A trip to Florence, Italy two years ago ended up causing Tyler Kirsch to head down a brand new career path. A chemical and plastics salesman at the time, he became enchanted by the handcrafted leather shoes in saw in the Tuscan city and befriended a local cobbler while shopping for them. A few months later he had launched his men’s line Eredità Shoes, which takes its name from the Italian word for “legacy,” and offers beautiful handmade, customized, Made in Italy footwear that is sold direct to consumers via the Eredità webshop.
Kirsch works with some of the finest factories in Italy to create the line, which also offers a slew of customization options and unusually affordable prices since there is no middleman. And he can generally fill an order in six weeks or less.
The young entrepreneur recently shared the story behind his line and explained why it’s a need-to-know label for fans of fancy-looking (but still incredibly classic) footwear.
What’s the background of Eredità Shoes?
It started when I was in Italy a couple of years ago. I met my first original contact there and, after spending several hours together, he jokingly asked if I wanted to sell the shoes in the U.S. and I laughed and said, “Maybe one day.” Fast-forward six months and I ended up calling and heading back over to Italy to sit down and talk further about how we could work together, what we could do, and whether he would make private label shoes for me. At that point it was about starting to build the brand and create the logo and deciding which styles I wanted to offer here in the U.S. That’s when we started to go through everything he had in his shop and talking about what he had and where he started introducing me to shoemakers throughout Italy who did different styles to supplement the line.
How many different styles do you offer currently?
There are currently 17 styles and options from there are basically limitless because of the customization of color or the soles and so on.
What are your personal favorites in the collection?
My personal favorite is the Francesco, a suede penny loafer. It’s versatile, stylish and it can be dressed up or dressed down. If you are going out on a date and just grabbing dinner somewhere or if you are going to a wedding and you are putting on a suit it’s very versatile and can be worn with almost anything.
Who is the Eredità customer?
My ideal customer is someone with a sense of personal style. They have an idea of what they like and they don’t just want a brown and a black shoe in their closet. They want something that is a little more unique to them.
How do you find new customers being that you only sell directly to them online?
The main focus right now is through social media, word of mouth, stylists, and digital marketing.
What has the reaction been?
So far customers have loved the product and we have had some really good feedback on customer service and the timeliness of having a shoe handmade personally for someone. All of the shoes are made to order; nothing is made to be sitting on a shelf. Once someone orders a shoe, the shoemaker is making it personally for that individual.
What is the turnaround time after an order is placed?
Standard lead time is six weeks and we do offer expedited services if something comes up–like if you have a wedding. We try to accommodate as much as we can. Obviously it is a lengthy process to begin with so there is only so much we can do from a timing standpoint but we certainly try to accommodate when we can.
What has been the best part of having the line so far?
The best part is probably seeing people’s reaction when they get the shoe or try a shoe on for the first time and realize they can have an affordable luxury like that. They can have an Italian luxury on their foot.
What is the price difference between Eredità and other Italian made shoe brands?
We are a contemporary price point that’s almost half of what you would see from a typically handmade Italian shoe in a major store or on one of their websites. And that’s something that has been really surprising to a lot of customers as well. Before they even know what the price is and they are thinking in their head: OK, what is this going to run me? Then they realize it’s a $300 pair of shoes they are pretty happy to see that price as opposed to a $500, $600, or $800 price tag.
You also offer belts. Do you think you’ll expand the product range further?
In the future, I am not ruling anything out as far as a leather product, but I’d like to stay in that leather realm. I think there’s a niche there and we’ve got some really good people we’re working with who supply very unique and very high quality leather products. So, if that leads into bags, tablet or iPad holders, laptop cases, or phone cases, I’m not sure where that will go. But right now it is focused on men’s shoes and belts and the reaction, particularly from some of our higher profile clientele and our first real brand ambassador [Jets running back] Matt Forte, has been fantastic. He loves shoes and we did four pairs of custom boots for him and he kept saying, “These are the most comfortable boots I have ever worn. And I can never find stylish stuff in my size because I’m a 14 so be able to call you and work directly with you on what I want has been just unbelievable.”
What’s the number one reason a reader of The Manual should check out Eredità?
I think it’s the uniqueness of the ability to customize a shoe. Somebody who reads The Manual probably already has a sense of personal style and if they are looking for a nice fall boot or a great shoe to wear to a wedding and they don’t just want to go into a department store and pick something off a shelf. We’re the ideal place for them to find that. If they want to add a buckle or put a tassel there or want a different color we have the ability to do that.