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SPERRY 7 SEAS
BORN FROM THE SEA. BUILT FOR THE WORLD.
Introducing Sperry 7 Seas, the shoe that longs to set sail on every sea and set foot on every continent.
Y E S , T HE Y â€™ R E BI R K E N STO C K .
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11 / EDITOR’S NOTE 13 / DEFINING CLASSIC Trend forecasters reveal what’s next for classic footwear. 15 / FOOTWEAR 101 A look inside the footwear design schools shaping the next generation of shoemakers. 16 / TEACHING OLD SHOE DOGS NEW TRICKS Traditional customer service is getting a digital upgrade with apps, tablets and a robot named Tory. 18 / REINVENTING THE CLASSICS Heritage boot brands are giving their iconic styles a modern makeover. 23 / BROWN SHOE BELT From the American Industrial Revolution to a shoe company named Hubbard, a look at how New England became the hub for footwear manufacturing in the U.S. 24 / THE NEW ENGLANDERS L.L. Bean, New Balance, Reebok, Rockport, Saucony and Sperry discuss what it means to be part of New England’s footwear heritage. 30 / THE NEW TRADITIONALISTS From “Made in Italy” to German comfort, brands share how they are carrying on regional traditions from around the world. 34 / THE LOOK From stars to bows, all of the trends you need to know for Fall ’17. 44 / THE PLUSH LIFE Velvet loosens up for Fall ’17 in fun and sporty ways. 61 / OLD AND NEW TRADITIONS President of Footwear for UBM Fashion Group, Leslie Gallin, on retail shifts and why old-school designs may be the next trend in footwear. 62 / CALCULATING FOOTWEAR INVENTORIES AND PRICING IN 2017 The FDRA explains why consumers may see higher footwear prices this year. 64 / SERVICE WITH SOLE Jim’s Shoe Repairing keeps traditional shoe repair alive in New York City. PUBLISHER Edward Hertzman firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Angela Velasquez email@example.com SENIOR EDITOR Monica Link ASSISTANT EDITORS Matt Vitone Christian Scibetta Emily Goldman DESIGNER Celena Tang DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Eric Hertzman HERTZMAN MEDIA GROUP 545 8th Ave. Suite 530 NY, NY 10018 646.687.3065 I www.vampfootwear.com This page: Coolway Mary Jane Cover: Sebago penny loafer Photography by Celena Tang
FALL 2017 | TIME TO DRESS UP AND STEP OUT
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THE TRADITION ISSUE I find myself writing this editor’s letter for Vamp’s ‘Tradition Issue’ just days before the country takes part in one of its earliest and greatest traditions, the inauguration of the President of the United States. By the time you read this, the bunting and barricades lining the parade route in Washington, D.C. will be down, as well as any remnants from what is expected to be the largest women’s rally since 1931, the Women’s March on Washington. The U.S. will have an untraditional candidate who ran an untraditional campaign that was founded on traditional principles as its 45th president. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘traditional’ as a “tendency to favor established ideas, conditions, or institutions.” Antonyms include ‘contemporary,’ ‘current,’ ‘modern,’ ‘progressive,’ and my favorite, ‘revolutionary.’ These same words are often used by footwear brands to describe their latest technologies and collections. For this issue, we decided to focus on traditions in footwear, not to rehash outdated topics or endorse old habits, but to take a first step toward hitting the reset button. No matter the discipline, be it politics or footwear, the old adage, ‘Know the rules well, so you can break them,’ rings true. The most effective way of shaking things up is to start at the foundation. For many young designers, their footwear dreams begin at Arsutoria in Milan or Pensole Footwear Design Academy in Portland, Ore. In “Footwear 101” on page 15, the heads of each school share how their programs provide aspiring designers the traditional techniques they must master before leaving their own footprint in the shoe industry. Shoe brands along the traditional “Brown Shoe Belt” know about merging old with new. The community of brands in the Boston area continue to enhance what forbearers began during the American Industrial Revolution— quality, comfortable footwear that performs. From Sperry Top-Sider and L.L. Bean, both who have benefitted from young consumers’ interest in traditional duck boots, to New Balance and Reebok investing deeply in untraditional ways to manufacture footwear, top brands share with us on page 24 the ways they balance heritage with innovation.
PHOTO BY PAULA BRONSTEIN
High & Low: This is me on Election Day 2016, wearing traditional patent Mary Janes by SJP Collection and untraditional tights purchased at Party City. Timberland and Dr. Martens have each found themselves at a crossroads, proving that even icons need a facelift from time to time. The boot brands are sprucing up their classic styles with sporty, lightweight components edged on by the athleisure trend. Meanwhile, Wolverine is leaving it up to consumers to update its iconic 1000 Mile boot through a new digital customization platform. In “Reinventing the Classics” on page 18, these three boot brands discuss the risk and benefits involved in revamping a classic. Fashion prides itself in being inventive, and for Fall ’17 men’s and women’s footwear brands are reimagining traditional autumnal fabrications and silhouettes. After back-to-back fall seasons of being overlooked in favor for calf hair and metallics, regal velvet finally makes its grand entrance in fresh new ways. From ombre velvet to velvet sneakers, our editorial “The Plush Life” on page 44 takes a novel look at the season’s most opulent trend. Velvet isn’t alone in the crusade to make traditional trendy. Our Fall ’17 trend section “The Look” beginning on page 34 is chock-full of Mary Janes, brocades and timeless fall colors like burgundy, navy and olive. In fact, there are so many trends based on traditional shoe designs it left us to wonder why brands feel the need to go back to safe ideas. In “Defining Classic” on page 13, trend experts explain why during trying times, consumers revisit nostalgic brands and comfortable styles. The best thing about traditions, and why I think we keep so many around, is the warm and fuzzy feeling they bring to so many. From hanging your baby’s first crib shoes from your rearview mirror to finding your perfect “something blue” in a pair of wedding shoes, traditions provide us the opportunity to look back and see how far we’ve come. More importantly, they give us the permission to move forward. Angela Velasquez Vamp Editorial Director
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
DEFINING CLASSIC WHAT’S NEXT FOR CLASSIC FOOTWEAR NOW THAT IT IS TRENDY? BY EMILY GOLDMAN For nearly a decade footwear brands have been in a cycle of classics, touting ‘classic,’ ‘heritage’ and ‘traditional’ styles to satisfy demand for multi-purpose footwear. This footwear would endure a recession, the further casualization of the workplace, a number of fitness fads (barefoot or rocker heels, anyone?) and an uninspiring period that quite frankly, saw no single fashion trend emerge as a hero. Instead, shoppers have been justifiably sold on the idea that their ‘traditional’ Allen Edmonds brogues can be re-soled, worn to work and dressed down with jeans on weekends. Their ‘heritage’ Timberland boots can be worn into the office on a wintery day and out to Happy Hour. Their ‘classic’ leather ankle booties—offered by virtually every women’s brand—will look chic with jeans and leggings. Since the start of this cycle, oxfords, tennis shoes, flats and loafers have secured a place in brands’ collections, refreshed each season in new colors or by swapping out a wedge heel for a block heel. Likewise, Fall ’17 sees the return of autumnal classics, including Mary Janes, oxfords and a traditional fall color palette consisting of olive, navy and merlot. And once again ‘classic,’ ‘heritage’ and ‘traditional’ are buzzwords used interchangeably to describe these trends. As a team of writers and editors, we’re left to wonder, from white tennis shoes to cordovan penny loafers, how does the industry define classic footwear nowadays? “When I think of a classic shoe, I think of iconic silhouettes—a white Keds sneaker, a black pointed toe pump. Manolo Blahnik specifically comes to mind. A Bass penny loafer,” said Britt Aboutaleb, Racked editor in chief. “While they might have a moment in the spotlight every few years, they always feel right.” Out of longevity comes memories. At its core, Hallie Spradlin, accessories editor for trend forecasting firm Fashion Snoops, says the definition of classic footwear is connected to sentimental memories and traditions. “Classics are staple items that have some sort of sentimental attachment to them, whether it be comfort or meaning. [Classic] is an item that fails to lose its charm and becomes a go-to for any occasion,” she said. A classic shoe is often defined by the brand and silhouette—two features that are equally important in the athletic footwear category. As the popularity of athleisure apparel grew, many consumers grew to equate athletic brands as classics because sneakers have become staple items. “Classic shoes are inherently simple in shape and design, and for me, always have a worn-in feel but are reliable and versatile,” said Spradlin. “I consider items like slip-on sneakers and tennis shoes to be classics because of their flexible fabrications and design.” According to NPD Group Analyst Matt Powell, the overall retro sneaker category grew at a 29 percent pace through October 2016, with classic runners and tennis shoes going for the win. The retro category proved to be
a boon during recent back-to-school seasons and provided a boost to 2016 holiday athletic footwear sales. In his blog, Sneakernomics, Powell predicts that retro will remain important in 2017 as every brand with an archive is exploring ways to benefit from the “retro trend.” The brands that will succeed the greatest will be those that rework their classics. Powell wrote that “brands cannot simply resurrect shoes from the archives; today’s consumers demand that the products they wear be modern.” Sneaker brands are taking note. Last year Converse introduced the Chuck Taylor All-Star II, a design with all of the DNA of the original, plus Nike Lunarlon sockliners for cushioning and arch support, perforated micro suede liner for breathability and a foam padded collar and non-slip gusseted tongue. These small but impactful upgrades were the first since the Chuck Taylor debuted in 1917. Likewise, Adidas introduced its Boost shock-absorbing technology into one of its biggest collaborations, the Yeezy brand. To understand why classic footwear remains popular, examine the social and political climate. Consumers yearn for heritage and comfort, and Spradlin says brands like Adidas, Vans and Red Wing are delivering pangs of nostalgia for consumers seeking something recognizable. A few key signatures denote Red Wing Shoes—Goodyear welted construction, puritan stitching and the brand’s own Minnesota-made S.B. Foot Tanning Co. leather. “Keeping true to those details and our traditions keeps our Heritage line classic,” said Gaal Levine, Red Wing Heritage women’s product designer. “Our commitment to quality and staying true to our traditions is what has kept Red Wing Shoes classic. Our boots have been sought out… because of our quality and craftsmanship.” Levine predicta consumers will continue to streamline their wardrobes by relying on timeless footwear. “Investing in an item that will last you for years, and actually get better with age resonates with anyone who cares about quality and the integrity of how these products are made,” she said. Spradlin agrees that ‘classic’ trends will always have a place in men’s and women’s fashion. However, she believes the definition will change depending on the direction brands take and on the subcultures and influencers who wear them. In the immediate future, Spradlin says to expect to see comfortable silhouettes like mules and slides dominating the classics category. “They can vary in shape and design, from fur-lined Fendi loafers to a boudoir-inspired slipper style, and I think that versatility is appealing,” she said. Aboutaleb predicts that strappy sandals, specifically those with a single strap around the ankle and toe (à la Stuart Weitzman’s ‘Nudist’ stiletto) will gain access to the elite term. The style may not be a symbol of comfort, but Aboutaleb isn’t concerned. “Classics never feel wrong, that’s why they’re classic.”
