Fast fashion brands seem to be banking on footwear these days. The latest to do so is Forever 21, which will soon debut its new "premium leather shoe collection," a range of 10 trend-driven styles of higher quality -- and price -- than the inexpensive retail chain's past offerings. Prices range from $49 to $79.
The retailer hopes the shoes will appeal to existing customers and new ones alike: “The breadth of this line extends beyond what most of our consumers believe is the Forever 21 brand,” Linda Chang, F21's GMM told WWD. “Our new shoe collection allows us to offer premium items that complement our apparel categories, both reaching our current customers as well as attracting new ones.”
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that fellow purveyor of quick-and-cheap outfits, Nasty Gal, also recently ramped up footwear with a full in-house line called Shoe Cult, after noticing that the category made up a significant portion of the company's sales. Shoe Cult ranges in price from $58 to $190. At the time, VP of design Sarah Wilkinson said the company had plans to grow the line, with options at every price level.
Another brand we could see moving in this direction is H&M, which currently has a pretty limited footwear offering. Ditto, Gap (its pony hair leopard print flats last fall were pretty darn good) and Uniqlo. Currently, the affordable, trendy shoe market is dominated by footwear-only brands like Steve Madden, Aldo and Nine West, along with stores like David Z that sacrifice elegant branding and shopping experience for good deals. It makes sense that apparel-focused brands would want to grab some of that market share.
It's also interesting because, as recently as two weeks ago, Forever 21 came under fire for its existing footwear and accessories when unsafe amounts of lead were found in several items. At the time, a rep for the company told the New York Times that it would recall those items and terminate the vendors responsible.
Hopefully, higher quality items means less unsafe lead contamination.
Check out the full collection below. So far, there is nothing we'd shell out $49 for, but it looks somewhat promising.