Footwear Plus | August 2020

Page 1

AUGUST 2020 VOL 30 • ISSUE 7 • $10

SLIDE SHOW Designers Put a Fresh Spin on the Summery Silhouette Easy Street Maps Out its Road to Success Seven Key Trends for Spring/Summer ’21 Classic Kicks for Cool Guys


FRESH SPRING 2021 NEW STYLES, COLORS & MATERIALS

easystreet

1-800-826-6430

®



BACKPACK SHOULDER BAG

LANYARD POUCH

3 POCKET WAIST PACK SLING

Official Champion Accessory Licensee | Please Contact For Inquiries 4 8 We s t 3 8 t h S t r e e t , 2 n d - 5 t h F l | N e w Yo r k , N Y 1 0 0 1 8 | P h : 2 1 2 . 3 9 1 . 4 1 4 3 | w w w. u n i t e d l e g w e a r. c o m Champion Logo and C Logo are trademarks of HBI Branded Apparel Enterprises, LLC, used under license.


TOTE

BACKPACK

WAIST BAG

DUFFEL

DUFFEL


AU G U S T 202 0 Caroline Diaco President/Group Publisher

F E AT U R E S

Greg Dutter Editorial Director

12 Easy Does It Keith Gossett, president of Easy Street Shoe Company, on how its unique business model is weathering the pandemic—not easily, mind you—but better than most. By Greg Dutter 18 Trend Spotting From toe rings to jagged soles, seven key trends for next spring. By Ann Loynd Burton 32 The Boys of Summer Classic kicks that knock it out of the park. By Ann Loynd Burton 34 In the Swim The slide rules for Spring/ Summer ’21 in splashes of color, patterns and materials. By Ann Loynd Burton

Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL Lauren Parker Executive Editor Emily Beckman Associate Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Kirstin Koba Contributing Editor Melodie Jeng Marcy Swingle Contributing Photographers ADVERTISING/ PRODUCTION Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Laurie Guptill Production Manager Kathy Wenzler Circulation Director Catherine Rosario Office Manager Mike Hoff Digital Director

PA G E

34

WAINSCOT MEDIA Carroll Dowden Chairman Mark Dowden President & CEO Steven J. Resnick Vice President & CFO OFFICES

D E PA RT M E N T S On cover: Leather slide by Gabor. This page: Cougar platform slides; rainbow sport slide by Chooka. Photography by Trevett McCandliss; model: Zoie Zeller/Fenton Model Mgmt.; fashion editor: Ann Loynd Burton.

ADVERTISING/EDITORIAL

One Maynard Drive Park Ridge, NJ 07656 Tel: (201) 571-2244 editorialrequests@ 9Threads.com

6 Editor’s Note 8 This Just In 10 Scene & Heard 30 A Note to My Younger Self 46 Shoe Salon 48 Last Shot

PA G E

48

CIRCULATION

One Maynard Drive Park Ridge, NJ 07656 Tel: (201) 571-2244 circulation@9Threads.com

FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by Wainscot Media, One Maynard Drive, Park Ridge, NJ, 07656. The publishers of this magazine do not accept responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage is paid in Park Ridge, NJ, and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: $48 in the U.S. Rates outside the U.S. are available upon request. Single copy price: $10. 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. Wainscot Media will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. ©2008 by Wainscot Media. Printed in the United States.

4 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020


C E LLSTR ETC H 速 C O M FO RT TE C H N O LO GY

ACTIVATE S 100+ PR E SS U R E PO I NTS O F C LO U D-LI KE C O M FO RT.

ecoTWX 速 U PPE R

FAB R I C S PU N FR O M R E CYC LE D PLASTI C BOTTLE S + 1 TR E E PLANTE D FO R EAC H PAI R S O LD.

ALGAE M I D S O LE

E C O-FR I E N D LY M I D S O LE S MAD E FR O M HARVE STE D ALGAE.

TAKING EVERY STEP TOWARD SUSTAINABLITY. At Twisted X 速, we are committed to doing our part to save the planet by creating products f rom recycled plastic, agricultural waste, and natural resources, all while aiding in the reforestation of troubled tree population in the United States. To learn more about Twisted X速 and our efforts in sustainability, visit twistedx.com/sustainability.

B LE N D E D RICE HUSK O UTS O LE C R EATE D FR O M U PCYC LE D, AG R I C U LTU R AL WASTES.

MXC 0007


E D I TOR ’S NOT E

Life & Death

A Black Swan and a Tan Honda CR-V DEATH IS A part of life. Humans, brands, plants, stores, pets, appliances, trends, cars (more on that later), shoes, planets and solar systems all die, eventually. Some are fortunate to live long and prosperous lives, while others’ lives are sadly cut short, sometimes through no fault of their own. Death is around us every day, but in 2020 we seem to be drowning in it. Covid-19 is a tsunami sweeping around the globe—unpredictable, relentless and deadly. But it’s easy to lose perspective amid a 24-7 news cycle that feeds off the virus. For example, more than 600,000 Americans die from cancer every year and the number is similar for heart disease. More than 500,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses in the last decade or so. And studies estimate that around 15,000 stores have closed just since 2019—a seemingly tame number in comparison to the previous statistics, but it’s all relative. That death count, too, is spiking in 2020. Actually, it’s fast-approaching pandemic levels. Then there’s our industry: the virus, the so-called Retail Apocalypse, record unemployment, changing consumer shopping habits, social upheaval…all are taking an unprecedented toll. Some estimates put the combined tally of people furloughed and fired in our industry at a staggering 60 percent at the height of the store closures this spring. That’s plague–level destruction, if the industry fails to recover significantly. Worse, it’s striking every segment of the supply chain—simultaneously. No one is immune, from the C-suite to the stockroom. The Two Ten Footwear Foundation is facing an onslaught of assistance requests like never before in its 81-year history—10 times the normal rate. The industry-funded charity has granted nearly $2.6 million to 4,200 footwear colleagues nationwide since mid-March. The need anticipated over the 2021–2022 fiscal years is expected to be between $5 million and $10 million. (Read more about what Two Ten is doing to answer the call on p. 10.) The question yet to be answered is whether this represents a black swan event or, worse, an extinction level event (ELE for short). Black swan events commonly have three attributes: 1. They are unpredictable. 2. They have widespread ramifications. 3. After they occur, people claim they were indeed explainable and predictable, a.k.a. 20/20 hindsight. We can definitely check the first two boxes in regard to the pandemic’s impact on our industry. No one saw this level of destruction and chaos

