Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2013 • January

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Hush Puppies is a Registered Trademark of Wolverine World Wide, Inc. ©2012

Let’s Get Together

It’s a Puppies Party and everyone’s invited.

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Waterproof Style |1.800.626.8696 |

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The Atlanta Shoe Market … where buyers and sellers come together over more than 1,800 lines for the largest, most productive, most important show of the season — every season.



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16 It’s Show Time!


Spanning from Berlin to Las Vegas, key trade shows are prepping for your arrival. By Lyndsay McGregor

Caroline Diaco Publisher

20 Q&A: Tecnica Group

Greg Dutter Editorial Director

Tom Berry, executive vice president, reveals how Tecnica, Moon Boot and Dolomite are poised for long-term growth. By Greg Dutter

26 Trend Spotting Breaking down Fall ’13 boot trends: Beatlemania, Americana, polka dots, sweater weather and so much more. By Angela Velasquez

40 Theory of Evolution The outdoor category forges ahead on its style meets function mission. By Judy Leand

44 Urban Outdoors

Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL Angela Velasquez Fashion Editor Lyndsay McGregor Associate Editor Maria Bouselli Assistant Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Tim Jones Senior Designer

Boots for concrete scapes and sporty, bright trail running and hiking styles are in the offering. By Judy Leand

Judy Leand Contributing Editor

52 In the Details: Skulls

ADMINISTRATION Alexandra Marinacci Operations Manager

Designers go head hunting this fall. By Angela Velasquez

54 Into the Mist Boots awash in old world tapestries weave a mystical story this season. By Angela Velasquez

Laurie Guptill Production Manager Melanie Prescott Circulation Manager Mike Hoff Webmaster Theodore Hoffman Special Projects Director



8 Publisher’s Letter 10 Editor’s Note 12 This Just In 14 Scene & Heard 50 What’s Selling 64 Shoe Salon 70 Street 72 Last Word

On the cover: Sebago work boot, Southpaw Vintage jacket, shirt and pants by Dockers, scarf from Urban Outfitters, Falke socks. From top: Jellypop ankle boot with buckle, dress by Southpaw Vintage, Falke tights; tapestry Western boot by Spring Step. Photography by Glynis Selina Arban. Styling by Robyn Victoria Fernandez and assistant Enaya Kenchan. Hair by Christopher Naselli for Lauren Simpson at Exclusive Artists and makeup by Sarah Appleby for Samantha Stransky at Sarah Laird. Models: Jelena at Muse and Florian at Major.

OFFICES Advertising/Editorial 36 Cooper Square, 4th fl. New York, NY 10003 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 editorialrequests@ Circulation 21 Highland Circle Needham, MA 02494 Tel: (800) 964-5150 Fax: (781) 453-9389 Corporate 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis Chairman Lee Zapis President Rich Bongorno Chief Financial Officer

FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) Vol. 24 issue #1 The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by Symphony Publishing NY LLC, 36 Cooper Square, 4th fl., New York, NY, 10003-7118. 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. 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. ©2013 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Printed in the United States.

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publisher’s note feet fleet

From Haiti to My Hometown A lifetime of giving comes full circle.

Clockwise from top: At an orphanage in Haiti; devastation wrought by Sandy on Staten Island; Chris Enlow of Keen and myself distributing shoes after the storm; my Sweet 16 where many pictured joined our efforts to aid fellow Staten Islanders.

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IT WASN’T TOO long ago when I found myself smack-dab in the middle of a disaster zone where the plight of human suffering was overwhelming, unimaginable and unforgettable. To be exact, it was Labor Day weekend in 2010. I was part of a Soles4Souls outreach mission to assist people in Haiti still suffering the effects of the devastating earthquake that struck the Caribbean island nation 10 months prior. To my eyewitness account, the level of destruction and the way thousands of its citizens were still sleeping in makeshift tent cities and scrounging for food, water and clothing would have you believe the earthquake hit but a few days prior to our arrival. We dove right in trying to help in any way we could, and we distributed our donations of shoes and clothing in teeming cities and rural areas. We got our hands dirty and we loved every minute of it. When we set up a drop zone in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, a line as far as the eye could see formed almost magically. We visited a local orphanage to hand out donations to too many children of all ages. They were always gracious and their incredible smiles said it all. I helped hand out thousands of pairs of shoes over those three days, but I gained far more than I could have ever imagined in memories and the satisfaction of helping fellow human beings in a time of desperate need. I returned home energized and reaffirmed by the power charitable work holds. I also vowed to go back to Haiti some day—or anywhere else Soles4Souls might be reaching out to people in need. Little did I know that my next outreach mission would be located a few miles from my Manhattan apartment in my hometown of Staten Island, NY. Hurricane Sandy walloped my beloved borough. Dozens of people perished and thousands of homes were destroyed by the storm surge. Close friends I grew up with lost their entire homes. Once again, I dove in to help in any way I could. Thanks to the industry I have had the pleasure of working in for nearly two decades, I reached out to Soles4Souls and to several brands directly—Keen, Rocky, Wolverine, Cat

Footwear, Pediped and Livie & Luca—for donation requests ASAP. When you literally don’t have a home or a single pair of shoes to your name and you’re faced with mud, mounds of debris and freezing temperatures, you immediately appreciate the life-saving protection footwear provides. I’m proud and thankful to report our industry answered my call—wonderfully and beautifully. Thousands of pairs were sent and distributed through various relief organizations, including one created by a childhood friend, Derek Tabacco, called Guyon Rescue. Chris Enlow of Keen joined us for a day to help distribute 2,300 pairs. Thanks to our industry’s kindness, my friends have nicknamed me, “Feet Fleet.” From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you… Your acts of kindness have meant the world to me and the people of Staten Island. I am more proud than ever to tell friends, family and anyone I come across that I work in the footwear industry. We continually deliver on the needs for comfort, protection and performance, not to mention the joy footwear fashion brings to millions of people. We are also incredibly compassionate toward our customers. Whether it’s QVC FFANY Shoes on Sale, Soles4Souls, Two Ten Foundation or the too-numerous-to-list other cause-related initiatives and organizations our industry members support, we give back and then some. It’s reciprocation in its finest form. Often the circle of giving rewards in unexpectedly beautiful ways. Such was the experience one of our Guyon Rescue volunteers had while handing out donations. She wrote me this poignant email: “Something amazing happened. I delivered a bunch of gorgeous shoes to two beautiful girls. One named Katie is a 20-month-old who is severely autistic. She is precious. Her mom looked familiar. And then it hit me: She was my grandmother’s nurse. She was pregnant with Katie when my Nani was in the hospital. Nani loved her. I know it was meant for me to deliver these shoes.” Thank you again, and I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.

Caroline Diaco, Publisher

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They’ll Never Grow Old LIVING IN A small New York City apartment with my wife and 10-year-old daughter—the latter of whom has a desperate desire to hang onto every little scrap and scribble stretching back to nursery school—makes one come to terms with the finite reality of space. Before executives from Hoarders ask to feature our apartment in an upcoming episode, we have to jettison items that no longer serve a useful purpose. During our pre-parenting era, there was room for stuff to collect dust in the faraway corners of our closets. But that “stuff ” is heading— one cherished, sentimental relic of my childhood at a time—for the landfill. Unwanted things must get the heave-ho, and we look first to the items we no longer use. What better place to start than the scrapheap of electronics? Anyone born before 1980 knows what I’m referring to: cassettes, VCR tapes, LPs, CDs and the aging stereos, boom boxes, VCR players and Walkmans that played them all. Not to mention the bone yard of remotes—God knows which one goes with which device— that clog the entertainment center drawer. For example, that Asia LP I thought sounded so fresh back in my stonewashed jeans, bomber jacket and mullet days would sound a tiny bit dated now. Besides, the stereo I would need to play it on is long gone. And I haven’t pressed “play” on the rows of cassettes since a boom box was considered an essential electronic accompaniment. Not one has made it out of the customized box I crafted in ninth grade wood shop in years. I’ll just have to find something more useful to put in it, because that fine piece of carpentry isn’t going anywhere. This got me thinking about shoes (of course). Plenty of shoes in my closet can be shown the door because they are scuffed, no longer deliver on performance or simply look dated. Still, unlike a lot

of products, shoes are by no means unnecessary. They remain as relevant as they were the day cavemen first discovered the benefits of wrapping animal hides around their feet. I’m always heartened by this simple fact. Shoes won’t go the way of VCRs and Walkmans. We toyed with the idea these past few seasons during the barefoot/minimalist craze. We even saw products that looked like feet wrapped around feet. But “going barefoot” never meant actually going barefoot. And those few nutty runners who like to go barefoot in the park—literally—are a tiny minority that may soon become extinct for health reasons. Billions of people covet shoes—in countless different styles—for protection, not to mention a way to express their personal style. I mean, if we all decided to go barefoot then we’d all look pretty much the same from the ankles down—and such uniformity goes against human nature. That’s another ace up the footwear industry’s sleeve. So, as we here at Footwear Plus embark on another year (number 23) of covering our beloved industry, I take solace in the unending relevancy of footwear as well as our industry’s incessant drive to improve upon its basic design, both technically and artistically. Shoes never ever get old. Sure, footwear trends will come and go. So will brands, stores and the way consumers shop for shoes. But shop they will. Thus, the business of making and selling footwear remains as vital as ever. We look forward to continuing our conversation with you about this ever evolving and highly entertaining process. It’s a fascinating story with no end in sight. Now if I could only find my way through our cluttered hallway to the door, I could get to my office to review the latest shoes that have come in for our next fashion shoot. Greg Dutter Editorial Director

Fashions will always come and go, but shoes will never go the way of Beta tapes and butterfly collars.

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Scandi Style Scandinavians sport a clean layered look grounded by boots.

