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Buying for a Nation of Niches Luxury Discount Sites Click with Consumers Meet Mr. Nice Guy: Titan’s Joe Ouaknine Full Disclosure: Designers Bare All

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Caroline Diaco Publisher Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Creative Director


Nation of Niches Catering to distinct, localized consumer groups may turbo-charge retailers out of the recession. By Leslie Shiers


Q&A: Titan Industries CEO Joe Ouaknine outlines what matters most in the world of licensed footwear and why he only does business with nice people. By Greg Dutter



Designer Dish Fashion footwear line creators give us the skinny on what will (and won’t) be hot for Fall ’10. By Melissa Knific


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10 Editor’s Note 12 Op-Ped 22 Trend Spotting


Portraits of Anna

Designers’ most inspired fall street styles become the inspiration for a highart homage to femininity, form and function.

34 This Just In 42 What’s Selling 54 Shoe Salon 61 Kids 62 Green 64 Street 68 Made You Look On the cover: Juicy Couture wedge. Photography by Martín Sanmiguel.

FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, 8 West 38th Street, Suite 201, New York, NY, 10018-0150. The publishers of this magazine do not accept responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage is paid in New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: $48.00 in the U.S. Rates oustide the U.S. are available upon request. Single copy price: $10.00. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to FOOTWEAR PLUS, P.O. Box 8548, Lowell, MA 01853-8548. Ride-along mail enclosed. Publisher not responsible for unsolicited articles or photos. Any photographs, artwork, manuscripts, editorial samples or merchandise sent for editorial consideration are sent at the sole risk of the sender. Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. ©2010 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Printed in the United States.

EDITORIAL Leslie Shiers Managing Editor Melissa Knific Features Editor Angela Velasquez Editorial Assistant Del-Ann Henry Editorial Intern CREATIVE Trevett McCandliss Art Director CONTRIBUTORS Dorothy Hong Photojournalist Bahar Shahpar Stylist Jamie Wetherbe West Coast Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Paola Polidori European Editor ADVERTISING Jennifer Craig Advertising Director Rita O’Brien Account Executive Erwin Pearl Special Accounts Laurie Guptill Production Manager ADMINISTRATION Alexandra Marinacci Operations Manager Theodore Hoffman Special Projects Director Melanie Prescott Circulation Manager Sanford Kearns Webmaster CONTACT INFO Sales/Editorial Offices 8 West 38th Street, Suite 201 New York, NY 10018 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 nyeditorial@ Circulation Office 21 Highland Circle Needham, MA 02494 Tel: (800) 964-5150 Fax: (781) 453-9389 circulation@ CORPORATE Symphony Publishing NY Corporate Headquarters 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis, Chairman Lee Zapis, President Rich Bongorno, CFO Sid Davis, Group Publisher

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editor’s letter clouded hindsight


Remember When? REMEMBER THE GOOD ol’ days, back when the unemployment rate wasn’t at 10 percent? Back when credit was more easily accessible and enabled retailers to buy a broader brand assortment and more depth within that mix? Back when luxury goods were just that—expensive, exclusive and the utmost in quality? Remember when there used to be a national shoe show? Back when the industry banded together to put its best collective foot forward? Remember how easy that was compared to trying to shop the latest season’s trends from a myriad of brands spread across scattered show venues? (At this point, I would be willing to travel to Timbuktu if I could shop an industrywide overview as well as meet with key executives all in one place.) Remember when a sale was not an everyday occurrence but a real incentive—rather than a requirement—for consumers to open their wallets? Remember when scoring an item for 80-percent off was unheard of? Remember when shopping actually required us to change out of our PJs, leave the house and interact with another human being? Remember when the need to return an unwanted item meant facing the storeowner in person, rather than callously increasing our carbon footprint by repeatedly shipping returns via airfreight? Remember Johnny Carson—a talk show host you could depend on? Remember when Late Nite TV hosts weren’t front-page news? Remember when the Olympic Games were something really special? (You know, like when the U.S. “Miracle on Ice” Team—made up of wide-eyed college kids, not highpaid NHL players—upset the Russians?) Remember when America’s leading brands used to fight for the chance to dump millions of dollars in advertising into a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl telecast? Remember the days when headlines with the words “global warming,” “terrorism,” “bailout,” “swine flu” and “Great Recession” were not a daily occurrence? Remember when the world seemed like a much nicer place? The truth is you might not. Face it: Our world can be an unfriendly place. Tragically, catastrophic earthquakes happen, and pandemics can wipe out millions of innocent people. But let’s keep things in perspective: Compared to such horrors, recessions—while mean—are not a death sentence. Moreover, recessions end—as will this one. Eventually. Lately, I’ve been hearing people lament that the footwear business “was so much easier back in the day.” Really? If we could go back in time to ask people if that were true, I’d bet that they, too, would rattle off gripes and voice their yearnings for the days of yore without pause. Let’s be honest: This business has never been easy, regardless of how we wax poetic about our memories. Until time travel becomes a reality, we have no choice to do the best we can in the market conditions at hand—no matter how miserable they may seem. Besides, remember way, way, way back when humans didn’t even wear shoes? Our industry could be a whole lot worse off.

Greg Dutter Editorial Director

Op Ped

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IT’S CALLED DNA, and Brooks reports its new technology makes its Glycerin 8 shoe ($130 retail) the first ever to adapt to each wearer’s individual running requirements, offering customized cushioning with every stride. Call us nerds, but this innovation lands high up on the Footwear Plus Cool Index. “Brooks’ DNA is the only cushioning system on the market that instantaneously adapts to a runner’s needs,” claims Derek Campbell, manager of the Bothell, WA-based company’s Future Concept team. “Other cushioning systems need to be individually tuned for each specific runner and don’t adapt continuously or quickly enough as the runner’s gait or biomechanics change.” Campbell says if a runner starts out at a slow pace, Brooks DNA will feel softer. But like magic, as the runner picks up the pace, the DNA becomes firmer and more resilient. The key DNA ingredient is a highly viscous non-Newtonian liquid that doesn’t react to stress as most liquids would. “It adapts to the force applied to it,” Campbell explains. “It was engineered to perform at the molecular level like millions of resilient ‘nanosprings.’” In the footwear world, this is pretty darn cool. Even cooler: The funky liquid’s molecular structure will never break down in normal use. Want more reason to geek out? Campbell asserts that DNA provides 30 percent better cushioning than standard gel or EVA materials; twice as much energy return with maximum force applied; better efficiency across a range of impact forces; and enhanced forefoot flexibility for a smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off. Elements of customization have been popping up in other shoe categories, but “DNA is a game-changing technology in the world of running,” asserts Brooks president and CEO Jim Weber. “Traditional cushioning systems attempt to work for runners of all shapes and sizes, even though each person’s weight and gait are vastly different from the next. DNA offers a real solution to this challenge.” Now throw in something for the eco wonks: Thanks to the brand’s ongoing sustainability efforts, DNA is also completely recyclable. As opposed to typical cushioning systems that include four materials—making them difficult to recycle and more energy-intensive to produce—DNA consists of only one, and all post-process material waste goes back into making additional shoes. Additionally, DNA uses less adhesive, reducing the amount of volatile organic chemicals, and the Glycerin 8 features the brand’s eco-friendly BioMoGo midsole made of biodegrable materials. The custom technology may not be suitable for all runners, Campbell says, noting it doesn’t take the place of doctor-prescribed solutions or custom-built orthotics. Still, Weber reports Spring ’10 bookings of the Glycerin 8 are up 27 percent and 43 percent, respectively, compared to orders of the Glycerin 7. The running cult has spoken: Science rocks. —Greg Dutter



Nation of Niches

FASHION TRENDS WERE once universal—or so it seems in retrospect. Recall the era of the poodle skirt, the age of the zoot suit, the reign of bellbottom jeans. Or just flip the TV to “Mad Men.” Seconds of exposure to the fedoras and bullet bras immediately transports viewers to the 1960s. But will our present day someday be defined by one all-encompassing style? Doubtful. Between the globalization of society, the explosion of product categories sizable increases in comparable store sales, net margins and inventory turns by and the availability of it all to folks from coast to coast via the Internet, fashion satisfying customers on a local level,” KSA partner Christina Bieniek writes in is fragmenting fast. Consumer preferences are evolving—if subtly—on a micro the report. level due to differences in geography, religion, age, socioeconomics and more, Variations within regions, cities, even between neighborhoods can make while style-wise, uniqueness has become the goal. “People don’t want to dress merchandising tweaks a rewarding effort. Addressing consumer niches in ‘uniforms,’” says Mercedes Gonzalez, director of Global Purchasing Compa“doesn’t necessarily mean throwing people at the issue,” says Bruce Andernies (GPC), a retail strategy consultancy in New York. “Today people want a son, CEO of Human Motion and a footwear industry consultant with years sense of individuality.” of merchandise management experience, but central buying organizations But is this what stores present? Some experts fear a sea of sameness is should have someone physically traveling to the markets and doing firsthand dampening the assortment of major retailers. With consumers able to surf research. “You have to make sure you’re getting accurate information rather endless fashion information online and make purchases from websites like than some outlier noise,” he explains. KSA found that the retail companies Zappos, which can offer virtually endless merchandise, these stores are being that have been most successful with their localization initiatives have done forced to find new ways of sparking consumer interest. And many are focusing so by honing in on the right information, having a solid game plan, making in on distinct regions to suss out competitive advantages. significant investments in people and processes, and adjusting their corporate It’s a switch from the last decade’s overwhelming consolidation of retail philosophy. buying operations—and according to Chapman Kistler, a director in the reKSA applauds the My Macy’s initiative, which the department store comtail practice of AlixPartners, a global business advisory firm, pany piloted in 20 markets last year in an effort to address its the pendulum’s return can be viewed as a positive effect of the varied markets and consumers. According to Jim Sluzewski, recession. “In the last 18 months or so, [consumers] have just Macy’s senior vice president of corporate communications, GOING LOCAL been looking for value,” he says. As America digs out of the the retailer realized that the consolidation of its regional diviIs your store successfully economic avalanche, he notes, retailers are focused on buildsions in 2008 would further remove merchandisers from the answering the needs of ing revenue. “That means asking, ‘How can we make our store end consumers they aim to serve. While Macy’s had plenty of your local market? different? How do we get turbo-charged again?’” technology and analytics in place to help track sales and plan Consider the following: Centralized buying has proved a boon to large and fastits buys, one question repeatedly arose, Sluzewski says: “How • Are you gaining or losing growing retailers, helping them cut costs as they employ [will] we know what a customer goes into a store asking for business to your competitors? the advantages of scale. Yet the further up the buying power and leaves finding? No computer can tell you that.” As Bien• Do you know why customers rose, it became clear the buyers grew too far removed from iek notes, “A retailer needs to know more than who its cusshop your stores on a local level? store patrons and their day-in, day-out needs and desires. tomers are, what they buy and when. It must also understand • Do your sales by category vary How can a retailer give its customers what they want withsignificantly across your store base? customer behaviors and attitudes to determine why they shop out this knowledge? and why they do or don’t buy.” • Do you consider field and customer feedback within your Not surprisingly, in a 2009 survey of 300 leaders at more The goal of My Macy’s, Sluzewski explains, is to “add more corporate processes? than 100 retail companies, New York-based management firm human intelligence to the business.” At participating stores, • Do you have a plan for your Kurt Salmon Associates (KSA) found that 65 percent of deMacy’s collects input from local planners and merchandisers company’s future concentration partment stores and grocery chains now deem localization very who visit the sales floor, talk to the associates and customers, on these key consumers? or critically important. “Even though the industry as a whole is and keep tabs on the competition. Any suggestions they have Source: “Driving Sales and Margin in a New Era of Chain Retailing,” Kurt Salmon Associates in the early rounds of localization, many chains have achieved for change—whether it be about product selection, cat- >67 14 • february 2010


