Malvados, a new sandal brand described as fashion-forward casual footwear, received a lot of attention from retailers at Miami SwimShow this summer.
Inspired by travel, fashion and music, Malvados debuted at retail December 2016 with their Spring 2017 collection.
They have a key weapon that makes them standout in a crowded field - Co-Founder and Creative Director Jennifer Rainnie, an industry veteran who spent years as a sales rep for Roxy and Havaianas, and currently represents several swim brands.
Today, she sells L*Space, Vitamin A and Maaji in Western Canada. She says she thought about starting her own sandal brand for a long time and felt the timing was right now.
“The rep business is a lot of travel; it’s physically demanding” she said. “I was looking for that next move in my career. It’s been the best decision and the best two years of my career. It’s been so fun bringing the brand to life. Seeing it all come together has been so rewarding.”
The idea behind Malvados was born while Jennifer was the sales rep for Havaianas in Western Canada. She says she began to notice there was something missing from the flip flop market.
“Obviously Havaianas is one of the biggest brands out there for flip flops,” Jennifer said. “They do a lot of colorful prints and bright neon colors, and I felt that nobody was doing a really neutral color palette. That was the first reason I wanted to start my own brand.
“I also felt that everybody sort of does the same thing with flip flops: it’s all very beach-oriented. The marketing is all about the beach and brand ambassadors are surfers. I wanted to do something a little bit more current, and that was the main reason I started my own brand,” she said.
Jennifer explains that the Malvados line has a very “sellable” color story, featuring a lot of metallics and very few prints. All of the styles are named after cocktails and rock stars, and the Malvados brand ambassadors are musicians, DJs and travel bloggers.
She says the basic flip flop in the line is made a little lighter-weight than the competition, and is made of very soft materials for comfort. Jennifer also notes that each pair is made with a toe-post anchor to prevent the toe-post from pulling through, which is the number one reason returns happen in the flip flop market.
Malvados is currently in 700 doors. Price points for the line range from $21 for the basic version called Playa, to $30 for the Lux with metallic straps, and $37 for Icon, a fashion flat.
Malvados added men’s to the assortment this year, and Jennifer says it has been very well-received.
When asked about the difficulties of starting a brand from scratch, Jennifer says finding the right people to work with for production was challenging at first.
However, she credits her experience with Roxy as helping her with the learning-curve of brand-building.
“Coming from Roxy was a really great thing for me in starting a brand,” Jennifer said. “I worked with them for 13 years and I learned so much about marketing and branding. I really wanted to have a clear brand image in starting Malvados, and that was a lot of fun to create.”
Jennifer also says her background as a sales rep has been invaluable in launching Malvados.
“I think it’s definitely an advantage,” she said. “One of the things we’ve done is give our sales reps tons of tools – great fixtures, display baskets, gifts with purchase, new imagery shot every month, and an in-house sales rep who only does replenishment phone calls for the reps.
“I think it’s because I was, and still am, a sales rep that I know what they need to be successful,” Jennifer said.