Heart and sole: Behind the scenes with Solect’s footwear buyer Michelle Menzies

10 July 2023
By Fashion Quarterly

A buyer’s true calling to bring the best shoes to you results in an offering you should hotfoot it to Commercial Bay to see.

Solect, Commercial Bay

In the downtown Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland precinct Commercial Bay, locally owned footwear destination Solect offers both an array of your favourite brands and a premium shopping experience. Currently stocking 27 brands, from Birkenstock to Blundstone (plus a whole bunch of others not starting with ‘B’), they deliver on the smart-casual workwear front with a well-curated selection of everyday footwear. 

FQ got the inside story from buyer Michelle Menzies.

Solect, Commercial Bay, Michelle Menzies
Solect, Commercial Bay

Q&A with Michelle Menzies

What drew you to buying?

It’s a dream job. I love getting to work with amazing brands and great people, and seeing the latest trends come through each season before delivering them to consumers. It makes me really happy to see a collection we’ve put together being well received.

 

Why footwear?

It’s in my blood. I grew up in my dad’s [eponymous] store Pat Menzies, so it’s always felt familiar. His stories about bringing Dr Martens and Converse to New Zealand are still some of my favourites. I really could talk about shoes for hours.

 

Your father owned one of the most iconic shoe stores in the country. In what other ways has this influenced your career?

Nothing makes me prouder than when people tell me a story about their first pair [of shoes from Pat Menzies] or a connection they have with the store. I feel very lucky to be able to continue the journey with Solect – which is owned by Kiwi family business Brittain Wynyard.

 

What’s it like working for Solect?

I get the best of both worlds with Pat Menzies and Solect. Simply put, I get to work with a heritage brand and an emerging brand. Solect is very appealing to me personally, so I find it easy to relate to what I think would work in store. It’s exciting to see how positive people are when they discover it.

 

As a buyer for both, how do you see customers differ between the two?

We have some crossover, but there are key differences in how we market the stores to appeal to different people. Pat Menzies brings through a grungy, edgy vibe, focuses on our heritage story and involves our staff in marketing; our manager has been with us for 30 years, so it’s pretty unique. Solect speaks to those who have a fashion focus and like the modern look in store.

Solect, Commercial Bay
Solect, Commercial Bay

What do you look for when buying for Solect?

I like to have a good mix of neutrals and colour on the shelf when it comes to sneakers and sandals. For boots, it’s generally black or brown, but Timberland offers some great colours and textures in their six-inch boots. [At Solect], we like to carry heritage brands known for their quality and comfort. For new brands, we like to explore New Zealand brands and those with a sustainable offering.

 

Who or what inspires you?

I love a good story, and those behind the brands we carry continue to amaze me. Balance that out with a good outdoor adventure and I’m happy!

 

 

What’s your favourite shoe brand and style?

This changes regularly, and often after I’ve been to the showing of a new range. Right now, it’s Asics for its comfort and styles that can be casual or sporty, and Birkenstock’s Shearling styles [the Boston Shearling clogs are pictured above] — if you’ve slipped them on, you’ll understand.

Visit Solect.nz

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