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
FN Pla�orm, February 21-23, Coolway Freestyle 81063
(HED) Footwear 101 (DEK) A look inside the footwear designs schools shaping the next generation of shoemakers. By Emily Goldman Any successful footwear designer can tell you that being bitten by the shoe bug isn’t enough to become a great designer. Like all creative industries, footwear is a balancing act of old traditions and technology, and only a few schools in the world have the talent and capabilities to pass on this knowledge to the next generation. Milan-based Arsutoria is a design mecca for any footwear ingénue, especially those who live by Italian craftsmanship. The 70-year-old school provides a catalog of courses spanning a 13-week fundamentals program focused on footwear pattern making and prototyping, to intensive courses that help set the foundation to design an entire footwear collection. The school also extends its know-how to the U.S., where it partners with the Fashion Footwear Association of New York to host a five-day program for the industry focused on casual and elegant footwear in Manhattan, and with TwoTen for programs in Boston focused on outdoor casual and performance shoes. Students can also sign up for online courses on niche topics from footwear silhouettes to material selection. When it comes to curriculum, Arsutoria CEO, Matteo Pasca, believes that the future of design is in knowing the traditions. “We need to be aware of where we come from, if we wish to change this world,” said Pasca. “In our opinion, it is hard to innovate if you are not aware of where we come from. We have had the chance to work with amazing innovators like the people from Nike’s Innovation Kitchen. Let me tell you, that the people that drive those innovation processes have a strong knowledge on the traditional ways of shoemaking.” In January, footwear designer Mark Schwartz launched his eponymous footwear design school in Parabiago, Italy. Classes are intimate, with just two or three students. Schwartz, best known for his artistic hand, finds that traditional sketching is the most helpful skill for new designers. “I teach the classic approach. I don’t do 3D printing, but I try to teach where you’re drawing mostly everything by hand. Most of the people that I’m teaching want to do high-end shoes and hand drawing is always the best way,” he said. “Computers are great, but they take away human skills a lot of the time.” Even Portland, Ore.-based Pensole Footwear Design Academy, which boasts an alumni network spanning Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, Asics and more, starts with the basics. Pensole Founder and Nike veteran D’Wayne Edwards said students are introduced to “the old school way of doing everything,”
before moving forward with new technologies. “Once we help them develop better brain to hand skills, we allow them to work with digital tools to only enhance what they have created without a computer,” said Edwards. Despite the romanticism associated with traditional shoemaking, educators understand that most of the industry is moving in a faster and automated direction. Howard Davis, a professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City which offers courses in footwear design, teaches his students the traditional way of last drafting. Then, he incorporates 3D technology for developing components like heels, platforms and trimmings. Pasca mirrors Davis’ emphasis on tradition. “Traditional machines and practices are still widely used in the factories, but there are a lot of new trends: 3D materials, seamless uppers, the use of injection in casual shoes, automation in the manufacturing processes, just to mention a few,” said Pasca. From fast fashion and customization, the business of footwear is evolving too. “Awareness is our most important goal. And to achieve this we teach design, engineering and manufacturing,” Pasca said. “Our students need to understand which drivers impact and make the difference in a quality shoe no matter the price point and the market segment.” Arsutoria alum Lisa Cronin Arida immediately began working at Kenneth Cole after completing three one-month courses at the school. Cronin Arida, currently creative director at BCNY, said the knowledge she gained during her three months at Arsutoria is comparable to what most four-year universities teach. “When I went out to look for a job people were very impressed. I got a job at Kenneth Cole—I believe it was based on attending Arsutoria. I left as the vice president of men’s footwear, having worked my way up from assistant designer,” she said. Despite the technical aspect of these programs, educators still want to impress upon students the importance of creativity and individuality in an industry saturated by repeated ideas. Davis said that Parsons shapes the next generation of shoemakers by emphasizing environmental and social impacts on what the footwear industry will be in the future. “Parsons shoe design students are taught to focus on the lifestyle of the consumer they are trying to reach,” he explained. In addition to the technical skills, Edwards says the Pensole faculty tries to introduce students to what it is like to work as a creative in the footwear industry. “Our goal is to teach our students that it is equally important to develop who they are as a person and as a creative. We do a lot of daily talks and exercises to help develop them to be better professionals, by understanding they are a brand and companies will not only invest into their creative talent,
FOOTWEAR 101 A LOOK INSIDE THE FOOTWEAR DESIGN SCHOOLS SHAPING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SHOEMAKERS. BY EMILY GOLDMAN Any successful footwear designer can tell you that being bitten by the shoe bug isn’t enough to become a great shoemaker. Like all creative industries, footwear is a balancing act of old traditions and technology, and only a few schools in the world have the talent and capabilities to pass on this knowledge to the next generation. Milan-based Arsutoria is a design mecca for any footwear ingénue, especially those who live by Italian craftsmanship. The 70-year-old school provides a catalog of courses spanning a 13-week fundamentals program focused on footwear pattern making and prototyping, to intensive courses that help set the foundation to design an entire footwear collection. The school also extends its know-how to the U.S., where it partners with the Fashion Footwear Association of New York to host a five-day program for the industry focused on casual and elegant footwear in Manhattan, and with TwoTen for programs in Boston focused on outdoor casual and performance shoes. Students can also sign up for online courses on niche topics from footwear silhouettes to material selection. When it comes to curriculum, Arsutoria CEO, Matteo Pasca, believes that the future of design is in knowing the traditions. “We need to be aware of where we come from, if we wish to change this world,” said Pasca. “In our opinion, it is hard to innovate if you are not aware of where we come from. We have had the chance to work with amazing innovators like the people from Nike’s Innovation Kitchen. Let me tell you, that the people that drive those innovation processes have a strong knowledge on the traditional ways of shoemaking.” In January, footwear designer Mark Schwartz launched his eponymous footwear design school in Parabiago, Italy. Classes are intimate, with just two or three students. Schwartz, best known for his artistic hand, finds that traditional sketching is the most helpful skill for new designers. “I teach the classic approach. I don’t do 3D printing, but I try to teach where you’re drawing mostly everything by hand. Most of the people that I’m teaching want to do high-end shoes and hand drawing is always the best way,” he said. “Computers are great, but they take away human skills a lot of the time.” Even Portland, Ore.-based Pensole Footwear Design Academy, which boasts an alumni network spanning Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, Asics and more, starts with the basics. Pensole Founder and Nike veteran D’Wayne Edwards said students are introduced to “the old school way of doing everything,” before moving forward with new technologies. “Once we help them develop better brain to hand skills, we allow them to work with digital tools to only enhance what they have created without a computer,” said Edwards. Despite the romanticism associated with traditional shoemaking,
educators understand that most of the industry is moving in a faster and automated direction. Howard Davis, a professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City which offers courses in footwear design, teaches his students the traditional way of last drafting. Then, he incorporates 3D technology for developing components like heels, platforms and trimmings. Pasca mirrors Davis’ emphasis on tradition. “Traditional machines and practices are still widely used in the factories but there are a lot of new trends: 3D materials, seamless uppers, the use of injection in casual shoes, automation in the manufacturing processes, just to mention a few,” said Pasca. From fast fashion and customization, the business of footwear is evolving too. “Awareness is our most important goal. And to achieve this we teach design, engineering and manufacturing,” Pasca said. “Our students need to understand which drivers impact and make the difference in a quality shoe no matter the price point and the market segment.” Arsutoria alum Lisa Cronin Arida immediately began working at Kenneth Cole after completing three one-month courses at the school. Now the creative director for BCNY, Cronin Arida said the knowledge she gained during her three months at Arsutoria is comparable to what most four-year universities teach. “When I went out to look for a job people were very impressed. I got a job at Kenneth Cole—I believe it was based on attending Arsutoria. I left as the vice president of men’s footwear, having worked my way up from assistant designer,” she said. Despite the technical aspect of these programs, educators still want to impress upon students the importance of creativity and individuality in an industry saturated by repeated ideas. Davis said that Parsons shapes the next generation of shoemakers by emphasizing environmental and social impacts on what the footwear industry will be in the future. “Parsons shoe design students are taught to focus on the lifestyle of the consumer they are trying to reach,” he explained. In addition to the technical skills, Edwards says the Pensole faculty tries to introduce students to what it is like to work as a creative in the footwear industry. “Our goal is to teach our students that it is equally important to develop who they are as a person and as a creative. We do a lot of daily talks and exercises to help develop them to be better professionals, by understanding they are a brand and companies will not only invest into their creative talent, but also who they are as a person,” said Edwards. “If they are truly invested in being the next generation of this industry, they need to understand that the industry must change and it starts with them bringing a new creative energy to their approach.” VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
TEACHING OLDSHOEDOGS NEW TRICKS TRADITIONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE IS GETTING A DIGITAL UPGRADE WITH APPS, TABLETS AND A ROBOT NAMED TORY. BY MATT VITONE With the recent boom in 3D printing and the launch of Adidas’ robotic Speedfactory, 2016 was the year footwear brands got serious about tech. In 2017, footwear retailers are ready to make the technological leap too— meaning it’s never been a more exciting time to buy shoes. Take Nike’s extravagant new Soho flagship store in New York City. In a bid to strengthen its direct-to-consumer business, the sneaker giant has unveiled a massive 55,000-square-foot store, spread across five floors, jammed packed with what the company calls “immersive experiences.” For customers, getting immersed will entail cameras that track their movements at different points in the store. Customers who get on one of the store’s many treadmills, for instance, can get their stride tracked, while other data points like which shoes you purchased will be communicated to the Nike+ app to better recommend products. For traditional sit-and-fit retailers, however, the adjustment to the new way of business has been slow. The luxury of utilizing new technologies is for all but the biggest retailers a huge expense. For smaller, independently-run shops, even selling online is often out of the question. But as consumers become increasingly comfortable with the idea of buying shoes online, smaller shops are being forced to change. According to recent data from Fung Global Retail and Technology, consumers are buying footwear online 9 percent of the time, up from 3.7% five years ago. And while only 3.7% of consumers buy 100 percent of their footwear online, 13.4% purchase at least half of their footwear on the web. “Technology has invaded every aspect of our lives, so it’s no surprise we’re seeing an increase in technology in retail stores,” said NPD Group Analyst Matt Powell. “Last year 1 in 4 athletic shoes were sold online in the U.S., so 25 percent of the business is now e-commerce, and growing faster than the physical stores are growing.” Los Angeles-based Sportie LA is one of the most storied and successful footwear retailers in the country, independently owned since 1985. Now entering its third decade, the retailer will be introducing several new technologies to its business in 2017. In-store pickup of online orders, which Sportie co-founder Isack Fadlon calls “a must for most retailers,” will be implemented, as will same-day delivery of orders in the LA area. The store previously offered this service, but temporarily discontinued it due to the high cost it imposed on its business. “It was a heavy burden on us as an independent retailer,” said Fadlon. “With the disruption of traditional delivery by various sources, the ability to provide same day delivery has become simple and cost effective. The ability to outsource is a game changer.” Even more exciting than new delivery options will be the introduction of a tablet-based system to the store, allowing shoppers to delve deeper into
