In fashion, we are always tasked with filling our closets with the basics. Everyone needs a well-fitting white button down, a tailored little black dress and a classic work-to-drinks heel: the wardrobe essentials. Hunting for these must-haves proves more difficult than mastering your mama’s meatloaf. Once you find the perfect (insert wardrobe essential here), you have blown your budget and given up hope for the next. This challenge has helped the rise of fast fashion. Why buy the basics when you can buy this season’s “it” item for a fraction of the cost and half the guilt for ditching it come next year? Trust us, you will quickly tire of these disposable wears just as quickly as you will tire of trying on white button down after white button down.
At the end of the day, aren’t we all really just looking for trend-forward, versatile pieces at an approachable price point that will stand the test of time?
Johnston & Murphy thinks so. This well-known brand, which has historically catered exclusively to men’s footwear and, later, apparel, welcomes a solution to our wardrobe woes. But before we dive into the multitude of ways in which their women’s line is impressing us, let us first respond to the confusion you might be experiencing.
“It all starts with classic with a twist,” says Jason Jones, vice president of Design and Development at Johnston & Murphy, when asked about the company’s stylistic principles. “We are not going to be the leading edge of fashion and don’t think that is where we as a brand should be. We are supplying the customer with something she can wear for a long time — not something that is in and out of her closest in three months.”
The Johnston & Murphy design team has a well-stamped passport as they draw inspiration from travel. They translate trends found in locations such as New York, Florence, Milan and Brazil and apply them to the Johnston & Murphy aesthetic. They don’t steer away from current trends — as you will see in this season’s sneaker and next season’s inclusion of color and print — but they never forget the underlying theme of quality and comfort. Just as frequently as they go the extra mile (literally) to insure an attractive look of the shoe, they go the extra mile to insure comfort, as well. The balance of fit and feel translates into a wearable shoe and contemporary basics.
Take a shoe and try it for 10 days. If you’re not happy with it, bring it back. — Johnston & Murphy’s “Women’s Walk Test” policy
As a men’s heritage brand, it is only appropriate that they pull inspiration from the men’s side of the design department. However, the women’s footwear line has stylistically evolved into its own brand. The design team, which also includes Women’s Footwear Design Manager Eliza Garcia, aims to please the career woman. “We design shoes that can take you from day to night — something easy, comfortable,” Eliza says. “To me, the penny loafer is something that works as a career shoe.”
SB Tip: Johnston & Murphy offers the “Women’s Walk Test” on women’s footwear. Take a shoe and try it for 10 days. If you’re not happy with it, bring it back. They really want to make trying their footwear easy for women and are confident you will love the fit and feel. They run this promotion on select men’s footwear twice a year but it is available every day on the entire women’s collection.
Similar to the footwear side of things, the apparel division focuses on the importance of quality, premium materials and an affordable price point. “Classic with a twist really is the perfect way to summarize it,” says Heather Scott, product development manager for Women’s Apparel. “And versatility is where we really win.” Johnston & Murphy’s easy styles are destined to become staples in your wardrobe and the particularities of the designs and the quality of the cuts are a recipe for longevity. Johnston & Murphy’s customers favor longevity over fleeting trends — and so do we.
“Our shoppers don’t want to spend that much time shopping but hold importance in looking nice and put together. She is willing to make an investment as long as she can wear those pieces again throughout time and occasions.” In today’s fashion, women are looking for versatility, good quality and affordability. These pieces Heather describes can be found in Johnston & Murphy’s current fall collection. They allow for mixing, matching and layering — key factors come fall — and outwear is one of their strong suits.
Most items fall in the range of $80-$150 and the quality and silhouettes insure a favorable price-per-wear. Geared to outfit working women, the Johnston & Murphy apparel collection blurs the lines between office wear and everyday basics. The designers understand the characteristics of the market and offer interpretations of market trends. Their honest approach to fashion makes us eager to fill our closets with all things Johnston & Murphy.
The women’s apparel is only found in about 40 of Johnston & Murphy’s 100 brick-and-mortar stores and the selection varies based on regional differences. Thankfully, their Hill Center location is one of the 40! When visiting the store, a few things to look for are coatagans (coat, meet cardigan), wraps that are ideal for travel, shearling (it is very hot for winter) and versatile dresses. For spring, you can expect to see casual dresses, more athleisure, denim, an updated nautical theme, pleating, the trench and the spring version of the coatagan.
It’s safe to say that we not only were surprised but also impressed by Johnston & Murphy’s women’s collection. For more information and to shop the footwear and apparel, visit johnstonmurphy.com.
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