Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shoes of Prey for men?

We've been asked a number of times why we don't yet have a mens range. We had considered it when we were in the early stages of planning Shoes of Prey, but the main reasons we didn't start off with it were:

  • the manufacture of men's shoes is, to our research, at a significantly different (and higher) price point from women's shoes which leads to market targeting issues.
  • generally, women are more interested in fashion, so are more likely to want to be able to design their own shoes than men.
  • women shop more frequently for shoes than men do, i.e. "men buy, women shop"

Overall, women seemed like a much better market for this idea.

Recently, I read an article published by Lightspeed Venture Partners, on their decision to invest in Bonobos, that contained a great insight into the way men and women shop. So firstly, what's Bonobos? it is a mens apparel e-tailer, focused on selling better-fitting trousers to men who have bigger legs - the fashionable medium between super-skinny jeans and baggy, pleated trousers. Since launch in 2007 the range has expanded to cover products including jackets, polos and more. Part of the success of Bonobos has been understanding how their target market shops. What the guys at Bonobos uncovered about the way men and women shop, is this:

Looking at this model against Shoes of Prey - we offer a design service, that requires time and engagement to get to the end product. We do offer fitting services, but the attraction is primarily about becoming the designer - creating whatever your heart desires. So broadly speaking, it feels like Shoes of Prey plays on it's strengths by targeting the female customer.

Do you think that this is a fair assessment of our idea to focus on women, or do you think we are missing an opportunity by not producing a mens range? What do you think men want when it comes to footwear?

Image credit jagwired


  1. Maybe you are underestimating the FIT aspect of your product. ACA's spin was about fit, sounds like anyone with 2 different sized feet have real problems buying shoes. I can only imagine it's the same for men. Even if you offer 10 classic mens styles (not even custom designed), but offer different sized feet option, then there might be a big enough market with that. You remove the TIME + STYLE + FASHION for the men by providing pre-designed shoes, and focus on NO-HASSEL and FIT.

  2. A business colleague told me about the "Pink Triangle" market. This is targeted at the non-heterosexual market ie Gay, Transexual etc. Cross gender men fit into this market where womens shoes in mens sizes come into play. Shopping online is also convenient for those wanting to retain their anonimity in their sexuality- including their wives and girlfriends!!

  3. My feet are not normal. I have high arches, a high instep, a narrow heel and a wide forefoot. Also, I have a pair of custom athletic orthodics that I would like to wear more, but fit in very few types of shoes. I would appreciate being able to order shoes that I know would fit everytime, and order them in different styles.
    Like most men, I'm not a big fan of shopping. I don't browse through stores, instead I blaze in looking for something that catches my eye - often not finding anything. Then when I do find something I like, often it's tough to find a size that fits me. Stores sell out of common sizes, and some brands just don't make to fit me.
    Give me a way to buy shoes that I can know will fit me before I buy them, and I would be a huge fan.

  4. Hey Jeni, that's a pretty good point. My only thought then is, should we create a totally separate brand? I think there's an argument for a separate brand that's focussed on men anyway, but perhaps this strengthens it further, because Shoes of Prey is about "designing your own" and if for men we offer a set selection it might be confusing...

    Hey Damien, we actually see a little bit of this already, the market is definitely there.

    Hi Adam, that sounds tough. If we ever do this, you'll be on our beta tester list :)