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Tamaris: How the Billion-Dollar German Powerhouse is Cracking the U.S.

Once just a gleam in the eye of a traveling shoe salesman, in a half century Horst Wortmann’s Wortmann KG has become a billion dollar business in Europe, producing more than 50 million pairs of shoes annually. It all started with its Tamaris brand in 1967, which is now sold in more than 70 countries worldwide. It’s only recently however that the German company has made a significant push to crack the U.S. market. Founded in 2014, Tamaris USA just wrapped up its first season and is looking forward to the release of its Fall ’16 line featuring new improvements and styles.

Vamp spoke with the Tamaris USA President Jan Brinkmann on what consumers can expect from the line, and how the company plans to stand out in the marketplace.

VAMP: Tamaris is still new to many U.S. consumers. What’s it all about?
Brinkmann: Tamaris stands for affordable and wearable women´s fashion footwear. The collection covers a wide array of categories from ballerina flats to high heels to casual short boots. Tamaris has 50 years of expertise in shoemaking paired with knowledge related to construction and fit. Plus, the sourcing power behind Wortmann enables Tamaris to offer quality footwear at attractive pricing. Also very important is the implementation of innovative technologies into our footwear, such as the Tamaris ANTIshokk heel technology, or the Touch-IT padded foot bed that enhance the wearer`s feel and well-being.

“She is looking for something special that is not overly-distributed, and she doesn’t want to break the bank by buying that quality product.”

VAMP: Why have you decided to expand now and what is your strategy?
Brinkmann: We have taken our time to discover the U.S. However, this market is unlike any other footwear market in the world. It requires very careful planning, excellent due diligence, a long breath and patience, as well as strong financing, stellar marketing and most important of all: great product. We have studied this market carefully and think we are ready. Our product is competitive and we trust Tamaris is the brand for the fashion-minded woman. Tamaris offers fresh styling, a great quality and fit at a superb price. Tamaris is positioned in the middle to upper-middle market, from $79-$240. We target the better independent shops, the fashion boutiques, and top department store chains such as Nordstrom and online retailers like

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VAMP: What is your most popular style?
Brinkmann: We have many very well received styles. For Spring ’16, the Nao-3 has been selling like hotcakes. As the weather in many parts of the U.S. is just about to switch gears into summer mode, we also have strong initial reaction on the super lightweight Alis wedge sandal in kid-suede leather and reptile print strap. Especially the contrast white outsoles seem to resonate with the Tamaris customer really well. For Fall ’16, we have strong interest in our super smooth leather short boots with fashionable embellishments, such as leather straps with grommets and casual slouched shafts – all on medium dress casual heels, such as our Tora booty.

VAMP: Who is your target customer? What do they look for in shoes?
Brinkmann: The Tamaris customer is a modern woman looking for a certain level of sophistication in her style. She feels like she’s 30-50 years old, even though she can be of a different age. She is looking for great-fitting shoes that enhance her well-being, lifestyle and look. She is looking for something special that is not overly-distributed, and she doesn’t want to break the bank by buying that quality product. The fact is you can find comparable product to Tamaris at much higher prices.

VAMP: How are your shoes made? Are there any unique technologies found in the shoes?
Brinkmann: The vast majority of our collection is made from genuine, smooth leather. The shoes are mainly cemented construction with very flexible mid and outsoles. Tamaris is constantly looking to innovate, and so we incorporate smart comfort technologies into the shoes so that we can satisfy the needs of [our customers]. Our technologies include Touch-IT, a memory foam footbed, DUOtex, a built-in weather protection, as well as specially-developed and patented anti-shock heels, called ANTIshokk, which are used in many of Tamaris’ wonder heels, allowing women to enjoy being on a high without beginning to sway and totter.

VAMP: How has reception Stateside been thus far?
Brinkmann: Pre-selling Fall ’16 has been very exciting for us, as now that we have our very first season (Fall ’15) under our belt, we were able to gauge the performance of Tamaris in the U.S. marketplace and focus on winning categories and styles, make adjustments, and improve the line. For Fall ’16 we will introduce for the very first time in our company’s history a single-pair reorder program for the top-prebooked items. Overall, the Tamaris Fall ’16 collection has been well-received by both our existing and new accounts in the U.S.