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
product information, history and comparisons between styles. The same tablet will also enable customers to place an order for a specific style and size, which can then be brought out by Sportie LA team members. “This, in essence, will bring the consumer closer to the experience he or she has while shopping online,” said Fadlon. In-store pick-up, it turns out, has been one of the few true success stories in retail over the last several years, offering a host of benefits for stores. If the size or fit of a shoe isn’t right, for instance, in-store pick-up allows customers to try and find a substitute that suits them better on the spot, cutting the cost of paying for free return shipping. Better yet, while the consumer is in the store picking up their purchase, they might also be tempted to make additional purchases they hadn’t anticipated. Customers who pick up in-store also get the added benefit of knowing their order is in a safe location, rather than left unattended on a doorstep. “While it sounds like a fairly mundane logistical thing, in-store pick-up has actually turned out to be quite lucrative,” said NPD’s Powell. “When retailers introduced it, it was seen as sort of a throwaway thing, but it’s turned out to be a goldmine.” Creating a seamless shopping ecosystem between online, mobile and retail, where the consumer can browse styles on their phone, try them on in-store, and buy them online, or vice-versa, is quickly becoming the standard across the retail sector. Take Amazon Go, the new concept store being piloted by the e-commerce behemoth. No longer will shoppers be hampered with long lines at the register. Instead, customers are free to take what they want out of the store and are billed by Amazon when they leave. Then there’s Aldo, the Canadian shoe mega-chain which operates nearly 2,000 stores under its retail banners, including Call It Spring and Globo. The company uses technology from Salesforce, a San Francisco-based cloud computing company, to consolidate all of its shopper data into one platform, enabling the company to create a unique profile of each shopper to gain better insight into their preferences. From there, Aldo uses this information to predict shopper needs and build 1-to-1 communications, including customized emails and engagement on social media. According to Salesforce, this has enabled Aldo to reduce the number of emails it sends by 40 percent, while increasing email revenue by 70 percent within 12 months. “Once we know who that shopper is, we can contact them through their preferred channel,” said Dwight Moore, Salesforce senior director of retail product marketing. As Moore puts it, shoppers are on a “journey” when they look to purchase
SPORTIE LA an item, one that often starts on mobile. A shopper’s journey starts on mobile 70 percent of the time, and ends in a physical store 90 percent of the time. This means that retailers must now have the foresight to enchant customers to its waters, linking interactions so that a shopper is engaged on each step of their journey. As consumers are increasingly in control of this journey, retailers must also be able to navigate shopper detours, including stops on social media and brand websites. According to data from Salesforce, 80 percent of customers do research on a product before buying it. “Marketing requires context about who I am, what I am trying to achieve on my journey,” said Moore. “The best retailers will have a platform for this intelligent engagement, and those that are best able to understand that individual and what makes them unique will be the ones who are able to win.” Beyond convenience, customers are also demanding increased personalization as part of the shopping experience. Using contextual marketing techniques, brands will soon be able to reach consumers in ways never thought possible before. Try and imagine a future where, using a brand app installed onto a shopper’s smartphone, a customer is tracked as they enter and peruse a store. While this may sound like something out of science fiction, the technology currently exists, and holds a plethora of uses for brands. A shopper who is about to leave a store without making a purchase, for instance, might get a notification on their phone as they near the door, offering them 10 percent off on an item purchased in-store. A company’s computer system would even be able to tell what purchase a customer made the last time they were in the store. This could help the store’s staff guide the customer to items that might go well with their previous purchases. Imagine buying a pair of red heels only to have a sales clerk alert you to a matching red blouse on your next visit to the same store. Apps are proven drivers of sales, too, according to NPD’s Powell. “Consumers who have a store’s app on their phone are much more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t,” he said. “It creates a sense of community between the retailer and the consumer.” But apps aren’t just making the process of buying easier. Take vFit, an iPhone app which aims to make finding the right size shoe less confusing and frustrating. Using foot scanning technology, vFit determines the true size and shape of each user’s foot, and places the scan inside an outline of a pair of shoes, allowing customers to virtually “try on” the shoes they want before buying them. This would go a long way towards helping to curb returns—a ballooning expense that many online companies must face. VFit says it is able to reduce returns for retailers who use its app to just 1.7% on average. Going forward,
the company hopes to be able to integrate its technology into the websites of footwear retailers. “Seventy percent of consumers are still reluctant to buy shoes online,” said vFit Technologies President Andrew Hanscom. “So I think the consumer has been asking for [a technology like vFit] for a long time. They want something that gives them the confidence to buy shoes online.” But what does the future of footwear retail hold beyond apps and online shopping? Much like footwear brands are turning to robots to automate their supply chain, one company is hoping to introduce robotic assistants to shoe stores. Designed to help solve one of the biggest woes of retail, Tory, short for “inventory,” is the world’s first fully autonomous inventory robot. Developed by MetraLabs, a German company which specializes in mobile robotic platforms, Tory uses RFID tags to scan items at a store and quickly performs the mundane chore of counting inventory. MetraLabs claims its robot can do this job up to 10 times faster than human personnel with an accuracy of 99 percent. Tory recently celebrated its first anniversary of being used in retail spaces, and MetraLabs reports there are currently 260 of the robots in use at stores worldwide, including several shoe stores in Germany. According to Johannes Trabert, MetraLabs executive partner, the robot has proven a hit across demographics. “Young people and elderly people both used the robot and enjoyed it,” said Trabert. “[Most shoppers] said they’d like to use it again.” Trabert says Tory is currently being developed to include additional features to assist shoppers in-store, such as answering questions and even guiding guests to the correct area of a store for the product they’re looking for. This in turn helps make the jobs of human personnel easier, who are free to answer, as Trabert put it, the more complicated, “human questions,” while Tory is able to provide quick answers to simple inquiries. “In apparel for instance, if [the customer] says, ‘I’d like to have this shirt not in yellow but in blue, but in the same size,’ when the robot knows what’s in inventory it could say, ‘Yes we have the shirt, please follow me.’,” said Trabert. In terms of footwear, Trabert says Tory could eventually be designed to include a touch screen, allowing customers to quickly browse styles, and could even include a footwear scale of some sort to gauge the size of a shopper’s foot. As Trabert sees it, it could be robots in the end that help make the shoe-buying process more human than ever before. “There are a lot of things that could be automated, and the way we see it, the robots will take care of the mundane, unfulfilling jobs, allowing those in the retail store to do the more satisfying human work.”
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
REINVENTING THE CLASSICS HERITAGE BOOT BRANDS ARE UPDATING THEIR CORE STYLES TO SUIT THE CHANGING WANTS, TASTES AND LIFESTYLES OF MODERN CONSUMERS, PROVING THAT EVEN ICONS NEED TO BE REFRESHED FROM TIME TO TIME.
WOLVERINE1000MILE With around 130 years of history, Wolverine boasts more than a lifetime of heritage designs and shoemaking knowledge, including the timeless 1000 Mile boot. Crafted in the U.S. with the same quality and detail found in the original, Wolverine’s 1000 Mile Boot for men and women continues to be the cornerstone of the collection. With it’s simple design, the boot is easily identifiable: a leather upper from Horween Leather Company or Charles F. Stead suede, stacked leather outsole and Goodyear welt construction. Elements like a Vibram rubber heel have carried it into the next century. In 2016, Wolverine introduced the Wolverine Workshop, allowing customers to put their own stamp on the iconic silhouette through an online customization platform. From uppers, outsoles, eyelets and laces to welt stitch colors and monogramming, customers can handpick each component to their liking. “When we launched [Wolverine Workshop] the consumers targeted for that were different than the guys on the construction site,” said Wolverine President Todd Yates. “Those boots really connect emotionally to the consumer so it was really logical, allowing them to create their own. It helped not only regular sales, but helped consumers appreciate the styles even more.”
programming, which we will likely launch sometime in the near future. VAMP: Is there a risk involved in allowing customers to update a classic? Yates: In general, the ability to offer a variety of leathers and colors allows us to address consumer that wants something that’s personalized but also what their style desires at the moment. We do offer some seasonal colors. I like the rubber lug outsole and things like that—so for me it was a way to take the boot and make it something better for weather. It allows someone to put their own personal style touch to it, whether it’s color blocking or contrast stitching or mixed leather colors. VAMP: How have customers responded to the customized product? Yates: It’s relatively new but we have gotten a lot of feedback that people have had a great time developing it and they’re excited when it gets there. The consumer engagement is just as important. —Emily Goldman
VAMP: Why is it a good time for Wolverine to introduce customization for the 1000 Mile boot? Yates: Really all we did was replicate it and modernize it. From a custom standpoint, it was something we wanted to do for a very long time and we finally got everything in line. There’s so many differentiations of the style, customization is as much a brand builder as a sales builder. We were excited to launch. People are having fun creating the boots. VAMP: Do you think customization has become a standard in footwear? Yates: Our consumers have a very deep affection for the Original 1000 Mile boot, making it customizable was a logical way to further build that connection with these consumers. Our goal is always to strive to satisfy our consumers, and this experience is one that deepens their connection to the brand, and allows them to add their story to the long heritage of the boot. VAMP: Do you plan to introduce customization for any other Wolverine styles? Yates: Yes, we actually built an additional style into the original software
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
WOLVERINE 1000 MILE
WOLVERINE 1000 MILE
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
TIMBERLAND If you’ve taken a look at Timberland recently you might notice something new. The boots are lighter and more athletic, taking cues from the recent athleisure trend. But don’t be fooled, the boots are still the same quality that’s earned the brand a loyal following for almost a century. With the introduction of Timberland’s new AeroCore energy system for 2017, we chat with Don Desalvio, Timberland senior director of men’s casual footwear, on what it takes to update a beloved classic. VAMP: People often equate the weight of a boot to its quality. Was it a challenge to retrain the way consumers perceive quality and performance with the latest Timberland boots? Desalvio: I think that remains true in certain consumer segments and you would expect something like our original Yellow Boot to have some weight to it, but that mindset has certainly started to shift in other product categories. Take sneaker boots for example. When we design sneaker boots or other footwear that takes inspiration from the world of athletic, we make sure we stay true to our heritage and design them to the highest standards. Things like premium leather uppers, rust-proof hardware and quad-stitching are hallmarks of Timberland durability and can be found in these unique hybrid styles. Additionally, today’s younger consumer has become accustomed to lighter, more comfortable footwear so these attributes are expected now more than ever. VAMP: How is Sensorflex an improvement from what you’ve previously offered? Desalvio: SensorFlex is about being ready for anything at anytime. Its threelayer outsole delivers constant support, active cushioning and dynamic flex.
