Retail Realities: Josefinas On Taking NYC in Flats

Renowned for its ballerina flats, Portuguese brand Josefinas is pirouetting its way into the closets of NYC women.

The brand, owned by Sofia Oliveira and designed by business partner Filipa Júlio, opened its first U.S. outpost earlier this year in New York City’s NoLita neighborhood. Already beloved by everyone from style stars like Eva Chen and Leandra Medine, to legendary feminist Gloria Steinem (who the brand recently collaborated with) Vamp caught up with Oliveira on introducing the brand to U.S. customers.

VAMP: How are you introducing the brand to the U.S.?
Oliveira: Social media and our brand’s fans have played a very important role in introducing the brand in the U.S. Our product is incredible and it became more and more desired. Each pair is made for that special woman. Eventually, super stars of the fashion scene started wearing Josefinas. Olivia Palermo, Whitney Port, Sara Sampaio, Chiara Ferragni; even activists like Gloria Steinem. Instagram itself recommended Josefinas in 2014. Fashion editors started to be interested in Josefinas incorporating the shoes in their publications and personal outfits. This lead us to opening our first worldwide flagship, in NoLita, New York City.

VAMP: Why open a store now? Why in Nolita?
Oliveira: This was the first space we saw. We knew that it would be the perfect place for Josefinas’ first worldwide flagship. We felt that Elizabeth Street was very special. It’s hard to put into words what we felt—we just knew. NoLita is an authentic neighborhood with a laid-back and welcoming vibe. You just feel good there.

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VAMP: What was Josefinas’ U.S. business like before opening its own store?
Oliveira: We’re a digital-first brand. [Digital] is in our DNA. The business was very good before opening the store—the U.S. was always a key market for us. The store gives us a chance to explore a physical brand experience.

VAMP: Do you sell through wholesale?
Oliveira: We do sell through wholesale but with a very limited and exclusive approach. We select our partners very well: they need to represent and understand the brand perfectly. For example, Shoe Level in Dubai carries Josefinas, as does Antonia, the Italian upscale boutique.

VAMP: How is the brand viewed in Europe and elsewhere?
Oliveira: We stick very closely to our belief in craftsmanship—every pair is handmade by masters shoemakers that create the perfect shoe using only the most amazing materials. People do see Josefinas as a luxury shoe brand—an incredible product with an amazing fit that has a very strong meaning—to empower women through business.

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VAMP: What has reaction been so far to the new location?
Oliveira: It’s been incredible. When passing by, people that don’t know the brand aren’t indifferent to the store—they’re attracted to its beauty, and once they get to know the brand’s story, they fall in love with it. On the other side, people that do know the brand come to visit us on purpose—people from New York City, Portugal and Asia. We feel the brand’s following in incredible.

VAMP: How would you describe Josefinas to that customer who is unfamiliar with the brand?
Oliveira: Josefinas is known for its iconic ballerinas and its signature Delicate Rose ballet flats. Also, Josefinas is recognized for its faux fur sneakers: Thelma & Louise. You can mix and match the sneakers with different faux fur colors.

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VAMP: What’s selling these days?
Oliveira: Ballet flats are always a key piece. And sneakers are still a must-have.

VAMP: Where do you envision the Josefinas brand in 5 or 10 years from now?
Oliveira: We know for sure that 5 years from now Josefinas will keep empowering women towards the realization of their dreams. If a woman can dream, a woman can do!

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