C&C Asks: What Is Smart Head-to-Toe Dressing?

In 2011 online-native footwear company Sole Society launched as a direct-to-consumer e-commerce venture selling shoes for $100-and-under. In 2012, they added traditional retail to their business model, selling through the department store. Today, the brand has expanded into head-to-toe dressing, taking a unique approach to their foray into fashion. 

We caught up with the brand who will be onsite with us at Create & Cultivate DTLA to chat sales, buying practices, and using an omni-channel approach to reach customers. 

First things, first. What is smart dressing?

We think smart dressing is Fashion Without Sacrifice. Sole Society gives our girl a smarter way to style. We give her the quality and fashion she craves with none of the trade-offs. 

What inspired the brand to expand beyond footwear, handbags and accessories to selling apparel?

We have always encouraged our customers to style from the shoes up. Historically, we’ve styled our accessories on the site as a full look, offering unique “How to Wear” suggestions for each of our offerings. For each of these looks we call out the featured apparel brands. This is a unique approach for a footwear and accessory brand, but we’ve learned that our customers love it, and in turn, have come to trust our styling suggestions and expertise. Our customers have told us they enjoy seeing the fashion and the creative ways that we style our accessories. It helps our customers visualize the many ways they can wear their Sole Society accessories. Along the way, our customers have continuously asked “where can I buy the apparel?” As a result, we decided to start selling a curated selection of apparel that perfectly complements our accessories offerings.  Our customer can still come to Sole Society for great shoes, bags and accessories, but now they can take our fashion inspiration and purchase the entire look in one place. Given the recent results, we think our foray into apparel has been a success!

How does Sole Society drive sales for “head to toe” dressing?

We use an omni-channel approach to reach our customer and offer her key fashion inspiration, which drives her to purchase our products.  On solesociety.com, we showcase our catalog and offer product detail pages, where we feature completed looks in our shoppable How-To-Wear images.  We inspire our customers with our carefully curated and thoughtful point-of-view.  We also send daily emails to our database with creative imagery demonstrating both classic and trendy ways to style our product.

To complement the styling suggestions on our dynamic website, we work closely with a number of bloggers and digital influencers.  We love to collaborate with these talented, fashionable and creative people to see how each of them organically styles our product and makes it their own.   Instead of sending a partner a pair of shoes to promote, we prefer to let her choose her favorite shoes, bag, accessories and apparel to organically style on her own.  Through her creativity, she inspires her followers to wear Sole Society from head to toe and incorporate it into their wardrobe.  As a result, we gain compelling content to share on our social channels so our customer can see how women with all different styles wear our brand.

How do you buy for the online store vs our brick and mortar retail location?

Our online store includes the full Sole Society collection. We have a broader and deeper assortment on the website.  Our customer can browse the website for inspiration across categories and utilize the e-commerce features like ratings and reviews, how-to-wear images, “Shop the Look” and Q & A. 

Our store has limited space so the assortment is a curated selection of our most seasonally and regionally relevant merchandise.  There, we take advantage of merchandising our product categories into stories so our customer can see how well our pieces work together to create a stylish look.  Visiting the store also has the advantage of an in-person experience. Customers can touch and feel the quality of the product, and try pieces on to ensure the best fit.  Our customers are always commenting on how beautiful our merchandise looks in-person.

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