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Visit us at: Outdoor Retailer FN Platform Atlanta Shoe Market

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¡+¢ scene and heard

Lacoste Celebrates 80th in Style THAT’S ONE ALLIGATOR who knows how to survive… The preppy sportswear brand is turning 80 this year and is commemorating this milestone with a collection of updated classics. “This anniversary gives Lacoste a unique opportunity to celebrate its roots and values of audacity, ‘joie de vivre,’ simplicity, authenticity and elegance,” says Mark Godwin, Lacoste Footwear’s product director. René Lacoste, who designed the first tennis shoe in 1963 that became the brand’s signature look, is the basis for the anniversary collection. “[We took] the original shoe and gave it a luxurious handcrafted makeover, the result of which are

versions of the shoe that will become collector pieces,” Godwin predicts. The René Lacoste OG features a re-designed canvas that emulates the herringbone material that made its earlier version a classic. The René Crafted Perf (at left) displays Peter Saville’s 80th Anniversary logo atop a herringbone perforated panel and leather upper. The René Crafted consists of a dark leather also embossed with the anniversary logo. First deliveries will hit stores next month and, Godwin says, the second drop of the 80th collection in May will include some “unexpected twists to a couple of our iconic designs.” —Maria Bouselli

FFANY, February 5-7 & Platform, February 19-21 | 800-258-3897

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How About Bobs! THAT’S 3 MILLION pairs of shoes donated to children in need around the world and counting—rapidly. Just five months after reaching the 1 million-pair donation milestone, Bobs by Skechers eclipsed 3 million pairs. With a new pair going to a child in need for every pair of Bobs purchased, the brand has expanded its donation network—via a variety of non-profit giveaway partners—to include nearly 30 countries, with a focus on helping distressed families across the United States. That includes 200,000 pairs donated for victims of Superstorm Sandy alone. Skechers President Michael Greenberg attributes the recent spike in donations to several key factors, starting with Bob’s celebrity spokesperson, Brooke Burke-Charvet, co-host of Dancing With the Stars. “We’ve raised a great deal of awareness for Bobs’ donation program by partnering with her for several national TV campaigns, PR outreach and print advertising,” he says. “In the coming months, we will continue to work with Brooke for large-scale advertising and marketing campaigns that bring the Bobs message into homes across America.” Another contributing factor, Greenberg notes, lies in the “cute and easyto-wear” nature of the designs. Something, he adds, consumers will soon see more of with fresh men’s looks and more junior styles. “The ultimate goal for Bobs is to extend the brand’s awareness to include more than just footwear,” he says. “There has been much interest in licensing the name, which will allow us to grow the ‘buy one, give a pair’ philosophy to other branded goods. We hope to announce more on this in 2013.” With many successful brand launches under the company’s belt over years, Greenberg says this is perhaps the most rewarding. “Bobs is definitely one of our top all-time launches because it is making a real difference,” he confirms. “We have heard some wonderful stories from consumers over the years about our footwear, but when you attend a donation event and see the impact a new pair of shoes can have on a child, the feeling is like nothing else.” —Greg Dutter

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The waterproof ‘Voila’ boot in soft suede with a multi-seasonal sweater. Part of the stunning new Cougar 2013 Collection.

For more details, call 1 888 COUGAR-1 or visit us at Like us on Facebook: | Follow us on Twitter: @CougarBoots 2013 Cougar Collection featured at the FFANY, Platform and Outdoor Retailer shows.

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It’s Show Time! From Las Vegas and Miami to New York, Europe and places in between, the fall trade show calendar features a full slate of formats, exhibitors, events and excursions. Here’s your cheat sheet to what to look for as you make your travel plans.

Berlin, Germany

the coming season is to sharpen our quality concept,” he says. “Selection is a continuous process just like the market itself, and the brand portfolio must be subject to change accordingly. It’s not about quantity but all about quality. A quality brand mix attracts quality retailers and buyers.” —Maria Bouselli

Outdoor Retailer: Where The Action Is Jan. 23-26; Salt Lake City, UT

Bread and Butter: Quality Control Jan. 15-17; Berlin, Germany The Bread and Butter show combines various brands and categories in its sections spanning high fashion to street trends. “Bread and Butter is the platform that provides buyers with a consolidated overview on what’s hot and what’s new in street and urban wear, embedded in an inspiring setting,” says Karl-Heinz Müller, president of Bread and Butter. “We visualized the ‘mix-and-match’ philosophy even stronger by mixing the brands throughout the various segments and by creating new neighborhoods.” Müller describes the show as the “spin doctor for retail.” Footwear brands that exhibit include Keds, Feiyue, Palladium, Wolverine 1000 Mile, Clarks, New Balance and Melissa. “We focus on original brands and labels, which are authentic and have their very own identity and signature,” he says. “These could as well be market leaders as interesting new labels and concepts that make the difference.” While Müller shares that attendance at the July edition was satisfactory, he notes they’re always looking to improve the show. “Our main focus for

Shoes, shoes, and more shoes… The upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Market will welcome 172 footwear exhibitors, which, according to show director Kenji Haroutunian, is the fastest and largest growing sector at the show. No longer a niche show, the selection has expanded far beyond OR’s roots in hiking and trail running to include road running, après sport and slipper categories as well as an outdoor lifestyle category that melds versatile performance features with casual styles. “It’s six or seven markets all playing in the same sandbox,” Haroutunian says. Moreover, the outdoor category has entered a sweet spot, according to Haroutunian. “Even though the economic indicators at large are still pretty grim, if you look at the business of the outdoors, it’s pretty healthy. And a trade show is very much a reflection of the industry it serves,” he says, noting that both exhibitor and buyer attendance is increasing. The challenge for OR is accommodating the growing number of attendees—some now housed in locations further away from the Salt Palace Convention Center. In response, OR is planning a travel guide to help attendees use the city’s public transportation and is working to improve shuttle bus service. —Lyndsay McGregor Alta, Utah

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New York

says a traditional children’s store might want to add items for moms. “People can integrate new opportunities into their assortment and negotiate minimums that suit their needs,” he notes. The show also keys in on the fact that many retailers are buying closer to season. “They are more cautious, but we offer them a chance to fill those inventories and freshen up,” he says. Plus, retailers can get more, thanks in part to the number of deals and breaks on promotional goods that the exec says is available at OffPrice. The show’s diverse product range, offering everything from flip flops to party goods, attracts an United Nations of retailers including boutiques, sporting goods stores, online retailers, gift shops and more. Registration and attendance are expected to exceed the last show, which reported a total of more than 10,000 retailers. “Exhibitors are pleased because we are bringing in a retail audience that is coming with open-to-buy and making deals,” Krogulski says. —Angela Velasquez

FFANY: New York State of Mind Feb. 5-7; New York, NY

FN Platform: National Anthem Feb. 19-21; Las Vegas, NV

With more than 30 years under its belt, FFANY keeps buyers and exhibitors coming back to the Big Apple season after season. The latest edition in November saw a 16 percent increase in retailer attendance from the last year’s show in December, according to Joe Moore, president and CEO of FFANY. Moore believes the show’s fashion capital locale makes it a must-hit for retailers. “FFANY is based and held in New York, which is home to the very best in fashion footwear,” Moore says of what makes FFANY unique from other shoe shows. “Prominent and influential footwear showrooms and retailers are based here. Some 90 vendors present their collections under the image of their individual companies as part of the show.” Though Moore speculates that attendance will increase from last year, he says the economy still seems to be a concern for retailers and exhibitors alike. “Exhibitors are utilizing less space and keeping a close eye on budgets,” he notes. “Retailers are certainly planning their buys more carefully.” The February edition will also feature the FFANY Industry Appreciation party on the first night at the Bridges Bar in the hotel where Footwear Plus’ 2012 Plus Awards winners in design and retail excellence will be announced. —M.B.

Leslie Gallin, vice president of footwear at Advanstar, describes its FN Platform show as a must attend for buyers and exhibitors. “The way in which the show lays out gives the buyer an incredible opportunity to see the fashion and the footwear trends,” she notes. With exhibitor attendance up 30 percent and the square footage of the floor upped by 10 percent from last August, the three-year-old show is raising the bar for its latest edition. It includes a cocktail mixer with the Two Ten Footwear Foundation to present its crystal design awards celebrating aspiring designers. In addition, an opening night party with a vintage Las Vegas theme is on tap. “Shoe people like to have fun, and FN Platform is a golden platform for fun,” Gallin quips. But FN Platform isn’t all about fun in Sin City—education is just as important. “As the national shoe show, we have a stewardship to inform, educate and bring together,” Gallin says. The day before the show opens, FN Platform will host a visual merchandising seminar about displaying product and a meet-and-greet for agents and reps to network. The February show will also officially launch the “Shop the Floor” digital platform, which gives buyers and exhibitors a chance to connect online after the show. “What ‘Shop the Floor’ does is allow you to go back to the comfort of your office or home and really put together a good assortment,” Gallin offers. —M.B.

OffPrice Show: Opportunity Knocks Feb. 17-20; Las Vegas, NV Coco Chanel famously suggested, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” However, OffPrice Show CEO Stephen Krogulski says the less-is-more approach is one his attendees are bucking. Heeding requests from retailers of all shapes and sizes, the show is incorporating more accessories, footwear and handbags to its mix. “These categories are margin builders and are seeing the most interest,” he says. “They are all items that apparel retailers are buying for women, men and kids.” As a destination for fashion below wholesale price, Krogulski says OffPrice is an ideal place for retailers to test the waters of a new product, especially as consumer shopping patterns continue to evolve. For example, he

The Atlanta Shoe Market: On The Up And Up Feb. 23-25; Atlanta, GA Kicking off with a complimentary casino and cocktail party at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on the opening night, The Atlanta Shoe Market has become the go-to show for retailers from the Southeast and far beyond. Show manager Laura Conwell-O’Brien expects retailer attendance will increase from the record traffic seen at last August’s show. A color and trend seminar will be available to attendees on the second day of the show, offering key insights into the trends that will drive footwear and accessories for the coming season. Work boots will be showcased in “The Work Zone,” while “The Kids’ Shoe Box” will feature more than 100 children’s lines. Exhibitors will >

Off the Clock You’re not planning to travel hundreds, maybe thousands of miles, and spending just as much in cash to just look at shoes, are you? Discover your inner Anthony Bourdain and turn business travel into an adventure at these fine destinations. —A.V. Berlin, Germany: A wander through one of Berlin’s famed art museums may just spark up inspiration for next season’s collection. Skip lunch and fill up on modern design at the Bauhaus Archiv. Take in a view of the city before base flying from the roof of the Park Inn Hotel. And don’t forget to bring home souvenirs that people will really appreciate from 14 oz., the one-of-kind fashion emporium owned by Bread & Butter creator Karl-Heinz Müller. Düsseldorf, Germany: Relax along the Rhine river as Düsseldorf locals do with a pint from the Uerige brewery located in the Altstadt, or hop a quick train to Cologne for an evening in the Roman city. Tour the imposing and impressive Cologne Cathedral (conveniently located next to the train station) and then realize your Willie Wonka fantasies at the Lindt chocolate factory and café. New York, NY: Watch the Brooklyn Nets take on the L.A. Lakers on Feb. 5 at the new Barclays Center. While you’re there, nosh on some of the borough’s finest delicacies from Junior’s and Nathan’s. Spruce up your digits with statement-making nail art at Valley NYC. Participate in the Empire State Building Run-Up on the 6th and climb up 1,576 stairs to the observation deck, and then treat yourself to a cup of gourmet cocoa at City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Festival.

