From architecture and rock music to David Beckham, what is it about the British that age so well? J Shoes was founded in the U.K. in 1996 on the grounds of providing customers a perfect blend of British heritage, classic craftsmanship, modern design and independent style—or classics with a twist. With a goal to inspire, each pair of shoes is meticulously designed and made using select leathers and materials sourced around the world. The best part? They only get better with age.
For the past 20 years, J Shoes has made it their mission to offer quality footwear at an affordable price, which is why the brand spends a great deal of focus and time on sourcing materials, leathers and factories. The company aims to make shoes that are investment-worthy without the designer price tag.
J Shoes National Sales Manager Andre Thompson explained, “To us, the price is just as important as the design. Our average retail price point for a well-constructed shoe/chukka is around $200. In a world of fast fashion, you have to educate the consumer as much as possible so they can truly appreciate the value of a well-made shoe or boot at that price.”
The company considers their styles cutting-edge because their basics feature designs and construction techniques that set them apart from the rest. “A few elements that differentiate us from other brands are dual laces, non-skid sole units, no synthetics, real leather stacked heels, and character leathers,” Thompson described.
And while J Shoes started as a men’s collection in 1996, they introduced a women’s line just four years later. “Starting with takedown styles from the men’s range like brogues and derby’s, the masculine, androgynous look that was borrowed from the boys worked really well for the J Shoes woman,” Thompson said. “Even though our men’s business has been stronger than women’s in the past, we are seeing the women’s styles catching up quickly.” And with a new women’s designer who really understands the modern woman, the brands Fall ’16 collection is ready to make an impact.
The brand attributes a few things to the success of their brick and mortar stores in the United States. “Customers love that our pieces are easy to dress up or dress down, but they also appreciate our approachable prices. A customer can buy two J Shoes pairs for the price of just one from our competitors,” Thompson said.
However, each market has its own strengths and limitations, which is why the brand knows its important to take a different approach with Europe. “Styling difference, price point caps, and seasonality all present a challenge when it comes to planning globally,” Thompson told us. “We launch two collections annually and those collections are created for all global distributors. We have learned that you can’t be everything to everybody, so we try and focus on what we do best.”
With the U.S. market leading in overall sales, the brand’s core collection, featuring the Monarch, Charlie, and William makes up the largest portion of sales. According to Thompson, “We have created this core range so that our best-selling styles will always be in stock for re-order purposes.” Adding seasonal materials and colors to the core collection keeps the program fresh and new, although Thompson said the brand can’t rely on core business alone to keep it relevant. “We focus heavily on new developments,” Thompson said, adding, “And even though we might not sell as many newly developed styles as the core collection, we need it in the marketplace to be relevant amongst taste makers.”
“We have such a wide crossover appeal and demographic,” Thompson said. “We have our cool guys and women wearing J Shoes because we offer up directional styles, but we also have the middle of the road consumer that wants a bit of non-threatening flavor added to their wardrobe.”
What’s next for the brand? “Overall the line is designed with a slightly broken-in, lived-in feel,” Thompson described. “Our Costa range is a perfect example because it’s constructed in the Sachetto style, a centuries old Italian technique that looks amazing and is comfortable from the very first wear. We’re also expanding our causal offering with our Yorker and Midwich ranges. Across the board, you will find a progression of improved leathers and materials, too – with all styles still around $200. It’s an exciting time for J Shoes right now – we can’t wait to show off what’s coming.”