Through localization efforts, major retailers look to win back a diversifying consumer base. By Leslie Shiers

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O&A Mr. Nice Guy

Joe Ouaknine, CEO of Titan Industries— maker of Bebe, Betsey Johnson, L.A.M.B. and several other women’s fashion labels— continues to thrive based on his corporate rule of thumb: do business with nice people only. By Greg Dutter JOE OUAKNINE HAS been in the footwear industry long enough to have experienced the good times as well as his share of the bad, but he candidly says this past year as a whole has been the worst he’s seen in his 30 or so years of experience. And while the consumer-spending tourniquet didn’t squeeze his company out of making a profit in 2009, he freely admits that these days one must work “50 percent harder for 20 percent less.” Put simply, these are not fun times. The CEO of Titan Industries—the Huntington Beach, CA-based maker of Badgley Mischka, Charles Jourdan, Bebe, L.A.M.B., Betsey Johnson and Harajuku Lovers footwear, plus the recently added Penny Loves Kenny brand— defied the odds last year, outperforming the company’s record sales in 2008. Yet when asked to assess the industry’s overall health, Ouaknine’s diagnosis is blunt and bleak: “[The footwear industry is] hurting and limping but still walking,” he says. “Full-price merchandise is very difficult to sell at retail, and that is hurting the business as it gets passed up the line.” As for any signs of recovery, Ouaknine doesn’t foresee any cropping up in the near future. “I was in denial because we had a great 2008 and managed to make a profit this year as well. I thought, we aren’t really in a recession. But now I believe the worst is not over.” He cites the growing number of unemployed people in America as contributing to this fear. “Now when reports say ‘100,000 people lost their jobs [this] month,’ we think it’s OK,” he notes. “It’s not. It’s terrible.” Between the unprecedented devaluation of the housing market and virtually empty malls, Ouaknine views unemployment as a huge obstacle for retail sales. “Until that changes for the better, I don’t see any real improvement in our industry overall.” But Ouaknine is a self-described optimist and says that wallowing in the negativity any further would only be counterproductive. “I always believe in a better tomorrow; that’s how I was raised,” he says. Luckily, the American tendency to always look toward a sunnier future is a comfort. “We still have hope that things are going to get better. I think we are still looking for that turn, and job growth would be a start.” And in the short term, he cedes, “It’s not the end of the world. There are people still vacationing and restaurants are pretty full.” Rather than take the slash-and-burn routes of many of his contemporaries amid these tough times, Ouaknine has overseen the expansion


O&A That makes a big difference.” Another differof Titan’s branded portfolio and pushed ahead ence is the actual product. “We have an amazing with the company’s extensive private-label opteam of designers who make the line look great. erations—all the while remaining debt-free. It’s a lot of original creations with over-detailing The secret to the past year’s success? According on the shoes.” to Ouaknine, it boiled down to doing the same thing as the year before. “We didn’t change anything. We kept working hard, being nice to our customers and offering them a lot of choice.” Badgley Mischka proved an especially bright spot in 2009. “It What are you reading? A What is your motto? To was our jewel in the second half of French book titled, “I Believe do business with people I the year,” the CEO says, noting it in the Morning” by Charles like—only. It’s a very simple took several seasons to establish Palant. The author, who is a rule to follow. In other words, the brand’s business. “The [’09] ocfriend of mine, is a German you don’t compromise. If people casion shoes were just so beautiful. labor camp survivor. It’s an are not nice, you don’t do busiIt’s a combination of design at an afamazing book. His brother ness with them, period. Even if fordable price.” Retailing for around Max used to own Opera Shoes the potential reward is huge, I $200, Badgley Mischka’s price point in Los Angeles. won’t do it. Everybody knows may have been attractive to luxury this about me. consumers trading down from the What was the last movie you $400 retail tier. Another nice ’09 saw? I don’t go often, but I Who do you think is the surprise, Ouaknine says, was Betwent to see “Sherlock Holmes” world’s most influential persey Johnson’s bounce back. “We on Christmas day. It was not son in fashion right now? I’ll had a tough time the year before, bad at all. stay in the shoe business and but what a rebound we have expesay Christian Louboutin. He rienced,” he says, attributing the off What did you want to be amazes me. year to the normal ups and downs when you grew up? A profesof established designer labels. “The sional soccer player, which I did Which do you fear more: past year, the collection was just so [as a goalie for the now-defunct global warming or financial bright. It’s beautiful,” he attests. Los Angeles Skyhawks]. meltdown? Global warming, One Titan label that has shown because if that thing really no let-up is L.A.M.B., the brand deIf you could hire anybody, goes down, then you don’t signed in part by singer Gwen Stewho would it be? A genie, and have to worry about finanfani. Ouaknine says L.A.M.B. has I would ask him to bring back cial meltdowns anymore. totally exceeded expectations, and the shoe business to what it was he attributes its strength to Stefani’s 10 years ago. If you know of one What is your favorite homefabulous image. “She is such a wonfor hire, I will pay him whattown memory? Going to derful, warm person, and that’s ever he wants. soccer matches with my dad what people believe she is as well,” on Sundays to watch the proOuaknine offers. “A lot of women Is there a perfect shoe? Yes. fessional team he managed in want to be like her—married with It’s one where I can supply the Casablanca, Morocco. I had a kids—and she’s not all over the tabdemand. That’s the only perfect great time traveling with the loids for the wrong reasons. She shoe I know. team. is also very talented and loves her fashion.” But Ouaknine admits he was initially hesitant about pioneerNot all of Titan’s brands have been surefire ing the celeb’s footwear venture, having recently successes. Ouaknine notes the Charles Jourdan gone through a fiasco with a namesake Jennifer launch, which rolled out over the past past year, Lopez collection. “Jennifer rarely wore her own is behind schedule. After fits and starts that inclothes or shoes and, at the time, was involved cluded the replacement of two head designers, in some controversies,” Ouaknine recalls, noting he says things are now in place. He believes the experience resulted in one key lesson: It’s not the label’s Spring ’10 collection looks fabulous. always smart to use the celebrity’s name. “With “We should catch up and surpass our initial Gwen, [L.A.M.B.] is pretty much all she wears.


18 • february 2010

projection by this June,” he maintains, noting the branding addition of red lining should help. “It’s a great name, especially now that we have a clear identity, which we didn’t have at the launch.” All signs point to a solid 2010 for Titan, the exec notes. For starters, the company will once again count Bebe sales (having re-acquired the license) as part of its overall volume as well as Penny Love Kenny, which marks the company’s foray into the volatile but potentially lucrative juniors business. “This January [was] a lot stronger than last year, and last year was better than the year before,” Ouaknine offers. “We are trying to keep our eye on the ball. We just want to stay the way we were in 2009 and anniversary the numbers.” The status quo sales goal does not mean the Titan portfolio will remain unchanged. While he is currently not seeking any further acquisitions, Ouaknine says the company will announce a major licensing deal this June. “It’s a huge brand—we just have to do it,” he says. “Also, there’s always one in the portfolio that might weaken. You always need something else to make up for any potential drop-off. That’s just how this business works.” Might our industry’s current limp be a permanent condition? Well, the limp started maybe five years ago. And here’s my analogy: Imagine you break your foot and people see you limping around in your cast. A year passes by and they see you still limping, even without a cast. They ask you how you are feeling and you respond, “OK.” But they point out that you are still limping. You say, “I know, but I got used to it.” That is exactly what has happened to this business: We got used to past situations. We got used to working in tough conditions. Specifically from a wholesale perspective, we’ve lost way too many customers. The consolidation has been the worst aspect. We simply have fewer and fewer customers to deal with. That’s the problem. And a big part of that problem is that the terms and conditions being offered are not as favorable as before? That’s right. [Retailers] have the leverage. That’s why you’ve got to go back a while to when the landscape was much different. Here’s an-

O&A other analogy: It’s like a processing plant for [crap]. Once it explodes, it smells everywhere and it hangs around for years, but then you get used to it. That’s what has happened to this industry. Is it going to get better? I don’t think so. You just have to learn how to live with it. Titan is doing relatively well despite the general stench. Yes, we’re doing OK. My motto is only doing business with people I like. If someone is going to try and take advantage of me, then I’m not going to do business with him. [I’ll do that] until there are no more customers. Then I’ll pack up and say goodbye. Are there still enough likeable people for you? Yes, absolutely. The people we do business with are all nice. I really mean that. But how can they afford to be nice given these

unfriendly conditions? Well, you have to learn how to give and get. Once they want to get and give, then we are able to be friends. If they don’t want to make it a twoway street, then we’re done. I’m strictly speaking for myself here: We do business with people who are nice—the same way we are nice to them. [Otherwise] it’s not worth it. What do you believe has been the biggest change of late with respect to your target audience of female consumers? First of all, they have gotten lazy, because the online industry grew so much that it enables them to easily order from home and return as many shoes as they want. They don’t even have to face the salesperson when they return the goods. Personally, I used to shop in stores, but now I’m lazy and I’d rather go online and order. If it doesn’t fit, I’ll just send it back. Before, if it didn’t fit, I would never go back and return it.