Previously, if you were looking to make a lighter, more comfortable outsole you may have selected a soft EVA with higher rebound, but in doing so you’d give up certain features like traction. SensorFlex goes beyond that with a firm upper layer that provides all day-comfort and stability, a softer EVA middle layer adapts to uneven surfaces and the bottom outsole layer features a grooved sole that flexes with every step. VAMP: What influence has athleisure had on your decision to update Timberland’s core products? Desalvio: Athleisure continues to be a driving trend in both apparel and lifestyle markets, which fits our brand really well. Its athletic influence is all about products that are adaptive and versatile where functionality is casually concealed making them suitable for all aspects of your day. SensorFlex allows us to deliver exactly that with all-day comfort in city-appropriate silhouettes, which is where our consumer spends most of their time. And don’t forget—the original Timberland Field Boot was dubbed a first-of-its-kind sneaker boot when it was released in 1983, so versatile footwear of this kind is not new to our brand. VAMP: What is the risk involved in updating a classic? Desalvio: We’re fortunate enough to have iconic products that are truly loved around the world, and we work very hard to protect them. When we approach updating classic styles or reimagining them in a new way, we view it as an expansion of the line instead of a replacement. Taking this approach allows us to leverage all of the tried and true details that make each style iconic, and infuse them with new innovation and modern design in a way that solves for new needs without compromising what consumers love about them. VAMP: What was the tipping point that made Timberland decide to go in a new direction with these latest designs? Desalvio: We’ve developed a winning design formula—called Style + Performance + Green—that blends form and function in a way that’s distinctly Timberland. SensorFlex allows us to combine our rugged heritage with modern design and performance elements to create amazingly versatile product in terms of both how it looks to how it feels. We’re always working to solve for consumer needs both on the style and functionality front. Today’s consumer wants the comfort and agility that athletic footwear gives them, but they also appreciate the authenticity and versatility of craftsmanship. With the incorporation of SensorFlex, we’re in a unique position to deliver what the consumer is looking for. VAMP: What’s new from Timberland for 2017? Desalvio: One new and very exciting product technology that is releasing in 2017 is called the AeroCore Energy System. AeroCore takes deep inspiration from athletic footwear with not only how it performs, but also how it looks underfoot. The thicker, rounded white outsole provides a sharp contrast to heritage leather uppers and its new lightweight sole design offers high rebound cushioning and comfort in every step. AeroCore lets you stay lighter and faster on your feet and really takes underfoot performance to the next level. —Matt Vitone
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
DR.MARTENS Famously heavy and stiff, the formidable 1460 boot by Dr. Martens has been a symbol of rebellion since the 1960s, standing strong and tall during waves of cultural and social change. Ironically, the boot has changed little since its conception, until recently with the introduction of DM’s Lite collection in September 2016. DM’s Lite takes the iconic DNA of the 8-eye 1460 boot—the durability, attitude and signature yellow stitching—and repackages it with a SoftWair technology insole for comfort and a new lightweight Phylon midsole that is 260 grams (or one-third) lighter than its Goodyear welted forerunner. The final product, a style called the Newton, is an evolved version of the punk favorite with the fit and feel of athletic footwear. The collection is Dr. Martens’ direct response to the athleisure movement, spanning lightweight versions of the traditional black soled loafers and oxfords to a hybrid series of sneaker slash oxfords, slash loafers and slash boots with bold white outsoles. With the first full season of DM’s Lite footwear out in the market, we spoke to Simon Jobson, Dr. Marten’s global marketing director. VAMP: Are you reaching a different consumer with DM’s Lite? Jobson: [We’re reaching] a broader consumer base than we have traditionally attracted. We believe that we have developed a future icon that transcends workwear to fashion. These consumers will be free-thinking individuals who may have never worn a pair of Dr. Martens before, or those who have been with the brand forever.
VAMP: How do you maintain Dr. Martens’ brand identity with modern models? Jobson: Consumers and their attitudes to product are constantly evolving so we need to remain constantly abreast of this to ensure the longevity of the brand and its connection to them. We then take our considerable footwear construction knowledge and apply this to delivering a shoe that is right for their lifestyle choices. In addition to this, we will always pride ourselves on the foundations that have built this brand to be what it is today. Anchoring ourselves in our Originals product will continue, however, as seen with the introduction of DM’s Lite, we are excited about bringing a new face of the brand through product innovation and evolution and with this will come a new consumer persona. VAMP: What influence has athleisure had on your decision to introduce DM’s Lite? Jobson: The thought process from the outset was simply the consumer’s needs. We had conducted several rounds of global focus groups and in a few of those sessions you had guys and girls who had only ever worn sneakers but liked the brand. Ensuring that we didn’t go chasing the sneaker brands but offer something that would meet the needs of this consumer stimulated the brief for DM’s Lite. VAMP: But people still want the look of Dr. Martens. Jobson: If you place the DM’s Lite and the 1460 side by side, it’s undeniable that they are siblings but simply separated by 56 years. All the characteristics and DNA from our iconic 1460 boot can be seen in the Newton style, starting with the recognizable 8-eye upper, grooved midsoles, yellow stitch details and the branded Airwair heel tab. The design team have brought an element of modernity to DM’s through changing the construction of the midsole and in doing this have lightened the consumer wearing experience. VAMP: By eliminating weight, do you run the risk of making it seem less rebellious or punkish? Jobson: Our product, its innovation and communications, come from an innate obsession with understanding who the diverse consumers are that buy into the brand and what they are looking for to suit their lifestyle choices and individual style. Coupled with this, we also have a laser focus around guarding the brand’s DNA while keeping up with the current trends. Our purpose is to empower self-expression through creative personal styling of our unique product. We do this by rigorously upholding our design principles, rich social heritage, people diversity, non-conformist attitude and through our unrivaled involvement in music. —Christian Scibetta
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
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BROWN SHOE BELT FROM THE AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION TO A SHOE COMPANY NAMED HUBBARD, A LOOK AT HOW NEW ENGLAND BECAME THE HUB FOR FOOTWEAR MANUFACTURING IN THE U.S. BY CHRISTIAN SCIBETTA How did New England become the home of so many American footwear brands, from Converse to L.L. Bean? New England’s history of footwear manufacturing spans centuries, from the 19th century with the first sewing machines, to the mid-20th century with family run factories. The region’s dominance in footwear manufacturing began with the American Industrial Revolution. With solid ports, plenty of natural resources and strong rivers, the Northeast was the first part of the U.S. to become industrialized. At the start of the 19th century, with Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 and the War of 1812, the fledgling United States was forced to develop its own means of production without the help of European exports. New England took the lead in creating America’s first factories, and with a tradition of shoemaking dating back to the Puritans, New Englanders decided to manufacture what they knew best, footwear. By the mid-19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought railroads and new technology like the telegraph, that demonstrated the potential for trade and economic prosperity in the U.S. In towns like Lowell, Mass., the revolution introduced new industrial sewing machines that allowed factories to greatly outpace traditional cobblers. Maine and New Hampshire traded farming for factories, and quickly followed Massachusetts, making New England one of the world’s largest hubs for footwear. During the early 20th century, much of New England’s footwear production was situated in rural towns where factories played a central role in the community and employed large portions of the population. A good example is the Hubbard Shoe Company in Rochester, New Hampshire. Founded in 1930 by Lithuanian immigrant Samuel J. Katz, the Hubbard Shoe company had two plants that employed around 900 workers. While cheap imports during the 70’s and free trade policies during the 80’s would ultimately spell the end for manufacturing in Rochester, the Katz family continued its footwear tradition. Samuel’s son Saul Katz and grandson, Bruce Katz, formed the brand Rockport in 1971. Bruce Katz recalls the summer days he spent working at his grandfather’s factory. “One thing I remember was this shaft that went the entire length of the building and had leather belts to attach to each of the machines,” Katz said. Many of the factory workers in Rochester were French Canadians, and Katz still wonders where their shoe-making skills came from. “Rochester
HUBBARD SHOE COMPANY was very much a shoe town,” he said. “This was before the age of computer stitching, and like any shoe factory you had guys who were quite skilled and others who were not. Some people would be working on the kick press, working with the eyelets.” The Rochester Historical Society in New Hampshire estimates that a shoe in Hubbard factory would pass through as many as 160 different machines and 209 pairs of hands before completion. Before New England’s shoemaking age ended, the Hubbard factories were at the top of innovation. “Hubbard shoe was a very well respected manufacturer for everybody in the industry,” Katz said. “The factory was doing injected molded women’s boots in 1968 or 1967. It’s the kind that you might see a lot of today, but it was completely new at the time we were doing it. My grandfather was always trying the newest manufacturing processes.” Katz helped run Rockport with his father for a while, but he eventually moved to San Francisco during the Dot Com Boom. After spending years working at Silicon Valley startups, he has thrown his hat back into the ring with Hubbard Shoes, a men’s and women’s comfort brand that has seen very promising growth in the last year. “My grandfather’s business never had its own private label, that’s one of the reasons it was unable to adapt into the 70s. Hubbard Shoes is like my poetic justice,” he explained. Katz’s new brand focuses on premium comfort shoes expertly made in Portugal. The production and quality are the two points that Katz is most proud of, and with its contemporary footwear potential Portugal is an ideal location for Hubbard Shoes. “If I were younger I would consider building a factory in America. The problem is we lost all our tanneries and all our suppliers. If you need any type of welding or materials, you will need to import it. And we lost all the knowhow,” he said. “I think you would have to bring over workers from somewhere else to help train the American employees.” It’s an ambitious idea, but Katz believes it can be done. “The secret is to have a lot of the commerce be direct-to-consumer. When you take out the middleman, you can build a factory in Kentucky and provide a pretty good wage,” Katz speculated. “I think what happened to pricing and shoes is an untold story. When all the business moved to Asia, all the prices went way down but all the real estate for retail went way up.” VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
SAUCONY WITH OVER 100 YEARS IN NEW ENGLAND, SAUCONY UNDERSTANDS WHAT RUNNERS NEED TO PERSEVERE THROUGH TOUGH WINTER WEATHER. Saucony has a two-pronged history. The namesake company started in 1898 by four investors on the bank of Saucony Creek in Kutztown, Penn. By 1910, Saucony manufactured around 800 shoes a day. During the same year, two states over, the Russian immigrant Abraham Hyde founded his shoe factory on the bank of the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass. Hyde Athletic Industries became one of the earliest manufacturers of athletic footwear in the early 20th century, producing sneakers for brands like PF Flyers and fulfilling contracts for NASA. In fact, Hyde Athletics manufactured the boots worn by the first astronaut to walk in space, Edward H. White. With a strong reputation in technical footwear, but no private label of its own, Hyde Athletic Industries bought Saucony in 1968, and they’ve been New Englanders ever since. Saucony, a division of Wolverine Worldwide, remains a favorite for serious runners. Here, Saucony CEO Patrick O’Malley explains why.
CARRYING ON THE TRADITION THAT BEGAN DURING THE AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, BRANDS SHARE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A NEW ENGLANDER.
VAMP: With sneaker giants like Nike and Adidas dominating the market, how does Saucony distinguish itself? O’Malley: Because we focus on running, it allows us to really hit the center of the bullseye. That’s one of our competitive advantages in this space—anything we can do to enhance the runners’ performance. We’re constantly thinking about those types of people and we’re not distracted by basketball sneakers or soccer cleats. VAMP: Does Saucony still hold onto its identity as a New England brand? O’Malley: Yes, definitely. A big part of our history comes from Cambridge, Mass. We have over 100 years in New England, it’s our home. That’s something we’re proud of. We had manufacturing plants in Bangor, Maine in the 70’s and 80’s and we still show an affinity for the area. We’re proud of our Pennsylvania heritage too. VAMP: Is your Winter Running collection, with waterproof and special traction sneakers, inspired by New England winters? O’Malley: One of the great things about Saucony is that we live and breathe sports. We have guys who put on their sneakers and went on a run this morning [in windy 19 degrees Fahrenheit]. Tackling the challenge of the elements is one of the biggest goals here. So the weather does shape why we do shoes that you can wear during the wintertime. VAMP: Some of the shoes from the Winter Running collection, like the Razor Ice, have substantial outsoles and a waterproof ankle high upper. How do you keep the sneakers from becoming too much like a boot? O’Malley: We’re really fortunate because we have a couple of good partners like Gore-Tex for waterproofing and Vibram, which has its headquarters here in Boston, too. The technology for both of those areas has really evolved where our shoes don’t feel like boots. Our goal is to make them feel like your regular running sneakers. There is an evolution of the material. VAMP: Brands like New Balance and L.L. Bean still do some footwear manufacturing in the region. Do you think production could return to New England? O’Malley: It can return. We have been a part of that with Wolverine. Saucony will be manufacturing boots for the U.S. military at Wolverine’s factory in Michigan. As far as the future of manufacturing in New England goes, you’ll see a lot more automation, like with Adidas’ new completely automated factory in Atlanta.
