Luxury men’s footwear brand Mezlan is closing all of its stores in favor of a direct-to-consumer, wholesale model, becoming the latest to shift away from traditional retail in the face of changing consumer behaviors.
Mezlan will close the seven company-owned stores it opened between 2008 and 2017, the company said in a statement, “closing the chapter on its retail shops” in order to better optimize the brand for current shopping habits and the needs of its customers.
The luxury dress footwear brand was unable to support even this small footprint, CEO and president Antonio Sanchez said, and was forced to change its course as a matter of efficiency.
“We are keenly aware of the growing needs and demands of our client base and have responded by focusing on our direct-to-consumer online experience, nurturing our core wholesale business and pursuing global expansion,” Sanchez said in a statement.
The Spanish shoe brand, known for its “creativity,” “diversity” and luxury value proposition, has produced men’s footwear since 1968 and began its expansion into the United States via wholesale partnerships with independent retailers and luxury department stores in 1985, the company said.
Mezlan’s first company-owned store, opened in 2008 in Las Vegas, was met with “international acclaim,” the brand said, and became widely known for its best-in-class customer service. Over a 10-year span, the Spanish footwear firm opened five more stores in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Santa Clara, Calif. and even one location in a shopping center adjacent to the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.
As of 2017, Mezlan also operated a New York City flagship was furnished with hand-built decorations made in Spain.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the employees who serve with such passion and commitment and for the customers who enjoy and support our brand,” Sanchez said.
Mezlan is far from a unique case in the retail industry. Many brands have found direct-to-consumer and wholesale channels more efficient than the legacy retail model of owning and operating cost-heavy stores. Mezlan has been running its own website for more than 10 years but said its new strategy will focus on expanding its reach and improving the online experience.
However, wholesale strategies are also becoming an important aspect of the direct-to-consumer model and Mezlan plans to conserve and grow its wholesale partnerships as part of the new strategy.
“We have developed decades-long partnerships with both the retail vendor community and our very loyal customer base,” Sanchez said. “We are excited about our future plans and committed to Mezlan’s vision of offering exclusive footwear and accessories that provide a pleasurable, high-performance experience to the gentlemen we serve.”
Mezlan’s insistence on operating its own e-commerce channel alongside wholesale distribution will likely allow greater control over pricing, product and, ultimately, its own destiny as it retreats somewhat from brick and mortar.