Born and bred in Costa Mesa, California, BROKEN HOMME is seeking to fix a gap in the action sports market for men’s maturing tastes and penchant for quality leather boots. High-end leather footwear has taken the fashion scene by storm, but who has $300, $500, or more to drop on a pair? Not most skaters and surfers, which is the home that founders Josh Johnson and Jim Leatherman grew up in.
The two long time friends gave retailers their first glimpse of their new footwear brand at Capsule New York and Las Vegas, and the shows helped create a buzzing wave on the scene that the duo are riding into their first line. We caught up with Johnson to learn of the launch, the line, the looks, and the lore behind building a BROKEN HOMME.
Tell us a little about the journey to date of launching your own brand. You’ve been in the game a long time, what has most taken you by surprise in this process?
I’ve had the idea for BROKEN HOMME as a brand for a long time, but almost over-analyzed the market to find out what the actual collection would consist of. Jim Leatherman and I have been friends for over 12 years now, and have always said when the time was right we wanted to launch something together. Over a year ago I launched an inspiration blog under the name BROKEN HOMME to set a taste level for what ever the actual brand would become. At that point I knew I was going to use the name for a brand, but I still wasn’t sure what product we would produce. We just wanted to build a brand that truly meant something and spoke to where we were in our lives. We also wanted to produce a product that would allow us the opportunity to work side-by-side with our friends, so clothing wasn’t an option. So last October was when we made the decision to build BROKEN HOMME into a men’s leather boot collection.
Footwear is a whole new thing for me, Jim has worked with footwear for over eight years, but it was all new for me. So we knew what we were getting ourselves into with the design and development side of things. But the sales and business side has been a big learning experience for us. Luckily we have some really smart and experienced people around us that have helped at every corner. And having Matt Davis step in with us to be our sales director has brought so much more to the table than we could of ever imagined.
You guys had your first showing at Capsule, right? How did it go?
We officially introduced BROKEN HOMME to the retailers the first day of Capsule New York. It was a crazy experience launching the way we did. We were all set up with our showroom, Timothy Heenan Showroom, to introduce the collection, but we didn’t receive our samples until half way through the first day of the show. But the response from the second day of the show was exactly what we were hoping for. So we focused our efforts into building interest heading into Capsule Las Vegas. And the response from the Vegas shows blew our minds. We set a target account list and we showed close to 80% of them as well as seeing newer retailers that mostly all expressed interest.
Timing-wise, why did you think now was the right time for launching the brand?
It’s always a good time for something new, if it’s done right. And we felt the opportunity to launch a leather boot collection in the fall season was paramount. After analyzing the industry we saw a huge gap at retail for a mature authentic lifestyle footwear brand. There is a new male customer that has yet to find a true “footwear brand” that bleeds true to their lifestyle. So for us we felt the timing was perfect. We understand the reality of the economy, and have experience with businesses on their way up and on their way down. So we definitely feel like we have done our research and are bringing something different to the market to generate demand.
Why leather footwear and vintage work boot inspired looks?
We spent a long time doing market research, defining what our strategy for positioning would be. We wanted to build a brand the speaks to everything we do in our life and we saw a huge opportunity to define ourselves. By no means do we think we’re reinventing a category or anything like that. We just felt that there were no brands that were telling a relevant current story. All the other boot brands are telling their Americana nostalgia story. So we’re going to be focusing on building what our story will be, hopefully for the next 100 years.
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