VAMP: With automation being the future of manufacturing, do you think New England will have an advantage with companies like Boston Dynamics? O’Malley: Definitely, and with universities nearby like MIT. The challenge is that technologies like this will be an investment. While we have a long history of footwear manufacturing, we’ve lost a generation or two of people who’ve made shoes. It will take more time and effort to train workers, but I’m VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
optimistic about what this possibility could mean about New England and I think innovative manufacturing will be really good. —Christian Scibetta
REEBOK FROM AEROBICS TO 3D PRINTING, REEBOK ON THE PERKS OF BEING A FITNESS BRAND IN ONE OF THE FITTEST AND SMARTEST CITIES IN THE U.S. Reebok has been a part of the Boston community since the late 1970s. Paul Fireman acquired the distribution rights to what was originally a small running brand in the UK. In just a few years, spurred by the aerobics craze, the brand became one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. “The rest is history,” said Reebok President Matt O’Toole. Vamp spoke with O’Toole and Bill McInnis, head of Reebok Future, about Reebok’s next chapter, including opening new headquarters in Boston’s Seaport District and setting the foundation to manufacture locally anywhere in the world.
VAMP: Reebok just announced plans to open a new HQ in Boston’s Seaport. Why is Boston a good city for a fitness brand? O’Toole: The Boston area has always been our home. It’s where Reebok first became a household name. Today, one of our goals is to be the fittest, healthiest workplace in the country, and with Boston being one of the fittest cities in U.S., it remains a perfect match. With the move to the Seaport, we’re bringing ‘The Home of Fitness,’ which we’ve created at our Canton HQ, to a new location in the city. I believe that this new location will also improve our performance, speed innovation and foster an even more vibrant collaborative culture. The new location will also allow us to be closely connected to the broader innovation and design community in Boston and not in a traditional cloistered corporate environment, which can inhibit creativity. As a brand, we believe in the power of community, and more specifically the power of community-based fitness. In this spirit, we are committed to bringing the passion we have for fitness to the local community and inviting people to join us on our mission to get people moving. VAMP: With so many shoe brands in the area, is there a footwear community that extends beyond the Reebok walls? O’Toole: Absolutely. New England, more specifically the Boston area, has historically been the center of the footwear industry in the U.S. We have the largest concentration of footwear brands in the country and we’re leading the way in bringing new innovation to the industry. What it’s done is really create a footwear hub in terms of talent. It’s exciting to compete against other brands in our own backyard. VAMP: What does it mean to be a New England shoe brand? O’Toole: I would say when you look at the brands in this area, what jumps out is the heritage and history. These are some of the most well-known, established brands around—true pioneers. The other aspect is quality and the loyalty that comes from this attention to consistent quality. There’s a reason that New England brands stay around. We build great product and listen to what our consumers want, continuously re-evaluating how we go to market based upon their needs. VAMP: Do you think it’s beneficial for shoe companies to be near other shoe companies? O’Toole: I do. I think healthy competition brings out the best in all of us. It also ensures that we’re a best-in-class brand in everything we do, so that we can attract (and retain) the best talent. VAMP: In terms of footwear design, what kind of talent does New England attract? O’Toole: I don’t think there is another place, anywhere, with a larger, more talented concentration of footwear designers than the Boston area, particularly in the athletic world. And Boston is an incredibly attractive city for many reasons. So, for us, it’s the perfect location.
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VAMP: Reebok is changing the way sneakers are traditionally made with the launch of Liquid Factory. How will the brand grow this innovation in 2017? McInnis: 2017 is an exciting time for Liquid Factory as it will grow in two main directions. Publicly, we’ll do a series of small, exclusive drops applying the Liquid Factory process to some of our iconic concepts to show both what the technology can create as well as our new rapid speed to market. Behind the scenes, we’ll be building scale around Liquid Factory by creating a global footprint with new manufacturing partners to give us quick-strike capabilities with volume. VAMP: Where are the Liquid Speed shoes currently made? McInnis: Liquid Speed, the first generation of Liquid Factory was assembled in the USA at our Canton, Mass. headquarters using a combination of USA made and Asia sourced materials. The goal is to build out the USA manufacturing platform first as the model, but then to reproduce the model globally to create true local for local manufacturing. So, the idea is ultimately ‘Made in USA for the USA market,’ ‘Made in Europe for the European market,’ and so on. VAMP: Are there other components in shoemaking that you feel need to be reconsidered? McInnis: Like a lot of companies around the world we’re getting very aggressive around sustainability. The footwear industry could be much more sustainable on both the manufacturing and post-consumer sides of the equation. We’ll reveal our plans around a key initiative on this in 2017. —Angela Velasquez
as a company chase fashion trends, but sometimes we’re lucky enough to have the trends come to us. In the early 80s it was with the official Preppy Handbook and we’re currently going through a similar heritage trend, fueled by the internet and the fact that we have a larger retail footprint than we did back then. VAMP: L.L. Bean doesn’t chase trends, but how can a heritage brand incorporate new footwear innovations or new technologies? Lambart: We can take heritage products and not dramatically change the aesthetic of them, or the emotions that the products give long-time customers. But we can update them to make them drier, warmer, slip resistant. Even though our customer doesn’t really want to be trendy—and we don’t want to be trendy—everyone wants to be “on trend” to some degree. Everyone wants to look like they know what’s going on, even if they wouldn’t consider themselves a fashionista. Everything that we build is really practical, so even if the Bean Boot is or isn’t “on trend,” it’s just really practical for this time of year. VAMP: Tell me more about the manufacturing of the Bean Boot. Lambart: Our boots are still made in Maine, and we doubled down on our U.S. initiative a few years ago, making sure that not only are the boots made in the U.S. but they’re made from all U.S. materials. The boots are sewn together in Brunswick, Maine. The leather comes from a tannery in another part of the state. VAMP: How many people work at the Brunswick factory? Lambart: Around 300. We’ve really been trying to hire people to keep up with the demand. That’s another unique thing about the Bean. We’ve had a lot of demand and we could have made a lot more Bean Boots these last five winters if we started to source differently or manufacture outside of Maine, but we haven’t compromised on those qualities. Sometimes that can be frustrating because we know we’re missing business but it’s something you can take pride in because you work for a company that doesn’t compromise just to sell that next pair of shoes. VAMP: How does being a New England brand influence L.L. Bean’s design? Lambart: The first obvious answer is weather. When you live in New England weather drives a lot of decision making. Whether you’re talking about muddy trails in hiking boots or cold snowy winters. The other thing is that New Englanders are pragmatic people, so simplicity of design, but functionality is important.
FROM ITS CATALOG AND MAIL-ORDER DAYS TO E-COMMERCE, L.L. BEAN IS A PART OF MAINE AS MUCH AS LOBSTERS AND MOXIE SODA. Established in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, L.L. Bean’s first item, the Bean Boot, is still one of the brand’s most-popular items. With its signature five bar toe cap and “snow tire chain” outsole, the Bean Boot has become a winter classic for customers who live far beyond New England, and is the hero shoe for the outdoor recreation company. Vamp spoke with ww, about the enduring style. VAMP: Since 2007, the Bean Boot has experienced a huge surge in demand, thanks in part to a desire for heritage footwear. What makes the Bean Boot a classic style? Lambart: It’s always been a big piece of our assortment and our brand, simply because it was the first product L.L. Bean created in 1912. That really launched the company. We’ve seen things ebb and flow. We don’t
VAMP: What is in store for L.L. Bean footwear in 2017? Lambart: Right now we’re working with third party technology suppliers like Vibram to help improve traction on upcoming L.L. Bean footwear in our hiking and other collections. There’s just been a real lack of newness in the industry and what’s hurting a lot of business right now is there’s no real call to the consumer to go out and buy something because it’s a shoe they don’t already have in their closet. To some degree it plays in our hands because there’s not much to take consumers away from L.L. Bean into the fashion space. So if we can come out with things that are problem solving, and give them a better experience, we generally win. —Christian Scibetta
SPERRY TOP-SIDER FOR MORE THAN 80 YEARS, SPERRY TOP-SIDER, A DIVISION OF WOLVERINE WORLDWIDE, HAS BEEN DESIGNING FUNCTIONAL FOOTWEAR FOR NEW ENGLAND’S COASTAL LIVING. New England may not be known as the heart of the fashion industry, but is home to visionaries like Paul Sperry, the founder of Sperry Top-Sider. “New England is home to passionate craftsman and innovators who have dedicated their lives to producing purpose built products that meet the needs of people in the region,” said Purvi Patel, Sperry marketing manager. Here Patel shares how Sperry’s coastal background influences all of its designs.
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VAMP: When did the company plant roots in the New England area? Patel: For many, New England living is synonymous with a life on the water and that was certainly the case for our founder, Paul Sperry. He was born in the coastal city of New Haven, Conn. where he developed an affinity for the outdoors and became an avid sailor. The rough seas, a slippery boat deck and a struggle for sure footing almost cost Paul his life. Thereafter, he spent years trying to perfect the perfect non-slip shoe. In 1935, he found his inspiration from his best friend, his dog Prince. Noticing how the dog didn’t slip on ice, Paul turned Prince’s paw over to find hundreds of small cracks and lines going in all directions. These became the inspiration behind his inventive non-slip sole and the world’s first performance boat shoe. VAMP: What portion of Sperry’s business takes place in Boston? Patel: The majority of the work takes place at the Boston HQ, this includes everything from product development, design, marketing, merchandising, finance, sales operations and general business management. In addition, our entire senior team is based in Boston as well. VAMP: What kind of design talent does New England attract? Patel: New England’s proximity to the coast and cold winter weather makes the region an ideal location for talent looking to create innovative, performance footwear for all-weather adventures. VAMP: What are the benefits of sharing a building with other footwear brands? Patel: Sperry’s parent company, Wolverine Worldwide, has a diverse portfolio of brands that enrich the lives of consumers across the globe. Working alongside brands that create product lines for every stage of life, we are in a unique position to really understand the consumer’s footwear journey from first steps to first marathons. Through a proprietary exchange of market research, consumer insights and evolving trends, we can ensure that we are designing innovative products that will exceed consumer expectations. VAMP: Are there any traditions that take place within the Sperry team? Patel: One of the things that brings the brand to life is the passion within the building and the comradery between the people who work for Sperry. We spend a lot of time working hard but also having fun while doing it—whether it be a “Crocktoberfest” pot luck, Friday morning breakfast club, pulling pranks on each other or karaoke during our global brand conference. There is never a dull moment and that’s what makes working for this brand and these people awesome.
