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Apr 9, 2019

WWD: Influencers, Celebrity Remain Key Parts of ShoeDazzle Growth Strategy

The business’ new general manager looks to continue collaborations, as the company refines the apparel assortment and continues to test at retail.

Erika Girardi for Shoedazzle

ShoeDazzle is perhaps finally finding firmer footing with its own brand identity.

The business, part of TechStyle Fashion Group and started in partnership with Kim Kardashian, has been built on pop culture with its heavy use of celebrity and influencer collaborations. It now appears to be putting a finer point on that through its assortments under the leadership of recently appointed general manager Petra Braun Fukuda.

“We have done celebrity partnerships throughout the years and I think what is recently happening is that we expanded this strategy of having a much wider range of influencers and people we want to have collaboration partnerships with,” said Fukuda, who most recently served as senior vice president of the brand and has also worked on sister brand JustFab since joining the company in 2010.

Petra Braun Fukuda, GM Shoedazzle

ShoeDazzle is part of the TechStyle family of businesses, which also includes Fabletics, Fabkids and Savage x Fenty.

The focus on only A-list celebrities, in the vein of people such as Gwen Stefani or Keke Palmer (both of whom ShoeDazzle has worked with in the past), with millions of followers isn’t the sole emphasis. Instead, Fukuda said, the company is looking for influencers across a broader range of categories, ranging from lifestyle to beauty. There are also what she called “brand enthusiasts” who reach out to the company through its web site looking to partner in some way with ShoeDazzle, another segment of the company’s marketing.

“It’s very all-encompassing when it comes to the industries and backgrounds these people come from,” she said of the influencers the company works with.

ShoeDazzle’s recent footwear collaboration with singer Erika Girardi, from the reality show “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” is a good example, which Fukuda said was one of the company’s most successful campaigns.

While the collaborations are key to bringing more people to the brand, there are other areas of the business Fukuda is looking at. A few years ago, ShoeDazzle shared a design team with JustFab and the assortment didn’t resonate with customers.

“Our customer is shoes first. She is fashion first. She is not a wallflower. She loves to stand out. She’s an extrovert. She loves color. She comes to us because she wants a shoe she can’t find anywhere else,” Fukuda said. “I feel in the first year, our apparel wasn’t really living up to that level of fashion that she got from the shoes, so about a year-and-a-half ago we took a look at our apparel.”

Last year served as somewhat of a trial period to test an array of styles, and while it was in a beta period, the company managed to see double- or triple-digit growth each month compared with the prior-year periods and is now on track to have apparel account for about a quarter of overall ShoeDazzle revenue.

“We definitely want to build on this,” Fukuda said. “There is definitely a lot more potential there.”

Another avenue with potential? Retail.

Last year ShoeDazzle and JustFab had pop-ups in DSW’s Ohio flagship and Torrance, Calif., store in a deal Fukuda called “highly successful” and something the company continues to consider. The executive declined to offer any additional information on what could be in the works.

ShoeDazzle is also studying the pop-up model of sister brand Savage x Fenty, which has had its success with temporary shops.

“My mission really would be to stay true to the ShoeDazzle DNA,” Fukuda said. “It’s a very distinct brand voice. Our customers are very, very loyal and love us for a reason. I want to continue on that and capture that and not lose that identity, but also bring the brand into the next century and into the next decade and have it stay relevant.”