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Vass discontinuing US sales?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by kabert, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Yes, there have been several, quite credible studies, that indicate that (heterosexual) women are more likely then (heterosexual) men to (subconsciously) attach more weight to dress when it comes to attraction to members of the opposite sex. I will leave members to draw their own conclusions.

    However, I submit that a woman who would consciously be impressed by a guy because they wore Prada/Weston/Vass shoes, and this not because she loves beautiful handiwork/design, is not a woman worth talking to.
     
  2. whnay.

    whnay. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    No truer words have been spoken.
     
  3. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    However, I submit that a woman who would consciously be impressed by a guy because they wore Prada/Weston/Vass shoes, and this not because she loves beautiful handiwork/design, is not a woman worth talking to.
    No truer words have been spoken.
    Ditto. Jon.
     
  4. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    For the record, several very discerning women (and men) have complimented me on my Vass shoes. Wearing my Vass monkstraps is a near "religious" experience [​IMG] Grayson
     
  5. Carlo

    Carlo Senior member

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    I think we hath digressed
     
  6. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    Yeth we hath.
    Grayson
     
  7. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    I think we really need to know how many shoes Vass can put out before we can say what their pricing should be, and how effective they can attact the 99% of the populations that buys for brand rather than intrinsic quality. Obviously, if its handmade, this puts a limitaion on output.

    Perhaps, their output is so limited, that it might as well focus on the 1% shoe nerds who've actually heard of Vass. If its that small, then it couldn't justify the money they'd need to put in to raise awareness among the general public. And, if these shoe nerds are attracted to Vass because of the quality and not the value of it, Vass might as well raise their price.
     
  8. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    Another issue is that of repeat business, and a tendency of many aspirational shoe fetishists to acquire one trophy shoe of various elite brands and that's it, their desires have been sated.---Of the miniscule % of men who even know Vass, an even more miniscule will buy several pair.  There are limits to how many pedestals one can have on which to display their trophy shoes.
    Grayson
     
  9. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    What? I was thinking of the word "land." You're not gonna get "land" and become a land-owning aristocrat simply by announcing you own one pair of shoes or another.
    Grayson
     
  10. Mike C.

    Mike C. Senior member

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    You guys still don't seem to get the target market for luxury products. It isn't the people on this forum (for the most part), it isn't the weird Japanese shoe fetishists. Those people make up like .05% of the market.

    The guy who Vass should target is the guy who drives an SL500 , has a closet full of Brioni suits, eats at Ruth's Chris on a Monday night, and reads the Robb Report (and actually buys what's in the RR).

    To catch these people, you need to be expensive. With the current Vass price, these people aren't interested, and there certainly won't be a buzz about the product.
     
  11. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Mike C.,

    Agreed. Most people who shop at Bergdorfs are rich assholes with a lot of Trump classiness. I think the point was made a while back though.
     
  12. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    Gucci already has this guy locked up. And, if they want to get esoteric, they'll wear Edward Green.
    Grayson
     
  13. A Harris

    A Harris Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Some interesting points guys, but I won't have time to write a proper response until Monday at least. So for now: The fact that they are made in Budapest has been far less of an issue in reality than is being discussed here. If retail store has good salesmen who believe in the product, I don't think it will be an issue at all. Louis proved that. And it certainly shouldn't be, based on the actual merits of our shoes. T4Phage, the comparison to A. Lange & Söhne was apt - Vass is famous for reviving traditional Hungarian shomaking, they have recieved one of Hungary's highest state honors for doing so.
     
  14. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Well, Marc, I don't suppose I can object to your use of the phrase "get laid" if moderators are using phrases like "rich assholes".
     
  15. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    That still doesn't address why those people will buy the shoes if they've never heard of it before. You're not going to reach that audience via style forum.

    According to that logic, Vass should sell their shoes for 10 grand since it will therefore make it one of the most expensive luxuries out there. They're not buying things because its necessairly expensive. They're buying it because of the image and brand these luxuries have imprinted on consumers.
     
  16. A Harris

    A Harris Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Esquire, you are missing a very large part of the picture - the store. Why do you think that store markup is equal or greater to the money that goes to the manufacturer and distributor combined?? Because they have a name and a customer base.

    How many people who have heard of John Lobb, Lattanzi, Mantellassi etc. would have any clue who these brands are if they had not seen them in Neimans, Bergdorf, etc?? Just about none.

    Stores like Louis, Bergdorf, Wilkes, Barney's and to a lesser extent Neimans etc. don't need advertising campaigns to sell small artisinal lines. If they depended on everybody knowing a name before they went into the store they would never sell anything. The fact that the product is in a top store and is expensive is often enough to capture the prestige-conscious customer being discussed here.

