Monday, December 14, 2009

BeansTalk's Lex-Ed

BeansTalk's Customized Mystery

The entry in which we investigate what happened to Lexee and discover Chamilia.

We're not sure what happened to them.

Lexees are (soon to be were) "convertible" wedge sandals available in all-black flat and high, as well as black with a brown sole, in both heel heights, and the highest wedge, a cork slide.

Two BeansTalk staffers independently -- and simultaneously, based on a Tuesday Morning flyer -- developed quite a curiosity about these versatile sandals.

The removable/changeable top or Flexee, features high-quality snaps (three to a side) making changing tops to suit your outfit, easy-peasy.

The bottoms' average retail was $65 and the tops sold for $16.99. The company's original website, has been shut down and all on-line stores are selling them as "clearance" (bottoms are in the $25 range and tops in the $12 range).

However, last Friday, 11 December 2009, Tuesday Morning stores were offering Lexees for $14.99 and the tops (Flexees) for $2.99. Today, Monday, 14 December 2009, Lexees go back to the store's "regular" deep discounted rate of $19.99 -- still not a bad bargain.

We picked up a pair, the high heel, in all black and got three Flexees (Summer Rays, Dark Navy, Circle and Squares). The Flexees were originally available in more than 150 styles.

Apparently, several on-line stores monogrammed or personalized (via embroidery) the plain tops. We saw traditional initial monograms, sports logos and names, among others.

Lexees are called a comfort shoe, and while not exactly the height of fashion, they are comfortable (although we haven't walked in them yet, only tried them on) and they're potentially very versatile.

We're very curious about what happened to company, which launched in May 2006, with a single location, in Hackensack, New Jersey. Lexees and Flexees were made in China.

Here's some info from the original release of the shoes:

""Lexees are the comfort shoe of the future," says company President Jeff Julkowski. "Empowering women with the ability to go from casual to dressy in a snap, Lexees are lightweight enough to be stored inside a woman's purse and make an ideal shoe for business casual offices and weekend getaways. We view them as the essential shoe for the 20-65 year old woman this summer."

A former Cole Haan designer was contracted to design the comfort cushion sole in Lexees shoes. Each shoe base has three side snaps which accommodate comfy, Neoprene fabric tops called "Flexees.” Flexees are available in a variety of over 100 patterns, styles and colors with everything from a Puce style print to crystal and rhinestone studded tops, animal prints, and other expressive styles. Retailers carrying the line will also be able to offer custom Flexees tops branded with a company logo.

"Many women obsess over coordinating their shoes to each outfit, but the hobby can be expensive and problematic when it comes time to store the shoes or pack for a weekend getaway. Lexees enables you to achieve over 100 looks from a single shoe base, depending on how many Flexees tops are purchased," says Eda Persampieri, director of product development.

Lexees interchangeable shoes are expected to ship into retail gift stores this month.

The retail price is $90 per pair and they are available in sizes 6 through 11 which includes one base and three Flexee shoe tops. Additional Flexee tops can be purchased online or through retailers at $14 per pair. Tops may be hand washed and are quick to dry.

The company is already working on expanding the Lexees collection to include closed top interchangeable shoes for the winter months as well as interchangeable shoes for men and more interchangeable fashion choices for women."

It doesn't appear that they expanded into the "winter" version of the Lexee.

(Side Note -- or SideTrack -- President Jeff Julkowski may be the same Jeff Julkowski, who in 2002 owned 12 Aquamassage machines in six malls in New Jersey.

The Aquamassage Jeff Julkowski is one in the same with the Julkowski whose "custom" jewelry company, Chamilia, won a lawsuit brought against them by Pandora. Chamilia, founded in 2002, features handcrafted beads made out of Italian Murano glass and were launched this summer in the U.K. BeansTalk checked out the Chamilia beads and they're quite pretty -- but really do look an awful lot like Pandora. For the record, prices for both the Chamilia and Pandora beads seem to be on par -- both, for example, have 14-kt gold beads in the $300 price range, and Murano glass beads in the $15 to $18 range)

There appears to be a Jeff Julkowski in New York -- he's married to a woman named Elizabeth Rose. There's a Jeff Julkowski in Minneapolis, but we do not know if they are one and the same, but may be -- especially since Chamilia was founded in NY and is now based in Minneapolis.

(several Google searches later....) At last, we have found the connection Lexees/Chamilia is one and the same. We suspect that with the success of Chamilia -- they've done well in their international launches, including the previously mentioned U.K., as well as Australia.)

The Lexee were described in online sales thusly:

"The Lexee comfort shoe. Purchase one base shoe and unlimited snap-on tops. Easy to travel with and match everything in your wardrobe. Available in 3 heel heights: Flat, 2-1/2-inch wedge, or 3-inch cork wedge. Shoe set comes with your base shoe and one black top. Additional designer tops can be purchased separately.

All shoes have an excellent arch support and are comfortable to wear all day. We wear ours standing and walking in the store for 8+ hours at a time with no problems! Shoes come in full sizes 6 - 11; if you are a half size, get the next larger size (for example, if you wear a shoe size 7-1/2, purchase a size 8.

You can use a damp cloth to spot-clean your FLEXEES toppers, or hand wash and lay flat to dry."

A final note: All internet sales of Lexees and Flexees are specifically noted as clearance, with no return or exchange, and that rings an obvious death knell. Lexees are a clever idea, to be sure, but Chamilia with its personalized beads leaves the design to the buyer's caprice. Any person of any age, weight and size could create their own bracelet using the same interchangeable beads. With Lexees, the company had to deal with different styles which had to be made available in different sizes, as well as the huge selection of Flexee tops.