But online, it’s so easy—I just have to give it to my shipping department. The online business has taken a bite out of the [brick and mortar] stores. It’s one of the reasons why there are vacancies in almost every mall. What is it that women really want when it comes to shopping for shoes? They still mostly look at the celebrities to see what they are wearing, and often they want the same thing at an affordable price. They want to look like their idols. Are these women as good of customers as they used to be? Any customer will always be a “good” customer. But they are looking for bargains—they don’t want to spend as much money as they used to. That’s why the luxury market is suffering right now. And consumers are taking advantage of the situation. They release their dollars only


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Lace Stalking Formal footwear gets fanciďŹ ed with a french twist. Clockwise from top left: Carlos by Carlos Santana peep-toe bootie; platform with ribbon lacing by Chinese Laundry; Jessica Bennett pump; L.A.M.B. pink and black shoetie; ankle-strap platform by Charles Albert. 22



White Out A leading hue takes a cue from winter weather. Clockwise from top: Blossom boot with corset detail; T-strap with metallic platform by Velvet Angels; Minnetonka fringe moccasin; Charles by Charles David mesh flat detail; vegan boot by Earth; leather and canvas military-inspired boot by 7 For All Mankind; Lovely People cut-out ankle boot.


In Clog We Trust The Scandanavian slip-on design gets a modern lift for fall. Clockwise from far left: Vince Camuto distressed clog; lug-sole style by Frye; studded cap-toe by Via Spiga; tri-buckle heel by Juicy Couture; Franco Sarto laser-cut design; Bernardo iridescent platform.


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Wedged In Solid heels ground ďŹ&#x201A;irty fashions with stability and comfort. Clockwise from top left: Pour La Victoire ruched-cuff ankle boot; side lace-up by Matisse; Corso Como woven shoetie; slingback by L.A.M.B.; Restricted peep-toe ankle boot.



Take a Hike Lug soles give current silhouettes heavy-duty traction and substance. Clockwise from top: Miss Sixty heeled oxford; gum-rubber lace-up by Schutz; Kelsi Dagger ankle boot with foldover sock; Daniblack slingback; biker-style boot by Me Too.


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Walk Like a Man Brogues and oxfords are downsized for the ladies. Clockwise from top left: Hush Puppies suede lace-up; J Shoes slip-on; ivory suede oxford by Juicy Couture; Ciao Bella metallic flat; Tracy Reese cap-toe; distressed wingtip by Coconuts; plum oxford by Frye; Charles Albert colorblocked lace-up; wingtip by White Mountain. 30

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Pony Tales This rich material canters across all categories in solids and prints. Clockwise from top left: Ankle boot by Tracy Reese; Marc Joseph New York T-strap stiletto; peep-toe bootie by Luxury Rebel; Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe; Dansko heeled clog; ballet flat by Chocolat Blu.


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Alejandra Araujo, 17 Student, New York Wearing: Capezio, got from for $20. What do you like about this shoe style? It’s unisex and goes with a lot. How do you feminize your outfit around it? I wear skinny jeans or fitted clothing and accessorize with necklaces and scarves. Why is menswear such a perennial trend? It’s a universal look, like Annie Hall’s.

Shoshana Rosenthal, 22 Waitress, Los Angeles Wearing: Unknown, bought in Philly for $110. What do you like about this shoe style? They make me feel powerful. How do you feminize your outfit around it? I don’t have to. My body’s feminine. Why is menswear such a perennial trend? Because women are trying to be androgynous and take a bit of control in this day and age.

Abby Scantlen, 28 Hairstylist, Ohio Wearing: Bass, found in a thrift shop in Ohio for $8. What do you like about this shoe style? I’ve always liked the androgynous look. Men can wear it, women can wear it. How do you feminize your outfit around it? With a dress and tights. What’s next on your shoe-shopping list? A good, tall, warm pair of boots.

Christina Wasserman, 19 Student, New York Wearing: Ariat, bought for $80 at a vintage store. What do you like about this shoe style? Menswear is the trend right now—high ankle boots, brown leather, worn in. And they’re good for walking, which I do a lot. Why is menswear such a perennial trend? There’s something bold about it, but also refined. What’s next on your shoeshopping list? Not heels.

Victor Victoria

Laura Baker-Finch, 18 Student, Australia Wearing: Vintage, found at a thrift store for $15. What do you like about this shoe style? I think vintage shoes look a lot nicer than shoes today. They’re long-lasting and go with a lot of things. How do you feminize your outfit around it? With a dress and cute socks. Why is menswear such a perennial trend? I think girls get tired of being girly. A mix of fashion gives more edge.

Throwback classics and thrift store finds blend masculinity with a vintage primness. By Dorothy Hong 34 • february 2010



Key industry trendsetters predict what will be hot (or not) in Fall ’10, why boots rule and who they’d love to pair up with on the runway. By Melissa Knific


What can we expect from your Fall ’10 collection? Our mood for the season was rich and rugged: You’ll see heavy-grain leathers, furs, clogs, moccasins, velvet and heavy textures like pony hair and wool. What was your inspiration? Gypsy circus caravans and the color and romance of that lifestyle. Everyone has a fantasy of running away, globetrotting, performing, living out of a suitcase and pitching a luxe brocade tent at a moment’s notice. Well, maybe not everyone, but we do. In your opinion, what are the key trends for Fall ’10? After the spring runway, we are sure clogs will be a huge statement. Oddly, we also saw a lot of fur for spring, which means that for fall, it’s a must-have. However, opulent materials such as fur and pony hair are translated into cleaner silhouettes. What are you tired of seeing? Over-embellishment and lace. It is hard to pull off lacy shoes unless you are a bridesmaid or bride, and even that looks tacky. Only Eva Longoria on the red carpet can pull off that look. What do you hope to see more of in Fall ’10? Spending. What was your hottest style from Fall ’09, and did it influence your designs for Fall ’10? Flat over-the-knee boots and crepe bottoms were a big hit, and we are revisiting that look but pushing the envelope. Are boots overtaking your fall collections? We definitely designed more than we planned, because we wear boots all the time. Summer, spring—it doesn’t matter. Women love boots, they love how they hide flaws, and they 36 • february 2010

love that they feel aggressive and comfortable in them. Shorts and miniskirts are important in fashion now, and boots complement this look. Is the acceleration of fast fashion impacting the way you design? Yes. The “buy now, wear now” rule is ubiquitous. Even if everyone hasn’t perfected the formula, we feel this is how fashion works best. Why would you buy something to wear three months from now if you can have instant gratification? If you could pair up with one designer for Fashion Week, who would it be? Chloé. We are inspired by [creative director] Hannah MacGibbon’s easy, chic look—slouchy pants, soft blazers, chiffon dresses, and bows and ruffles. The colors are delicate and flattering, but there is something very rock ‘n’ roll about the clothes. We would design some kick-ass over-the-knee boots, maybe in a soft and slouchy suede. If you were to pick a shoe that defined the last decade, what would it be? Boots and booties. Before this decade, women wore pumps—that was the rule of thumb at the office. Now, look around. There’s not a pump in sight!


Designer, Chie Mihara What can we expect from your Fall ’10 collection? A down-to-earth line: feminine and sweet but more wearable, midheels and a subtle palette. There will be lots of Mary Janes, lace-up shoes and boots, chunky heels and platforms, fur-lined boots, crepe soles—it’s all very comfy and cozy. What was your inspiration? Little fringe-y bows, fringed straps and flower ornaments in leather and fabric. I looked for any type of reliefs to make the surface more interesting yet avoided noisy combinations. In your opinion, what are the key trends for Fall ’10? Pull-on booties and boots are still going to be hot in any heel—wedge, fine, kitten, cowboy. The key is that they’re easy to wear. And lace-up shoes and boots will definitely be important. What do you hope to see more of in Fall ’10? More natural colors, such as camel and luggage browns. Also, simply designed boots, fur boots and pieces with heavier soles. What was your hottest style from Fall

’09, and did it influence your designs for Fall ’10? The best from 2009 would be my worst in 2010! Last year was like the last spark of glamour we had. I’m sure we’ll have more in the future, but 2010 is about being really comfortable in what you are wearing and putting minimal effort into being fashionable. Why have boots become such a hit? You can wear them with anything—all the time! That’s the definition of easy to wear. Is the acceleration of fast fashion impacting the way you design? Fashion is not as fast as it seems. People in the streets are wearing the same or similar silhouettes as two years ago. Of course there are detail trends such as studs, fringe, buttons, lace and ribbon embellishments, but the silhouettes are still familiar. The turn of the silhouette is much slower. If you could pair up with one designer for Fashion Week, who would it be? Marc Jacobs. I feel he really understands a women’s heart and her needs.

Animal is the new neutral. –Vince Camuto


Founder and CEO, Vince Camuto What can we expect from your Fall ’10 collection? This season it is all about the independent woman. I recently saw “Out of Africa” again and wanted to celebrate the strength of women by offering modern updates on classic shapes and constructions. I also worked with materials inspired by the movie. For example, you will see animal prints used in a different way; to me, animal is the new neutral. I also mixed in a touch of glamour because every woman writes her own adventure and deserves to have shoes that take her anywhere, in any mood. In your opinion, what are the key trends for Fall ’10? Boots, boots, boots! But, I also see the return of classic shapes and incorporated clogs, stacked heels, shoeties and the ever-popular wellie—our take is offering the rubber boot with a shearling accent for form and function. Now more than ever, women are looking for footwear that takes them from day to evening, from the street to the office to a night out. What are you tired of seeing? The market has too many shoes that have been overdesigned and over-styled. Today, simplicity speaks volumes.

What was your hottest style from Fall ’09, and did it influence your designs for Fall ’10? We had a great boot season, and I am loving the over-the-knee look, so we will take that forward into 2010. I think over-the-knee is chic and glamorous at the same time. Why have boots become such a hit? They can be worn with anything, from jeans with a tuxedo blazer to a gorgeous cocktail dress. Is the acceleration of fast fashion impacting the way you design? Fashion is exciting right now! I am passionate about what I do, so I’m always reading about what is up and coming. Innovation is the key to keeping the collections fresh every season. If you could pair up with one apparel designer for Fashion Week, who would it be? There are a few I’d like to work with—stay tuned—but I always admire Miuccia Prada. Each season her lines are about the art of fashion. If you were to pick a shoe that defined the last decade, what would it be—and what’s coming next? Fashion boots have really come into their own. We’ve seen boots become a wardrobe staple, and it is exciting to see a trend evolve. Now boots are wear-anywhere-in-any-season items, and it is terrific to be able to create new looks and silhouettes for women to wear year-round. 37


Founder/creative director, Farylrobin What can we expect from your Fall ’10 collection? The Farylrobin line has—and always will—represent bold design. We take pragmatic concepts and push them to the edge. This season we focused on fall’s important trends and made them Farylrobin-specific. The result is a cool, clean, bold line. What was your inspiration? I spent a lot of time working retail this past fall. It really inspired me to stay true to our customers’ needs and wants. The Farylrobin customer expects authentic design. Remembering that throughout the entire design development afforded us the luxury of staying true to the process. In your opinion, what are the key trends for Fall ’10? Civilian military looks; harder-edged details on refined silhouettes; zippers, studs and straps; and extravagance in materials.