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Salt Lake City, UT: Dive into the archives at the Family History Library. You may just discover that you come from a line of shoemakers, or take in the heavenly sounds during choir rehearsal at the Tabernacle. Become the beer connoisseur you’ve always dreamt to be by sampling a flight at the Red Rock Brewing Company. Sweat it off like an Olympian at the Utah Olympic Park bobsled run.

once again take over the food court at the Cobb Galleria Centre and brands like Vince Camuto, Frye, Jeffrey Campbell and Toms will set up shop in the surrounding retail space. “Our biggest problem is the growth of the show. We have been sold out for the last four years and we have now taken over the entire convention center as well as the connecting Renaissance Waverly Hotel & Convention Center,” Conwell-O’Brien says. “We are constantly weighing the options of moving the show to a larger convention center or staying where we are, as everyone loves the current location.” —L.M.

Sole Commerce: Less is More Feb. 24-26, New York, NY As the only edited and selective “better” women’s shoe show in the U.S., and an extension of the ENK Fashion Coterie apparel show, ENK Footwear Group President David Kahan believes it’s a one-of-a-kind format in a city that reaches a unique audience of buyers. “It’s the footwear market for the ready-to-wear better women’s retailers who buy shoes as an accessory in their stores,” he says, noting that attendance was up 12 percent over the last show and the number of exhibitors (particularly European labels) has grown as well. “Feedback is that the show definitely has the most compelling brand assortment in one place.” Contributing to Sole Commerce’s growing popularity, Kahan says, is footwear’s strength as an add-on sale. “Ready-to-wear retailers see shoes as a great category to add excitement and generate additional sales in their stores,” he notes. But it’s not just any shoe these buyers are seeking to add. “The most discerning buyers always want what’s new and on-trend, and that’s what Sole Commerce is all about,” Kahan says. —Greg Dutter

SMOTA: Hot, Hot, Hot March 3-5; Miami, FL Location, location, location—that is the number one reason Beverlee Maier, executive director of Shoe Market of the Americas (SMOTA), gives for both retailers and exhibitors to attend the show at the Miami Airport Convention Center. “Where we are positioned, we draw so much from international [attendees]—more than 40

countries attend from the Caribbean, Central and South America as well as people from the Eastern U.S.,” she says, noting a 4 percent increase of retailer attendance at the latest September edition. “It’s an awesome opportunity to see all these brands in one stop,” she adds. Maier says that because of the later timing of the show, exhibitors tend to write a lot of business. “For us it really becomes a strong writing show—buyers have already seen the product, and know what’s been cut, so they can make final decisions and leave some paper,” she offers. As for how retailers are buying, Maier says its about buying “wiser” with the effects of the economy still looming. That’s why she is committed to making SMOTA cost effective and profitable for attendees. “The big change for us last year was that we moved back to a facility that we hadn’t been in for six years—it had been gutted and renovated,” she notes. “Now we’re back in Miami where we belong, near the international airport, and the hotel and convention center are under one roof.” —M.B.

GDS: Image-Makers Mar. 13-15; Düsseldorf, Germany The lively exchange between GDS and its exhibitors and visitors will culminate in a number of improvements to the March edition. The show’s White Cube section, dedicated to premium fashion brands including Michael Kors and See by Chloe, will be revamped to highlight trend collections, Project Director of GDS Kirstin Deutelmoser reports. The children’s footwear area will also be refreshed with a new booth concept and lounge. In addition, GDS will host daily fashion shows and feature a spotlight on up-and-coming designers in the Design Attack area. “The buyers are looking for special and extraordinary styles, which are shown at GDS,” she reports. “It’s not just the product which is important regarding form, function, color and material. It’s the unique story and the image behind the product.” As for what buyers are on the look out for at GDS, Deutelmoser expects it reflects the interests of consumers, who are interested in authenticity and credibility. “Brands with a high recognition value are becoming more popular right now,” she explains. As a result, she believes it’s essential for a brand to tell a story to the consumer. —A.V.

Atlanta, GA: Park the rental at Varsity, a 75-year-old hot dog institution and home to the world’s largest drive-in. Spice up your trade show wardrobe with stylish accoutrements from Jeffrey. Take a ghoulish evening tour of Atlanta’s spookiest spots on a Segway, or revisit your hippie days in Little Five Points, a bohemian neighborhood known for its record shops, independent theaters and tattoo parlors. Las Vegas, NV: Suffering from jet lag, or a late Vegas night? Refresh yourself at the award-winning Bellagio spa and try it’s signature stone massage. Put your rock star putting skills to the test at Kiss Monster Mini Golf, or soar above Downtown Las Vegas on a zipline before heading back to the Strip for dinner at the recently opened Gordon Ramsay Steak. Consider tacking on an extra day to enjoy the smokefree air and sweeping views at the Grand Canyon. Miami, FL: Start your morning with a café cubano from the popular Little Havana restaurant, Versailles. Later, gather on the streets of Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile for Carnaval Miami, a festival chockfull of food vendors, artists and musicians. Pick up a good read at Books & Books for your hammock siesta and experience a postcard sunset at the Sunset Lounge at the Mondrian Hotel.

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SHOOTING FOR THE MOON Tom Berry, executive vice president of the Tecnica Group, makers of Tecnica, Moon Boot and Dolomite, discusses how the portfolio is becoming a worldwide player—one calculated step at a time. BY GREG DUTTER t took years to put a man on the moon. And becoming a leader in the highly competitive and crowded outdoor performance and lifestyle markets doesn’t happen overnight either. More often than not it takes years of product innovation, success at retail season after season and building a loyal consumer following along the way. And, unlike a one-off lunar landing, if a brand misses its mark one time too many it will soon fade into a distant memory. “An overnight success is extraordinarily rare,” confirms Tom Berry, Tecnica Group’s global vice president of merchandising, marketing and sales. “You first have to find your brand narrative, create what resonates with consumers and develop your supply chain and distribution platform—all aspects that take time and hard work.” Berry adds, “That’s what we’re in the process of doing right now at Tecnica. We are in phase one of what I would imagine is a 10- to 15-year process.” Fortunately, Berry believes he already possesses the hardest aspects to obtain—the rich heritages that the Tecnica, Dolomite and Moon Boot brands possess. Combined, they represent more than 200 years of brand equity. Specifically, the 53-year-old Tecnica is considered the

inventor of the après ski category and is a long-time leader in ski boots. It’s an attractive brand combination of technology and style demanded by consumers that increasingly seek performance in their fashion. Dolomite, Berry says, features an archive of 100 years of Italian sport design just waiting to be tapped and the iconic Moon Boot presents an opportunity to stretch its feel-good familiarity beyond a novelty winter item. “Our biggest challenge is we have too much opportunity,” Berry professes. “It’s like drinking from the fire hose.” Fortunately, for his sake, Tecnica Group is family owned and takes more of a sip-like approach. In fact, since coming on board four years ago, Berry says quarterly profits haven’t been discussed once with Tecnica Group President Giancarlo Zanatta. “It’s not part of the company’s DNA. The talk is always about how can we be better and what legacy are we creating 10 years from now,” he says. The plan is to put each brand in a position of 10 to 20 years of scalable, durable and profitable growth. In the process of meeting that goal, Berry sees himself as a sort of brand chemist. “The word I like to use is alchemy, which involves a mix of equal parts science, emotion, passion, luck and magic,” he says. “It’s about creating the right formula for each brand that unleashes its full potential.” Specific to Tecnica, Berry says it entails a recipe of innovation and premium product. A big push involves the recent introduction of its oversized Tecnica Rolling System (TRS) trail running technology that goes against the grain of the minimalist shoe movement. It also includes embracing its après roots from a premium, fur-is-good perspective. Overall, he says Tecnica represents a “big change from where the brand was positioned a few years prior, which was more of a commercial offering.” For Moon Boot, it’s a case of expanding its unique and loveable pop art design qualities into a broader product offering. “It’s always been a seasonal classic but, of late, it has fallen into what I would call a novelty, seasonal classic,” he notes. “With Moon Boot’s incredible design DNA, we have the opportunity to make it so much bigger.” Last but not least, Dolomite brims with Italian heritage that

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O&A Berry is itching to bring to the U.S. market possibly sometime this year. “For starters, its narrower last shape would give us a point of difference on the shelf against all of those American brands,” he says. Tecnica Group’s focus on footwear represents quite a shift compared with before Berry’s arrival when, he says, the category was viewed as a “nice, adjacent add-on business.” But having witnessed the soft goods successes at The North Face and Salomon, not to mention the overwhelming popularity of Ugg (its classic silhouette an après boot at its core), the company made footwear a strategic growth initiative about four years ago. One of its first hires was Berry, who worked prior at The North Face and Salomon, respectively. At the former, he worked alongside what now What are you reading? reads like a who’s who of outdoor indusWalkable City by Jeff try All Stars: Steve Rendle, now head of Speck. I’m fascinated by the VF Corp.’s outdoor division; Topher Gayintersection of our physical lord, now president of Mountain Hardenvironment and our wear; and Mike Egeck, currently at the everyday lives. The book’s helm of Eddie Bauer. “I was privileged to premise being that walking is be surrounded by some extremely talented good for our mind, body and people,” he says. “I learned a ton.” Which communities. he applied at Salomon, transforming the brand from hard goods-centric into a soft What one word best goods leader. describes you? Kinetic. Berry says it’s largely a matter of executAlthough some of my ing a similar battle plan for Tecnica, which colleagues might substitute he appears ideally suited for taking into chaotic. account his U.S. Army Rangers pedigree. “Being a Ranger provided me with expert What is inspiring you most leadership, teambuilding and operational right now? My three children skills,” he says. And while Berry didn’t see and the awareness that every any combat (He was stationed for a time day our actions are creating in Hawaii where he proudly notes “anoththe future that they’ll inherit. er Pearl Harbor didn’t happen under my watch.”), his military experience doveWhat famous person do you tailed into his becoming a strategic busimost identify with? Rocky ness consultant for medical companies Balboa. I love his get-off-thewhere he learned how major corporations mat-and-keep-fighting spirit. think, plan and execute. It was a chance meeting with an outdoor industry execuIf you could hire anybody tive that led to a job at The North Face and who would it be? Mickey his eventual path to Tecnica. Drexler. What he did at the Berry admits that he couldn’t have writGap and is now doing at ten a career script like this in his wildest J. Crew is amazing. He’s a dreams. Nonetheless, he views the Tecmerchant’s merchant who nica opportunity as a dream come true. understands how to balance “Original après brand, original Moon the competing forces of Boot and Dolomite’s 100 years of outdesign and commerce. door heritage… these are not perishable qualities,” he offers. “If you are original, authentic and have a great brand platform, that allows you to be patient, but also very successful.” Beyond that, Berry relishes a good fight. “I love [Sylvester Stallone’s] role in Rocky—the up-and-coming challenger,” he says. “We have so many different ways to win the fight.”

other way when the entire market was going minimal. But I don’t think we doubted ourselves for a minute. The minimalist thing seemed interesting but overdone. We also had to be true to ourselves and authentic to what the brand represents, and we knew that our TRS platform delivered. We partnered with a company that conducts many of the Italian Olympic teams’ testing regarding their biomechanics and kinesiology to verify that our oversized and rolling technology would benefit runners. We then went into the mountains and had elite athletes run 130 kilometers in the shoes, giving us tons of data points that also proved the concept performs. Soon afterward, I attended several ultra-endurance races where I noticed, literally out of the 600 people who started a race, not one Who would be your most was wearing minimalist shoes. But 30 coveted dinner guest? Kris percent-plus of the runners were wearing Kristofferson. He’s a Rhodes an oversized solution, either ours or one Scholar, a country superstar, from our design partner, Hoka. For that ’70s glam actor, U.S. Army type of athlete, our technology is a vastly Ranger, poet, hippie... He’s superior solution. seen and done it all.


