|Crockett & Jones - Courtesy of Ethan Desu's old blog (now Rugged Old Salt)|
It wasn't too long ago that Crockett & Jones predominantly focused on private labeling (aka making shoes for other brands) and did not really put as much emphasis into their own brand. Of course they had shops and all, but not nearly as many as they do now. But one day an employee of theirs said, "why don't we start focusing more on strengthening our own brand by opening more C&J stores and selling our shoes directly to the customers?" (this is what I have heard through trusted sources - whether or not it is true, well...) This person was smart, because no matter how much you sell your shoes to other brands to put their label on them, you will never make a huge amount of money nor will you really strengthen you company's image, not at least to the public. The money and reputation is in selling directly to the customer, where you take all of the profit margin, demonstrate your abilities of production (quality-wise) and as a factory you also control not only the distribution channels but the costs of production. You have all the power to control cost price, retail price and thus profit margin. It's the best way to make money, providing that your shoes sell well and that you are able to control all of your overhead costs. But as Crockett & Jones made a great shoe and were already a trusted name in the industry, this risk was minimal for them. And now they have 11 stores around the world (5 in London alone), not to mention about a million stockists that sell their shoes...
3 pictures above: All Ed Et Al
So how does this predict the new year and the state of the industry? Well, allow me to elaborate. Writing this blog, wearing loads of different makers' shoes and being in touch with the upcoming brands looking to get some headway in the industry, allowed me to get a perspective that others might not have noticed. And what might that be? Well, it would appear that the new trend is for factories to open up (or existing factories to change the culture of their company) and start offering their own branded stuff at the best possible price for the best possible quality. As I have written before, when you are a factory you control all of the barriers to entry, with the exception of competition. But if you can make a product that is just as good as the competition or even better but do so at a much lower retail price, then you are going to blow them out of the water, providing that you are able to market your product properly. This is what I have noticed as a trend that is rising but has yet to boom. And I predict that 2013 will commence the boom. For how long it lasts, well, I don't know. But if factories were wise-up, they will start to follow suit by hiring some great designers and pattern makers, tighten up on quality control and start doing their own branded lines.....because this seems to be the future.... Look at Gaziano & Girling for example...would they be as good if Alfred Sargent was still making their shoes?? Don't think so....and that is not a knock on AS, as they make a good shoe too, but G&G have a different aesthetic that I think would only be captured by them doing constant quality control.
3 Pictures Above: All Meermin Mallorca
Let's take a look at all of the brands that I have started writing about this year that have come out with a great product at a great price: Ed Et Al, Meermin Mallorca, Carmina, and Berwick, let alone some of the other brands (those whom don't own their factory, yet still come out at a low price) like Septieme Largeur, DC Lewis and Barbanera. It's an amazing phenomenon and while I will be coming out with my own brand that won't be able to compete with some of these factory own brands (not at least in price vs. quality ratio), I am still happy to know that it's happening and that more people will soon be able to afford good quality shoes that will allow them to tackle the foundation of their outfit: shoes!
4 Pictures Above: All Septieme Largeur
As always, I want to thank all of you for all your loyalty and support. It is truly amazing to know that people appreciate the effort and content that I put into the blog and I am truly happy to provide all of you the knowledge that I have gained over the years so that you too can spread it on to others. Please continue to visit me if you are around the London area. It is my pleasure to meet all of you as without you, I would be writing to no one..... I wish everyone a very Happy New Year and may 2013 bring all of you happiness and success!!!
Justin, "The Shoe Snob"