In the footwear industry, some retailers craft shoes built for comfort, while others focus more on style. Camtrade footwear delivers on both with their two women’s shoe brands, Secret Celebrity and Soft Comfort. And since their launch in 2013, the company has been successfully producing quality shoes that look and feel great, all while maintaining affordable price points.
Teamwork and Expertise
The Boxborough, Massachusetts-based women’s footwear company has only been in operation for five years, but in that time its two brands have surpassed initial company expectations—maintaining consistency of quality execution in all aspects of their business, strong customer bases, records of excellent customer service, increased visibility, continued support from retail partners and brand expansions.
This is due in large part to its team of veteran footwear experts, who has decades of experience and expertise in wholesale, retail and footwear design. At the helm of the group is President and CEO Frank Cammarata.
Cammarata, 57, cut his retail teeth at age 21 at international off-price department store giant TJX, a company founded by his father, Bernard Cammarata. “I started in the stores, then got into merchandise planning, then moved into a buyer’s role and ultimately became a merchandise manager,” he said.
In fact, Cammarata credits the confidence he felt about starting Camtrade to the retail expertise and instinct he gained from his 20 years at TJX. “My time [at TJX] opened my eyes to the vast opportunities in the shoe industry… I knew that this extensive retail experience would translate well into the footwear sector. It was, in fact, invaluable to me when starting Secret Celebrity and Soft Comfort.”
Both Secret Celebrity and Soft Comfort have classic staples that are proven customer hits that remain permanent parts of their collections. New styles are added every season based on new shoe trends and feedback from consumer-based focus groups and social media.
“Well in advance of the targeted season our design team travels to Europe and Canada to study their fashion retail markets to ascertain key trends. We then select the styles we want to incorporate into our lines, and our designer sketches them. The sketches are sent to our factory design team and first prototypes are built. Then we make adjustments and corrections from there until we achieve the final model,” said Cammarata. “Consumer-based focus groups are also a part of our editing process. Plus, our bloggers provide important feedback to us in terms of style, comfort and fit.”
Camtrade’s design team puts great effort into making sure every pair of Secret Celebrity and Soft Comfort shoes are comfortable, on trend and affordable. Designers pay very close attention to details like pattern, color, materials, ornamentation, heel height, comfort features and fit. Shoes are constructed using memory foam cushioning, arch support, goring and supple materials for comfort.
To keep prices affordable, faux leather and fabrics like denim are used, to which techniques are applied to create finishes like nubuck, pebble-grain, suede and antique vintage. Stitches, chains, grommets, sequins and fringe are just a few of the styling details and hardware used to add ornamentation to the shoes.
Both brands cater to the multifaceted woman who wants a stylish shoe without having to sacrifice comfort. “We feel that both [comfort and staying on trend] are very important to our end consumer. We strive to provide nice looking shoes that fit like a dream and are comfortable, at a price that is reasonable,” says Cammarata. But the brands serve two different demographics.
The Soft Comfort woman is an outdoorsy type between the ages of 25 and 65. She likes comfortable, sporty, casual footwear. Each shoe is designed with supersoft relaxation technology that gives her flexibility, cushioning and comfort, creating the feeling of “walking on a cloud.”
Styles span the spectrum between the Cruisin wedge-heel bootie with side zip and tassel and the Cool Off metallic thong sandal with bejeweled details. “We created the Soft Comfort brand name because we felt it was quite descriptive and would resonate, especially with the soft heart logo,” said Cammarata.
The woman who wears Secret Celebrity is hip city-chic and between the ages of 18 and 55. She loves expressing her inner celebrity and staying on trend. With offerings in classic silhouettes like booties, sandals, flats, dressy, pumps and slip-ons—each with stand-out design details—she’ll always find the perfect style for every occasion. Its Spring ’18 collection features an array of fashion-forward choices, including the three-tiered slide Fresh Bloom with floral appliqué and the Tough Cookie multiband T-strap gladiator sandal. This season’s color palette includes robin’s egg blue, sheer lavender and soft coral.
In Fall ’17, Secret Celebrity launched a collection of athleisure footwear that includes sneakers, slip-on flats, oxfords and ankle booties in colors like merlot, chambray denim and ruby red.
“We felt strongly that our Secret Celebrity banner would be an absolutely perfect fit for [the athleisure] category. Our target consumer is active, spontaneous, sporty and multifaceted. So our active-ready collection seemed like a natural progression for us,” said Cammarata.
Camtrade is expecting considerable grown and expansion within the athleisure market. They’re so optimistic about Secret Celebrity’s performance that they’re considering a Soft Comfort athleisure launch for BTS 2019.
Soft Comfort and Secret Celebrity shoes range in prices from $40 to $80, and are available at independent, department and specialty stores in the U.S. and online.