By Craig Patterson
Canada’s leading shoe designer Ron White, aka ‘The ShoeRu’, continues to see considerable success with his business as the brand expands its wholesale operations globally. The company has hired a Vice President of Global Sales, Maxwell (Max) Harrell, to focus on expanding distribution in the United States as well as to lead the company’s global growth in European and Asian markets.
“It was time to take our US and global expansion to the next level and Max’s deep background in retail, wholesale and most importantly ‘better’ product is a perfect fit for Ron White,” said founder/CEO/Creative Director Ron White. “Max’s experience with Made-in-Italy brands makes him the ideal candidate to lead this next level of global growth in our company.”
The Ron White label is seeing considerable success both domestically and globally, as the company marks 25-years in operation this fall. Ron White might be best known for creating the world’s first All Day Heels®, which are a proven hit amongst those seeking comfortable footwear that is also stylish.
The company includes retail operations with five standalone stores in the Toronto area, as well as wholesale operations in notable major retailers. Standalone stores include Toronto locations at the Manulife Centre, Bayview Village, CF Sherway Gardens, 1553 Bayview Avenue (Leaside), as well as a unit in downtown Oakville at 189 Lakeshore Road East. Ron White’s Manulife Centre flagship recently saw a renovation that included a new interior and facade, as part of the Toronto centre’s overhaul that will include a new Eataly location set to open in early 2019.
Ron White’s women’s collections are available at upscale stores in Canada and the United States — Nordstrom is a major distributor in Canada as well as at three of its US flagships, as is Jean-Paul Fortin, Saks Fifth Avenue, Von Maur and a range of smaller prestige retailers. Ron White’s men’s collection recently launched at Nordstrom, and is available at other selected prestige retailers. Ron White also recently partnered to create the ‘Rapisardi/Ron White’ collection — the line is inspired by the heritage and innovation of the legendary Rapisardi brand, and is available at retailers including Hudson’s Bay.
The Shopping Channel has also been a huge success for the Ron White brand, which is now one of the top-selling brands on the television network. Ron White’s shoes will also begin being showcased this fall in the United States on the Home Shopping Channel. Despite the rapid growth in e-commerce, these shopping channels continue to see remarkable success as well as sales gains.
The Ron White brand is looking to make further inroads into new markets via wholesale, and Mr. Harrell’s background will be an asset. He’s had leadership positions at major footwear brands and prior to joining Ron White, he served as Director of Sales for Summit at White Mountain Group and is past Founder and President of CC Corso Como, Ballasox and Ciao Bella. Mr. Harrell also held significant sales positions at Sketchers, Rocket Dog Footwear and Esprit.
“The Ron White brand is exploding at retail, and on the cusp of amazing growth worldwide. I am excited to be joining the team and putting a focus on further growing US and international distribution,” said Mr. Harrell. “Ron has built a strong and sustaining brand in Canada and this is a unique opportunity to take his coveted All Day Heels® technology, along with the brand’s momentous buzz, into leading US retailers in a category that is underserved, yet highly desired by women around the world.”
Ron White first opened a comfort-focused multi-brand store in Toronto, called The Foot Shoppe in 1993. It grew to several locations and in 2006, Mr. White rebranded the stores to his own name, targeting a younger, more fashion forward shopper as a result. Soon after, Mr. White decided to create his own namesake footwear brand, merging his vision of chic style mixed with comfort. Ron is recognized for creating the world’s first “All Day Heels®” bringing together striking design, luxurious materials and unique cutting-edge technology.
The brand has earned a loyal celebrity following that includes Hollywood’s A-list, heads of state and royal family members. From the red carpet at the Golden Globe Awards to backstage at the Primetime Emmy® Awards, Ron’s shoes have been a favourite for both presenters and performers. A few of the celebrities who have walked in his shoes include: Vanessa Williams, Kathy Griffin, Celine Dion, Katie Couric, The Duchess of York, Christina Hendricks, Paula Abdul, Megan Mullally, Rob Lowe, Kevin Spacey, Matt Damon and Dennis Quaid.
Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He’s also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker.