135-Year-Old Brown Shoe Company Makes First Startup Investment in Jack Erwin

September 18, 2014

9:57 am

Brown Shoe Co., the global footwear company founded in 1878 and the one behind Famous Footwear, Shoes.com, Naturalizer, Dr. Scholls, and Vince, has made its first investment in a startup. It was announced this morning that the company led a $9 million Series B round of funding for Jack Erwin, a New York City, NY-based startup that sells its own hand-crafted, high-quality men’s shoes directly from its website.

Other participants in this round include CrossLink Capital, Shasta Ventures, and FundersGuild – all of which are return investors; in February of this year, they invested $2 million in the company’s Series A round. Overall, this puts Jack Erwin’s financing at almost $12 million since they launched their retail startup.

Founded in 2013, Jack Erwin creates high-quality men’s shoes all for under $200 a pair. With leathers tanned in Italy and France, and shoes produced in Portugal and Spain, the company has managed to make a working business model that allows them to sell such stylish men’s shoes at prices much cheaper than comparable shoes on the market.

Brown Shoe’s investment in Jack Erwin is part of a larger trend of major retail brands investing in fashion upstarts. As recent as this past July, for instance, Nordstrom acquired Chicago startup Trunk Club for $350 million. The amount of funding aside, Brown Shoe’s investment is a major development for Jack Erwin, especially when you take into consideration Brown Shoe’s entire portfolio of successful shoe brands. In 2008, the company invested in Sam Edelman, which has become a top brand – offering its high-quality, stylish products both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. With the funding, Jack Erwin now has the opportunity to make a move offline, bringing their selection to physical retailers.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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