You introduced Tecnica’s oversized TRS design in the middle of the minimalist craze. Was there ever an “Oh, crap” moment? A lot of people were laughing at us at the time as we definitely went the

What might people be surprised to know about you? I placed eighth in the International Federation of Competitive Eating’s rib eating championships. Like all good fathers, I took my kids to a casino when my wife was out of town. One thing led to another and the next thing I know I’m competing in rib eating. What is your motto? FIDO, which is an old infantry saying that stands for Forget It Drive On. We all face challenges in trying to get a job done but if you keep your eyes on the prize more often than not you will succeed. What is your favorite hometown memory? Eating late night sausage grinders at Coventry Beverage & Pizza in Cleveland, OH.

Where are you at with retailers understanding TRS? The job of convincing retailers about understanding the technology and its merits is largely done. But we are still working through some wrinkles regarding mostly cosmetic details. It’s an ongoing process where the burden is on us to continually improve the product. You need the whole package: cosmetics, price, fit and performance. Is TRS the opposite of minimalism? Our design provides the benefits of natural motion but also provides the stability, protection and cushioning of an oversized design concept. Those are aspects that I think the consumer is going to demand more of going forward. And while I think minimalism has long-term viability as a training tool, I believe it’s a niche category. That wave that we saw was more a fad and I just don’t think you will see the commercial success it enjoyed over the last several seasons. That’s why we like our position.

Who is the TRS customer? An oversized platform covers two consumer groups. The first consists of ultra racers competing, for example, in the Tor de Geants, which is a big race we sponsor in northwest Italy each year, where athletes run 330 kilometers over the highest peaks and endure crazy elevation gains. The protection and cushioning that our oversized platform offers more than makes up for the fact that it weighs a little more than a minimal shoe. The incredible shock absorption translates into improved athletic performance for these runners. Another set of consumers are those coming back from an injury or they’re slightly older and seek footwear that is going to make it easier on their body

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while running or hiking. The lags on our technology platform are really long. It’s similar to how oversized tennis rackets, skis and mountain bikes revolutionized their respective sports. The mountain bike—with its oversized and low-pressure tires—is probably the most direct analogy to TRS. That design breakthrough opened up a bunch of terrain to riders that they never thought possible. And it’s not a fad; it has become a dominant fixture in the marketplace because it delivered a viable technology. Moving on to Moon Boot—what phase is the brand in now? We decided to reposition and re-launch Moon Boot as a standalone brand, which was a process that started three seasons ago. It involves a new global distribution strategy targeting higher-end, tastemaker shops and playing in some of the larger format specialty stores like Nordstrom and Harrods. We have also taken what was admittedly a core silhouette that was very niche and novelty by definition and expanded it into much more accessible everyday product. The Duvet, for example, has had a lot of pick up this season, and we will launch the Monaco in our Avenues collection for next season, which had great response at the recent FFANY show. The Duvet is a slimmed down version that features left and right sizes, unlike the original model. That makes it more acceptable to consumers seeking to wear a shoe 80 days a year as opposed to perhaps eight days. To that end, we are trying to expand beyond our mainly resort distribution and into cities.

Just no Moon Boot flip-flops any time soon, right? Absolutely not. The most successful brands understand their brand narratives and stick to them. And that’s our company’s philosophy: we approach the business foundationally. We start small and we won’t accelerate the sell-in until we have demonstrated sell-through. We want to know the formula works first. At least there can be no other original Moon Boot. No one else has a 40-year story complete with photos of celebrities wearing the brand. No one else is featured in the Louvre as one of the 100 most important design objects of the 20th century. We are the only piece of footwear in the collection. All of that gives us an incredibly defensible territory. The same goes for Dolomite. There is only one other Italian outdoor brand with more than 100 years of heritage, but it isn’t currently being distributed. Consumers are connecting more with brands that possess a true story. Brand is the most important aspect today because design and technology are so easily transferable. If you can’t win with brand, you are not going to win.

“[Moon Boot is] the definitive, ’70s glam, pop art brand. It screams fun.”

How far can Moon Boot’s DNA be stretched? Moon Boot has so many iconic aspects to its design—a particular band, font, heel shape, lacing and flat sole profile—but as long as we respect enough of those cues I think we can be very successful. One of our earlier mistakes was going too natural in materials and earth tones in the palette. The brand DNA is about bright colors, synthetics and shine rather than a bohemian vernacular. We didn’t follow our brand narrative. Our consumer is a glam lady. She’s looking for something that wows her. You’ll see a lot more of the pop art direction going forward.

Moon Boot, like Ugg, is well loved for a particular silhouette. What is it that people love so much about that silhouette? First off, people really love the brand’s point of view. We are the definitive, ’70s glam, pop art brand. It screams fun. It’s like a snow day for your feet. I’ve been associated with bigger brands, but never associated with one that people fundamentally adore and makes them smile. If you can make people smile, it’s almost that simple at times. Also, there’s really nothing else like it on the market. That’s why I love the story of how Giancarlo Zanatta visited New York more than 40 years ago and, while sitting in Penn Station, he saw a billboard that celebrated the lunar landing and was so taken by the emotion in that photo that he returned to Italy and sketched what would become the original Moon Boot. His father and brother told him that it would never work. But he believed in it so much that he designed it anyway. It then went from zero to 100 miles an hour in popularity. The shape was so unique, but the materials were also wildly divergent. Using colored nylons in the pre-sneaker era? There was no Nike at that point to reference. Giancarlo was the first to make that leap. And what I’m finding now more than ever is that consumers crave authenticity and originality. Moon Boot has those qualities in spades. I don’t care if you are the highest end fashion brand out of Paris doing a version of this boot; it’s still a knockoff. There is only one original Moon Boot.

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Do you see similarities with Ugg in terms of Moon Boot’s brand traits? For sure. Both are very particular silhouettes— you can pick either out on a consumer’s foot from 40 meters away. Both are easy on-off and fun to wear. And both are oversized silhouettes that enhance the female form. The boots make legs look longer and skinnier. Last but not least, both scream fashion. A woman putting on a pair of Moon Boots is provocative. And that’s what fashion is at the end of the day. If you’re not noticed, you are not in fashion. You’re just wearing shoes.

Is this a good industry climate to be reintroducing these brands? It’s a great time to be doing it. The world needs another trend, and I believe our brands offer obvious potential for retailers to hitch their wagons. Specifically, several macro trends favor us. With respect to Tecnica’s après product, which is primarily fur-based, the old narrative was fur is bad, plastics are good. But with consumers becoming more knowledgeable about food supply chains, they are coming to understand that ethically harvested fur is an organic, sustainable solution and has a lot of advantages over petrol-based chemical ones. Fur also offers great performance benefits and looks great. Might outdoor be a macro lifestyle trend in footwear? I would agree. Outdoor brands will probably benefit from a move back to colors and khakis. And I believe Tecnica and Dolomite will benefit further. Put simply: there are a lot of dogs chewing on the same bone, but we come at it from a different place. We are not afraid, for example, of our European design aesthetic. It’s not just another scoop of vanilla. For sure, the world doesn’t need another earth-toned hiking boot. So many brands attack that same space and the result, too often, is the same silhouette represented 10 to 15 times on a shoe wall. And while a retailer might argue it’s the silhouette that sells the most, I counter with my supermarket analogy where the item that sells the most is milk but you normally see only four brands represented in the case. But there are 20 aisles of other categories featuring many more brands. Carrying 40 milk vendors doesn’t mean you will sell incrementally more milk, rather you will just split your sales between those vendors. In contrast, the smart merchant buys milk narrow and deep, and then buys a mix of prosciutto, hot sauces, syrups, cereals, etc. My point being that merchants should be more sophisticated in their assortments. Otherwise, it undermines the fundamental retail proposition, because the con- >69

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Polka Party

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White Mountain


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Beatle Mania


From leather to rubber—men’s Chelsea boots stretch their fashion legs.

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Purple Reign The regal hue is a rich alternative to basic neutrals. Clockwise from top left: Minnetonka fringe boot; Bogs printed rain boot; boot with side buckle by Blondo; Gentle Souls double buckle ankle boot; rain boot by Chooka; Palladium patent boot; Merrell harness boot; kitten heel boot by Impo; Ask Alice stiletto bootie; Chelsea boot by Hush Puppies.


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Congratulations Nominees! RUNNING Brooks Nike New Balance Adidas

MEN’S DRESS Florsheim Allen Edmonds Johnston & Murphy To Boot New York

MEN’S STREET Wolverine 1000 Mile OluKai Sperry Cushe

NATIONAL CHAIN DSW Journeys Nordstrom Foot Locker

ATHLETIC LIFESTYLE Converse Vans Adidas Originals Nike

WOMEN’S DRESS L.A.M.B. Dolce Vita Ted Baker Corso Como

WOMEN’S STREET Melissa Ash Minnetonka Toms

DESIGNER BOUTIQUE Macy’s Jeffrey Saks Fifth Avenue Barneys

MEN’S COMFORT Rockport Clarks Ecco Mephisto

CHILDREN’S Ralph Lauren Skechers Primigi Crocs

MADE IN AMERICA Justin Allen Edmonds New Balance Wolverine 1000 Mile

CUSTOMER SERVICE Hanig’s Footwear Littles Shoe Hawley Lane Shoes Pedestrian Shops

WOMEN’S COMFORT Dansko Naot Earthies Thierry Rabotin

PRE-WALKERS Pediped See Kai Run Robeez Little Me

BEST LAUNCH Cobb Hill NoSox Ugg Australia (men’s) Inuovo


BOOTS Ugg Australia Born Steve Madden Frye

WORK BOOTS Wolverine Rocky Carolina Red Wing

BRAND OF THE YEAR Toms Nike Ugg Australia Sperry Steve Madden

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE The Tannery Converse Store Lizard Lounge Kith

RAIN BOOTS Chooka Bogs Hunter Sperry

OUTDOOR Teva Merrell Asolo Sorel

COMPANY OF THE YEAR Wolverine Worldwide Nike New Balance VF Corp.


