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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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