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Designer to Watch: Javiere

Javiere, a new line of women’s dress footwear, is a culmination of many years creating other designers’ dreams. The brand is owned by China-based JVR Group, which established a private label business over 13 years ago for designers and brands looking to develop and manufacture better dress and casual footwear in China within the mid to upper-tier distribution channels.

JVR Group produces footwear for Opening Ceremony, Bill Blass, Tracy Reese, Elaine Turner, H. Williams and a handful of high-end brands CEO Javier Santana could not disclose, but can be found in Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.

“What sets us apart from our competition is our ability to provide small production runs for our customers and for established brands that can’t hit the minimums on their base factory, our excellent customer service and our impeccable quality,” Santana said.

A turning point for the company, and what ultimately led to the launch of Javiere, was signing the licensing agreement for Tracy Reese. “It became evident that we needed to design, develop and market our own line of footwear to be competitive and offer the retailer more margin and trendier designs with quicker delivery turns,” Santana said.

Each style in the debut Javiere collection ($150-$350 retail) is personally designed by Santana. As creative director, he wants to fill the blank space for color and prints that he sees too often in the dress market. “Lack of color is a major obstacle for most designers. They are afraid to step out and take risks. There is too much black-colored shoes in the world,” he said.

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For Spring ’16, Santana culled inspiration from Caribbean architecture and Cuba’s colorful landscapes. In the brand’s color story, mosaic-like prints in warm tones of yellow and orange are mixed with metallic gold straps. Pastel purple and blue ghillie-style stilettos are spiced up with revealing cutouts. Multi-color calf hair is swathed across chunky heels and oversized platforms.

VIEW GALLERY: Javiere Spring ’16

The brands takes a turn for playful and “subtly downtown” designs with a series of two-piece stilettos with bold ankle straps. The Lilly features a cage-like ankle wrap that combines mesh, studs and leather. The Lila, with a multi-strand ankle cuff, offers a softer look in pastel blue and army green suede. Lace-up shoeties with diamond cutouts make a statement, meanwhile oversized flatform sandals get a glam makeover with metallic gold and gun-metal uppers.

Pointed toes add a sophisticated touch to a range of flat loafers, ghillies and oxfords. Low-key black suede and leather find their way into the line, but cork, technicolor snake prints and printed calf hair steal the spotlight.

Vamp caught up with Santana to find out how the fresh brand is making its mark in a category ruled by legacy names.

Vamp: What does the designer dress category need to do to incite sales?
Santana: Being ahead of the curve with the coloring and silhouette is a plus, but most important, no matter how dressy the shoe is, the shoe must have a perfect fit. And at the same time, the shoe must pay attention to comfort. Features like memory foam help invigorate sales.

Vamp: Is there pressure to add more comfort qualities and features to dress footwear?
Santana: Definitely, we always get questions like, ‘Are they comfortable?’ So, the pressure is there.

Vamp: What is the next big thing in dress footwear?
Santana: [We’re] paying attention to adding jewelry to our silhouettes. And we’re adding wrap welts to our new collection, but we feel working with lighter and flexible materials on dress shoes could be the next best thing.

Vamp: How do you define today’s designer dress consumer?
Santana: The designer dress consumer has limitations, and they know what they want. You will also find lots of fanatics in this category and they will buy a ‘feel good’ shoe for its look—not for the brand of it.

Vamp: What are some macro trends in footwear?
Santana: Bright and bold colors. Colorful prints. Embroidery fabrics and leather.

Vamp: Name three trend that should be on the radar of every buyer for Spring ’16.
Santana: Neutral suede, like nude and dusty pink. Lacing and updated gladiators. Printed exotics, like python.

Vamp: Does the dress category rely too much on the same big names?
Santana: We give credit to the big names, but they limit their risk. We feel that more risk needs to be taken to create more excitement in the industry.

Vamp: How can the market break this habit?
Santana: Attention to upcoming designers and the growth of more independent stores will help generate more trends and excitement.

Vamp: Is dress footwear a difficult sale in the online channel?
Santana: Online is definitely an important channel as it has no geological limitation to serve customers. We believe that it will be a successful sales platform with a high quality customer service, product information and generous return policy. That being said, in general more than 90 percent of retail sales are conducted through brick and mortar and less than 10 percent online. Convenience still plays a minor role when compared to the retail store buying experience.