WHEN ALLEN EDMONDS CEO Paul Grangaard set about redesigning the retail stores for the classic men’s brand, he never imagined the architect he selected would not only revamp the company’s look, but also become a budding footwear designer.
Grangaard tapped Minneapolis- based architect James Dayton—a protégé of the famed Frank Gehry—to redesign the brand’s new store in the city. With walls made of Wisconsin red birch and cork lampshades that bring to mind the brand’s signature layer of cork between the inner and outer sole of its shoes, Graangard says the design “fit Allen Edmonds perfectly.”
So it was only fitting when Dayton presented a sketch for a shoe, that the brand give the design a shot. Introduced last fall, the wing-tip dress boot became the company’s top-selling boot and the seventh-best selling style of the fall season, and Grangaard says he’s meeting with the designer again soon to see more sketches.
It’s a footwear and retail design collaboration, Grangaard notes, that’s boosting sales across the board. “When we go into a new market with a retail store, we grow the interest in Allen Edmonds shoes. In Minneapolis we overperformed our estimates by 50 percent, but our top wholesale account was up 70 percent. We find that it’s very synergistic for us—it helps our wholesale customers there as well.”
“It’s one of many things we’re doing today that just fits together well,” Grangaard adds. “The customer is king, but in order to make the king happy, the product is really important—and it just makes sense to present our product in the best way we can possibly do it.” —Audrey Goodson