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Outdoor Preview: Fall 2013


Outdoor footwear for Fall 2013 is adapting to new consumer and environmental demands. By Judy Leand

From left: Teva, Vibram FiveFingers.

NE NEEDN’T BE a modern-day Charles Darwin to discover that outdoor footwear is in the midst of a major transformation as a result of evolving performance technologies, changing consumer lifestyles, increasing financial pressures, and the influx and co-mingling of trends and influences from beyond the core outdoor realm. In considering the origins of the outdoor footwear species, it used to be that each category—such as hiking, winter performance, trail running and après sport—evolved independently to meet the demands of a specific environment and purpose. But recent shifts toward multi-sport versatility, lightweight comfort, and sleeker athletic and fashionable looks that easily go from trail to street have changed that. These days, trail running and light hiking shoes share fast, light and minimalist DNA. Meanwhile, hiking boots and winter boots offer waterproof and breathable technologies, increased traction, better flexibility and cushioning—and oftentimes, slimmer silhouettes more suitable for

urban settings. And casual lifestyle fare has adopted many of the technical features that were previously only available in performance models as consumers increasingly seek the same benefits and bang for their buck in all their footwear purchases. Could it be that in the outdoor footwear environment, the laws of natural selection have inexplicably resulted in more likenesses than differences? “Technology that allows for a lighter and faster shoe or boot with more athletic use, and more hybrid or multi-sport applications are big for Fall ’13,” says Jeff Dill, Keen’s business unit director for Trailhead. “A great boot or versatile shoe is good for a huge variety of applications. Winter footwear, waterproof hiking and running shoes are all hybrid-use products.” Geoff Pedder, business director of Clarks Outdoor, agrees: “Versatility is definitely key. A shoe that can be worn for many purposes immediately becomes more valuable.” He adds, “Price points also need to be obtainable for the consumer. However, where the outdoor category is really winning is in the lifestyle and aspirational nature of the outdoors.” As in recent seasons, the infusion of athletic-inspired materials, technologies, hues and silhouettes into nearly all categories and price points of outdoor footwear will continue for next fall. Key attributes include stitch-

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less and seam-free uppers, saturated colors, and a diverse mix of materials and textiles. Additionally, waterproof and breathable technologies (both proprietary and branded), weight-reducing insulation, better outsole traction, and improved fit systems have been incorporated into lighter and more flexible designs. “There isn’t a business out there that’s completely recession-proof, but the outdoor industry tends to trend up in both good and bad economic times,” remarks Yahn Lebo, Wolverine’s product line manager. “This is largely because the outdoor footwear industry is such a convergence of influences from work, athletic and recreation that fits a broad range of consumer groups across ages, genders and locations.” Although the outdoor market is having a growing influence on the footwear industry in general, the footwear category itself has some soft spots. “The traditional performance hiking business has taken a knock in Europe as a result of the weak economy and the relatively high price points in the category. Also, the cold weather boot category in North America has struggled as a result of the warmer fall and winter weather of the last couple of years,” explains Pedder. “The outdoor category succeeds where the footwear is obtainable and exciting to more people than just true outdoor consumers.” In the interest of being all-inclusive, here is an overview of the key technical evolutions, as well as a sampling of intelligent designs, that will be dominant in light hiking, trail running, winter performance and casual lifestyle footwear for Fall ’13.


Five Ten

“We are seeing a big demand for winterized shoes. Even in Southern California, there are days when bike riding and hiking require more warmth for footwear, but you still don’t want the weight and bulk of a traditional hiking boot.” —Charles Cole, president, Five Ten


“Improved breathability in weather-capable styles and ease-of-use in all styles remain important to consumers.” —Chip Coe, general manager, Chaco Footwear “We are seeing a trend of using more synthetic materials in uppers as leather becomes more expensive, and the demand for lighter weight, more athletic-influenced products grows.” —Bill Berta, general manager, Hi-Tec USA


LIGHT HIKING The focus is on athletic looks blended with lightweight performance, stability and waterproof and breathable constructions. And while this footwear tends to be a bit heavier and more rugged than warm-weather versions in order to stand up to colder and wetter conditions, the newest designs are versatile, sleek, fast and supportive. For example, Chaco is introducing its Active Adventure Collection of multi-sport/light hiking shoes built around its Luvseat footbed and support system. The line boasts five styles each for men and women including mid- and low-cut versions in waterproof and nonwaterproof options. Premium leather and mesh uppers, along with proprietary EcoTread outsoles made with 25 percent recycled rubber, round out the package. Meanwhile, Hi-Tec is unveiling its new Sport Hiking category, a marriage of the European brand’s sport/court shoe background and its outdoor roots in the U.S. The V-Lite Chaski Mid RGS I WP features the Rollingate System (RGS), a new technology from Vibram that’s intended to reduce muscle fatigue during the gait cycle. This specially designed outsole—exclusive to Hi-Tec—was developed to optimize energy output during the downhill phase, and its curved shape supports the natural movement of the foot during impact. At Five Ten, the focus is on winterized shoes with less bulk. For instance, the new Winter Freerider VXi all-mountain shoe features a DWR treated synthetic upper that beads and repels water, and inside is a breathable PUR foam insulation that wicks sweat and adds a touch of warmth. The outsole utilizes new Stealth MI6 rubber for improved shock absorption and grip. Aesthetically, colorways are more organic for Fall ’13 (i.e. not as flashy as previous spring offerings), but will still be bold and rich. “Bright orange, blue, soft green and rich versions of browns and greens are key,” says Bruce

Franks, general manager of Asolo USA. “Also, slim profiles in leather and fabric and suede are important.”

TRAIL RUNNING The push toward minimalism and natural motion continues, but with greater attention being paid to protection and comfort. In other words, minimalist trail running is not quite as pared-down as it used to be. Besides, when running through cold, slushy water and uneven terrain, protection is warranted. As such, most brands are now utilizing a wider variety of waterproof and breathable technologies, more substantial (yet still lightweight) cushioning systems, and improved outsole designs. One such highlight is Merrell’s ConnectFit Series, created in partnership with W.L. Gore. ConnectFit, part of Merrell’s M-Connect Series, is designed to enhance ground connection. Shoes incorporate Gore-Tex Extended Comfort technology that’s been engineered to be more breathable and flexible than previous waterproofing incarnations, resulting in shoes with a glove-like fit that keep feet dry and enhance natural form and motion. “We were looking for a weather-right extension of M-Connect for Fall ’13 because consumers want minimal footwear with weather protection but don’t want to sacrifice fit, flexibility and weight,” says Shaun Bohnsack, Merrell’s category business director of Outside Athletic. “For the upper we use a membrane with stretch to provide a glove-like fit, and we combine that with the most breathable laminate membrane that Gore-Tex offers. We’ve also eliminated as much layering and glue as possible and the result is a lightweight, fully waterproof shoe.” At Saucony, the mission is to blend technical innovation with fit and 2013 january • 41

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Outdoor Preview: Fall 2013


The North Face

WARM FRONT “Today’s consumers are looking for one pair of boots with the ability to cross over into many areas of their lives.” —Yahn Lebo, product line manager, Wolverine

“A new category of lightweight, minimally inspired shoes is gaining traction as [the shoes] still feel familiar and safe to many runners.” —Bryan Gothie, senior product manager, New Balance Merrell

“Looking ahead, we will see more modified barefoot soles with a slightly thicker profile to take this story to a wider audience.” —Juerg Geser, senior product director, Teva Ecco

performance consistency. “More natural motion technologies are seeping into the market and we’re continuing to have a conversation about runners’ gaits and form foot,” says Pat O’Malley, Saucony’s senior vice president of Global Product. “We’re now moving the focus from the back (heel strike) to the side of the foot. Extreme minimalist stuff is slowing down, and natural motion with protection is growing.” For Vibram FiveFingers, outsole and traction technologies are of primary importance. For fall, the company developed Megagrip, a new rubber compound that offers excellent traction in mixed wet conditions without sacrificing durability. In terms of consumer focus, the company is targeting a younger audience by offering youth sizes that bridge the gap between children’s and adult’s.

WINTER PERFORMANCE The weather outside might (or might not) be frightful, but performance winter boots now possess many features that are delightful. Among the benefits are improved insulations, waterproof/breathable technologies, better grip on wet and slippery surfaces, and cozy lining materials. At Columbia Sportswear, the big push in winter boots centers around its proprietary Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective technology, which the brand is using in a wider range of styles for Fall ’13. For the uninitiated, the technology helps regulate temperature with silver dots that reflect and retain

“Outdoor is trending towards athletic— allover brights and tonal uppers with bright accents. Material trends reduce weight without sacrificing weather protection.” —Carey Platto, director of outdoor footwear, The North Face “Boots are available in a variety of heights. We are going to see a lot of mid-calves to booties in the coming winter.” —Kimberly Barta, senior global brand director, Sorel




body heat. The material is also breathable and will dissipate moisture and excess heat. For example, the women’s Minx Mid Omni-Heat, billed as “a jacket for your feet,” is a puffy coat-inspired lightweight, waterproof boot that utilizes an Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective lining, 200 grams of insulation, and a high-traction Omni-Grip rubber sole. For Vasque, the focus is on warmer boots with less bulk, paired with cold- and snow-specific traction designs. To achieve this, the company is using structured soft shell in several performance styles, and felted wool in other more casual models. All of these trimmer insulated silhouettes are achieved by combining light insulation with heat-reflecting material. A key performance style is the snowshoe-compatible Arrowhead UD, a lightweight, athletic boot that includes a breathable reflective lining along with UltraDry, Vasque’s proprietary waterproof membrane. In regard to fashion, winter boots are getting leaner, lighter and more versatile. According to a spokesperson for Ecco, “Winter boots have become more stylish and fashionable in the last couple of seasons, especially for women. The products offered are not only about heavy winter boots with thick, protective sole units anymore; it’s more about combining winter functionality with a nice look and making it appealing for [noncore outdoor] consumers.” Overall, says Wolverine’s Lebo, “We see people looking for maximum price/value performance footwear that [can be used] in a variety of chang-

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KICKING BACK “Artisan details such as blanket stitching and fleece linings will be prevalent. You’ll also see a continued collision of urban and outdoor.” —Sue Harvey Brown, footwear marketing manager, Patagonia “We’re seeing an increased focus on lifestyle footwear with performance technologies— premium fabrics and insulations such as PrimaLoft.” —Bill Taylor, vice president sales and marketing, Birki’s

ing climates. Going along with that trend are innovative insulation techniques that provide a versatile amount of warmth.”

