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A&F Links With Zappos, Boosts Footwear Collection

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Abercrombie & Fitch is widening its distribution through an exclusive arrangement in the U.S. with Zappos.com and is expanding its footwear offering.

Officially, A&F women’s and kids merchandise launches on Zappos.com on Monday, though products are available on Zappos today.

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In addition, Zappos and Abercrombie have collaborated on a footwear collection of women’s boots, sneakers and strappy heels.

Outside of Abercrombie’s stores and e-commerce operations and native shopping functionalities of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Zappos becomes the only retailer selling Abercrombie merchandise in the U.S. Overseas, Abercrombie is sold through its stores and on Tmall, Zalando, Asos, About You, Boozt, Next, Zalora and The Iconic.

Zappos began in 1999 as a website for footwear and has since expanded into clothing, bags and accessories offering such brands as Madewell, Vans, Crocs, Free People and Under Armour, which are all sold on various websites. Zappos, which was bought by Amazon.com in 2009, maintains a reputation for strong, 24/7 customer service, with its 365-day return policy and free shipping.

“We try to give every brand a white glove service but with Abercrombie, we are doing a fairly large launch. We haven’t done something like this in the past because it is so exclusive,” Jeff Espersen, general manager and head of merchandising at Zappos.com, told WWD. “This is really different.”

For the launch, Zappos will be highlighting Abercrombie’s denim in its denim shop via a two-week takeover. Zappos’ Fit Finder can help customers find their optimal fit. Zappos will also be featuring matching looks from the Abercrombie adults and abercrombie kids brands.

Months ago, “We first started talking to them [Abercrombie] about a footwear collection, and one thing led to another,” Espersen said. “Our companies are pretty similar in what we want, how we excite the customer and making sure we deliver the best experience out there.

“We initially approached them. There was interest on both sides,” Espersen said. “Since we are so deeply rooted in footwear, this is an opportunity for them to actually bring footwear to life in their own business. We can help them with that.”

And Abercrombie helps Zappos by furthering its apparel offering and “bringing to life head-to-toe stories” in fashion. “We have a very large focus on that,” Espersen said. “We’re all experiencing a wardrobe refresh, swapping our cozy comfort for more stylish pieces. By offering Abercrombie & Fitch’s best-known women’s denim and exclusive footwear through an immersive online shopping experience, we’re looking to make this transition as fun and seamless as possible for our customers.”

“Size inclusivity is really important,” Espersen said. “With all the fits and all the sizes denim comes in, we want to make sure we expand sizing on each end of the spectrum.”

The Abercrombie team designed the footwear under the Abercrombie & Fitch label to directly pair with the new shapes and fits of its denim. Both Abercrombie and Zappos carry the footwear collection, which currently consists of eight styles, ranging from ankle and stovepipe boots to court sneakers and strappy heels. The footwear styles are offered in sizes six to 15 in select silhouettes. Prices range from $99 to $199.

To develop the new shoe collection, “We work with a third party that we have a very deep relationship with that helps with gradings and designs and creating some of the styles. Abercrombie signs off on all of them,” Espersen said.

The Abercrombie & Fitch denim fits displayed on Zappos range from size 23 to 37 (including Abercrombie’s signature Curve Love collection with built-in stretch that works for curves, and come in three lengths per style: regular, long and short.

The Zappos/Abercrombie tie-up is “ongoing. We are already look at product for next year,” Espersen said. The tie-up does not include the Hollister or Gilly Hicks brands of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., or Abercrombie men’s wear. The new footwear is available only on Zappos.com and abercrombie.com, and according to Zappos is designed to be styled with Abercrombie & Fitch denim fits.

Carey Collins Krug, senior vice president and head of marketing for Abercrombie & Fitch, said, “In stores and across social media, customers have voiced their desire for footwear to complete their outfits.” Abercrombie has had a limited footwear focused on sandals and flip flops.

“Zappos has a great reputation for customer service and an incredible digital platform, so as the conversation evolved, we saw an opportunity to combine their knowledge of footwear with our expertise in denim to create a unique, seamless customer experience, where we could show our customer what shoes to wear with all the newest trending shapes and fits in our denim,” Krug said in an email.

She said Abercrombie’s denim “is what sets us apart on Zappos.…We’re offering all our top styles and fits, as well as exclusive shoes designed specifically to pair with all the top trending Abercrombie denim styles.”

Abercrombie’s presentation on Zappos is “quite similar to how we present our products on our own channels: organized, clean and displayed on an array of bodies that represent our customers and the world around us,” Krug said.