VAMP: How is the brand combining traditional shoemaking techniques with innovation? Patel: The Authentic Original boat shoe was a simple invention born of necessity, specifically designed to maintain traction on a boat deck. Taking a cue from our icon, our brand and everything we make are purpose built. As U.S. consumers increasingly place more value on form and function, we are answering that call by investing in product innovations that span fashion and function without compromise. We’ve increased our boot business, growing from 6 percent of our product mix in 2013 to 25 percent in 2017. Our sneakers are outpacing industry average, growing at 70 percent year over year compared to the industry average of 20 percent. In March, Sperry will introduce its biggest product innovation since the boat shoe, Sperry 7 SEAS, a new casual athletic footwear collection developed in partnership with America’s Cup athletes. VAMP: How is Sperry updating its classics for Fall ’17? Patel: Boots are a huge focus for Sperry in the fall and winter seasons. In Fall ’17, we’re looking to revamp our classic boot styles with new colors, styles and innovative features. We’ll bring out our new all-weather boots which are designed to be lighter, warmer and tougher to take on any course, any forecast, any surprise. VAMP: Are there any traditions in footwear that you hope to never see disappear? Patel: With a headquarters in Boston, a city that thrives on innovation and technology but also appreciates quality, craftsmanship, and heritage, we’re constantly challenged to push the envelope while staying true to the brand. Our founder, Paul Sperry, was an inventor at heart, constantly looking for and creating the next best thing. It’s a tradition we hope never disappears. —Angela Velasquez
ROCKPORT FROM BROWN SHOE TO ATHLEISURE, THE COMFORT BRAND EVOLVES WITH HELP FROM A DEEP POOL OF LOCAL TALENT. Founded in Marlboro, Mass. in 1971, Rockport has been based in the Bay State ever since. As part of The Rockport Group, a family of comfort shoe brands that includes Dunham and Aravon, Rockport recently moved into a new 70,000-square-foot global headquarters in Newton, Mass. With the exception of manufacturing, nearly all aspects of the company’s business take place at the headquarters, including product design, sourcing, marketing and direct-to-consumer. Susan Dooley, SVP, global marketing for The Rockport Group, says the space, “embodies the passion and craftsmanship for which The Rockport Group is known.” Vamp spoke with Dooley about New England’s pool of talented designers and how they keep up with consumers’ active lifestyles. VAMP: What does it mean to be a New England brand? Dooley: All of the brands in The Rockport Group portfolio were born in New England. Rockport was founded in Marlborough, Mass.; Dunham in Brattleboro, Vermont in 1885; and Aravon right here in Greater Boston. This region has a history of innovation and centuries of footwear industry heritage. New England is where the art of shoemaking began. It’s this heritage and authenticity as well as our commitment to craftsmanship that drives us to create the best footwear in fit, comfort and style. VAMP: Do you think it’s beneficial for shoe companies to be near other shoe companies? Dooley: Recruiting talented employees is the biggest benefit to being neighbors with other successful footwear companies. We work with some of the best and brightest in the footwear space and have an impressive industry presence that draws people from other regions to New England. VAMP: What kind of talent does New England attract? Dooley: We have a talented product design team comprised of designers,
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engineers and product managers who have a deep understanding of what it takes to bring a comfortable, quality shoe from sketch to shelf. Thanks to our many exceptional colleges and universities, New England is a hub for innovation and design, and we’re lucky that we can tap into this emerging pool of talent. VAMP: What is driving change in the comfort shoe market? Dooley: Consumers are living more active lifestyles and demanding that their shoes keep up. We’ve increased our assortment of athleisure styles to ensure our customers look good and feel good as they go about their busy days. VAMP: What’s the status of traditional ‘sit and fit’ business? Dooley: We have more than 2,000 independent accounts in North America, many of which are traditional ‘sit and fit’ retailers. They are crucial to our success, and we work with each independent retailer very closely to make sure that any product feedback they receive from customers is shared directly with our product design team. —Angela Velasquez
NEW BALANCE MADE IN AMERICA FOR OVER A CENTURY, NEW BALANCE IS LEVERAGING ITS HERITAGE WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO CREATE FOOTWEAR THAT’S UNIQUELY NEW ENGLAND. Founded in 1906 in Boston, New Balance has been doing things its own way for over a century, even if it means taking an unpopular stance. The athletic footwear brand stirred up controversy in the shoe industry last year over its support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which sought to lower tariffs on shoes produced in Vietnam and the Pacific region. The company claimed TPP would hurt jobs at its New England factories. New Balance currently employs 1,500 workers in New England, including three locations in Maine and two in its home state of Massachusetts. The brand is planning the March launch of MADE, a platform that leverages new domestic manufacturing processes and premium footwear technologies. Vamp spoke with Amy Dow, New Balance senior manager of global corporate communications, to find out why the company believes domestically made footwear is the future. VAMP: New Balance has quite a history in New England. How does being a New England-based brand influence the design of footwear? Dow: We are extremely proud of our long history of being based in New
England. On the design side, our footwear has and continues to have many different elements that reflect our New England heritage. Including design influences of historic landmarks like Fenway Park and annual Boston traditions like spring running or fall back-to-school college excitement, as well as material colors that take cues from our own rich Boston history. Last fall we moved into a new global headquarters building in Boston that has many museum-type displays and design elements that reinforce our heritage and traditions for associates and visitors. New Balance has been based in the same neighborhood for more than 30 years, so we recognize the importance of being a good neighbor which is reflected in our many local community initiatives including associate volunteer and charitable programs. VAMP: How much manufacturing does New Balance do in New England? Dow: We are the only major company to make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the U.S. in our five factories in New England. So we can proudly offer ‘made in New England’ footwear. Our 1,500 U.S. manufacturing associates have proven that high quality athletic footwear can be produced competitively in America. Their craftsmanship and dedication to continuous improvement and customer service excellence has enabled us to withstand economic challenges and remain strong. VAMP: Generally speaking, what is New England footwear known for? Dow: Generations of skilled U.S. craftsmen and women create our distinct MADE styles out of the finest domestic materials. We have the vision of offering the most premium, quality-crafted footwear in the world that is made domestically. Domestic manufacturing is intrinsic to who we are as a brand and we are committed to manufacturing in the U.S. because we believe it is the right thing. The footwear that we manufacture in the U.S. influences and pushes the brand to strive to be authentic, high-quality and premium in everything we do. VAMP: How does tradition and technology cohabitate within the brand? Dow: We are constantly looking at our work with a global lens to offer freshness and to be the highest quality, most premium athletic and lifestyle footwear brand while remaining true to our New Balance heritage. We look at the consumer needs now and in the future to develop innovative and evolutionary footwear while still rooted in New Balance’s DNA. New silhouettes that we are launching specifically in the lifestyle category demonstrate our approach to offering footwear for all day, every day wear for the modern urban lifestyle, while paying homage to classics. —Matt Vitone
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FROM GERMANY’S SUPERIOR COMFORT TO THE AMERICAS’ ROOTS IN BOOTS, THESE FOUR BRANDS ARE CARRYING ON REGIONAL SHOEMAKING TECHNIQUES FOR A GLOBAL AUDIENCE.
GABOR No one does tradition like the Europeans. Among footwear brands, Gabor stands out. Preferring a quality over quantity approach to shoemaking, the German company isn’t focused on competing in the fast paced fashion market. Instead, it prefers to stick to traditional methods that have worked for centuries. Despite its operational methods, the brand isn’t stuck in the past. Gabor is introducing a new line of casual sneakers, Gabor Sport, for Fall ’17. Vamp spoke with Gabor President and CEO Edward Kanner on how the brand is reinterpreting European shoemaking traditions for contemporary consumers. VAMP: This issue of our magazine is all about “tradition.” What does it mean for Gabor to be based in Germany? Kanner: “Designed in Germany” and “Made in Europe” are messages which clearly convey that the consumer is looking at a superior quality product. When it comes to quality, Germany still has the best image worldwide, an almost legendary reputation. This gives discerning consumers the confidence and knowledge that they are investing in a meticulously designed product built to last—an assurance of quality. In an age when the vast majority of footwear is produced in the far East, we take great pride in European production. Every Gabor shoe is designed at our Bavarian headquarters in Rosenheim. No external sources or outside agencies are used. Having centralized design and product management teams in Germany, in the heart of Europe, allows us to react quickly to market demand. Production in our very own European factories in Portugal and Slovenia allows us greater quality control. VAMP: What are some of the traditional shoemaking techniques used in your manufacturing? Kanner: We specialize in supremely comfortable, lightweight and flexible fashion footwear. We utilize several traditional techniques: One is AGO construction, whereby the uppers are cemented to the soles. We also specialize in lightweight sacchetto construction, a traditional old-world technique where linings are sewn into the shoe like an envelope. This results in a soft, highly flexible and virtually seamless glove-like fit, allowing your feet to move naturally. VAMP: What is Germany’s specialty in footwear? Kanner: Comfort comes first even in our most fashionable shoes. We invest
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considerably into studying the perfect fit. In-house last development, well balanced heels, sensible heel heights and proper anatomical support are critical factors. Our shoes are defined by particularly soft, supple and luxurious leathers, highly flexible latex and multi-component soles, and lightweight and shock-absorbing air cushioned soles we call Hovercraft. Our designers prefer soft materials that provide good functionality and ensure a high degree of comfort. The art of designing interesting, commercially successful fashion shoes without compromising on fit is a Gabor specialty. VAMP: Is there pressure to move toward more automated manufacturing for faster or cheaper product? Kanner: Footwear manufacturing is a fine art. It is an inescapable fact that modern technology and automation assist us in production, however it will never completely replace the footwear artisans who specialize in meticulous old-world craftsmanship. The making of a Gabor shoe can involve over 150 separate hand-operated steps. A great deal of sewing, stitching, cutting, gluing and inspecting will always be done by hand. Speed to market is crucial, but we will never compromise our high standards to cheapen our product in the name of speed. We are not competing on price as much as we are on quality and comfort. Superior quality is worth the price. VAMP: What are the main differences between European and American footwear? Kanner: North America is heavily influenced by sport. It is a market where casual and streetwear dominate, whereas Europeans generally still seem to
“dress up” more. While American influences have certainly spread globally, we tend to see more sophisticated looks overseas. In Germany and Western Europe, proven classics are in demand year after year. That’s not to say that the American woman is not sophisticated. Rather, she may choose to reserve her most stylish shoes for special occasions while Europeans may wear them regularly. Then again, our world is changing rapidly and nothing remains the same for very long. VAMP: What’s new for Fall ’17 from Gabor? Kanner: We are launching a group of extremely comfortable casual sneakers (there is the undeniable American influence) under the name Gabor Sport. Despite the lack of snow in many parts of the world, tall boots are making a comeback. We are even seeing increased demand for over-the-knee boots. Rich, earthy color palettes, gorgeous effect materials and exquisite Italian leathers will round out the next fall collection. —Matt Vitone
ARTOLA Jury and Olga Grib launched Artola after years of working in footwear under major fashion labels like Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Tommy Hilfiger and Frye. They always wanted to create a collection that focused on domestic manufacturing but recognized that American production would be too costly for the big brands they worked with. The couple persevered, and launched their own label, Artola, in 2009. The brand specializes in men’s and women’s leather boots and shoes with a work-meet-artisan look, with some manufactured in the U.S. “There is such a rich history of shoemaking in the U.S. and especially where we live in Brooklyn. There is a huge source of heritage,” said Olga. “In addition to being able to make our own designs and create the shoes we wanted, we were able to experiment with keeping up the tradition of shoemaking in Brooklyn and New York.” Vamp spoke to Jury and Olga about the challenges and the rewards of manufacturing in the Americas. VAMP: What do your domestic factories look like? Olga: One of the factories we’re working with is in upstate New York, near Buffalo, and they’ve been around since the late 1800s. It was two brothers coming back from the civil war who decided to start a shoe factory. Its one of the oldest factories in the United States and we love that it’s in our state. We love the drive up there. We talk to them about how we can innovate, what leathers we can use.
