Two Harvard University Graduates Rethinking The Engineering Of Women's Footwear Through Smart Design

Margaux footwear

Margaux footwear

While the hard science of luxury footwear is fascinating - from design to manufacturing to ultimate consumer! -The price may be out of reach for budget minded customers. In the fashion arena, expensive is already mandatory and largely unpleasant. Does good footwear have to be expensive too?

Happily, a new company has stepped into this odd little marketplace. Headquartered in the USA, the American start-up Margaux offers a much more comfortable and affordable high-tech footwear option. The company offers a full-range of comfortable styles combining form and function through smart design. The brand has also made a commitment to size-inclusivity starting with an extended size range—available in all styles in their collection.

The founders met during their freshman year at Harvard, and became fast friends. They lived together sophomore through senior year, and both studied history and government. The summer before graduation they both spent summers in the corporate world.  After that, they had time in their senior year to step back and think about life after graduation. They thought about becoming this ‘modern woman’ – about who she was and how she carried herself. They both worked summers in consulting and finance, and were all too familiar with the under-the-desk shoe shuffle from flip flop to heel, back to flip flop. They were convinced that there should be a shoe that combined form and function, and ensured that a woman could feel dressed and beautiful – while remaining comfortable – all day long.

They launched Margaux in 2015 and it's been their mission to make thoughtfully designed, versatile, and most importantly, comfortable shoes that meet the demands of modern life. Inspired by the crispness and dash of American style and informed by smart design, each silhouette in their collection packs a powerful punch of everyday wear ability and understated elegance. At Margaux, they are on a mission to create versatile, comfortable shoes that meet the demands of modern life. Everything they do revolves around their singular focus on fit.

I recently had the privilege to speak with Founders Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson about the true essence of the brand, what they believe women are seeking today in footwear and how technology-aided them in the development of the Margaux brand, both product make-up and e-commerce.

Founders

Margaux footwear

Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about the history, launch date and DNA of your footwear brand? What are your personal backgrounds?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: We launched Margaux in 2015 after meeting our freshman year at Harvard.  At its core, Margaux was born out of the realization that women face the all-too-frequent choice between footwear that’s stylish and footwear that’s comfortable. We’d witnessed the shoe-shuffle first-hand during short stints in the corporate world, and knew there had to be a better way. We believed there was an opportunity to rethink the engineering of women’s footwear and—by combining form and function through smart design—to create shoes that are as beautiful as they are comfortable, redefining the luxury footwear category along the way.

Joseph DeAcetis: What is your competitive advantage in the footwear market?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: We’re pushing a more inclusive paradigm for luxury footwear through our unique focus on fit. Slowly but surely, we are reengineering each staple of the women’s footwear wardrobe to create shoes that are as beautiful as they are comfortable. This begins with the construction of each style, but is ultimately accomplished by also offering an extended size offering that our customers can’t find anywhere else. Size inclusivity has finally received the much-needed attention it deserves in the ready-to-wear world, but Margaux is one of the only brands addressing it in footwear. Our commitment to size-inclusivity starts with our extended size range—available in all styles in our collection—US 2.5 to 14 and narrow, medium, and wide widths. We also have a bespoke model that allows customers with tricky size issues (for example, bunions or mismatched sizes) to have pairs tailored to their particular measurements and fit needs.And finally, our direct-to-consumer model allows us to offer exceptional quality at a compelling price point: Our shoes are made in Spain with luxury materials alongside footwear from some of the most covetable brands in the world, but are offered at a fraction of the price.

Margaux footwear

Margaux footwear
Joseph DeAcetis: How do you intend to market to Millennials and Gen Z?
Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: Both generations put a premium on comfort, so we will continue to message that women can—and should—have shoes that make them feel as beautiful as they do comfortable. Sustainability is also now a way of life for younger generations, and both groups are starting to realize that buying quality means buying less, which is good for the planet.We've recently hired a Director of Communications who came from the editorial world, so we are also excited to be developing more of our own content and creating a 360-degree experience for our customers. We believe that shoppers today—particularly millennials and Gen Z—want more from a company than a store and a product: they want to live and breathe the world the brand has created.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, what are women seeking today in footwear?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: Comfort, quality, and versatility. Today’s woman is too busy for a shoe shuffle. She needs a shoe she can begin and end her day in—and deserves a product that will work hard for her, and look amazing doing it.  

Margaux footwear storefront

Margaux footwear

Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes in detail about the current collection and why it is important for consumers to be aware of this brand?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: The current collection is at its widest breadth ever—we have casual styles, a great all-day block heel, a heeled sandal perfect for weddings and parties, and an elegant ankle boot, to name a few. And we're always retooling these silhouettes, making them fit just a little bit more perfectly, and introducing new prints, textures, and colors with each season.

