Fashionable Footwear With Benefits
By Linda Marx
Want to feel fashionable and comfortable at the same time? Tired of tripping in pain for sophistication? Or changing shoes at the door of the glittering event?
Earthies, part of Earth, Inc., is a new brand that offers fashion, fun and comfort — all in one shoe. This style-conscious footwear is designed for women to wear to work as well as with casual dresses or evening wear. The key: Fashion can come with ease and accessibility.
“Women sacrifice style for comfort, or they spend a lot of money for fashion then forget about comfort,” explains Gary Champion, President of Earth, Inc. “We have designed a shoe that cradles the heel of the foot and offers arch support. The foot sits on a foot bed.”
Right… But how does it really work?
The cupped heel sets the foot into the proper supported position unlike stilettos that can leave the heel unsupported, creating forward slip.
An anatomic arch increases touch points in the transition area from the heel to the forefoot unlike others that force weight-bearing down onto the underside of the toes.
A cradle toe area has a gentle curl which evenly distributes weight away from the toes to avoid foot fatigue.
The end result is the company’s tag line: “Wellness, Elevated”. Women no longer have to suffer for style. As one happy customer wearing an Earthies spring style heel put it: “I felt like I was walking on a cloud!”
Dave Aznavorian, Vice President of Marketing for the company, says that for some time his team has been interested in bridging the gap between wellness and fashion and were eager to launch their dream. “We know there are not a whole of companies out there with the capacity to interpret trends from the higher end of fashion and interpret these into styles that offer the whole-body wellness,” he says.
He wanted to know what would happen if they brought fashion and wellness together for a little rendezvous, like an American at a European health spa.
Earth, Inc. has 40 years experience designing footwear that is good to the body, so it is a natural to extend the brand to fit a niche in the market. There are plenty of footwear companies who market comfortable shoes, and dozens of top fashion brands with sky high heels that are not easy to navigate. But neither solve both problems which continue to plague women.
Now Earthies, who started their journey via the Royal Family of shoes-American Nordstorm stores — seem to have it all. “In our wildest imagination, we couldn’t have envisioned the reception to the Earthies concept,” adds Aznavorian. “We deliver a fashion statement on a heel height that also creates an endearing comfort experience.”
Earthies are priced from $149 – $300, and have emerged with three impactful trends. First, platforms, both visible and hidden, deliver heel height without compromising balance. Second, there are differentiated toe profiles with pointed toes on high-end fashion styles and a softened almond-toe profile for more casual statements. And last, the retro/vintage look defined through the use of aged leathers and wooden heels, when coupled, create high fashion silhouettes to attract the eye of stylists and fashion mavens.
The 16 pair spring/summer collection, in khaki, light blue and deep red, included short heels and wedges. They were offered in premium leathers and suedes with nature inspired details and ornamentation like buckles, decorative beading, macrame, mesh patterns, midsole wraps, pleating and stud details.
For fall and winter, 28 new styles and colors, like pinetree green and fuller reds, will include platforms, pumps, mid-calf and tall-shafted boots. There will be wood bottoms, wedges, block heels, front and back zippers and pleats.
Cool styles to watch are The Sarenza, a party-rocking short heel that pays homage to the flapper look with piping and bow; The Montera with its dramatic pleated zip-front and pointed toe; The Seriph, which oozes comfort as a wedge bootie with gold grommet detailing and faux shearling lining; The Fabienne and its hidden platform with modern hardware and a retro look; and The Minsk which excites with a drop shaft, mixed media, knee-high boot plus pointed toe.
And a sneak peek for spring 2012 finds Earthies eager to introduce a low heel and low wedge since many customers are young moms between 30-45, who no longer wear six-inch stilettos.
“We did blogs and had an amazing response,” says Champion. “One woman wore Earthies for a cover shot on USA Today Weekend and said simply that they express who she is. We are really excited about expanding the brand.”
Champion recently visited Nordstrom at the Aventura Mall near Miami and talked to customers about Earthies. He learned one woman’s mom had just bought a pair at Nordstrom in Palm Springs and her sister had grabbed a pair in Los Angeles.
“I have been in the business for awhile but have never seen a brand resonate so quickly,” he says.
The brains behind that brand is Michel Meynard, Earth, Inc.’s longtime chairman, who brings a European palate of style and sensibility to Earthies design. When he is traveling through Europe he goes to about nine cities researching the trends. From those trips he gets a clear vision of what he wants.
“He takes his ideas and places them to products,” says Champion. “He is our designer, and helps us retain the eye of high fashion while keeping wellness in mind.”
With a national mix of high fashion department stores like Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, and a wide variety of specialty boutiques and independent retailers (Shoe Spa in Palm Beach Gardens and World Class Footwear in Miami), the brand has developed a life of its own.
New customers may wonder where the Earthies flat shoes are hiding. Well, so far, no need for them. The heels and wedges are so comfy that no one lusts after flats. For brand extensions, Champion is being coy.
“We are still looking for the right stores and where the action takes us,” he says. “We are overwhelmed with support and will move things slowly.”
One comfortable step at a time.