What are you tired of seeing? Uggs. What do you hope to see more of in Fall ’10? Spending. What was your hottest style from Fall ’09, and did it influence your designs for Fall ’10? Last year’s hot styles were our Ursula and Harlow boots and our Valencia heel, which were very pragmatic. Although there is not a specific design update, there was a mindset update: We are now pragmatic and chic at all times. Are boots overtaking your fall collections? We do have a lot this season. I guess it’s their turn to be important—every silhouette has its 15 minutes. Is the acceleration of fast fashion impacting the way you design? We have always been a fast-fashion company, so we did not have to change at all. It’s what we do. If you were to pick a shoe that defined the last decade, what would it be? The return of the thong has been significant this past decade. When Farylrobin started making fashion thongs, people told me they belong in the shower. Now look how far the thong has come!

DAVID GIORDAN Co-designer/co-owner, Pour La Victoire

What can we expect from your Fall ’10 collection? We moved away from the bells and whistles. We created a lot of military-inspired boots and focused more on using lots of materials that are not usually associated with shoes. We are also returning to classic pumps. What was your inspiration? We started with French military and then looked at how urbanites layer clothes, combining motorcycle riding gear, denim and flannel. In your opinion, what are the key trends for Fall ’10? For us, fashion is really contempt for what’s currently going on in the market. Therefore, we mixed interesting materials, because ornamentations such as studs and spikes have been hanging on for too long. Ankle-height boots will be strong in response to the current over-the-knee trend. Lug soles will also be another strong trend because boots are moving away from being pretty. What are you tired of seeing? Anything that’s overly ornamental. What do you hope to see more of in Fall ’10? High platforms. What was your hottest style from Fall ’09, and did it influence your designs for Fall ’10? The Victorina was a great boot for us. We will have plenty more boots for Fall ’10 because, most importantly, the quality of the leather and production in Brazil give our boots a fantastic

price/value relationship. There are no other boots in the $400 to $500 price range that look and feel as expensive, in my opinion. Thank heavens we’re in a big boot cycle. Why have boots become such a hit? A woman sees a sense of empowerment in a good boot, and the silhouette is really complementing today’s ready-to-wear style. Is the acceleration of fast fashion impacting the way you design? I always thought interpreting fast fashion was the company’s strength, and with everyone else putting it into practice, we’ve had to be a little more strategic by offering more classic styles that can have a further reach. We have also fulfilled this need by launching new product lines to help drive sales. Yesterday’s shoe classification is today’s product category. If you could pair up with one apparel designer for Fashion Week, who would it be? Haider Ackermann—his use of neutral colors, layering and leather make him the next Rick Owens force. I would update one of his stiletto-heel combat boots. I love the mix of tough and sexy. If you were to pick a shoe that defined the last decade, what would it be? Uggs. What shoe do you predict will define the coming decade? There will not be a single shoe—it will splinter into many different lifestyles. There will be 1,000 channels but nothing on.

Q: What do you hope to see more 38 • february 2010

MICHAEL PETRY Design director, The Frye Company

What can we expect from your Fall ’10 collection? It is about rich leathers, a deep saturated palette and a collection of products that have a chic, downtown attitude and can be worn to work, casually or out on the town at night. What was your inspiration? Ourselves. Frye [has been around] since 1863! We looked inward at our own brand—our history as the oldest continuously operated shoe company in the United States. We have such great history and heritage, it seemed only natural to draw from our wealth of archives and resources. In your opinion, what are the key trends for Fall ’10? The biggest trend continues to be about being yourself. Footwear is casual and mixes well with denim for both work and play. Styling is feminine and simple with a nouveau, rugged feeling. Certainly the economy has a lot to do with some of the current trends. Consumers are looking toward investment-grade products—pieces they can wear multiple ways, dress up and dress down. What are you tired of seeing? Collaborations! I hope we see a lot less of designer-plus-designer collaborations and [more of ] brands getting back to doing their own thing and being creative. Why have boots become such a hit? Boots have come to represent a very important element in every woman’s closet. Boots can be worn with so many different looks for nearly every kind of occasion. They are no longer just a cool-weather item; they have become an option 12 months out of the year. Is the acceleration of fast fashion impacting the way you design? Our design process is a very intellectual one. We design for a fashion-forward consumer who is interested in a high-quality, handmade, bench-crafted product. I don’t think the speed of fashion is changing the values of how we design. If you were to pick a shoe that defined the last decade, what would it be? The boot. Short, tall, heeled, flat, cuffed, over-the-knee, riding, motorcycle, Western—they can be found in almost every closet and on the street in every city, every single day of the year. •

Boots have come to represent a very important element in every woman’s closet. –Michael Petry

of in Fall ’10? A: Spending. –Faryl Robin Morse february 2010 • 39

Members Only Call it genius, call it a mind game—‘exclusive’ online luxury discounters are striking while the demand for bargain shopping is hotter than ever. By Angela Velasquez

or Annette Leiske, an office manager for a small law firm in Tampa, FL, the day starts with a cup of coffee, a check of her e-mail, a chat with a co-worker and then a login to, one of a growing number of free, members-only luxury discount websites that have been appearing online during the past few years. It’s not yet noon, but flashbacks of sold-out Marc Jacobs dresses and, in particular, a pair of black Delman ballerina flats haunt Leiske and fuels her daily mission for scoring designer 40 • february 2010

deals, a habit she picked up in early 2009. Time is of the essence, as Leiske must log on at a specific time of day—and even then it’s a first-come, firstscore retail frenzy. “Shopping on has taught me to be quick on my toes, to buy without hesitation and to be prepared,” she explains. It’s click it or lose it, as these deals are strictly offered for a select time period and then the item is gone. With bargain-hunting fashionistas like Leiske so intently tuned into their computer screens, the frantic pace at which e-tailers like Gilt Groupe, Ideeli, Rue La La and HauteLook are hitting the Internet makes sense. They offer

a new, tactful, aggressive—and possibly more stressful—way of shopping for off-priced or last season’s product,” says Beetler. “For us, HauteLook was the discounted luxury goods: Become a member (most sites do not charge for perfect match.” The site’s willingness to work with vendors’ schedules and the privilege) and take your shot at reaping deals that can be far chicer—and within desirable price ranges has eased designers’ tension. In one instance, cheaper—than you might find on the clearance racks at your nearest upscale Matiko had to push a sale back a month due to inventory. “We were able to mall or high-end boutique. In addition to scoring a pair of $231 Industry reschedule a new date so that we would be better prepared for them and the boots for $99 (a recent offer on, a shopper can also cruise Gilt’s amount of volume we know they can move,” Beetler says. half-price massage packages at upscale urban spas. And as Stacey Santo, vice president of marketing communications for Amanda Graber, manager of marketing for New York-based Gilt Groupe, Boston-based Rue La La, describes the relationship, sample sale e-tailers are describes its members as knowledgeable and savvy—just like the women doing more then depleting unmovable inventory. “We’re introducing brands behind the company. Gilt Groupe founders Alexis Maybank and Alexandra to an entirely new audience,” she says. It’s a win-win situation for fashionWilkis Wilson—fellow Harvard grads with impressive tenures at eBay, Louis starved pockets of the country and designers who may have previously overVuitton and Bulgari—turned their appreciation for sample sales into a fulllooked these markets. “I live in a city where a lot of high-end brands are fledged lifestyle e-tail venture. With investor Kevin Ryan, the former CEO hard to come by,” explains Krista Roman, a Pittsburgh-based TV news writer of digital marketing firm DoubleClick, on board, Gilt held its first sale in and Gilt member. Roman says the big, recognizable names keep her coming November 2007. The Zac Posen merchandise sold out in 45 minutes. Today, back, but she considers sales of brands she’s unfamiliar with a fun learning Gilt holds up to 10 limited-time sales a day via and its three difexperience. “I enjoy finding new products I probably would not have come fusion sites: Gilt Man, the trendy and budget-friendly Gilt Fuse, and the across [otherwise],” she adds. travel-centric spinoff Jetsetter. Part of HauteLook’s platform is to introduce its members to up-andMost of these sites launched with women’s apparel but have expanded coming brands. Amrita Singh, designer of an eponymous jewelry, handbag to men’s and children’s apparel, home décor, acand sandal label, says HauteLook is allowing her cessories, shoes and—in Rue La La’s case—wine. to reach a wider demographic. “I did not have disJimmy Nguyen, a merchandiser from Westmintribution in all 50 states,” she notes. “Now the line ster, CA, has 12 Gilt purchases under his belt. reaches millions of people [plus] the comfort of Most were shoes, including patent leather PF not having to go to a store.” Flyer Glides, Creative Recreation’s Cesario sneakBut brick-and-mortar retailers shouldn’t panic ers, Adidas’ Consortium hi-tops and a pair of lojust yet. Baird’s Maschmeyer believes that everytops from Puma’s Black Label. “I like rare, hardone can co-exist—and many vendors agree. Willis to-find items when it comes to shoes, and I know doesn’t think online luxury discount sites replace those can be costly in other retail channels,” he exthe brick-and mortar experience. “I honestly beplains. According to Graber, footwear—along with lieve this is more of an impulse sale. Time restricdresses—is one of Gilt’s strongest categories. tions and limited quantities at a great price are The developers of discount luxury e-tailers great ways to get someone to buy right away,” he logged on at the perfect time, just as consumers explains. Beetler describes these sites as just angrew weary of paying full price and designers other channel for avid shoppers to score a deal. were forced to warm up to discounts. However, “This shopper is very fashion-forward and has a Graber admits it was difficult to get designers beknack for looking good and saving money. She’s hind Gilt’s concept in the early days. “They didn’t shopping all over, but the Internet sales are a bounderstand how the site could help them while nus she can look forward to daily.” keeping their high-end reputation intact,” she Gilt reports over two million members. Bennett says. In hindsight, the negative knee-jerk reacsays HauteLook has more than one million memtion to the idea of linking up with a discount ebers in the U.S. and Canada. “Exclusive,” “private” tailer proved to be typical of 2007 and prior—a and “limited” are just a few of the elite words time when luxury brands could still behave snobtossed around as e-tailers, vendors and consumbishly. Kerry Bennett, director of marketing comers describe this segment of online shopping, munications at HauteLook, a subsidiary of Retail but none of the businesses believe they are elit—Kerry Bennett, HauteLook Convergence, says the Los Angeles-based online ist. Most members learn about the sites through retailer faced the same initial roadblock, but over word-of-mouth and just about everyone who time designers took note of the value in this type takes the time to register is accepted (although of retail. “We’re able to present their product in a fun and exciting way. It’s Gilt has been known to waitlist requests for a short period of time). “Rue not just sitting in a bin at a discount store losing value,” she explains. La La offers a sense of community,” Santo explains. “Our members love the Joshua Willis, director of product line merchandising at Creative Recexperience—and passing that experience on to someone else.” Bennett says reation, says one of the main benefits of these sites is timing. The Los HauteLook is not trying to keep people out. “The members-only angle of the Angeles-based brand has done business with Gilt during the last two seasons site adds to the excitement,” she concedes. “Plus, shoppers are smart. They and is in the planning stage of another sale. “Your brand goes up for a short know prices, and we’re just taking the work out of finding the deals. And period of time, and it’s down just as fast. You have the ability to sell a large what could be more exciting then getting a great brand at a great price?” amount of old product in a short period of time,” he boasts. Tracy Beetler, Each e-tailer interviewed predicts growth in 2010—in sales, categories, sales manager for the brand Matiko in Orange County, CA, is also impressed brand assortment and membership. Bennett describes HauteLook’s growth with the swiftness of the sale. “Our products don’t sit for months trying to as “lightning in a bottle.” Consumers are happy to play along. Roman admits sell. Instead it is limited to a timely sale that’s over quickly, and whatever is the members-only tag attracted her to the sites despite the fact that memsold is shipped out to eager customers,” she explains. bership is free and available to anyone. It is a mind game she can get behind. “These sites are a classy way for companies to get rid of their inventory,” “I find the most exciting part of the site to be the short window of time to buy notes Erika Maschmeyer, a senior research analyst for Chicago’s Baird Capiwhat you want. I think it psychologically makes the items more desirable tal Partners, an asset management firm. HauteLook’s mix of high-end and because you could miss your chance and have regret,” she explains. “It’s a tug trendy products lured Matiko. “Every vendor out there needs an outlet for of war between your heart, your mind and your wallet.” •