Consumers ought to be aware because almost everyone can (and should!) have a better fitting shoe. We believe that confidence starts from the ground up, and we are here to provide women of all ages, backgrounds, and sizes with footwear staples she can turn to for decades to come.

Joseph DeAcetis: If you could choose one celebrity to wear your brand, who would it be and why?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: Emma Watson. Our style ethos aligns beautifully, and we have such admiration for the initiatives she's taken on—and the conversations she’s been bold enough to start.

Margaux footwear

Margaux footwear

Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about how technology supported  you in the development of your brand?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: After our team, and next to product, technology is the most critical component to the success of our business. As a digitally native brand, it sits at the core of everything we do—from customer acquisition and retention to launching, marketing, and selling new product. It has created efficiencies and opportunities in our retail spaces and warehouses, and has given us leverage in what we can do with a lean team at Margaux HQ.

Joseph DeAcetis: What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Alexa Buckley: As a small startup, each member of the team wears many hats—especially the two of us. In general, I handle more outward-facing needs like retail, partnerships, PR and social media, while Sarah oversees the more inward-facing operations like product, finance, logistics and supply chain.

Joseph DeAcetis: Where is the product made and why?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson:
Spain. There's such a rich history of footwear design and manufacturing there, with some of the most premiere brands in the world producing in our factory and those surrounding. We were lucky to meet some incredible Spanish designers and technicians who took a chance on us four years ago, and who today feel like family.

Joseph DeAcetis: Why should readers try Margaux?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: Every one of our styles is something you’ll want to wear day after day, year after year: we've worked hard to develop silhouettes and shapes you'll never tire of, or that will fall prey to the comings and goings of trend. They’re the shoes you can start and end your day in—no shoe shuffle required. And, as we mentioned, we take an out-of-the-box and inclusive approach to sizing so that everyone can find their perfect fit, regardless of size. And last but certainly not least, our customer-centric ethos is truly the most important component of our business. Every decision—from product design to store details—is made with our customer in mind, and small details, like sending hand written notes or surprise VIP gifts, hopefully make a customer’s experience shopping with Margaux warm, thoughtful, and memorable.

Joseph DeAcetis: What are you future projections and growth strategy for the next few years?
Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: We've hit triple-digit growth every year since we launched, and plan to scale the business in significant ways this year as soon as we close our next round of funding in the form of new product, stores, and exciting digital initiatives (some of which will be revealed soon!).

Margaux footwear

Margaux footwear
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Margaux footwear

Margaux footwear

While the hard science of luxury footwear is fascinating - from design to manufacturing to ultimate consumer! -The price may be out of reach for budget minded customers. In the fashion arena, expensive is already mandatory and largely unpleasant. Does good footwear have to be expensive too?

Happily, a new company has stepped into this odd little marketplace. Headquartered in the USA, the American start-up Margaux offers a much more comfortable and affordable high-tech footwear option. The company offers a full-range of comfortable styles combining form and function through smart design. The brand has also made a commitment to size-inclusivity starting with an extended size range—available in all styles in their collection.

The founders met during their freshman year at Harvard, and became fast friends. They lived together sophomore through senior year, and both studied history and government. The summer before graduation they both spent summers in the corporate world.  After that, they had time in their senior year to step back and think about life after graduation. They thought about becoming this ‘modern woman’ – about who she was and how she carried herself. They both worked summers in consulting and finance, and were all too familiar with the under-the-desk shoe shuffle from flip flop to heel, back to flip flop. They were convinced that there should be a shoe that combined form and function, and ensured that a woman could feel dressed and beautiful – while remaining comfortable – all day long.

They launched Margaux in 2015 and it's been their mission to make thoughtfully designed, versatile, and most importantly, comfortable shoes that meet the demands of modern life. Inspired by the crispness and dash of American style and informed by smart design, each silhouette in their collection packs a powerful punch of everyday wear ability and understated elegance. At Margaux, they are on a mission to create versatile, comfortable shoes that meet the demands of modern life. Everything they do revolves around their singular focus on fit.

I recently had the privilege to speak with Founders Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson about the true essence of the brand, what they believe women are seeking today in footwear and how technology-aided them in the development of the Margaux brand, both product make-up and e-commerce.

Founders

Margaux footwear

Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about the history, launch date and DNA of your footwear brand? What are your personal backgrounds?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: We launched Margaux in 2015 after meeting our freshman year at Harvard.  At its core, Margaux was born out of the realization that women face the all-too-frequent choice between footwear that’s stylish and footwear that’s comfortable. We’d witnessed the shoe-shuffle first-hand during short stints in the corporate world, and knew there had to be a better way. We believed there was an opportunity to rethink the engineering of women’s footwear and—by combining form and function through smart design—to create shoes that are as beautiful as they are comfortable, redefining the luxury footwear category along the way.

