November 22, 2016
After taking a 28-year hiatus from the footwear industry, Bruce Katz, CEO and founder of Samuel Hubbard Shoe Company, and former CEO of Rockport Company, finds himself back in the shoe business.
Actually, Katz had no intention of returning to the footwear industry. His daughter asked him one day if they could design a shoe together, and he couldn’t turn her down.
“When I came into the shoe business which was in the ’70s. At that time the idea of the casual shoe was not a definable category,” said Katz. “Men wore leather soles, a few rubber sole shoes [were] around… There wasn’t really a category called casual footwear.”
Making a mark in both men’s and women’s, Samuel Hubbard brings back classic leather footwear and adds a hint of modern necessities, including a three density insole and chrome-free leather for the uppers. Through Samuel Hubbard, Katz aims to lure consumers away from the athleisure trend with solid alternatives, even naming one style the Un-Sneaker, which boasts a rubber comfort sole.
“One of the things that were really trying to do now as a company is to tease people out of wearing sneakers. Everybody’s wearing sneakers,” said Katz.
Katz makes a case for classic and elegant shoes, explaining his clientele’s every changing tastes.
“I can almost picture a woman saying [to a man] you cannot go to a restaurant with me on a Saturday night wearing a baseball cap and a pair of running shoes,” Katz quipped. “We’re getting a younger audience who think our shoes are kind of cool and retro—whereas the guys who are 60-years-old are thinking someone’s making a great leather shoe again.”
The brand does not operate according to season, showing only six silhouettes at FFANY. Katz holds high standards for the shoes’ components, including waterproof English leather, Vibram midsoles and Gore-Tex soles.
“I don’t want to sell a shoe that I don’t love. And when I put it on, I don’t want to know I’m wearing the shoe,” he said. “If I remember I’m wearing the shoe then there’s something wrong with it.”
Samuel Hubbard shoes retail for $200-$375. The brand also offers a resoling program, ensuring customers get the most from their purchase. While the number of silhouettes is small, the color options are endless with 19 variations for the brand’s most popular shoe alone.
“I like to make classic shoes that we can stock year-round. That’s the idea, that we can make stuff that people love,” said Katz. “We’re not looking for quick fashion.”
Exhibiting at FFANY Nov 30 – Dec 2: Booth 1303, Americas Hall I, Hilton
Recent coverage on CBS NY news of the FFANY New York Shoe Expo highlighting upcoming trends for Fall/Winter 2017 and Jenn Rogien at The Reveal: Check it out!