february 2010 • 41

w h at ’s s e l l i n g

kids’ boutiques

Brinkman’s Children’s Shoe Center Muncie, IN

Tootsies Children’s Shoes Columbia, SC


Top-notch customer service attracts parents to this 2,500-square-foot store; play areas lure the children. Owner and pedorthist Tony Brinkman says parents frequently tell him their kids want to stop in the store just to play. “And every child gets a helium balloon,” he adds. Established in 1976, the kid-friendly retailer offers a range of styles, fit and colors, but Brinkman says the bulk of business is athletic styles—the go-to footwear for school. “We don’t have many private schools in the area with dress codes,” he says, noting this means kids’ preferences dictate buying decisions. “Younger boys and girls like the novelty footwear—shoes with lights and sparkles,” he adds.

The boutique’s “hands on, get on the floor and talk eye-to-eye with kids” approach has propelled Freddie Rodgers’ 22-year-old boutique into a town staple, laying the framework for a second location in North Carolina that opened five years ago. “We train our staff for months before we turn them loose,” Rodgers says. “And we know our merchandise and what will fit each child’s foot the best.” Rodgers consults with nearby clothing boutiques to see what apparel styles are trending and shops at least one footwear show a year. However, he’s planning to buy conservatively in 2010. “Price is a factor now. Moms have returned to versatile shoes.”

As moms of three children each, co-owners Jennifer Kennedy and Ashley Meeks know how difficult shoe shopping can be—especially with siblings in tow. As a result, Kennedy and Meeks designed their store so kids can explore and pull products right off the shelves. “To us, it’s no big deal, and we tell our customers that,” Meeks explains. The store opened in the summer of 2008 and Kennedy says the community’s reception has been fantastic. Initially Kennedy and Meeks selected merchandise based on comfort and quality, but now they rely on customer feedback. “We still concentrate on high-quality, functional shoes, but we also offer some trendy options,” Meeks adds.

Top casual boys’ shoes: New Balance 749 sneakers, Nike Shox and Skechers Luminators.

Top casual boys’ shoes: Merrell’s Camp Jungle Moc in gunsmoke, Sperry’s Bluefish boat shoes and Keen’s H2 sandals.

Top casual boys’ shoes: Tsukihoshi’s Speed and Retro sneakers, New Balance’s 992/993 running shoes and Pediped’s Jake crib shoes.

Top casual girls’ shoes: New Balance 769 running shoes, Nike Shox and Stride Rite’s Nickelodeon Slimmers.

Top casual girls’ shoes: The Navajo sandal by Jack Rogers, Naturino’s 7742 canvas T-strap in hot pink and lime, and classic Uggs.

Top casual girls’ shoes: Naturino’s 7742 T-straps in fuchsia, Pediped’s brown Giselle mary janes with pastel polka dots and Kid Express’ Charlotte Mary Janes.

Best-selling dress brand: Our top dress brands are ones we call “dressy casual,” like Sperry and Timberland.

Best-selling dress brands: Primigi, Jumping Jacks and Nina Kids for classic styles.

Projected top brands for 2010: New Balance, Nike and Saucony. I really like New Balance’s in-stock positioning.

Projected top brands for 2010: Asics is coming in strong, as is Keen for their durability and fun colors. These companies are both price-conscious.

Best recent brand addition: Bloch dance shoes. We got into the dance business in a much bigger way in 2009. The category has been outstanding.

Popular colors: Earth colors with splashes of brights for boys. For girls, we do well with metallic silver and pewter. Younger girls stick with all shades of pink.

Hottest accessories: Our accessories business is good, with socks leading the way. We try to educate our customers on the importance of proper foot care, so cotton socks are a major player. We also sell a lot of hair bows and small toys.

Biggest disappointment: Plastic novelty sandals.

42 • february 2010

Best recent brand addition: Asics. Hottest accessories: Country Kids leggings with ruffles at the bottom and Wee Ones hair bows.

Charlotte, NC

Best-selling dress brands: Kid Express and Nine West. Projected top brands for 2010: Kid Express and Tsukihoshi. Both offer high quality, comfort and style. Popular colors: Girls like hot pink and metallics. Boys like blue, bright red and orange. Biggest disappointment: We’re unable to carry some brands we love because our competition carries them. Best recent brand addition: Livie & Luca and Wee Squeaks. Hottest accessories: Gingerbread hair bows.


French Dressing


Kickers leaps into the U.S. market.

he year was 1970 and Daniel Raufast was producing posh, pricey shoes for well-dressed French schoolchildren. While waiting at a red light one day, he glanced absently toward the roadside. Hanging from a fence was an enormous poster for Levi’s jeans featuring the cast of the hit musical “Hair.” Raufast was so entranced by the image that he barely noticed the light turning green. Here were all these incredibly fashionable young people clad in a rainbow of colored denim—but with nothing on their feet. “I have to make shoes to go with those jeans!” he thought. It was the proverbial “aha” moment. By the time Raufast got home, expansive new business vistas were unfolding in his mind. Raufast channeled his unexpected wellspring of inspiration into what has become one of France’s most ubiquitous and beloved brands. Kickers unveiled its first shoe collection in 1970 with a clear mission: to offer the footwear equivalent of jeans—comfortable, cool, unpretentious, yet undeniably fashionable. The brand soon emerged as a fashion leader in France, renowned for marrying comfort with trendiness. Among its hallmarks were engraved eyelets, uppers with a sewn-in label, a logo hot-branded onto the shoe’s back and Kickers’ signature—crepe soles with a red circle on the left and a green one on the right. (Originally, the circles were designed to help youngsters know which shoe went on which foot.) These five elements are still visible in every shoe the company makes. Now the brand is celebrating its 40th anniversary by plunging into the U.S. market. American shoppers will get their first glimpse of Kickers at select Nordstrom stores and on Zappos this month. Retailers unfamiliar with the European powerhouse (sales are split 50-50 between adults and kids) will have a chance to learn more at a slew of trade shows where Kickers plans to have a presence. With New Hyde Park, NY-based Pentland USA handling back-office operations, Kickers is also bulking up its North American sales force and working to build brand awareness among retailers and customers. The first order of business is educating retailers about the brand. “In Europe, people recognize the red and green dots instantly. We don’t even need to include the name in advertisements—just the dots,” explains Antoinette Dagobert, vice president of Kickers North

America. “We realize a retailer in the U.S. might not know that code. So we’re focusing on helping people get to know the brand.” Kickers’ DNA, according to Dagobert, is a design aesthetic rooted in sportswear’s simple shapes, elaborate leathers and soft, chunky stitched rubber soles—but always with a chic edge. To stay abreast of emerging trends, “our designers travel everywhere—Tokyo, London, New York, Brussels,” Dagobert says. “We have specific designers for kids and others for adults.” In an effort to stay true to its roots, Kickers often mines its archives, experimenting with updated twists on its classics. The 40-year milestone is no exception. Dagobert says the Fall ’10 collection draws inspiration from three themes: retro chic, a love of nature and ethnic chic, with its penchant for bold, mix-andmatch colors and patterns. This trio of influences is evident in oily split suedes and vintage leathers underlined with contrast stitching or handmade details. It’s also reflected in a color palette heavy on browns with violets and true leather tones enhanced with deep greens and grays, plus splashes of bright color—especially in the children’s line. Details include Kashmiri prints, bindings, embroideries, decorative buttons and rivets. Derbies, desert boots, riding boots, motocross boots and sneakers also figure prominently into the collection. (Go to Kickers. com to see the entire line). With an average price point under $100, Dagobert believes Kickers will earn a loyal following in spite of the troubled American economy. “Everybody said, ‘It’s crazy to start a subsidiary in such a difficult market,’ but retailers are always looking for newness, for beauty in brands and for something that will pull customers into the store,” she asserts. “If you have great product with interesting designs and a reasonable price, it’s not impossible.” Yet Dagobert’s objective with Kickers is not driven by sales volume in these first few years in this market. Rather, it’s to develop a strong brand base. “We don’t want to be everywhere—just in the proper couple of stores in each big city, and to have satisfied retailers,” she maintains. “When a brand is new in the market, retailers like to be one of the few distributing it. I plan to develop long-term relationships with the people who trust us the first season. That’s more important than, say, being in 25 stores in Boston.” •

“Retailers are always looking for newness, for beauty in brands and for something that will pull customers into the store.”


Charles Jourdan suede and mesh over-the-knee boot. Bodysuit by Rock & Republic; Malene Birger blouse.


Gold-studded bootie by Dulce. Opposite: Tibi peep-toe shoetie. 46

Velvet Angels wedge boot with chain detail. Dress by Rock & Republic.


