Cult Brand Aeyde Gets First In-person Experience in London With Everyday Minimalist Shoes

Digital-native brand Aeyde is getting physical.

The Berlin-based accessories label, which launched in 2015, has carved a loyal niche with its stylish, everyday shoes and sweet-spot prices. Now it is set to roll out a series of temporary pop-ups, starting with one at Selfridges in London on Tuesday.

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“We really see this as a great opportunity to showcase the brand for the first time in a physical space in front of the direct customer,” said Aeyde’s cofounder and chief executive officer Luisa Dames, defining Selfridges as “the perfect partner to start this series.”

“London felt the most suitable city for us to run this — and Selfridges, as one of the most innovative doors in the department store landscape, is able to really showcase brands and build their own identity into the small corners they have in the department store.”

“We are super excited to welcome Aeyde to the Selfridges Shoe Galleries, bringing their architectural Berlin roots and understated luxury with modern design to our customers,” said the luxury retailer’s accessories buying manager Peter Rodwell. “The pop-up will be home to the brand’s chic day-to-night styles, from their sought-after flats to boots.”

Luisa Dames, co-founder and ceo of Berlin-based accessories label Aeyde.
Luisa Dames, cofounder and CEO of Berlin-based accessories label Aeyde.

For the occasion, Dames commissioned London-based interior designer and gallerist Max Radford to turn Aeyde’s signature aesthetic rooted in the Bauhaus and Brutalism movements and its ethos in between form and function into the installation.

“As a brand, we’re obviously focused a lot on our design language and on the core essences of Berlin,” said Dames. “For London we wanted to work with a local designer able to translate our values into a pop-up experience, but who was also familiar with the country’s values. Max Redford is really talented and also in between the art space and the more commercial store space design, which is something we really liked,” she said.

As result, the clean setup hinges on metal elements — in a nod to Aeyde’s headquarters in Berlin — but in combination with glass and stone details to infuse “a slightly warmer” feel, said Dames.

Aeyde's display at Selfridges in London.
Aeyde’s display at Selfridges in London.

The partnership with local talents on the design aspect will be replicated for the other pop-ups the brand is set to roll out. Following Selfridges, a space at Le Bon Marché in Paris will be unveiled at the end of August, leveraging the city’s visibility and traffic in the aftermath of the Olympic Games.

Yet Aeyde’s shoes already garner their fair share of attention, as they have been seen on the likes of Taylor Swift, Sydney Sweeney, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Anitta, to name a few. The Selfridges pop-up will spotlight the spring 2024 collection — recently promoted with a campaign featuring Lily McMenamy, photographer and model Nella Ngingo and artist Adina Fohlin — as well as its sleek bestsellers. These include the Uma square-toed mary janes, the Gabriella satin ballerina flats, the Catrina pointy sling-back, the Stina kitten-heel mules and the Thekla fisherman sandals.

Gigi Hadid wearing Aeyde's best-selling Uma flats.
Gigi Hadid wearing Aeyde’s bestselling Uma flats.

Along with its approachable and wide footwear selection, priced between 225 euros and 745 euros, the brand offers jewelry and accessories such as belts and scarves, retailing at between 145 euros and 345 euros.

The brand’s cool designs and compelling positioning appeals to a 25- to 45-year-old consumer, mainly living in key metropolis such as Paris, Milan, New York and Los Angeles. (Dames said the data is based on registrants via Aeyde’s online store.)

She also pointed to TikTok as a tool that has amplified the hype around the brand and brought in extra sales after an account reviewed the Uma style. She eyes this social medium as an additional platform widening the brand’s audience, she said.

Kendall Jenner wearing Aeyde's Kirsten flats.
Kendall Jenner wearing Aeyde’s Kirsten flats.

Dames said she wants Aeyde “to stay a digital-first brand and focus there a lot, also in the years to come,” also pointing to “the brutal situation of the retail industry” at the moment.

“I’d rather keep the risk smaller and focus on what I’m doing really well in-house and on my digital channels, where I can reach my customer directly and build my own customer journey,” she said. “From the beginning, Aeyde started with a key distribution, we only work with [about 100] partners. The brand is still quite niche in that sense, it’s not too super exposed. As a brand owner, you need to find this very striking balance and not going too heavy in terms of distribution.”

Taylor Swift wearing Aeyde sandals.
Taylor Swift wearing Aeyde sandals.

“Still we wanted to give our customers around the globe the excitement [of really experiencing] the brand, to see it and touch it and you can generate this only in a physical presence, where you can really bring your values to life and showcase how you intend to present your products,” she continued. “If you work with 100 partners around the globe and everybody present[s] you differently on their shopping hall, the brand doesn’t look like the same as we see it, so for me [the pop-ups are] really a question of image. And positioning as well, because we sit next to brands like Manolo Blahnik and Bottega Veneta.”

Aeyde’s distribution includes 118 high-end luxury boutiques, department stores and online retailers worldwide, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Moda Operandi, Net-a-porter, SSense and LuisaViaRoma, among others.

The wholesale channel accounts for 60 percent out of the company’s total sales, which Dames declined to disclose. She said last year’s sales were up 60 percent, boosted by the combination of coherent product offering and engaging communication.

Sandals from the Aeyde spring 2024 collection.
Sandals from the Aeyde spring 2024 collection.

In the first quarter of 2024, the U.S. was the biggest market for Aeyde, accounting for 25 percent of sales. It was followed by the DACH area — comprising Germany, Austria and Switzerland — and the U.K., which accounted for 20 and 10 percent of Aeyde’s sales, respectively.

“The brand is profitable, which is also a major achievement for me as a business owner,” said Dames. “So now is the time to think about how do we see it also in the next phase and how we want to continue building this.”

Dames, who has a background in culture and economics studies and has previously worked at Zalando’s private label Executive Shoes & Acc. division, said her approach has always leaned on a “very long-term strategy” and knowing “where you want to be in 10 years.”

“I’m building this business [thinking] where do I want to head this brand, where do I want to position myself, which partners I want to work with and which ones I want to exclude,” she said. “As a brand, it’s really important that you are very strongly rooted in yourself and not so much looking in the market what others do.…Especially as a business owner, you shouldn’t be scared of going off trend: you need to always create risk and believe in what you do, essentially.”

Luisa Dames wearing Aeyde's best-selling Catrina sling-back style.
Luisa Dames wearing Aeyde’s bestselling Catrina sling-back style.

Dames’ vision is to keep Aeyde an accessories house. While she teased a further expansion in jewelry and didn’t exclude a development into bags in the future, she underscored there’s still much potential in the footwear arena, where she sees a polarization between the low-priced and luxury market. The former offers “affordable or cheap products, but made from horrific quality material,” while the latter is marked by ever-increasing prices, she said.

“That’s very much about excluding [customers] and I want to have a brand that is actually including a lot of different people,” said Dames, who also eyes unisex styles and hopes to add adding a men’s collection.

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