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Australian shoe designer Vince Lippon from Rollie Nation earns $2 million in one month

Vince LeBon’s wife worked as a flight attendant who travels the world and it wasn’t “unusual” to walk 25 kilometers in one day which resulted in her luggage being stuffed with a bunch of shoes to try to beat achy feet.

However, the Melbourne-based designer thought there had to be a better solution without lightweight shoes that were extremely comfortable and sophisticated on the market at the time.

He wanted to create a shoe that combined sneaker-like comfort and smart shoe style, designed for the first wearer, and was also durable.

He told “I looked at the brands that are doing well in Australia and the world and…it was products like Converse and Havaianas, so I wanted to make a version of the shoes from that, and I thought doing new colors every season would be appropriate. “. .

So 10 years ago he launched his own shoe store in the South Melbourne market stall, which sold 500 pairs.

Fast forward to now and in the past 12 months, Rollie Nation has sold nearly 100,000 pairs online and in bulk.

Covid also helped change the game for the shoe designer.

It was Rollie Nation’s months and days post-pandemic, where comfort is key and high heels have become all but a victim of Covid, according to Mr. Libon.

In May, the company made $2 million that month and in one day sold a whopping $535,000 worth of shoes.

The 38-year-old said he set out to design shoes that are so lightweight that they feel like people “are not wearing anything”.

“No one else was playing in that field, and working on Nike for two years is starting to push it and I can ride in that direction,” he added.

Since that first step in the shoe industry, he has cooperated with some of the biggest companies

Brands including Adidas, Asics and Footlocker and world stars such as professional basketball player James Harden, singer Macklemore and model Ashley Graham.

Instead of going directly to consumers with Rollie Nation, Mr. Lebon actually turned to wholesale to build his brand.

He said, “We chose our first wholesale account and it was the largest shoe store in the world in Dubai, so we were pushing wholesale as the main channel for community building and validation in the market and then we started pushing the store online.”

“In three years we’ve been selling in 11 markets around the world and selling in the US in stores like Anthropologie, Free People, and … we’ve really taken off, particularly internationally.

“So what I did was use that money to fund Australian businesses, to grow and get online.”

Mr. Lebon has also been all about the color of his shoes, determined to help people feel “up” if they’re having a busy day.

He said the rose-gold shoes he created early on have been a best-seller for six years and are still popular, while the snow leopard print has also done well.

“We’ve had a lot of success because we look at sentiment and pick a lot of colors really early on and ride those waves,” he noted.

“Right now, a lot of colors are doing very well because two years into the lockdown, people are looking for ways to feel really good and with the downturn, people are really thinking about buying and people are starting to get out of this recession.”

But it’s not just about the design of Mr. Lipon, who said he is keen on the technical aspects of the shoes with the goal of being able to extend their life by 15-20 per cent.

“I look for comfort, flexibility or layering, while fashion brands try to design the next big thing, while my strength is building better shoes every season,” he said.

However, the pandemic has been “cruel,” according to Mr. Libon as the brand took a “huge blow” as discretionary spending “slowed dramatically” forcing the brand to pivot.

“We looked at our audience and where we could deliver the most and we had a huge nurse client base and they were all still in jobs,” he said.

“So we thank them for their work, we did a promo around them that highlighted them and that resulted in a massive 92 percent increase in sales from that initiative.”

The brand also first entered the physical retail world.

Rollie Nation’s first brick-and-mortar store opened in Fitzroy, Melbourne in July 2022, with two more stores planned over the next 12 months and a goal of reaching five locations in the next two to three years.

In the meantime, Lipon predicted that the shoes will change “drastically” in the future, as the great leaps of recent years have stalled.

“There have been big shifts around individuality and high-quality products to mass production, but the mindset for mass production has really changed, and now we are starting to see high-quality products and innovation as the biggest drivers,” he said.

“Materials are going to play a huge role in the shoe industry in the next five to 10 years and people will take a more considerate engineering approach.

“If you look at niche shoes that weren’t in the industry 10 years ago, they now dominate a large percentage of the market, so there will be more innovation.”

Read related topics: Australian Small Business Melbourne

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