Top: Carlos by Carlos Santana cut-out shoetie; Candela studded oxford.



Schutz ponyhair bootie. Opposite, from top: metallic bootie with chain detail by Sergio Zelcer; Tracy Reese mesh pump.


Styling by Michel Onofrio; hair by Rebecca Plymate for See Management; makeup by Vanessa Evelyn. Fashion editor: Melissa Knific

Open-toe bootie by L.A.M.B. Mango necklace. Opposite page: Pura Lopez lace-up boot. Hache bra and bloomers.


Bebe clog. Opposite: Coclico lace-up wedge. All clothing (used throughout) courtesy of Southpaw Vintage Clothing, Textiles & Accessories. 52


Shoe Salon

Designer Chat: Camilla Skovgaard

54 • february 2010

From top: Bebe, Chinese Laundry, Charles by Charles David and Daniblack.

Hot Mesh E D I T O R’ S P I C K S

tends to rely heavily on classic black, she will also feature nut brown, gray, light mauve, dark green and metallic pony on kid and nappa leathers, nubuck and suede. Texturized metals, embossed exotic materials and graphic lasering details add extra interest. Retailing from $395 to $895, Camilla Skovgaard is targeting designerinfluenced stores, staying conscious of not overdistributing. Who is your customer? An empowered woman who enjoys fashion. An “intelligent fashionista.” Where do you look for design inspira-

See-through fabric amps up the sex appeal. tion? I don’t look for it. It comes to me through conflict and contrast, through juxtaposition. What shoes could you not live without? My own, but I am biased. Describe a shoe we would never see in your line. Anything too dainty or decorative. What would people be surprised to know about you? I began my design career in women’s couture in Dubai at the age of 20, designing for the region’s sheikhs’ wives and daughters. And I have more than one tattoo. —Melissa Knific


“Character-building shoes” is how Camilla Skovgaard refers to her eponymous collection of boldly designed footwear. “It brings form and function to the market—a combination of contrasting elements such as fluidity and severity, restraint and sophistication,” explains the London-based designer. Skovgaard launched her line in 2008, just as she was wrapping up her master’s of arts at the Royal College of Art in London. There, she met several Italians involved in high-end shoe manufacturing, and discovered she was drawn more to footwear than clothing. “The craft of shoemaking is more exciting to me,” she says. Her decision was a good one: “Saks Fifth Avenue bought my first collection while [I was] still a student,” she recalls. “The rest is history.” Albeit a brief existence, the line already has a signature design element that industry followers recognize as being Camilla Skovgaard-specific: A jagged, zigzag sole, which has been patented in several countries. Not only is the silhouette aesthetically pleasing, Skovgaard says, it also serves a purpose. “It really works once one gets used to them,” she says of the rubber sole. “Wearing high heels seems less of a hassle, as the grip and support seems to relax the foot.” The Fall ’10 collection will feature 20 styles, many which have an erotic reference with cutouts on the knee, lower leg or foot. While Skovgaard

Photography by McCandliss & Campbell (

This page, clockwise from top left: Superga; Ed Hardy; Booji; Reebok; Lacoste. Opposite: UES.


Clockwise from top left: Onitsuka Tiger; KangaRoos; Fila; Heyday; Frye; Simple. Opposite page: Top row, from left: Reebok; Alexander McQueen for Puma; New Balance. Bottom row: Saucony; Diesel; Tsubo.


March 12-14 Düsseldorf, Germany


Exciting runway shows and must-have styles demand a visit at GDS.

Forward Thinking

The GDS show in Düsseldorf, Germany, serves as the industry gateway to a brighter year, showcasing more than 2,000 Fall/Winter 2010 collections. We leave a hard year behind us in 2009, and while the financial crisis has yet to bottom out and more adverse affects may still hit some wholesalers and retailers, I am very confident that much of the footwear industry will manage to find ways out of this difficult situation. I hope in a year’s time we will say, “2010 was better than expected.” It is important to always stay positive, show a stronger market presence, keep informed and see the crisis as an opportunity. Along such lines, we are once again seeing the footwear industry believe in the power of trade shows. The industry wants to meet, exchange ideas, gather information and find solutions to the most pressing issues through joint dialogue between wholesalers and retailers. GDS can make a key contribution here, as it draws about 30,000 visitors from approximately 42 countries from around the world during each of its biannual shows. Specifically, we continue to work closely with our exhibitors to find the latest solutions tthat will make the show even more attractive for retailers. As a reaction to the dynamic changes our industry is undergoing, GDS is exploring several new avenues for the 108th staging (March 12-14). For instance, we will implement more individual concepts and optimize stand design in the Premium show segments. Hall 4 for premium brands will now be divided into three coherent areas. New is the Prime2 area featuring labels that combine traditional craftsmanship, classy materials and attention to detail in line with today’s spirit of the times. A second concept area, White Cubes, will feature progressive and trendsetting high-fashion collections. Brands with an individual stand design will be found in the Upper Style Zone. A key aspect of this new hall concept is to provide retailers an even clearer structure so that they find the right product even faster. Another area of focus at the upcoming GDS show involves wellness—considered the largest growth market of the this century. Different category aspects will be reflected within this segment, and the diverse product range will be suitably subdivided into five sections to address the individual demands of exhibitors and visitors. This grouping of relevant exhibitors will provide a key orientation aid for retailers. In addition, this show segment will feature a Wellness Lounge with interesting panel discussions on related topics. The sponsoring of young designers remains a key focus at GDS as well. Under the new heading Electric City, 100 young designer labels in the Design Attack area will be showcasing creative street fashion collections and fancy lifestyle products in the Urban Hall 3. Social trends like urbanization, metropolization and digitalization will form the backdrop. Overall, GDS remains committed to improving the show’s selection of brands, the décor of its halls and our general services while developing the wide-ranging support programs to inform and inspire the footwear industry. See you this March.

Sincerely, Kirstin Deutelmoser, GDS Project Director

Hotel & Airfare TT Travel Inc. offers convenient hotel and travel arrangements. For details, call (866) 674-3476, fax (212) 674-3477 or e-mail More information is available online at For additional show information, go to


Clog Comeback

Dansko returns to the category with improved, child-centric designs. NEXT TIME MOMS decide to add to their Dansko collections, they can start one for their daughters, too. After a temporary exit from the children’s business, the West Grove, PA-based company is gearing up to reintroduce kids’ styles this summer. “We have long wanted to take another look at the children’s market, but we didn’t want to come back until we had a shoe we could stand by proudly,” says Mandy Cabot, Dansko’s CEO and president. Back in the ’90s, shortly after the company started, Dansko debuted three kids’ styles—a closed- and open-back clog and a slingback clog—on wooden bottoms. As the brand’s roots deepened into adult footwear, additional takedowns were added to the kids’ range, including Mary Janes and sandals on PU outsoles. But besides kid-approved bright patent leathers and youthful printed pony hair, Cabot admits the original line was purely a miniaturization of the adult models. “It didn’t take into consideration the unique traits of the growing foot or the activity level of kids versus adults,” she explains. The line fizzled out as the company changed sourcing suppliers and concentrated on comfort enhancements for adults. For the relaunch, Cabot says Dansko’s design team delved into research. “In short, we engineered a true children’s clog from the bottom up. We kept the features that add up to Dansko comfort, like the rocker bottom, the contoured footbed and arch support, but we also made some changes,” she notes. The revamped styles have a lowered outsole and a wider base for greater stability and balance. “We also made the shoes lighter so they are easier to run and jump in,” Cabot adds. At the core of the new collection, which retails for $70, is a children’s version of Dansko’s classic closed-back Gitte clog. The style is available in patent and full-grain leathers in a rainbow of colors including bubblegum pink, purple, red, mocha, indigo and basic black. Other styles include the Jemma, a convertible slingback clog with stud details and an instep strap that can be customized for fit, and an asymmetrical Mary Jane called Jada, which is embellished with a flower buckle and decorative stitching. Cabot says the styles are classic Dansko constructions but in colors and with details that are playful and inviting to a child’s eye. And like its adult counterparts, Cabot says the colors in the collection allow for a variety of wearing occasions. —Angela Velasquez

Kiddie Classics

High demand for retro sneaks brings PF Flyers down in size. PF FLYERS IS prepped for a baby-business boom. While the vintagecool sneaker brand (a division of Boston-based New Balance) has offered children’s styles in the past, product manager Alana Choquette says it is now buckling down to penetrate the segment in a more prominent way. “People are looking for PF Flyers for kids,” she explains. “A lot of our retailers say customers are coming in and recognizing our color and material direction, and they want that level of product for their kids.” As such, the brand increased its children’s offerings for this spring and is upping the ante even more for Fall ’10 and beyond. The highlight in the smaller sizes continues to be PF Flyers’ Center Hi and Lo—two timeless, go-to silhouettes that have been given recent updates to better resonate with consumers. While these styles capture a nostalgia element, Choquette notes there’s more to PF Flyers brand loyalty than that: “There’s a lot of great vulcanized kids’ product out there, but our take on color combinations and material [offers something different]. There seems to be a hole in the marketplace where we can fit well.” The Center sneakers are slimmer than competitors’ versions, she says, noting the less bulky shape works great for kids while the basic canvas styling complements today’s hot children’s wear looks. The brand initially rolled out four kids’ shoes ($36 retail)—in bright pink, orange, blue and gray—in sizes 10.5 through adults. More unisex options and up to a dozen new colors will be added for fall. Choquette says PF Flyers is also referencing its archive of footwear designs to pinpoint which others will work for kids. “There are so many great styles,” she muses. “We haven’t even scratched the surface.” —Leslie Shiers

february 2010 • 61


Less Is More

Snipe targets low-impact shoppers with enduring quality and style. BAUHAUS DESIGN IS having something of a moment—and Spain-based, Portugal-made Snipe is now importing its fresh take on the marriage of commercial and high design to the United States. By developing shoes that incorporate green materials and offer timeless design, Snipe hopes have a positive impact on the ecological situationand address LOHAS customers—those who aim for a Lifestyle Of Health And Sustainability, says global brand manager Jan Brinkmann. Founded by Ernesto Segarra in 1982, whose “less is more” philosophy led to early eco-friendly production, Snipe was plucked up by Germany’s Gabor Footwear about a year ago, and through an exclusive distribution partnership with Kanner Corporation of Thousand Oaks, CA, the brand lands Stateside this spring. It will debut at better independents that can share Snipe’s story, says distribution CEO Edward Kanner. That story starts with its European design, which comes from the heart of Valencia, Spain—the brand’s “heart and soul,” Brinkmann says. Lead designer Laura Garcia Perdomo, who worked with Snipe in the past, is modernizing the collection’s look, drawing on her background in industrial design. “She doesn’t think like a shoe designer,” Brinkmann says, noting she has “her own handwriting.” The core line includes several unisex looks—including Snipe’s trademark Ripple sneaker, a soccer-inspired shoe with a jagged outsole—but the Fall ’10 collection adds more feminine silhouettes (think heels and boots —some shearling lined). Thirty styles are offered at $190 to $335 retail, from sporty kicks to moccasins to ballerina flats in vivid Spanish colors. The shoes feature chrome-free leathers, soles made of natural rubber or latex, a removable cork latex comfort insole that gets a second life when flipped over, and recycled or recyclable components. As an additional selling point, many Snipe shoes are machine washable. Brinkmann says the LOHAS consumer group is growing and crossing all demographics. But ultimately, all want true fashion-forward designs—not another throwaway product. “It’s conscious consumerism for educated shoppers,” he says, adding that green brands still need a distinct personality. “That’s what we believe we have with Snipe.” —Leslie Shiers

