Vince Camuto himself established Camuto Group in 2001. As an avid architect of shoes, Vince Camuto has since marched forward not only as a progressive creator of footwear, but also as a complete lifestyle brand for women. Camuto Group provides design, sourcing, marketing and production services to more than 5,400 department and independent retailers around the world, and the Vince Camuto brand is a cornerstone of the company’s portfolio.
Based in Greenwich, Conn., Camuto Group owns the Vince Camuto and Arturo Chiang brands and is also the master licensee for the Jessica Simpson Collection. In addition, the company develops and manages brands for Dillard’s, and also holds the footwear license for BCBGeneration, BCBG Max Azria, Lucky Brand and kensiegirl. Beyond that, Camuto Group does the design and sourcing of footwear for Tory Burch and has a partnership with the apparel lifestyle brand Sanctuary.
Through passion and a widespread knowledge of the fashion industry, Vince Camuto, founder, CEO and chief creative officer, has made Camuto Group into a successful brand-builder, licensor and licensee. With numerous partnerships and a proven track record of leadership, integrity and execution of quality product, Camuto Group has become a trusted name valued by a diverse group of retailers and customers.
Eyeing the Prize
Having a leg up on the competition is crucial in retail. Vince Camuto does his own research and embraces the seasonal changes of the industry. Excitement and passion breeds success, and the brand feeds on that creativity and commitment. “We have a dedicated team with tremendous energy,” Camuto says.
Products go out of style fast. Without innovation, a fashionable institution is only as successful as its most recent Collection. At the core of the Vince Camuto brand is the design team. Each classification has a dedicated design team with an overarching creative director ensuring consistent brand messaging. “With this infrastructure, there’s connectivity and sharing of design elements while each team can also focus on designing one product,” says Leah Robert, senior vice president for licensing and marketing.
Vince Camuto’s designs are well received because they are the right fit for the public. Keeping up with aggressive growth worldwide is impossible without knowing the consumer. Public appearances are an important business strategy for the company. This year alone, Vince Camuto has travelled to Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, New Orleans, Jacksonville and New York, just to name a few. “We meet with thousands of women and personally talk to them for several hours,” Camuto says. “It’s gratifying to hear how excited they are by the line and our products.”
The brand has proven to be popular with consumers because it applies the feedback received from women to the creative process. “If you have preconceived notions or work in an ivory tower, you aren’t listening to your customer,” Camuto says. “The key to this industry is to be a great listener and provide the consumers with what they want.”
The Right Fit
The internal relationships of the Vince Camuto team are critical to the brand’s success. “In all my years working in the fashion business, I can say, collectively, we never had a team more excited and inspiring,” Camuto says. With factories in Brazil, China, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, communication is vital. Not only are there strong ties with its factories, but the Vince Camuto team also works closely with the operations group to organize the schedules.
Global sourcing allows the brand to achieve the best price value. Having a global infrastructure, with experts and technicians from countries like Italy and Brazil, Vince Camuto is able to give consumers quality products at affordable prices.
For the brand, best-in-class partnerships are a fundamental component of the growth strategy. Integrity, design capability and sourcing ability are key factors Vince Camuto looks for in a partner. “If you put those components together with a passion for people, then you have a good combination,” Camuto says. “That’s the secret; otherwise, you become marginalized and then short-lived.”
Branding the Future
How many women do you know with only one pair of shoes? Women need a variety of shoes from flats to boots, from casual to formal. “It becomes a lifestyle and we want to dress a woman for her every need,” Camuto says.
“The idea behind the lifestyle brand is to give a woman a product for every day and event in her life,” Robert contends. “Vince Camuto continues to expand and offer exciting opportunities for consumers and their various fashion needs.”
Vince Camuto is diving headfirst into the lifestyle brand with 17 categories at retail. Such products include everything from footwear to ready-to-wear, dresses to fragrance, jewelry to handbags, sunglasses to swim.
As for male consumers, Camuto sees an opportunity to provide quality fashion and great style at an accessible pricepoint. Vince Camuto is set to expand its horizon with lifestyle products for men. Fragrance and sportswear will launch in 2012 followed by eyewear in 2013.
As of press time, Vince Camuto also has plans to open more than 10 stores with a brand-new concept in New York and other areas of the country, beginning in SoHo. Asia, the Middle East, the U.K. and Canada also are key markets for the brand and the company is working on growing the business internationally.
The first freestanding Vince Camuto store opened in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in 2009. Among the 10 planned store openings to come, Camuto Group opened the first Vince Camuto branded outlet in California earlier this year at Citadel Outlets, which is considered to be Los Angeles’ premier outlet shopping mall. The 2,981-square-foot outlet has an array of footwear and accessories from the Vince Camuto line and also offers contemporary footwear brands produced by Camuto Group.
The Internet is another important vehicle for brand growth. The team is looking into website expansion, including using its website as a space where Vince can talk directly to consumers. Social media is another key area of focus for the brand to interact with and listen to its customer base.
Vince Camuto is working on finding new ways to create an atmosphere for women – and men – to feel and look good. “If a woman or man is in a place that he or she feels and looks beautiful, and the quality is good, then you win,” Camuto says.