With more than 130 freestanding stores worldwide and 30,000 points of sale in 42 countries (including 30 stores in Russia and 40 in China alone), Austrian luxury brand Hogl is a powerhouse across Europe and Asia, but has yet to make the same impression in the U.S. This is all about to change as the 81-year-old brand is making its first proper push into the North American market this year. The family-owned company is hedging its bets that its shoes—flush with special features like Gore-Tex waterproofing—will help it stand out in the already crowded space of affordable luxury, where even well-known players are currently stagnating.
Vamp recently talked with Lisa Lovisolo McIver of Hogl’s U.S. sales team about how the brand plans to crack America.
VAMP: Hogl is well-known internationally, but not so in the U.S. Could you get our American readers up-to-date on what Hogl is all about?
McIver: Hogl is a modern, feminine accessible luxury brand, representing 80 years of heritage. It was founded in 1935 by Mr. Joseph Hogl, based on the premise of fine artisan crafting. Today we have design teams in Austria and Italy, and the product is made in Europe—Hungary to be exact. Hogl is an all-encompassing brand with looks from ballet, sport, wedges, dress and a forward line of Gore-Tex waterproof boots and booties.
VAMP: Why have you decided to target the U.S.?
McIver: Hogl’s history in the U.S. has been small to none. About ten years ago we came through a distributor, but Hogl needed to be with a dedicated team to the brand. I am very excited to [help with] this formal launch representing such a fine product and design vision.
VAMP: What is the line’s price point?
McIver: Our strategy is to become the premier women’s footwear brand in the U.S. as we are known in the rest of the world. The shoes for this line will retail from $225-$325, with boot/booties from $250-490. The U.S. is ready for a new collection at this price point. Some of the lines who have ruled this category have become stagnant or have close to disappeared. Launching Hogl anew gives us the opportunity to start with the sort of pricing stores need to be competitive in the modern retail arena. Similar to how Neiman Marcus has launched CUSP, and Bergdorf Goodman has been successful with 5F, [we plan to] attract a style-conscious customer while offering an entry-level price point into the luxury world.
VAMP: Who is your customer?
McIver: The Hogl woman is one who will not give up style in any aspect of her life. From sport to dress she wants to look polished. Tory Burch did this in a genius way; appealing to the mother, daughter and granddaughter under one label. For the first generation it was an entry price point, and for the younger generation it is modern luxury. Hogl fits in this same [price bracket], but with a different design vision.
VAMP: What kind of styles is Hogl best known for?
McIver: That’s a difficult question. Hogl represents so many different categories well. For Fall 2016 the Gore-Tex product has been very well received. Modern styling with great pricing. Overall though, Hogl is known for its pump business. The best seller internationally is our Calypso platform pump. Customers have said it was the best fitting platform pump they ever tried. The heel gripped well, there’s room in the toe, the patent leather was soft and the style appeals to ages 20 and up. It retails for $295 with generous margins.
VAMP: How are your shoes made?
McIver: The shoes are made in eastern Europe. Hungary is known for fine shoemaking at great pricing. We use Gore-Tex as our partner with waterproof items retailing from $250-$495. All Gore-Tex items have the water gusset at the base of the zippers to protect from the elements. We also collaborate with genuine Swarovski crystals for both sport and dress shoes. Both Gore-Tex and Swarovski footwear come with a hang tag of certification on each pair. We have a sacchetto line called ‘butterflight’ that is lightweight, super-soft and flexible for all day wear.
VAMP: What is Hogl offering for Fall ’16?
McIver: The focus for Fall 2016 is branding Hogl in the US. We are launching with our full collection representing several different fits and heights of pumps in soft leathers or kid suede in seasonal colors of charcoal and bordeaux.