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New York’s Jack Erwin – Startup aims to be Warby Parker of top quality fashion footwear for men

The first company most ecommerce managers will probably think of when they hear the phrase “high-end fashion, modest price tag” is New York’s rising eyewear fashion outfit Warby Parker; but fellow Big Apple neighbor Jack Erwin is planning to do for men’s fashion footwear what WB did for glasses. And it’s just raised $2 million in Series A funding to help it on its way.

Tech-commerce fusion

The source of the funding is intriguing, as the more seasoned ecommerce manager will spot immediately. The round was led by Crosslink Capital, with participation from Menlo Ventures and Shasta Ventures. These investors aren’t neatly categorizable as funders of fashion wear. They’re more associated with technology investment, and may well have been attracted to Jack Erwin’s plan to apply distribution techniques that have been successfully tried and tested by other technology-fashion hybrids (like, indeed, Warby Parker, who picked up a princely $60 million from investors impressed by that fusion in December last year).

Founded last year by Ariel Nelson and Lane Gerson, the company created and rapidly sold 3,000 pairs of shoes in its initial foray into the ecommerce space. The average price per high-quality, sartorially voguish pair is $200 – substantially lower than purchasers of this kind of design and quality will be used to.

Top quality, low price

Jack Erwin manufacturers its footwear in Portugal but distributes from its hub in greater New York. The savvy ecommerce manager will immediately notice that this means there’s no need for cost-guzzling, third party retail spaces to vend from.

The new money will not be diverted into advertising, the company says (it’s had some positive early press coverage which has helped). It’s going to be ploughed into expanding the line of men’s fashion shoes and developing its brand – the place where you buy superior luxury goods at lower price points than you could imagine elsewhere.

For the time being, there aren’t any plans to expand into women’s footwear; Nelson and Gerson are confident that their firm’s selected market niche is plenty big enough to support their plans for fast expansion. And given that the waiting list of customers wanting to buy is currently 2,400, they’re probably right in that estimation.

Watch this space. We think this company is going places.

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