Obviously anything made in the U.S. isn’t cheap, and for that reason a majority of our shoes are made in Mexico, but we’re still using domestic leathers. Whenever possible we export the leathers from here to be made in Mexico. It’s difficult to make all the styles we want for the brand like sneakers here because there are so few options with factories. For our Brooklyn-made shoes, there’s no factory, it’s more of a collective. We’re working with hand crafters who have their own studios in Brooklyn, which each of their styles being in very limited supply. But if customers ask for bespoke shoes, we’re able to act as a type of liaison from the shoemakers to the customer, kind of like an Uber for shoes. Jury: If we fast forward maybe five years from now the idea is to have a factory here. It doesn’t have to be a huge space, maybe it’s a storefront with a factory running in the back and we can have custom made shoes. VAMP: How does manufacturing in the U.S. affect your prices? Olga: We have shoes that are across different price ranges from $175 for casuals, $195 for some dress shoes and our made in New York boots are $395. We want to appeal to a wide range of customers, with our Brooklyn production being at the top price range. Jury: We sell our American-made boots direct-to-consumer to keep the price down. We spoke with department stores like Barneys and the boots would have retailed at $700 and we thought “oh gosh, are we going to start competing with the Italian brands like Ferragamo?” It keeps the price low for the quality. Goodyear welted boot, Vibram sole, leather laces, top of the top quality. VAMP: What type of retailers do you work with? Olga: We do wholesale with a lot of small boutiques throughout the U.S. With them we have been able to make a very loyal group of customers who come back to us every season, every couple of months. Artola’s customers are doctors, lawyers, a lot of real estate. Our designers offer them something that’s comfortable, very wearable but has just enough design element that makes them a little bit different. VAMP: What’s new from Artola? Olga: Our Coffee Washed Leather shoes, it’s our patented process where they are literally washed in coffee. What makes the coffee washed shoes extremely attractive is how the process leaves the leather really soft. Jury: We came up with the idea when I was in Mexico by myself for about a month working on the production. So I was there in Mexico, and during one of the weekends I had a bunch of leather in my hotel room and I decided to do some experiments. I was just finding things in my room like Coca-Cola, hot VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
sauce, and then I tried coffee and I thought ‘oh wow this is interesting.’ So we went to the factories and tanneries and said “this is my idea, how do we produce this?” Through trial and error, we found the right formula in terms of the water temperature and the right consistency. The whole process took over a year. This way we distinguish ourselves from the hundreds of other brands. —Christian Scibetta
PIKOLINOS Pikolinos’ Spanish history molds together classic artisanship with modern designs for a shoe that is drenched in comfort and laid-back fashion. Pikolinos President Juan Perán started the comfort shoe brand in Spain in 1984, and today manufactures in both Asia and Spain, ensuring “Pikolinos quality” by carefully monitoring production. The brand’s tanneries also reside in Spain, where it does all of its water-based finishing for leather. Perán considers Pikolinos to be a “Spanish brand made in the world” and accepts the responsibility to carry on the country’s tradition of shoemaking. “That’s why we want to produce at least half a million pairs in Spain. The leather we use in all shoes is the leather that we use from our tannery here in Spain,” he said. A signature of the brand is its rich leather, updated in new seasonal colors and treatments each season. Vamp spoke to Perán about the Fall ’17 collection and how it aims to bring a touch of the Mediterranean to all of its footwear.
VAMP: What’s new for Fall ’17? Perán: For Fall ’17, we are actually having quite a big evolution in our line because we saw the big changes in fashion last season. We used to have rounded, thin soles. Now, we are going into thicker soles, always with the flexibility and comfort of Pikolinos. Also the last is going into a bit more rounded square and pointed toe. Pointed toe is a challenge for us because we have to make a pointed toe comfortable. We also don’t want to lose our fit. We’re seeing some textures and textiles that are coming in, but that is something we have to combine because our main material is always leather. —Emily Goldman
SUMMIT Like Italian cars and coffee, “Made in Italy” shoes are among the most coveted luxury items in the world. The country’s factories still create some of the most incredible footwear in the market, and those shoes usually come at an incredibly high price. Summit, which launched in 2014, wants to bring the meticulous craftsmanship of Italy to the U.S. for an accessible price. The brand’s sandals, flats, heels and boots retail for as low as $140. Max Harrell, Summit president and brand director, spoke with Vamp about how the brand creates Italian-made shoes for less than half their competitors’ prices. VAMP: How did Summit start? Harrell: White Mountain first started production in Lisbon, New Hampshire. As things progressed over the years they moved production to Italy and Spain. Then they ended up in China like 99 percent of the industry. Around three years ago they wanted to get back into higher end footwear, so they decided to start Summit.
VAMP: What does it mean to you to be a ‘Made in Spain’ brand? Perán: Everyone tells us that when they open a box of Pikolinos shoes it’s like they open the feeling of the Mediterranean Sea. We use water-based leather treatments, which makes a very natural finish. The technique creates a very natural brush on the leather. Also, the handwork on the shoes gives them the artisan feeling that we have here in the Mediterranean. VAMP: What are some of the traditional shoemaking techniques you use in your manufacturing? Perán: We use hand stitching for the leather, the insole, also hand stitching from the leather upper directly to the sole. The hand stitching of leather to leather makes a glove-like construction. We don’t overcoat the leather. So, what you see is the natural leather. When we combine that with the hand stitching, it makes the leather flexible. The leather takes the shape of the feet—that is something very unique to Pikolinos. VAMP: Is there pressure to move toward more automated manufacturing for faster or cheaper product? Perán: We want to have the highest productivity for the factory we have here in Spain. To do that we’re introducing new technology, investing in new machines, new ways we can do better or more in the same factory. To be faster and cheaper—we are not in that business. We invest a lot in the fit, in the shape. When we see that there is some brand or some trend more concerned with fast and cheap product, we are kind of happy because we know that their consumers have yet to move over to a comfortable and fashionable shoe. We know that sooner or later, they will be our consumers.
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VAMP: How do you provide Italian-made shoes at your price point? Harrell: We’re a smaller brand, we don’t have a New York showroom, so we’re pretty thrifty. We don’t have a huge overhead and we pass that on to our consumer. The other reason we’re able to provide our prices is we’ve been in Italy before so we have good relationships there with the factories. It’s kind of funny, and no one really knows this but at one-time White Mountain was the largest importer of shoes from Italy. But then the price of Italian-made shoes skyrocket with the euro, so many brands had to leave Italy for production. Most of them moved to Spain or Brazil or China, and gradually they all arrived in China. VAMP: Does “Made from Italy” still have the same cache it once had? Harrell: I think so. They’re known to make the best shoes in the world. I think our consumer still knows that. When the consumer sees “Made in Italy” they’re surprised by it because they’re not used to seeing it at this price point. Customers still shop by style. When they go into a store they’re looking for what they want, like a black mid heel pump, and they know what they want to pay for it. When they find two items that are the same price and fit exactly what they were looking for, but one is “Made in Italy” and one isn’t, I think they’re always going to go for the one made in Italy. VAMP: Who’s your target demographic? Harrell: When you look at the customer we sell to, she’s very affluent, she knows Christian Louboutin. She might even have a pair in her closet. When she sees similar quality at a much more reasonable price, she doesn’t hesitate. We know what works for us, we’ve been shipping shoes for three years and now we’ve found our niche. We’re not just making dress shoes, or sport shoes or boots. Summit is pretty much a lifestyle brand. VAMP: What are some unique manufacturing methods Summit uses? Harrell: We have this transitional collection coming out for June/July where the uppers are all woven. The leather is calf skin but it’s tumbled so it’s super soft. Then it is cut into strips at the factory and sent to nearby women who normally weave sweaters but they weave the leather and send it back to our factory to be made into sandals. —Christian Scibetta
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12 TRENDS YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR FALL ‘17 BY ANGELA VELASQUEZ
LOUISE ET CIE
BE DAZZLED A group of zebras is called a dazzle. It’s a fitting moniker for one of the most stylish animals to ever roam the planet. Zebras’ influence on fashion resurfaces this fall as men’s and women’s brands pair black and white together to create bold yet chic athleisure footwear.
IMAGINE VINCE CAMUTO
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DR. SCHOLL’S MEN’S
VINCE CAMUTO MEN
CYCLEUR DE LUXE
DANSKO MIA SHOES
DR. SCHOLL’S ORIGINAL COLLECTION TOECAP BY COMBATANT GENTLEMEN
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PEOPLE LACOSTE CHINESE LAUNDRY KLUB NICO
IMAGINE VINCE CAMUTO
This isn’t your mother’s powder pink. Known as ‘millennial’ pink, this blush-meets-salmon hue is the ‘it’ color for any type of product—from book covers and lipstick, to coats and wine—targeted to millennial ladies. The delightful color also adds a pop of pretty to sneakers, boots and heels. BERNIE MEV
LOUISE ET CIE
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CYCLEUR DE LUXE
CAT IMAGINE VINCE CAMUTO
Millennials’ reputation for being whiney hasn’t been scientifically proven, but their love for wine is fact. In a 2016 survey, The Wine Market Council reported that 42 percent of all wine sold in the U.S. is purchased by millennials, more than any other living generation. Let’s hope their taste for wine extends to the merlot footwear trending for fall.
VINCE CAMUTO AEROSOLES
OTBT PATRICIA GREEN
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Taking the right strides with a stable global delivery partner Shipping raw materials and finished goods throughout the world is no easy task. It requires a stable and reliable partner. One whose vast networking services connect you to global sourcing markets and keeps your time-sensitive footwear supply chain running smoothly from factory to store door. Maersk Line is that partner. Visit us at MaerskLine.com to learn more.
CAT VINCE CAMUTO
Classic cowboy boot stitching, heels and lasts add an unexpected look to everyday styles. We call this trend the “Taylor Swift of footwear” because the shoes feel youthful and fresh but with just a hint of a Western twang.
With most of the industry moving toward versatile day-to-night footwear, evening boots are beginning to feel new and exciting once again.
KENNEL & SCHMENGER
1-2-BUCKLE MYSHOE From mod heels to crushed velvet, every decades’ iteration of the Mary Jane is up for grabs for Fall ’17.
LOUISE ET CIE
SPRING FOOTWEAR IMAGINE VINCE CAMUTO VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
SEYCHELLES BC IMAGINE VINCE CAMUTO
Dressing like your grandmother’s living room never looked so swank. From tapestries and brocades, to appliques, embroidery and braided cords, home textiles are blanketing women’s footwear. The total look is an opulent alternative to traditional bohemian fall fashion.
KENNEL & SCHMENGER SPRING FOOTWEAR
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
SEYCHELLES KLUB NICO
Olives. You either love them or hate them. Fortunately for the brands that have invested in olive-colored footwear for fall, the color has a much more amiable reputation.
VINCE CAMUTO MEN
CYCLEUR DE LUXE POETIC LICENCE
Denim isn’t a complete wash-out for Fall ’17, but we expect the trend in footwear to evolve into navy. Rich velvet, textured leather, snake prints and cozy knit uppers add visual interest to the timeless fall color.