CASUAL LIFESTYLE The category is rich in cozy comfort, convenience, versatility and youthfulness. Fun color combinations, patterns and color blocking, along with a mixed use of materials and textures, are prevalent. Eco-friendly offerings, such as those from Patagonia and Timberland, are also important but still do not trump consumers’ demand for price, quality and style. Part of the reason for this segment’s ongoing popularity is that it encompasses such a broad spectrum of choices—from waterproof insulated boots and shoes and deconstructed sneakers to indoor/outdoor slippers, after-sport recovery footwear and lots more in between. One of the biggest repositioning efforts of late involves Sorel. The brand, once renowned for its men’s heavy-duty cold weather utility boots, has transitioned into a stylish women’s outdoor lifestyle brand. Although Sorel still offers men’s products that include classic Pac boots, the focus for guys is now more on premium shoes for the Nordstrom crowd. Evidence of the brand’s shift can be seen in many new Sorel women’s styles, such as the high-heeled Medina Rain, Joan of Arctic Wedge ankle boots and the Conquest Carly Glow boot with its brightly colored heel and hint of rubber on the upper. “The sport-chic vibe is seeing traction—athletic is now starting to inspire outdoor and you will see that in hints of athletic materials and bright athletic colors in lifestyle footwear,” says Kimberly Barta, Sorel’s senior global brand director. “The trend of menswear for women is also continuing into 2013; rugged leather boots as well as masculine details with an industrial touch are appearing in lifestyle [footwear]. We are also seeing hints of fur and knits in the warm and cozy trend.” In fact, at Tecnica, fur is all the rage. “There is a big trend toward fur driven by the consumer,” says Tom Berry, vice president of global sales, marketing and merchandising at Tecnica Group. “People are becoming more local and organic about their food sources, which ties into the ‘tipto-tail’ mentality, and that is translating into footwear. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated and are understanding that fur and leather are byproducts of a food source, and it’s more respectful to the animal to use as much of it as possible.” In Patagonia’s camp, athletic versatility and style are key elements, particularly in the brand’s Activist collection. This line of packable, casual shoes features waterproof ripstop nylon uppers backed with a polyester

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Moon Boot


lining for warmth, and recycled rubber soles. For Acorn, which is expanding beyond its core slipper business, comfort and versatility rule. “The outdoor footwear market continues to grow as consumers look for outside shoes that are as comfortable as they are functional,” says Sonya Purington, Acorn’s marketing manager. “The whole ‘sleep to street’ mentality is crossing into multiple markets, so combining outdoor materials with comfortable slipper construction is proving to be key.” •

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Nord Trail



Patagonia Teva

URBAN OUTDOORS Turning up the style volume for life amid the concrete jungles.


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New Balance




The North Face


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Take a Hike Slimmed down hikers awash in refreshing hues blaze a new path on the shoe wall.




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6 8

9 1. Columbia 2. Vasque 3. Keen 4. Oboz 5. Asolo 6. Wolverine 7. Rocky 8. Ecco 9. GoLite january 2013 • 49

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what’s selling

outdoor specialty


Top-selling items this fall: The Ugg classic tall, short and triple tall boots have sold very well. I know it’s an old story that [Ugg] has been strong for years, but it’s not slowing down. We sell thousands of pairs every year.

Littleton, NH


Has this season met your sales expectations? Yes, especially pertaining to footwear. It’s been a strong year. Footwear, in general, is so much brighter and vibrant; it’s an exciting time. There’s a lot of innovation.

GOING STRONG SINCE 1920, Lahout’s started out as a family-run general store with products ranging from apparel to groceries. Today, the shop still has a family-oriented reputation, but is also known as one of the top outdoor specialty chains (with six locations) in New England. Grandson of the store’s founder, Joe Lahout, credits its knowledgeable staff and its retail philosophy—the right products at the right prices and always being good to the customers—as two key reasons why the oldest ski shop in America remains a go-to for White Mountains’ tourists and locals alike. “People like shopping in a family-run business that has some history behind it,” he offers, attributing word of mouth to a great deal of its success. Customers also value the expertise of the down-to-earth and knowledgeable employees. “Our snowboard shop staff is aged 18 to 25 and they wear ripped jeans and baseball hats like their customers,” Lahout says. “And we never hire anyone in the ski shop who isn’t a great skier. We hire people who know what they’re talking about.”

What is your fastest growing customer segment? People in their late 20s and early 30s with young kids. Young families like to swim, hike and ski.

ANY SURPRISES? The big surprise was the number of out-ofstate and Canadian tourists who came all summer and fall. We had a very good year. More people are camping and hiking because it’s free, and if they need the gear, we’ve got it.


and fashionable winter styles from Ugg, Hunter, The North Face and Sorel. Women want to wear boots that keep them warm and dry, but they still want to look good. And people are willing to pay more to have a little bit more style and color.

little bit smarter about ordering and we’ll move inventory between the stores more frequently. Any disappointments in 2012? The local economy remains stagnant. No one’s really had a raise in five or six years. People here are just surviving, which is really tough with the rising costs of healthcare and fuel. This year will be better than last year because… We will have more snow. With no snow, you could have the best lines at the best prices, and you’re still not going to sell a lot.

How would you describe the overall mood of your customers? They’re willing to spend if it’s quality merchandise. [Customers] are very sophisticated now with smartphones, iPads and computers. They know what they want, they know the prices at other stores and they are very knowledgeable about the products. You’re not going to fool anybody. Any New Year’s resolutions? To better control our inventory even though that flies in the face of needing inventory to do well. We’ll try to be a

This year might be worse because… Congress is not getting the economy and the deficits under control.

WHAT IS YOUR NO. 1 GOAL FOR 2013? For Notre Dame to have won the national championship (laughs). That and inventory control, taking care of my employees and just having a good time at work.

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By Maria Bouselli

SECOND ASCENT Seattle, WA VINTAGE BACKPACKS, ICE back to the 17-year-old retailer screws and climbing gear cover each season. To that end, the the walls of this 5,000-squarestore has been more active than foot outdoor destination shop. ever as far as putting on special Staying true to its roots as a events and interacting with previously owned secondhand its local community. “We’ve store, Second Ascent offers a had numerous guest speakers, variety of used goods as well including well-known people as brand-new products for in the climbing community,” its customers. “We always Hartle says. “And we are always carry quality products,” says supporting local schools with footwear buyer, Trent Hartle, donation requests as well as adding, “We pride ourselves on partnering with climbing gyms having staff here that use the in the area on special programs. equipment. We have people It’s nice to keep that connection who are fairly expert in every to our grassroots.” department.” This expertise and focus on the consumer keep WHAT IS YOUR FASTEST GROWING customers coming FOOTWEAR SEGMENT?

Has this season met your sales expectations so far? There’s always a bridge between seasons when there’s a dip in sales and we get a little bit of anxiety. But we’re well within expectations now. And winter is our strongest season with Nordic sports such a strong part of the area culture.

What’s your outlook for minimalist shoes? I don’t see it going away entirely. But without proper coaching and information, people can be misled and, as a result, suffer injuries. This year might be worse because… I don’t foresee anything bad happening (laughs).

Definitely rock climbing. We’re dead center in four different rock climbing gyms and the city has really taken to the sport.

How would you describe the What is the biggest challenge overall mood of your customers? currently facing your business? Our Best-selling accessories: Socks. Our customers tend to be a little bit cautious competitors, especially those online. With Sunglasses also sell well, which is surprising about buying something along the lines of footwear in particular, we wouldn’t choose in Seattle. a $300 Vortex jacket. If to sell online. It’s doing the customer a they’re just starting the disservice if they don’t come into the shop Any activity they’re not sure and put shoes on their feet and see how the TOP-SELLING ITEMS THIS FALL: surprises? of the outcome—and not products feel and work. While it’s always We have done really well with Salewa Some say sure why the products about price online, I believe they’re giving up as well as with the newer La Sportiva that a sign of may be so expensive. something in quality service. products. And we always do well with a successful Salomon. business is 7 to 8 percent growth ANY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS? every year, but it To be a bit ahead of my game. It’s [doesn’t] always impossible to predict, but I want to play out that hone my skills in selecting the styles way. That said I want to go forward with. I want to be our numbers in effective and efficient. footwear were exceptionally high. 2013 january • 51

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Modern Vice

Head Strong

Chooka Zigi NY


The macabre embellishment reveals fall fashion’s darker side. By Angela Velasquez

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Hilton New York Hotel & Member Showrooms

Download FFANY’s iPad App on January 23rd to view the show directory. Save the Date: June 5–7, 2013 Wednesday–Friday FFANY.ORG


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Floral ankle boot by Durango. Southpaw Vintage jacket and dress, Falke tights.


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Vogue woven boots. Jacket by Member’s Only, Southpaw Vintage skirt layered over dress. Opposite, from left: Ask Alice cut-out bootie. Linda Varady Berman jacket, sweater and gown. GBX brogue boots. Pants by Dockers, stylist’s coat and sweater, Falke socks.

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From top: embossed boot by Julieth Estrada, Pazzo lace-up ankle boot, velvet wedge boot by Very Volatile. Opposite: Linda Varady Berman dress, plaid shirt by Corpus, stylist’s belt. 59

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Nicole tapestry boot. Linda Varady Berman cropped jacket and skirt, Corpus shirt. Opposite: Rockport wingtip work boot. Jacket by Ralph Lauren Denim and Supply, Urban Renewal sweater, Stapleford shirt, J & Co. jeans, Falke socks. 60

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Ankle boots by Jellypop. Southpaw Vintage gown, tights by Falke. Opposite: navy blue lace-up boot by Crevo. Linda Varady Berman coat, INC International Concepts sweater, shirt and pants by Dockers, Falke socks, BDG scarf. 63

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Embroidered boot by Sbicca

Vogue tweed boot

D E S I G N E R C H AT : FLORI SILVERSTEIN Sergio Zelcer peep toe wedge

Gold Rush

A Midas touch illuminates classic black dress styles. E DI TO R’S P I CKS

has never been interested in Nina unless she was going to a party. Now she can’t wait to get her hands on the Originals. “Even though the line is inspired by our roots, it’s totally relevant to today,” Silverstein says. —Angela Velasquez Where do you like to shoe shop? I’ll just as easily buy a $5 Chinese fabric Mary Jane as a high-end faux fur boot or bejeweled heel. I’m not a shoe snob. I’ll buy whoever I think is doing it the best.

the second time they come around. If you weren’t designing shoes, what would you be doing? I would be making something creative with my hands. In my spare time I like to make jewelry out of found objects. I’ve always wanted to be in the arts of some kind, sketching or painting.

What shoe in your closet is currently getting the most wear? A man tailored oxford and a bootie. I’m a low-heel girl.

