a 2.7 mark-up.
Launched for autumn 09, Kat Maconie’s collection initially focused on flat pumps, with a smaller offering of more trend-led, heeled styles. But Maconie soon realised it was fashion footwear styles that were driving sales. “In the first season, when I sold into John Lewis and Harvey Nichols, sales were much stronger on the fashion side and this was a deciding factor for me to channel my efforts into becoming a fashion-led brand.”
According to Maconie, styles proving popular so far with buyers for spring 11 are the Zoe, a peep-toe, halfway shoe boot in black suede with chunky gold detailing and the Marina, an open-toe court shoe with exposed panelling. Maconie says gold detailing around the ankle area of the footwear is a signature of her brand.
Emma Stanworth, owner of two-store Manchester indie Poshu, spotted the brand at Paris trade show Première Classe and will be stocking it for the first time for spring 11. She says: “The style appeals to a wide customer [base], including the younger, more fashion-conscious [shopper] and the classic lady. Once our customer buys into a brand, she commits to it, and I’m confident Kat Maconie will be one of those.”
The brand’s Brazilian manufacturing base, with its lower costs than Italian factories, has enabled it to keep prices down and compete at entry designer level. But Maconie admits that not manufacturing in Italy can present problems in the Italian market. “At [Milan footwear trade show] Micam, Italian retailers don’t want to know you if the shoes aren’t manufactured in Italy,” she says.
This hasn’t prevented the brand from growing its stockist base, or its sales. Orders for spring 11 are up 50% on autumn 10 and 17 new accounts have been taken on for that season, including young fashion chain Urban Outfitters and Dublin department store Arnotts. Maconie sees the brand sitting between Acne, See by Chloé and Marc by Marc Jacobs at the higher end of the scale, and Ash and Melissa at the lower end.
Maconie credits industry trade bodies UK Trade and Investment and the British Footwear Association with supporting the brand’s growth so far by providing grants and organising collaborative spaces at trade shows.
Next on her agenda is securing backing to drive growth outside Europe. “I’m looking for investment to expand the brand, enabling me to design tailor-made collections for the US, Japanese and South Korean markets,” she says.
Kat Maconie 07990 522510