62 • february 2010

Greening ’Nam ISA Tan Tec steps up its LITE Leather processing at a brand-new eco-tannery. ON JAN. 23, ISA Tan Tec, a tannery business headquartered in Germany and China, cut the ribbon on a shiny new factory in Saigon, Vietnam, officially beginning a new chapter in leather production. At this state-of-the-art facility, ISA Tan Tec plans to elevate its “eco-friendlier” processes to achieve higher benchmarks with its LITE (Low Impact To the Environment) Leather materials. “The demand for leather produced in an environmentally friendly way is growing rapidly,” notes company founder and managing director Thomas Schneider, who anticipates the Saigon facility will produce 2 million square meters of leather per year in a cleaner fashion than any other tannery out there. For 15 years, ISA Tan Tec’s factories have been based in China, but three years ago the country— faced with frightening levels of air and water pollution—put strict limitations on the growth of industries contributing to the problem. Schneider decided a move was in order. While the leather producer has made great strides in cleaning up its Guangzhou manufacturing (the exec says ISA Tan Tec is one of the world’s top tanneries in terms of having the lowest energy and water consumption), the opportunity to build a plant from scratch let it up the eco ante yet again. Between the use of renewable energy sources (such as a solar thermal system for heating the water required for tanning and wind turbines that drive the water pumps), a water recycling system and an innovative approach to wastewater treatment (a wall of bamboo and a large-scale engineered wetland provide natural methods), the Saigon tannery requires approximately 25 percent less energy and 25 percent less water than ISA Tan Tec’s Guangzhou facility—and 35 percent and 50 percent less than the tanning industry’s average. The growing number of shoe brands incorporating LITE Leather in their shoes can only applaud ISA Tan Tec’s endeavor. “ISA TanTec has a proactive leadership approach to sustainability,” remarks Elaine Delgado, New Balance’s manager of sustainable product stewardship, noting the tannery provides its customers with data tracking CO2 emissions, electricity, oil use and water consumption. “This [lets us] make an informed sustainable decision on a choice of leather,” she explains. Betsy Blaisdell, Timberland’s senior manager of environmental stewardship, says she is encouraged by the notable improvements made by tanneries like ISA Tan Tec, which are striving to follow the environmental best practices outlined by the Leather Working Group. “Sourcing environmentally preferred leather is a top priority for Timberland, and we will continue to support the real leaders in our industry,” she adds. While such progress doesn’t come cheap (ISA Tan Tec pumped nearly $12 million into the new tannery), Schneider believes making such an investment in the midst of a recession sends a clear message. “A green product is maybe a good story, but [that alone] is not sustainable,” he says. “Sustainability for the future [requires] long-term thinking rather than just shooting out a green product and making a lot of noise.” —L.S.

JUNE 8-10, 2010 Tuesday - Thursday

Hilton New York Hotel and FFANY Member Showrooms

Retailer PreRegistration, view exhibiting Brands:

Join us for our 30th Anniversary Party on Tuesday, June 8th

3Save the dates August 3-5 / December 1-3 FASHION FOOTWEAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK 212.751.6422 (EXHIBITORS x15 OR x16, INFO x10) INFO@FFANY.ORG


Unrestricted Growth Restricted Footwear boots up for fall. THE FOLKS AT Restricted Footwear are feeling confident about the company’s eighth year. General manager James Matush says the fall collection’s debut at December’s FFANY show garnered stellar reviews, and he’s anticipating big things for a new line, entitled Unrestricted, set to launch this December (stay tuned). All said and done, Matush says Restricted’s outlook for 2010 is extremely bright. Although trends are turning as fast as ever, the City of Industry, CA-based vendor is predicting last fall’s hits will continue to drive Fall ’10 sales. And that means boots, which Matush anticipates will be the most important trend in Restricted’s pocket this year. “Boots were picked up the most at FFANY,” he says, noting buyers’ enthusiasm might be traced directly to the line’s leading silhouette: over-theknee. With extra-tall shafts all the rage last season, designer Tanise Hill decided to expand on that look for 2010. “Consumers are gravitating toward taller, [leg-hugging] boots,” she explains. She has also added low-heel pumps. High heels and flats may have been the strong points in recent years, but “lower-heeled styles are finally peeking into this year’s trends,” she says. Beyond the freshest trends, Restricted strives to offer a line as diverse as its customers, who range from hip 18-yearolds to soccer moms. Matush believes Restricted’s customers remain loyal because it provides “high-quality, fashionable shoes at a decent price.” In addition, most Restricted boots retail for under $100, which—according to Matush—falls right into the customers’ sweet spot. And it’s not shoppers who seek great deals; retailers are clamoring to save money as well. Thanks to low price points, a strong brand identity and good lead times, Matush says Restricted is proving to be one of retailers’ go-to brands. This year Restricted plans to focus on social networking to attract new consumers while keeping current fans up to date on the latest styles to market. And going forward, Matush concludes, Restricted hopes to prove its positioning as a couture brand for a reasonable price. —Del-Ann Henry 64 • february 2010

His & Hers

Durango shoots younger with two new Western lines. BEING A CATEGORY leader for more than 40 years is no easy feat. Durango has managed to stay on top by providing quality Western footwear for adults and children that focuses on comfort, style and durability. With the launch of two new lines for Spring ’10—Dream and Rebel—Durango hopes to continue its legacy. In 2009, Durango found success when it created the Flirt With Durango collection aimed at a younger woman than it has targeted in the past. With teenagers as the primary focus, the line featured bold color combinations and an extremely lightweight outsole for added comfort. For 2010, Durango is applying the same tactic to the men’s side, designing for guys in the same age range. According to marketing manager Amber Vanwy, the line—coined Rebel—provides the look of a classic cowboy boot with the feel of an athletic shoe and is suited for riding as well as everyday wear. Thanks to a dual-density rubber/EDA outsole, these boots are the lightest you can find, she asserts, noting each boot weighs just 20 ounces (as opposed to the normal 1.5 to 2 pounds). With more than 15 different silhouettes and color combinations, Durango hopes the Rebel line will tap into the needs of this consumer with boots he can wear all day without experiencing foot fatigue. Ladies, no need to be jealous: Durango has developed yet another collection for women—this time for professionals who stay on their feet for long periods of time. Designed for a slightly older woman (ages 25 to 50), the Dream by Durango collection combines a Western feel with a standard clog silhouette. Featuring a unified one-piece outsole, a gel heel pad, a cushioned inner sole and a contoured footbed with soft deer-leather lining, Dream aims to deliver on Durango’s promise of comfort. The line includes seven groupings, each with three to four colorways, and spans clog and boot silhouettes. Durango is offering special pricing for retailers who buy into one or more programs for the launch, along with a 60-day consumer comfort guarantee. If the customer does not deem them ultralightweight, flexible and comfortable, he or she can return them to the dealer for a full refund. Between this incentive and retail prices of $79 to $129, Vanwy is confident the new lines will do well— regardless of the economy. “Customers have been looking for multiple functionality in the market that is still fashionable,” she says. “We provide them with this go-to boot at an affordable price.” —D.H.

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Q&A â&#x20AC;˘ continued from page 21

Part of the problem, I think, is luxury just got too watered down. The luxury brands went downmarket and muddied their image. With luxury you have so much room where you can adjust down and still make money versus when you have small margins and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing you can really do. Maybe it was a mistake and now they realize that. But today youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got to do what you can in order to survive. So you might make some bad moves and then you hopefully can try to correct some. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why so many people are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. They donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really know what to do yet. Well, I hope we wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see Christian Louboutin selling $99 shoes. (Laughs). You never know. At some point, he might. Look at Christian Audigierâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s doing with Ed Hardy. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all over the place. Speaking of the juniors business, what do you see in Penny Loves Kenny that warranted an acquisition? It presents a good opportunity for us. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always been known for sexy shoes, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never had a strong juniors business. Every time we tried, we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really succeed. Penny Loves Kenny was affordable acquisition and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a good little brand that they have going. And now that it is under our umbrella, we can manage it better. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve brought structure, and I think we are going to show some solid growth there. Already we are very surprised and enthusiastic about the brandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s potential. I never expected to have half of the success we are having with it so far. What do you believe is the brandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s full potential? If we come up with the right items, Penny Loves Kenny could be huge because of its relatively affordable pricing. Those consumers want the latest styles at a price. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what the junior business is all about; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hit and go, hit and go. We are just going to let that learning curve come into effect, and I would say in about a year we should be up and going real fast and far with it. In

the meantime, Penny and Kenny [Robinson] are two of the happiest people in the world [now that they] no longer have any ďŹ nancial aggravation hanging over them. They are now only responsible for the design and selling of the line. Are you involved at all in the design process for any of your brands? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m only approving some buys and involved in ďŹ nancial matters. But after all of these years, you must know a good-looking shoe when you see one. Absolutely. Believe me, what I bring to the table is that I know which shoes will not sell. I whack them right away. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been there before and I know that they didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t work the ďŹ rst time around. Fashion is cyclical, but there are always some lemons that try to get reintroduced. I just try to make sure it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t happen. Do you have a vision of where you see Titan in three years? I see further growth. There are some good opportunities and there are some things that may come about that we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know about yet. We have a good base, and in three years Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to see the same company a little bit bigger in size. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about it. And remaining privately owned? Absolutely. I went through the public offering once in my life with Guess, and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to be a part of that process again. What I do is private and I do what I want and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to answer to anybody. And we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have any debts. What do you love most about your job? The fact that nobody is looking over my shoulder and that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m surrounded by incredible people. I also love working with great customers; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always such a pleasure to see them. â&#x20AC;˘