What is your favorite part of your job? I love the beginning of a season when you get to start looking at what is changing, how things are becoming different and then working on something new. I also love the actual craft of shoemaking—choosing the materials and lasts.

Is there a trend that you hope to never see again? A high-heel thong sandal. Those are too painful. I think only a man would design that. Also, stretch boot pants. Nina used to make them; I’ve seen a photo. Other than that, I often see designs that I hate the first time but like

What would you change about the industry? I think we need more independent stores. Not that I don’t love department stores, but because there’s so much consolidation, it’s becoming difficult to get a different viewpoint. Independents help stimulate creativity.


Call it a case of fashion déjà vu. When Creative Director of Nina Originals Flori Silverstein spied styles that reminded her of the days when her father and uncle designed in their former Long Island City, NY, factory (“Back before designers were influenced by the Internet,” she notes.), the fourth generation Nina designer decided it was time to revisit the archives. From platforms to oxfords, Silverstein says good designs are timeless. “And right now there’s a feeling of true appreciation of great designs that have come before,” she adds. As of late, Nina has focused on dress styles, but with this spring’s launch of Nina Originals, Silverstein broadens the spectrum with a range of everyday modern footwear that hints to the best style cues the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s had to offer. “Skimmers, boots, shoes for work and play—it was a true assortment, and that’s what we wanted to get back to: dressing a women in all aspects of her life,” she explains. To follow up for Fall ’13, Silverstein is incorporating deeper colors and materials to the range of pumps, booties and mules—many of which were inspired by styles found in Nina’s library of vintage shoes. Velvet, brushed-off leather, material mixing and stretch fabrics will give a “cozy and rich feeling” that Silverstein says women are seeking in their fall fashion. Unique packing and the return of the original Nina logo are nods to the collection’s storied roots, but the creative exec also hopes to connect to a new breed of Nina consumers through social media. “She’s a little bit faster, an original and not afraid to wear something different from the pack,” Silverstein says of the target consumer. One example is her 16-year-old daughter, who 64 • january 2013

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Cocktail Party & Casino Night Saturday, February 23, 2013 | 6-9:30 pm

COBB ENERGY PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE Round-trip shuttle service (two-minute ride) is available to and from the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Pick up and drop off at the East Parking Lot of the Cobb Galleria Centre. Featuring “Party On The Moon” Complimentary to all attendees Elaborate buffet & one complimentary drink per person

Featuring Party On The Moon

Sunday, February 24, 2013 Breakfast 7:30 am Seminar from 8:00 - 9:00 am Renaissance Waverly Hotel Chancellor Room Presented by Ellen Campuzano $10 per person and the $10 will be refunded the day of the seminar. Space is limited, so please register early. Make checks payable to: Southeastern Shoe Travelers. Registration Deadline: January 30, 2013.

HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS Renaissance Waverly Hotel – $134 Please refer to The Atlanta Shoe Market. 888.391.8724 Embassy Suites Galleria – $109 single, $129 double. 770.984.9300 Atlanta Marriott Hotel NW – $109 single/double. 800.228.9290 Sheraton Suites – $104 single, $109 double. 770.995.3900

AIRFARE SPECIAL RATE Delta Airlines is offering 10% off Full/Non Restricted Flights and 5% off Discounted/Restricted Flights. Use Meeting Event Code: NMESM Reservations may also be made by calling 1-800-328-1111. Mon. - Fri. 7a.m. - 7p.m.

CAR RENTAL To reserve a vehicle, contact Hertz at 800.654.2240 and refer to code CV #022Q5892

AIRPORT SHUTTLE SERVICE MT TRANSPORTATION For reservations: By phone: 770-880-1757 By e-mail: Private car or SUV - $65 one way Round Trip - $120 A & M LIMO & GALLERIA DIRECT For Reservations: By phone: 770-955-4565 (Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) By email: Online: *Prices subject to change Service to airport every hour from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. $30* one way (advance reservations only); $50* round trip (advance reservations only).


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Fashion meets function in this easy-to-walk-in wedge sole and Aetrex has applied its “Healthy 3” approach

waterproof suede bootie with

Inspired by the landing on the moon

to a heeled ankle boot for Fall ’13. With Lynco

leather detailing, soft faux fur

more than 40 years ago, Italian designer

orthotic footbeds for support and alignment,

collar and inside zipper that

Giancarlo Zanatta fused fashion and sport

memory foam cushioning for customization

screams city-chic. Visit Cougar

and created The Original Moon Boot. The

and comfort, and anti-microbial technology to

at FFANY and Platform.

2013 collection stays true to its roots with a

help keep feet healthy and clean, the Liv ankle

full range of unique styling and materials,

boot is an outstanding addition to the Aetrex

with fashion and fits for all. Check us out at

Essence collection. Aetrex will be exhibiting

FFANY and FN Platform.

at FFANY, Outdoor Retailer, FN Platform

and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

Cougar’s fall and winter collections feature

Now little girls can stand out from the crowd in trendy hidden wedge sneakers!

fashionable footwear that goes anywhere,

Hydee Plus 2 features a secret 2-inch wedge that gives an instant boost in

anytime, in any weather. Guaranteed to be

height. With suede uppers accented in bright glitter finishes, these must-have

waterproof. Guaranteed to turn heads. Visit us

sneakers are perfect for every season. Visit us at FN Platform to see more from

at FFANY, FN Platform and Outdoor Retailer.

the Hydee Hytop collection and Skechers Kids.

Chooka introduces an edgy new studded collection for Fall ’13. Not for the faint of heart, but rather the strong of mind and style. The wearer doesn’t merely sit on the edge, but rather stomps out the line between fashion and function. Check us out at Outdoor Retailer, FFANY, FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe Market and ENK Children’s Club.

Our collections feature styling that’s distinctive and chic, while the comfort of the foot is never forgotten. All the comfort features you’ve come to expect from Azura are here—cushioning, ease-of-wear and adjustability are just some of the qualities you will find. See us at FN Platform and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

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as they love comfort. Featuring a soft, flexible sole and allleather uppers and linings, the Fall ’13 collection offers a range of easy-to-wear ballet flats, pumps and boots available in sizes EU 36-41 (US 5.5-11). Visit Brian James Footwear at FFANY, FN Platform

Stay warm and dry this fall with Bearpaw, a

and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

lifestyle brand that combines comfort and function

to redefine casual footwear. Focusing on creating comfortable and stylish shoes for women, men and children, Bearpaw has carved out a niche by providing consumers with comfort and sensibility.


Brian James Footwear is designed for women who adore fashion as much

Check out the selection at Outdoor Retailer, FN Platform, FFANY and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

Skechers GOrun 2 is the next generation of a serious minimal running shoe. Engineered with innovative technologies to promote a mid-foot strike and weighing in at only 6.6 ounces, it works as a great transitional shoe for those looking to foster Blossom Footwear has built a successful lifestyle brand, “De Blossom Collection,” around high fashion women’s footwear. Inspired by the glamour and sensuality of today’s fashion trends, the collection

a barefoot running experience. Visit us at Outdoor Retailer and FN Platform to preview the entire Skechers performance division.

spans platforms and wedges to sandals, boots and more. Visit us at ENKWSA and FN Platform.

Born in the Italian Dolomites more than 50 years ago, Tecnica continues its heritage of offering product with the perfect blend of resort fashion and winter function. Using nothing but the most luxurious furs and rich Since its creation, Yaleet (distributor of Naot Footwear) has been guided by two basic principles: offering solutions and promising trust. Our superbly crafted products demonstrate our response to the compelling need for healthy, comfortable and fashionable footwear. At the same time, our unfailing commitment to integrity makes quality customer service our very highest priority.

leathers, combined with Italian styling and designs, these winter boots are just at home on city streets as they are in the mountains. 67

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The Alegria Belle collection, with

Introducing a line of top-quality

a thinner, lower profile, is shown

girls’ shoes that pack a sincere

in a new “Neon Love” print for

punch of razzle dazzle, Western

Fall ’13. Continuing the brand’s

Chief Kids will be sure to glamorize

pursuit of blending fun fashion

any glitter girl’s feet. Check your

with unparalleled comfort, Alegria

temperature, you may have caught

wants you and your feet to be

glitter fever. Visit us at Outdoor

happy! The Belle collection comes

Retailer, FFANY, FN Platform,

in 14 fun colors and is available in

The Atlanta Shoe Market and

medium and wide widths.

ENK Children’s Club.

Born’s combination of handcrafted styles and

Recognized as a comfort innovator, Easy Street has been creating

premium leathers redefines casual footwear for

fashionable women’s footwear for more than 50 years. The elegant

men and women. Featuring beautiful leathers

new “Image” is a style that belongs in every woman’s wardrobe, and

with rich finishes and textures in an array of

is available in 43 sizes and four widths. Easy Street will be exhibiting

earth-inspired colors, artfully organic detailing

at the FFANY, FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe Market, TRU and

complements the Fall ’13 collection with the

the Dallas Shoe Show.

signature Born aesthetic. Stop by and see us

at FFANY, Outdoor Retailer, FN Platform and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

Fly Flot’s history of flexibility, softness and quality merges with technology and fashion to achieve perfection in comfort footwear. With the brand’s “Four Points of Comfort,” the longer you own them, the more they adjust to the way you Primigi sets the dazzling trends for Fall ’13

walk, the way you stand, and the way

with luxe details and rich materials. Find

you live. Visit us at FN Platform and

all of the season’s essentials for children

The Atlanta Shoe Market.

from infants to tweens with an emphasis on

comfort, quality and durability. Follow the Primigi show schedule to ENK Children’s Club, FN Platform and the Children’s Great Event Shoe Show.

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continued from page 24 sumer is not going to feel the need to come into a store if all it’s carrying is 31 flavors of vanilla. Is this lack of assortment one of the biggest problems involving retail right now? It’s the biggest problem on the footwear wall. Smart retailers understand that you carry some products more for marketing reasons where they don’t expect to sell a lot, but it validates their store with their customers. And there are some products that are basics, but they don’t need to go too broad because they can service that customer more efficiently by carrying deeper. Then there are some products that are fishing expeditions where that retailer needs to put a couple of lines in the water and see what bites. Frankly, we are all fisherman. We all put stuff out there, and the voice I trust most, at the end of the day, is the consumer’s. The lack of a dominant trend of late has retailers a bit hesitant, no? I think retailers like stars, which is similar to Hollywood in that they like star-driven vehicles because they know what they are getting. It’s a lot more difficult to manage retail if there’s not a dominant trend. To your point, there doesn’t appear to be enough must-buys out there right now. And then look at the average consumer and how many more pairs of shoes are in their closet versus their parents at that same age. It’s probably four times the amount and, for the average man, he probably doesn’t need to buy another pair any time in the next few years. So when there is no clear fashion trend that makes something a must-buy, business can slow overall. But that’s the burden on manufacturers: to create products, generate consumer interest and partner with retailers to generate those must-buy stories. While the overall footwear sales pie may be somewhat stagnant, it still presents enormous opportunity to do well. And that’s just in the States. The Moon Boot, for example, hardly exists in Japan. You can imagine the Japanese design sensibility is perfect for that brand. That alone is an incredible 10to 20-year opportunity.

