Aerosoles footwear brand to be acquired by American Exchange - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Friday, January 21, 2022

Aerosoles footwear brand to be acquired by American Exchange


Dive Brief:

  • Footwear brand Aerosoles finalized a deal to sell itself to American Exchange Group, according to a press release.
  • American Exchange — which owns its own brands along with doing design, manufacturing and wholesale work for outside accessories brands — plans to increase the distribution channels for Aerosoles as well as expand the brand to new categories.
  • Steve Velasquez, chief strategy officer of American Exchange, said in the release the company plans for Aerosoles to operate as a separate division "to ensure the focus on the core brand DNA." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dive Insight:

Aerosoles previously tried to sell itself more than four years ago as it sought a balance between winning over new consumers and maintaining its reputation as an affordable and comfortable option for older women. 

In lieu of a sale, the company filed for bankruptcy in September 2017, and immediately moved to close most of the 78 stores it operated at the time, leaving e-commerce and its wholesale business as Aerosoles' remaining sales channels. 

Founded in 1987, Aerosoles was formed after the buyout of the What's What division of Kenneth Cole and has focused on the convergence of comfort and fashion.

The company was profitable for decades before it ran into all the many challenges that drove dozens of other malls brands and retailers into bankruptcy in the late 2010s. Aerosoles' restructuring officer at the time of bankruptcy cited declining mall traffic, discounting and competition in retail, a shift to online shopping, lease costs after a major retail expansion and a major supply chain hiccup for its travails. 

The brand survived bankruptcy and today sells in major retail outlets, including Nordstrom, Macy's, DSW, Zappos and Belk, along with its direct channel. 

Prior to the acquisition deal, Aerosoles partnered with American Exchange to collaborate on design, branding and strategy for a value-priced shoe line targeting mass retail as well as off-price channels.

American Exchange's portfolio of owned and licensed brands includes Jones New York, Alexis Bendel, Nicole Miller, D.C. Comics, Zoo York and others.  


Ben Unglesbee, Khareem Sudlow