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Special Report • continued from page 14 egories, sizes, colors, etc.—is sent up the chain of command for evaluation. Sluzewski says 90 to 95 percent of the roughly 13,000 proposals submitted during the first year were approved, helping Macy’s respond to clustered consumer preferences. “It’s doing small things in many places so that it has a real granular effect on our assortments,” he reports. “We want customers to walk into their local store and say, ‘Somehow this store seems to know what I need and have it every time.’” Sluzewski shares two footwear-centric examples that illustrate the program’s effectiveness. Last summer, Chicago employees began noticing repeated requests for size 11 women’s shoes—a size the local store didn’t thoroughly stock. After recognizing the pattern—and that size 11 women were willing to buy multiple options if they found them—the Chicago-area stores now not only stock more in this size but display large sizes right on the floor. Other localized needs were illuminated when a regional Macy’s exec visited two locations in New York, Sluzewski continues. In Flushing, Queens, the exec noticed a rack of men’s clearance shoes filled with unneeded large sizes. Later, in downtown Brooklyn, he found the sale rack overflowed with small men’s shoes. Realizing that Flushing’s predominantly Asian category had no requirement for men’s 10s through 12s, while the Brooklyn store did, he swapped the stores’ stock. Both locations reportedly sold off their customized sale merchandise within the week. “Sizing is a really important breakthrough,” Sluzewski notes. My Macy’s has generated other obvious-on-the-ground-but-not-from-above solu-tions as well, like the suggestion to carry more white hosiery in areas near hospitals; more khakis in locations near corporations with specific dress codes; and family-sized cookware in Salt Lake City, which large Mormon households eagerly snap up. Ultimately, Sluzewski reports, tweaking the local assortment in line with consumers’ needs has had a “recurring and significant” impact on sales. What Macy’s is doing is smart, notes Vincent Quan, a fashion industry consultant and professor of fashion merchandising management at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. But he stresses that such programs shouldn’t be mere band-aids, as retailers have to strike a fine balance between centralization and localized buying and should consider a hybrid model. While the technologydriven sell-through analytics that propel centralized buying are worthwhile tools—especially given recent advances in information technology, supply chain flexibility, and distribution and transportation networks—human observations are also essential to building a creative, innovative product mix, says Dr. Scott Testa, a professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia. “Some trends are tough to spot when it comes to being data-driven,” he notes, adding that today buyers take cues from trendsetting celebrities and use social networks to discover the fashion item

du jour in local areas. It’s vital to have both a left- and right-brained approach to buying and distribution, Kistler says, because poorly executed localization attempts look awfully bad. He recalls visiting a South Carolina department store and finding Minnesota Gophers sweatshirts collecting dust on the shelves in an NCAA apparel push gone wrong. “Making sure you have the correct mix is much more important than just deciding to get into [a category],” he adds. “The science part is in identifying and understanding where there are differences from store to store or cluster to cluster. But there’s still much more of an art to executing against what you discover.” Unfortunately, Gonzalez of GPC notes, “Department stores base a lot of their buying

trends on selling trends. Their buyers aren’t merchants; they’re accountants.” And this bythe-numbers, after-the-fact approach doesn’t work in a world where shoppers constantly change their minds. “The minute you think you’ve profiled your customer and know her intimately, you don’t,” Gonzalez warns. This is why major stores must take risks, she implores, noting that otherwise they will become an increasingly antiquated form of retail. Bieniek agrees that retailers must fight blandness, as shifting consumer attitudes demand more tailored offerings and services than the cookie-cutter store model addresses. If retailers succeed, the prize is not just profitability but consumer loyalty. Done well, Kistler says, and it can make a big difference. “And right now, everyone’s looking for that lift.” •

b Congratulations 2009 Plus Award Nominees Men’s Athletic Performance OBrooks OUnder Armour ONewton Running ONike Women’s Athletic Performance OAsics OAdidas OEcco ONew Balance Athletic Lifestyle ONike SB OAsics Onitsuka Tiger OConverse OVans Men’s Comfort OEcco OAetrex OClarks ORockport Women’s Comfort OSöfft ONaot OEarth ODansko

Luxury Comfort OBorn Crown Series OThierry Rabotin OBeautifeel OAnyi Lu

Work OWolverine ORocky ORed Wing OTimberland Pro

Pre-Walkers ORobeez OPediped OSee Kai Run OTrimfoot

Boots OFrye OUgg Australia OHunter OMinnetonka

Outdoor Performance OMerrell OTecnica OThe North Face OKeen

Green Presented by LITE Leather OSimple OKeen OTimberland OReef

Men’s Streetwear ORed Wing OClarks Originals OTimberland Boot Co. OSperry Top-Sider

Item of the Year OVibram FiveFingers OMinnetonka Fringe Collection OTOMS OWolverine 1,000 Mile Collection

Rain Boots OHunter OChooka OSperry Top-Sider OTretorn Men’s Dress OFlorsheim by Duckie Brown OCole Haan OJ Shoes OAuri Women’s Dress OMarc by Marc Jacobs OPour La Victoire OCalvin Klein OTory Burch Children’s OPrimigi OSkechers OEd Hardy OStride Rite

Women’s Streetwear OSteve Madden ODolce Vita OMe Too OSam Edelman Wellness OMBT OEarth OSkechers Shape Ups OFitFlop

Brand of the Year OFrye OSöfft OUgg Australia OHunter Company of the Year OSkechers OH.H. Brown OPentland ONike OSteve Madden

made you look t r av e l w i t h a p u r p o s e


Sole Drivers Allan and Silvana Clark’s goodwill odyssey for Soles4Souls delivers the charity’s message. By Greg Dutter FOOTWEAR PLUS CAUGHT up with “Sole Ambassadors” Allan and Silvana Clark last month as they were making their way along a snowy stretch of deserted Alabama highway to New Orleans for Silvana Clark shows off an event designed to raise awareness about indonations to Soles4Souls’ mobile shoe drive. dustry charity Soles4Souls. Despite spotty cell phone reception and dicey weather conditions, co-pilot Silvana filled us in on the goodwill odyssey she and her husband have been on for the past eight months. On the road, there have been memorable moments aplenty. Silvana recalls The Clarks have made appearances at more than 100 events along the way, being at a three-day shoe drive at Walmart’s Bentonville, AK, headquarters visiting numerous retailers, schools and houses of worship in their customand hearing a father explain to his 4-year-old son why they should donate wrapped Soles4Souls RV. In fact, the highly visible motorhome often serves as his beloved but too small shoes. Unwilling to part with them on day one, they a rolling calling card for donations. “We often get unsolicited donations while came back the next day and the boy tearfully complied. “Even though it must we are staying in campgrounds,” Silvana says. “We’ll be out for a have been painful, it was nice to see the father take that much walk, and when we come back, there will be a pair of shoes on time with his son explaining a good cause,” Silvana says. our picnic table.” And while the RV’s main purpose is to be an TRAVEL LOG Those aren’t the only tears that have been shed during attention-getter—not a collection bin—Silvana says it doesn’t stop the Clarks’ travels. Silvana recalls a shoe drive at a Foot Mileage to date: 23,000 people from pulling alongside their RV, waving for them to pull Solutions store in Georgia, at which a man donated about Daily mileage: Around 150 over because they happen to have shoes in their car to donate. 40 pairs. They had belonged to his sister and her husband, Months on the road: 8 Wayne Elsey, founder and CEO of Nashville, TN-based who had recently died in a car accident. “He said she would States visited: 24 Soles4Souls, could not have imagined a better return on his want us to have them and then started crying,” Silvana says, Travel traditions: A highused-RV investment, which occurred in response to the couadding similar situations have occurred at least five times. five upon crossing a state line ple’s out-of-the-blue offer to tour the country in support of the “The [families] don’t want a receipt or anything,” she adds. Must-haves: GPS device, charity. “We became empty-nesters wondering what to do,” “I get choked up thinking about it.” Mapquest, and bikes for says Silvana, a professional speaker who can work from the The Clarks have been overwhelmed by the generosity exercise and sightseeing road. As a trainer for school bus drivers, Allan is more than of Americans and their unsolicited willingness to help the Events: 3–5 per week qualified to drive the RV. And the Clarks had completed a simcause. Case in point: During one night at a campground Shoes collected: Thousands ilar journey in 2002, when they took a year off to home school near Racine, WI, a gentleman stopped by their RV and afShoes donated: Thousands their then 12-year-old daughter. “We know what it’s like to ter leaning about Soles4Souls, invited the Clarks to make a more and counting travel and stay in campgrounds,” Silvana says. But this was no presentation at his local church. There, Silvana mentioned Memories: Infinite sightseeing ruse. The Clarks’ No. 1 goal is to help further the that the charity donates shoes to Royal Kids Family Camps, awareness of Soles4Souls and to let people know how easy it an organization benefitting foster kids and abused children. is to pitch in. “Anybody any age can collect some shoes and donate them to a “Two people ran up to us, grabbed the microphone and said they ran the local person in need,” Silvana notes. Royal Camp and couldn’t tell us how happy these kids were to get new shoes,” By hitting three to five events (on average) a week, the Clarks have been she recalls. What followed was even more amazing: The pastor invited the delivering that message to thousands of people in 24 states and counting. Clarks back the next night to be on hand for an impromptu shoe collection. Recently, they visited a school for emotionally disturbed children that had Normally, a congregation plans such events a month in advance and collects conducted a shoe drive; represented the charity at a 5K race held by Girls approximately 250 pairs. Silvana didn’t expect to get more than 20 pairs from on the Run (a national program that helps build self esteem for girls); and the last-minute effort, but 350 pairs arrived in less than 24 hours. “When I see attended a college soccer game to support a team that had organized a shoe that generosity, it’s just unbelievable,” she says. collection. Down the road, they plan to distribute shoes on an American The Clarks originally planned to spend a year traveling in the Soles4Souls Indian reservation and stop at a nursing home where people live in RVs RV, but they have decided to press on for at least another year. “Wayne says full-time. “There’s a daycare center where they receive three meals a day and do it as long as we want, and the day we want to stop, to just say so,” Silvana medical attention, and we have a bunch of shoes with Velcro closures we are says. “There are plenty more places to explore and we get to meet amazing donating,” Silvana explains. people every day.” • 68 • february 2010 FFANY • February 2-4 Warwick New York Hotel •Sussex Suites 65 West 54th St

Atlanta Show • February 19-21 Cobb Galleria Booth #’s 737,739, 836, 838



liberation of the sole!â&#x201E;˘

Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2010 • February  
Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2010 • February  

Autumn's Muse: Solid Concepts Inspire the Season, Buying for a Nation of Niches, Luxury Discount Sites Click with Consumers, Meet Mr. Nice G...