Joseph DeAcetis: What is your competitive advantage in the footwear market?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: We’re pushing a more inclusive paradigm for luxury footwear through our unique focus on fit. Slowly but surely, we are reengineering each staple of the women’s footwear wardrobe to create shoes that are as beautiful as they are comfortable. This begins with the construction of each style, but is ultimately accomplished by also offering an extended size offering that our customers can’t find anywhere else. Size inclusivity has finally received the much-needed attention it deserves in the ready-to-wear world, but Margaux is one of the only brands addressing it in footwear. Our commitment to size-inclusivity starts with our extended size range—available in all styles in our collection—US 2.5 to 14 and narrow, medium, and wide widths. We also have a bespoke model that allows customers with tricky size issues (for example, bunions or mismatched sizes) to have pairs tailored to their particular measurements and fit needs.And finally, our direct-to-consumer model allows us to offer exceptional quality at a compelling price point: Our shoes are made in Spain with luxury materials alongside footwear from some of the most covetable brands in the world, but are offered at a fraction of the price.

Margaux footwear

Margaux footwear
Joseph DeAcetis: How do you intend to market to Millennials and Gen Z?
Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: Both generations put a premium on comfort, so we will continue to message that women can—and should—have shoes that make them feel as beautiful as they do comfortable. Sustainability is also now a way of life for younger generations, and both groups are starting to realize that buying quality means buying less, which is good for the planet.We've recently hired a Director of Communications who came from the editorial world, so we are also excited to be developing more of our own content and creating a 360-degree experience for our customers. We believe that shoppers today—particularly millennials and Gen Z—want more from a company than a store and a product: they want to live and breathe the world the brand has created.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, what are women seeking today in footwear?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: Comfort, quality, and versatility. Today’s woman is too busy for a shoe shuffle. She needs a shoe she can begin and end her day in—and deserves a product that will work hard for her, and look amazing doing it.  

Margaux footwear storefront

Margaux footwear

Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes in detail about the current collection and why it is important for consumers to be aware of this brand?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: The current collection is at its widest breadth ever—we have casual styles, a great all-day block heel, a heeled sandal perfect for weddings and parties, and an elegant ankle boot, to name a few. And we're always retooling these silhouettes, making them fit just a little bit more perfectly, and introducing new prints, textures, and colors with each season.

Consumers ought to be aware because almost everyone can (and should!) have a better fitting shoe. We believe that confidence starts from the ground up, and we are here to provide women of all ages, backgrounds, and sizes with footwear staples she can turn to for decades to come.

Joseph DeAcetis: If you could choose one celebrity to wear your brand, who would it be and why?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: Emma Watson. Our style ethos aligns beautifully, and we have such admiration for the initiatives she's taken on—and the conversations she’s been bold enough to start.

Margaux footwear

Margaux footwear

Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about how technology supported  you in the development of your brand?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: After our team, and next to product, technology is the most critical component to the success of our business. As a digitally native brand, it sits at the core of everything we do—from customer acquisition and retention to launching, marketing, and selling new product. It has created efficiencies and opportunities in our retail spaces and warehouses, and has given us leverage in what we can do with a lean team at Margaux HQ.

Joseph DeAcetis: What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Alexa Buckley: As a small startup, each member of the team wears many hats—especially the two of us. In general, I handle more outward-facing needs like retail, partnerships, PR and social media, while Sarah oversees the more inward-facing operations like product, finance, logistics and supply chain.

Joseph DeAcetis: Where is the product made and why?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson:
Spain. There's such a rich history of footwear design and manufacturing there, with some of the most premiere brands in the world producing in our factory and those surrounding. We were lucky to meet some incredible Spanish designers and technicians who took a chance on us four years ago, and who today feel like family.

Joseph DeAcetis: Why should readers try Margaux?

Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: Every one of our styles is something you’ll want to wear day after day, year after year: we've worked hard to develop silhouettes and shapes you'll never tire of, or that will fall prey to the comings and goings of trend. They’re the shoes you can start and end your day in—no shoe shuffle required. And, as we mentioned, we take an out-of-the-box and inclusive approach to sizing so that everyone can find their perfect fit, regardless of size. And last but certainly not least, our customer-centric ethos is truly the most important component of our business. Every decision—from product design to store details—is made with our customer in mind, and small details, like sending hand written notes or surprise VIP gifts, hopefully make a customer’s experience shopping with Margaux warm, thoughtful, and memorable.

Joseph DeAcetis: What are you future projections and growth strategy for the next few years?
Alexa Buckley & Sarah Pierson: We've hit triple-digit growth every year since we launched, and plan to scale the business in significant ways this year as soon as we close our next round of funding in the form of new product, stores, and exciting digital initiatives (some of which will be revealed soon!).

Margaux footwear

Margaux footwear

Acclaimed American Journalist and International Editor. My interest lies in the pace and direction of trend adoption in luxury fashion and lifestyle, access to real-tim...