Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Laces: Louis W. Colon III

The story I did on Laces for Footwear News is finally out. You can't access the story on line, but it's a profile on Louis W. Colon III (above image) and his new Downtown New York sneaker store Laces (the link isn't working now so FYI, the address is 252 Mott Street), which he opened in mid-December. Coming from a total sneaker head background--he's the founder and publisher of Kicksclusive magazine, Louis wanted to open up a store and saw the women's market as untapped. When I visited the store in February for a second time, he was carrying two brands--Nike and Cr8tive Recreation, and from the looks of his shelves compared to my first visit, business was going well.

I do think that over the next six months or so Louis will be going through an adjustment period as he figures out the women's business and how, when it comes to sneakers, a woman's wants and needs list differs from a man's. The fact is, Louis is pretty much in pioneer mode and he's staking out territory that is unfamiliar to even the major sneaker companies, who, while they are very familiar with the importance of connecting with male collectors, have never before focused on the mindset of the female customer.

^^The jewels of NoLiTa

One thing I'm sure he's working out is what brands and styles he's going to carry. A very fashion savvy woman who works in the industry complained to me last week that the store needs to carry more brands. I know from talking to Louis that he is focused on exclusivity as a selling point and his strategy is to avoid styles that are carried by every other store on Broadway.

I just wonder if the downtown fashion girl cares as much about rareness as her male counterpart. One thing for sure, Louis strikes me as a very smart and focused guy so I'm sure if he hasn't figured out the answer to that question, he's on the way to doing so. Retail is nothing if not a proccess and part of being a success in it is making needed adjustments.

Note: if there's still a pair of Nike's featured in my profile, those are a pair of Nike Zoom Blazers, which, at the time of this post, were a Laces best seller.

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