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
Donâ€™t miss our weekly footwear conversations on sourcing to retail and everything in between! The industryâ€™s place for weekly footwear and fashion conversations from footwear production to retail trends, featuring industry leaders and experts! Listen and learn more about the podcast at
LOUISE ET CIE SEBAGO
CYCLEUR DE LUXE
Big hair means big fun. Brands are playing with faux fur and the real deal to add warmth, even on open-toe sandals.
If polka dots and hearts are too twee for your clientele, give stars a shot. Stars take shape across categories, from traditional rock star boots to athleisure trainers and slides.
Bows have grown up. No longer a dainty accoutrement on a ballet flat, bows are bold, brazen and demand attention.
MIA SHOES UNION BAY
LOUISE ET CIE POETIC LICENCE
CYCLEUR DE LUXE LOLA CRUZ
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
ALL EYES ARE ON VELVET AS BRANDS PILE ON THE LUSH FABRIC IN CLASSIC AND QUIRKY WAYS. BY ANGELA VELASQUEZ PHOTOGRAPHY BY C TANG
POETIC LICENCE BILL BLASS
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM/ AUG / FEB2016 2017
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM/ /FEB AUG2017 2016
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM/ AUG / FEB2016 2017
UNION BAY JON JOSEF
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
CHIPOFFTHE OLDROCK BRUCE KATZ REINTRODUCES CASUAL FOOTWEAR BY ANGELA VELASQUEZ
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM/ /FEB AUG2017 2016
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
LATIGO PENNY LOVES KENNY
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
ness t well
FALL 2017 fit
Feb. 21 - Feb. 23, 2017 Las Vegas, NV Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel Grand Ballroom 1
Also See Us At:
Atlanta Shoe Market Atlanta GA
Midwest Kids Show Deerfield IL
Michigan Shoe Market Livonia MI or a regional show near you
To schedule an appointment, call 212-246-1900 or speak with your local Vida Kids Sales Representative.
OLD & NEW TRADITIONS THE SAYING IS TRUE, “EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN.” BY LESLIE GALLIN Let’s take a look back at the automotive industry. Did you know that in 1900 there were nearly 30,000 functioning electric (EV) powered vehicles registered on the road? With the invention of cheap gas, and the fact that these EV cars only had a 30-mile battery life, electric cars of the 1900’s were shelved. Today we have Tesla. Footwear styles are always being reinterpreted. Jumping off the news and fashion pages we see a trend of bringing back craftsmanship, apprentice programs and quality. We also see major shifts in pricing at retail as brands force retailers to hold price. There was a time when shoppers looked forward to and planned for the twice yearly end of season sales much like what still goes on in Europe. Consumers are exactly that: consumers. But today these consumers have, shall we say, “enough for the duration.” Buying today is still of course a great deal aspirational but there is a shift happening. We are again hearing the words “built to last” and references to the product “will wear well.” Luxury is not something made by a machine in a repetitive fashion. It needs a human element, that is what makes it unique and different. We need to protect the talent and its sources, while teaching the customers that it’s always worth paying more for something that will last and feels like quality. Bring up the word ‘millennials’ and everyone I’ve spoken with recently had something to say. We can all agree walking along Fifth Avenue, Bond Street and Via Montenapoleone isn’t fun anymore. Why? We used to find raw undiscovered and enduring talent. Smaller independent artisans have been pushed out. Are the millennials, which are new, beginning to go old-school? For the future of footwear, let’s hope. As President of Footwear for UBM Fashion Group, responsible for international footwear trade events FN PLATFORM, WSA @MAGIC, Sole Commerce and Project Sole NYC, Leslie is credited with building the fashion industry’s premier gathering of women’s, men’s, junior’s and children’s footwear. Gallin is one step ahead of the world’s best new designers and fresh trends, providing unparalleled insight and access into the fabulous world of footwear and beyond. VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
CALCULATING FOOTWEAR INVENTORIESAND PRICING IN2017 FDRA EXPLAINS WHY CONSUMERS MAY SEE HIGHER FOOTWEAR PRICES THIS YEAR. BY MATT PRIEST The last 18 months have been quite a challenge for footwear retailers as consumer demand continues to evolve. Increasingly, Americans want fresh products on each visit to their favorite shoe stores, creating supply chain and inventory management challenges. This has also caused disruption to company budgets as shoppers now expect discounts and sales as a starting point, rather than the more traditional discounting at the end of the season. Shoe stores and companies, who once had a fixed game plan on discounting and sales and a better idea on what inventories were needed to meet demand, are coming around to this new normal. Retailers need to look more intently at footwear import data to better adjudge what inventories by footwear segment might be light and which may be bloated. FDRA analyzes such data each month and has some key insights for retailers as they look to a more balanced 2017. FDRA’s most recent monthly footwear price report noted that 2016 saw subdued changes in retail prices for most footwear categories compared to recent years. Year-to-date prices for children’s footwear increased nearly 0.8%, offsetting a -0.3% decline in year-to-date womenswear prices and pushed overall footwear prices 0.2% higher through October. At this rate, children’s footwear prices in 2016 are set to prod overall footwear prices higher for the third straight year, albeit modestly. With overall footwear prices set to expand only modestly in 2016, retailers still have little leeway to raise prices appreciably to combat higher input costs. As we look ahead to 2017, we spotlight the relationship between footwear inventory and demand to speculate on pricing trends in the new year. Since 99 percent of all footwear sold at retail in the U.S. is sourced abroad, imports provide a viable proxy on the amount of footwear supplied to U.S. retailers. Using reports on the dollar amount of footwear spending from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, we can compare and contrast changes in annual footwear demand to annual footwear imports to gauge any ‘tightness’ or ‘looseness’ in the market. What we found is instructive to every retailer. As Graph 1 demonstrates, over the last two decades annual imports and spending on footwear typically have expanded and contracted largely in step with one another. For example, during the dark days of the Great Recession in 2008-2009, footwear imports and spending both contracted sharply, only to rebound soon afterward. In 2016 the year-to-date volume of imports was off -7.7% from the same first ten months the year prior, a tumble set to rival the biggest annual drop in 20 years. At the same time, consumer demand for footwear in 2016 increased 3.1%, on track for its best showing in five years.
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
We compare the relative rates of growth or contraction between footwear imports and demand by subtracting one from the other. In the case of 2016, consumer demand outperformed imports by 10.8% points, the biggest gap in recent memory. Graph 2 shows that this difference tends to move in tandem with the year-over-year change in footwear prices, lagged by one year. Put another way, when imports rise faster (or sink slower) than demand, the gray line turns negative and footwear prices (pink line) tend to fall. Conversely, if imports underperform demand for footwear like what is occurring this year, the gray line turns positive and footwear prices (pink line) tend to rise. In fact, the sharp divergence between footwear imports and consumer demand for footwear noted this year’s results in the highest reading for the gray line in recent memory. In turn, this indicator suggests footwear prices are poised to rebound appreciably in 2017 after growing less than 1 percent each of the last three years. This model of course does not take into account a myriad of other factors at play in footwear pricing, including labor costs, input costs and exchange rates, key issues with a direct impact on retail prices. Yet, this is a major factor many retailers never consider when it comes to their inventory management programs. In particular, the dollar has been on a tear in recent months against a range of other currencies. Typically, a stronger domestic currency makes imports relatively cheaper, which could have a major impact on imported footwear costs. At the same time, FDRA’s most recent footwear materials report shows prices for a range of commodities used in footwear manufacturing are higher year-over-year, offsetting downward price pressure on imports from the stronger dollar. The bottom-line is while other factors like exchange rates and input costs may impact retail footwear prices in 2017, the wide chasm between rising demand and sinking imports this year suggests U.S. shoppers may see higher footwear prices in 2017. Footwear retailers and sales teams should plan accordingly. This is an op-ed from the FDRA, the footwear industry’s voice in Washington. In all, it supports over 130 companies and 250 brands, or over 80 percent of the total U.S. footwear sales, making it America’s largest and most respected footwear trade organization.
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
SERVICE WITH SOUL JIM’S SHOE REPAIRING KEEPS TRADITIONAL SHOE REPAIR ALIVE IN NEW YORK CITY. BY MONICA LINK The fast-pace of New York City slows down when it comes to shoe repair. Businessmen, politicians, celebrities and people from every background are among the many customers of Jim’s Shoe Repairing. Located in Midtown, the shop is dedicated to its 85-year tradition of serving the community. Shoe shine and repair services may seem outdated, but the shop’s clients come from around the world to see the vintage shop and experience the handcrafted while-you-wait service. “There’s three things you have to do to be successful,” said Joe Rocco, owner of Jim’s Shoe Repairing. “Give great customer service, do outstanding work and treat your employees very well. Those things keep my employees and the customers coming back.” The shoe repair process is the same as it was when the store opened its doors decades ago, all by hand. The basement of the shop is full of hand crafters who quickly fix damaged shoes, cracked or broken heels, sole replacements and much more. Advanced detailed work including mold, fire and water damaged items are also performed there. While modern day equipment exists for shoe repair, the shop prefers to use traditional methods to maintain high levels of craftsmanship. Shoe lovers can get everything from designer red soles to handmade Italian leather boots serviced. Handbags, belts and jackets are new additions to the shops repair services. Many repairs can be fixed during a one hour lunch break. For those who can’t make it to New York City, the store runs a successful mail-order business. Customers from across the country send shoes in need of a little love or a major overhaul to the experts at Jim’s. Rocco’s biggest challenge in the repair business is man’s best friend. “Dogs chew our customers’ favorite things, especially shoes,” Rocco said.
VAMPFOOTWEAR.COM / FEB 2017
“We have to take our time to fix them right.” The shop opened in 1932 on East 59th Street, more than a decade before the film debut of “Miracle on 34th Street.” Today, the store sits on the same block, just a few feet away from its original location. The shop is centrally located between luxury shops on Madison Avenue and exclusive Park Avenue apartments, home to the rich and famous of New York. Rocco won’t discuss who his famous clients are, but loves to tell stories about Ed Sullivan, a regular client in the early days. Among Rocco’s biggest challenges of running a small business in a big city is the rising cost of rent. Several years ago, the shop had to fight with big business and local politics to keep its lease and stay in its location. This year the store is slated for a remodel, but it will maintain its vintage feel. Framed newspaper clippings, old barbershop style wooden chairs and vintage seating with doors to cover women’s legs and feet, will remain in the architectural design. The dim lighting, reminiscent of an art gallery, will be slightly brighter. To keep in line with changing times, a delivery service is in the works for customers who drop items off but don’t have time to wait. Rocco’s son Andrew is now a part of the business. He helps manage the day-to-day operations and speaks to customers about advanced repairs. Andrew’s memories of coming to the shop date back to his preschool days. As a millennial working in what some view as a ‘vintage’ or ‘old-fashioned’ trade, Andrew said he wanted to preserve the family business and keep it going for the next generation. “I think people keep coming back because of our honesty, integrity and hard work,” he said. “I remember everybody’s name and I love interacting with the customers.”
Tamaris USA INC. Â· 4767 New Broad Street, Orlando, FL 32814
the sc i e nce o f style explore our exciting
autumn/winter 2017 collection fn platform booth 82632 learn more at