LONDON, United Kingdom — Footwear brand Swear is relaunching as fashion’s first fully customisable sneaker label in a bid to cater to the next generation of luxury consumers.
José Neves, better known as the founder of Farfetch, is repositioning the footwear brand he founded 22 years ago as a unisex, seasonless sneaker label that allows consumers to create a completely bespoke product. Swear’s new retail model, which launches Tuesday, offers visitors two levels of customisation on its website: Customise 48 H, the basic-level personalisation with options to select style, colour and material, with the final product being delivered in two days; and Customise 360, which gives customers full control over the entire shoe with more personalisation options, mocking up a design that will be handmade and despatched within four to six weeks. Swear will introduce a new blank canvas shoe style each month to keep product offerings fresh, with prices ranging from £215, to £7,150 for exotic skins like crocodile, python and ostrich.
“These are customers that are savvy online shoppers, and they're quite confident in style,” says Mario Muttenthaler, the brand’s managing director. “What they’re looking for is something that’s unique and something that not anybody else has. They’re happy to part with £400 or £500 for a pair of sneakers.”
Sneaker customisation is not a new phenomenon. Brands like Nike, who launched NikeiD in 1999, and Converse have been pioneering the space for decades, while No.One launched in 2016 as a high-end offering. However, major luxury brands have been slow to tap into the market: Louis Vuitton, Longchamp and Burberry offer personalisation services, but none to date have offered the full customisation approach. “It is really working for the mass market brands, and my view is that if it works for the mass market brands, it will work for luxury,” says Neves.
I really believe that customisation will be the next revolution in luxury.
Swear’s new model will focus on made-to-order services: “We looked at the state of the industry and we really thought the traditional retail model is broken,” Neves adds. “We came up with a much more sustainable way of creating fashion. The new Swear business model is completely focused on customisation, which means every single pair [of sneakers] is bespoke and made to measure. It’s really about zero discount, zero wastage and true expression of individuality for the customer.” “The aim is to relaunch [Swear] as something that we believe is the next big thing within luxury e-commerce,” adds Mario Muttenthaler, the brand’s managing director.
The brand has also teamed up with select luxury brick-and-mortar stores, including Browns, Barney’s New York, Joyce and 10 Corso Como, where Swear will forgo the traditional wholesale model and operate under a consignment set up, offering Customisation 48 H in store with a minimal product run and Customisation 360 via tablet sales. “Almost 100 percent of the business will be direct to consumer,” explains Neves. Farfetch will remain the brand’s sole digital retailer partner.
“I really believe that customisation will be the next revolution in luxury,” says Neves, who cites ubiquity, discounting and lack of customer engagement as challenges contemporary luxury retailers face, and believes the customisation format will help solve some of these retail issues. He also hopes it will help to re-excite luxury consumers: “The customer is less and less engaged with products and more and more engaged with experiences. I think customisation is a very powerful movement.”