    Where would any of the top "Made in Italy" brands be today if stores like Louis and Wilkes hadn't taken a chance and carried them years ago? Probably not being discussed on these forums, that's for sure.

    And that brings us to another problem - that of people in the industry not being able to tell the difference between a handmade and a machine made shoe. Horace argues that handwork carries no real benefit, that is really just a fetish. I do not agree, but our opinions are irrelevant, because at this point in time, handmade clothing is perhaps the biggest 'brand name' in the clothing business. Buyers can tell the difference with suits, I've seen them drop popular lines because the maker replaced handwork with labor-saving machine work in relatively minor areas.

    Yet industry-wide, and with few exceptions, I see people who should know better buying for their stores machine-made/hand finished shoes that are being represented as "handmade". I have no problems with these machine made shoes in and of themselves, they are often quite beautiful and worth the price being asked - I would certainly wear them. But that does not make them handmade, despite claims to the contrary.

    As you can see, this puts us in a difficult position. The biggest selling point of a Vass shoe is that it truly handmade, one of only two or three truly handmade makes on the US market. But of what use is that selling point when the stores already have shelves full of machine-made shoes that they are selling as "handmade"? Until people can tell the difference, we have our work cut out for us...
     
  17. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

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    If we are going to make analogies between watchmaking and shoes, I think a better comparison would be Vass to Glashutte Original (another defunct East German company refounded post-1989).  Both companies produce beautifully constructed pieces, with nice but relatively conservative styling, and priced significantly below products from "traditional" countries (Switzerland for watchmaking, and England and Italy for shoes).  That being said, if I had the requisite 4k for a GO or $650-850 for Vass shoes, I would be much more inclined to buy those particular products compared to their more widely known, and more expensive, luxury peers.  Realistically, I think GO placed itself in a very competitive position (at least in New York); alongside Patek Phillipe, Lange, VC, AP in the major watch outlets where direct comparisons between price and quality can be made without the bombardment of advertising and "talk" that floats around in the real world.

    Mike, do you really believe that the "target" luxury goods shopper buys Edward Green and Lange?  I view them as slightly anachronistic brands that are kept afloat by an ardent group of collectors and aficionados.  There was even a recent thread in public forum in Timezone about an article which appeared in the WSJ discussing the surge in Tourbillon sales.  Luxury is all about the roped shoulder on a Brioni suit, Armani shirts, Hermes ties, custom Ferragamo shoes, and the new monstrous sized Cartier Roadster chronograph.  Conversely, how many men of affluence are going to spend the requisite number of hours being fitted for a suit in London?  Drive out to Long Island or meet with Mr. Kabbaz on multiple occasions for shirts?  Wait 6-12 months for a pair of bespoke shoes?  Or even fly out to Basel to check out the new JLC movements?  Surely, there is a minority of buyers who possess the financial means and interest for supporting a market, but to dismiss them as simpletons buying the latest feature in Robb Report is a bit short sighted.
     
  18. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    And that is what I was talking about earlier -- Unless you have an INCREDIBLY discerning eye, you can't tell a handmade shoe apart from a machine made shoe until you put it on your foot. I have no doubt that if a customer who was deciding between Edward Green and Vass -- assuming equivalent style and fit -- put both shoes on his feet, he would feel the superiority of Vass in a heartbeat.
     
  19. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Ain't that the truth.
     
  20. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    AHarris-

    Good point, but is it the job of these stores to sell and push these small artisinal lines? Cause that's basically what has to happen for Vass to break out instead of lying unsold at these stores if nobody has heard of these shoes.

    Do the stores' salesmen get any bonuses or awards for pushing Vass shoes? I don't know if they do, but if I'm not mistaken, they do get a commision from the store for how much they sell. If I'm a salesman, I would rather push some English RTW shoes because
    a) those shoes are more expensive, so I'll get a higher commision
    b) don't have to spend as much time trying to break down barriers and explain why to customer a shoe from hungary will be just as good as the more famous shoe from england or italy. this frees up my time, which i can then spend on making another sale

    Everybody is mentioning that Vass is a good price for its quality, when you compare it to its competition. Of course, this is true because its from Hungary, and you have lower labor costs. I could make the same argument with shoes from China, if I wanted to invest the time and effort in training them.

    And, given how much importance you've given to stores to help market developing brands, the fact is that Vass has been booted out of Louise for whatever reasons. LB must have its reasons, but I'm assuming that disappointing sales played a factor. I've heard of them booting out other lines, but those lines got big with other stores carrying them.
     

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