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What is Tecnica Group’s biggest challenge right now? It’s an execution play more than anything. With three great opportunities, if we execute [well] I expect we will have great success. I don’t want to oversimplify it, but if we connect the dots we can create a great picture. Other big challenges, which are industry-wide, involve the Internet and dynamic pricing. I think we are in a period of real disruption right now. If you look what’s happened in home electronics and music industries—it’s absolutely frightening. What might all of this mean for the footwear industry? For starters, I predict there will soon be a couple of major companies that will cease to sell third party online dealers in an effort to regain control of their brands. They will only sell direct at the MSRP. This era of dynamic pricing has opened a Pandora’s box. The consumer’s ability to shop nationally on their smart phones from wherever they are pretty much makes everyone a competitor and, given the legislation and regulation of this country, you really can’t control price unless you control distribution. It also begs questions about the whole wholesale-retail markup structure. We are living in a world that has yet to acknowledge that the entire business ecosystem has changed yet the markup system hasn’t changed in a meaningful way. I think some fascinating things are going to be happening over the next decade on that front as well. Yet I don’t envision a world where shoes are obsolete. I agree and, as a father with three kids to put through college, that’s a good thing. The lo-fi of the footwear industry is exactly what protects it. What do you love about your job? The 30,000-foot answer is working with a great team of people. I think that makes all the difference in the world. My 15,000-foot answer is the creative process, because I love the fact that, on a daily basis, I get to invent the future. And my 5,000-foot answer is I get a ton of free socks. I love the concept of the “game dayâ€? sock. On all my big days, I open the drawer, take off the wrapper and break out a fresh pair. It gives me such a boost. •



BOOTS Y COUNTRiew Our Fall ’13 Prev Special Report




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Point and Click British brand Pointer stays relevant with clean and minimal silhouettes.

Homemade Chile Barbara Briones bows a collection soaked in her country’s colorful culture. SIX YEARS AFTER launching her eponymous collection, Barbara Briones is attempting to bring her business to an even broader group. “I believe that in terms of design and craftsmanship, the brand has become sophisticated to appeal to a more global woman, never leaving behind our focus on quality,” the Chilean designer notes. Tapping into her Latin American heritage, the spring collection showcases traditional elements of artistry in metalworking and leathers done in a natural palette punctuated with bold colors like fuschia, lime and electric blue. “This season’s inspiration has been the essence of nature and a more organic approach in terms of shape,” she reveals. Using exotic skins such as ostrich and salmon, as well as classic leather and suede accented with metal cap toes and lips, the result is a collection spanning smoking slippers and sandals to chunky heels. Wholesale prices range from $130 to $400. After studying shoe design at Cordwainers at London College of Fashion (which has nurtured a host of prodigies including Jimmy Choo, Charlotte Olympia and Nicholas Kirkwood, to name a few), Briones interned at the House of Ferragamo and Mulberry and launched her own line in 2007. But it was her time spent in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that cemented her career path. “I had the fortune of meeting great leather artisans who influenced and encouraged me to develop a more complete dedication towards my profession,” she says. Today she divides her time between New York and Chile, where her flagship store and studio are based and where local artisans make each shoe by hand. This coming season her shoes will be found at the über-hip boutiques Assembly, Albertine and Condor in New York. “I believe my brand is a good blend, combining old world artisans and traditional design training,” she says. “It’s an eclectic handmade collection where the skills of talented artisans merge with contemporary design.” —Lyndsay McGregor

WHEN POINTER HIT the streets in 2004, it was the antithesis to a market that was saturated with increasingly technical trainers and hyped-up limited-edition sneakers. Nine years later, not much has changed. Athletic companies continue to churn out innovative product, sneakerheads will always camp out for days for limited-edition kicks and Pointer still makes simple, well-designed, casual footwear. “If you’re looking for flashy bells and whistles, you will mostly likely be driven towards different brands,” says Line Manager Alexander Bonk of the London-based brand’s relaxed aesthetic and interest in independent design. “When Pointer started, most of our designs were done on vulcanized outsoles—interpretations of classic trainers and plimsolls. We then started exploring all kinds of different constructions and styles that appealed to us, often using traditional archetypes, twisting and blending designs to come up with something truly our own,” Bonk explains. To this end, founder Gareth Skewis insists that all employees train at John Lobb, the legendary shoemaker of 180-plus years that handcrafts custom shoes for the British Royals. It appears to be paying off: “Since we constantly develop new concepts, our sales are not clustered on just a few styles—they’re usually spread out over the bigger part of the collection,” he says. New to the family for Spring ’13 is the William style, Pointer’s take on an athletic-inspired construction using canvas and suede to maintain the low-fi character the brand is known for. Chester, a simplistic derby on a vulcanized outsole, has been reinterpreted using pattern-printed washed canvas as upper material, while Debaser, one of its iconic styles, is making a comeback with decorative moccasin stitching on the vamp. Carried everywhere from W Hotels The Store to sneaker shops like New York’s Kith and Burn Rubber in Michigan, Pointer’s wholesale prices range from $32 to $85. “For next [fall], we’ve updated our materials a lot, offering waterproof full-grain leathers and suedes along with felt-fabrics, used on both uppers and linings,” Bonk reveals, adding that bright colors abound. “The line will be highly functional for the cold and wet months without looking techy at all and will also stand out color-wise from your typical shades of brown.” He adds, “We’ve upgraded quite a few long-running styles to further enhance value and appeal, while maintaining an analog feel, making the line essentially Pointer.” —L.M.

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Kickin’ It Old School Classic styles get the Royal Elastics treatment.

SINCE BEING ESTABLISHED in 1996 by two Australian teens, Los Angeles-based Royal Elastics has gone through an acquisition (by K•Swiss in 2001) and dissolution (sold to the investment group REH in 2009) and now, after losing its way for a couple seasons, has finally rebounded. While still creating an array of athletic-inspired styles featuring the elastic-based closures it’s known for, the brand—which offers men’s, women’s and kids’ styles—is now putting its own spin on old school

favorites like desert boots, oxfords and creepers. “We use thick, stacked EVA midsoles with rubber outsoles to achieve a creeper look with bright pops of color to give them some freshness,” says John Bondoc, chief creative officer and executive vice president. “We have a clean oxford look, a wingtip tricked out with brogue details and serrated edges, and a desert boot—all on these creeper bottom units.” The brand has reengineered its popular Brother Roland, a desert boot, using a shapelier last and taller heel and available in a selection of bright canvases and chambrays. “We’re also very excited about a small collection of hiker-inspired styles on a new, lightweight molded EVA bottom,” Bondoc offers. “These shoes were materialized in technical nylons and utilize modern no-sew construction on selected colorways.” Wholesale prices range from $25 to $70. Moving into Fall ’13, Royal Elastics will continue to offer shoes on the creeper bottom unit, as well as re-releasing some of its iconic athletic styles: the Smooth, the brand’s first ever shoe, and the Icon. “The Smooth XVI is tweaked to give it a more contemporary look; it’s narrower and built on a lightweight bottom unit. The Icon 2600 is remodeled on a new last and much cleaner lines,” Bondoc reveals. —L.M.


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Out of Africa Oliberté founder Tal Dehtiar uses footwear to create jobs in sub-Saharan Africa while respecting both the culture and the materials. ON A TRIP to Liberia in Africa a few years ago, Tal Dehtiar noticed a shoe cobbler working at a stand in the local market. “I asked him how business was,” he recalls. “He said, ‘The charities are coming next week, and every time they come my business fails—how do I compete with free?’” Dehtiar thought to himself enough is enough. “We’re giving and giving but not really helping,” he notes. Then his aha moment came: Why not create a sustainable chain of business that provides people in Africa with steady jobs? With that thought, the MBA graduate from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, founded the shoe brand Oliberté in 2009. “We have a simple goal—to create a million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa with footwear,” Dehtiar says. Well, perhaps that’s not so simple, but it is dreaming big. “The more shoes we sell, the more jobs we create,” Dehtiar adds. While he has no former footwear industry experience (“I knew as much about shoes as the shoes on my feet,” he says.), Dehtiar does know a thing or two about giving back. He launched the international charity MBAs Without Borders in 2004, which connects MBA graduates with volunteer opportunities to support businesses, with a focus on healthcare, agriculture, finance and renewable energy. The nonprofit has made a meaningful impact in 25 countries to date. But Dehtiar

sought to do more. “I wanted to make something that the world wanted, that people would pay for and create jobs.” Enter Oliberté, the first premium footwear brand made in Africa, which recently opened its own factory in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Currently Oliberté employs 57 factory workers, 60 percent of whom are women. The jobs are the first entrance into the workforce for the majority of Oliberté employees, who are trained on the line immediately and can usually catch up to more experienced workers who produce about 20 shoes a day, which range from chukka and combat boots to Clockwise from left: A factory loafers and moccasins, in about worker stitching in Addis Ababa, three weeks. Each shoe starts out as Ethiopia; GM Feraw Kebede and Tal Dehtiar outside the Oliberté a design on paper in Canada and is factory; the Adibo chukka. then put together, using materials sourced from various countries in Africa. “[Oliberté] takes craftsmanship and brings it to another level, with a manufacturing aspect to it,” Dehtiar says, adding, “We can employ a lot of people very quickly, and all that’s great, but if it’s not done fairly, it doesn’t matter.” To that end, Oliberté operates with a “play fair” mentality that includes paying fair wages to workers, honoring their culture and lifestyle, and respecting the materials used in the shoes, such as the leathers. “Our leather comes from free-range, hormone-free animals that have lived a proper life,” Dehtiar notes. “The leather is lighter and more natural. It may have scratches on it, but that means the animals haven’t been put in a bubble—they’ve been let to live.” The rubber soles are sourced from Kenya, Congo and Ethiopia. The brand also offers a threeway shipping policy in which they recycle worn shoes. “We don’t want to be another reason why there is more waste in the world,” he notes. Oliberté is expanding its offering for men and women in its Fall ’13 collection. As the brand continues its success, Dehtiar hopes it will inspire other brands to follow suit and aid in helping create those million jobs in Africa, which he believes would be possible with some help in the next five to 10 years. “If we could bring 1 percent of what we’re doing in China to Africa, we would change the landscape of that continent by a significant percentage,” he says. “I believe it’s Africa’s time to shine.” —Maria Bouselli

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12/19/12 9:34:00 AM

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