coming. As for the benefit of hindsight? That amounts to diddly-squat when it’s all hands on deck just trying to live another day. We’ll all be fortunate if we’re around to reflect on this crisis and say, “We should have seen it coming.” In the meantime, Keith Gossett, president of Easy Street Shoe Company and the subject of this issue’s Q&A (p. 12), believes no one has any idea what to expect when it comes to running a shoe business amid this pandemic. It’s a moving target that can change daily and wildly, requiring flexibility and adaptability like never before. Nothing, he says, is guaranteed—not even an agreed upon, signed order made on a Monday that could all change by Wednesday. There is no choice but to pivot, evolve and try to move forward. At the same time, Gossett isn’t entirely reinventing the business model that has made the company successful for more than 50 years. In fact, he’s doubling down on its three pillars: a massive inventory, at-once capabilities and extended sizes-and-widths offerings. The way Gossett sees it, you have to be in business to get business. His frank, insightful and often humorous take on surviving this crisis is a dose of much-needed good medicine. Now, as for the possibility of these crises snowballing into an ELE, only time will tell. Fortunately, such events are quite rare—only five have been recorded in over four billion years. (I like those odds.) I’m also pretty confident that we humans aren’t about to trot around barefoot any time soon. Footwear is most certainly not nearing extinction. Sure, brands and stores will come and go. That’s just a part of life. No matter how beloved, successful, impenetrable they might once have seemed, death is, eventually, inevitable. And that brings me to the aforementioned car—a tan 2003 Honda CR-V, specifically. My wife and I bought it a couple of months after our only child was born, and it has served as her trusted chariot for countless visits to grandparents’ houses, vacations, birthday parties and, most recently, college tours. The “Darby Car” delivered in more ways than we could have dreamed. It became a time capsule of sorts along the way, as evidenced by a last deep cleaning that unearthed a petrified Polly Pocket shoe, various hair accessories and a blueberry pie ticket from a trip to Maine when Darby was three. But it was time to move on to a safer, more reliable CR-V (Honda has earned our loyalty) as we enter a new family phase, starting with a college drop-off, pandemic permitting. The cycle of life continues.

Greg Dutter

Editorial Director

6 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020


Purveyors of Premium European Comfort Footwear

Tel: (800) 361 -34 66 - info@kannercorp.net


THIS JUST IN

Land of Gatsby Shoppers cruise the Miracle Mile in Manhasset, NY, in beat-the-heat style. Photography by Trevett McCandliss

8 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020


Chelsea Lite

100% Waterproof Memory Foam Insole

sales@washingtonshoe.com (253) 234-3000 shopchooka.com // #chookastyle


SCENE & HEARD

‘A Time Like No Other’ BETH GOLDSTEIN, NPD Group’s executive director and industry analyst for footwear, dug through reams of the research firm’s sales and shopping data related to the Covid-19 pandemic this spring, analyzing its fallout and what it means possibly going forward as part of a recent Footwear Plus Market seminar. News flash: sales were way down during the nationwide shutdown NPD’s Beth Goldstein of most stores. NPD reports the total annual footwear market contracted by about $8 billion between mid-March to mid-May. The seminar, “The State of the Footwear Market: Covid-19 Edition,” showed that many consumers shifted their spending to household items. “Sales of video games, housewares—like bread and pasta makers—home gym equipment, bicycles and toys all rose during this period,” Goldstein says. “While sales in footwear, apparel, beauty and accessories were all down sharply.” But there were a few positive signs, according to Goldstein. The growth in online sales, for example, continued throughout the period, even as stores reopened. Notably, the percentage of sales generated online increased most in the Gen X and Boomer demographics. “Sales in men’s and kids’ ended May ahead of last year, although women’s remains challenged due to its reliance on seasonal fashion,” she says, noting dress shoes and strappy sandals saw the biggest declines. On the bright side, slipper sales more than doubled over last April/May and other categories on the uptick included sport lifestyle, work/ safety, mules/clogs (fueled by Crocs) and sport slides. Retailers tried to spur recovery, Goldstein says, by introducing incentives, like Macy’s Black Friday in July Specials, as well as “buy now, pay later” plans. In fact, NPD reports awareness of payment plan options has increased 10 percent over 2019. That, perhaps, coincides with a growing “buy now, wear now” trend. “Lifestyles dictate need over price today,” Goldstein says. “Consumers are buying what they need when they need it and not in advance of a season.” With millions of American unemployed, one might think sustainability took a backseat. Not so, says Goldstein. Similarly, a brand’s social responsibility is important to consumers, likely influenced by Black Lives Matter. Forty-eight percent of respondents surveyed said they had decided to not make a purchase specifically because they did not support a brand’s or retailer’s social position. As for what NPD’s crystal ball reveals, the spike in Covid-19 cases this summer is making consumers pessimistic about the future. However, a quarter of respondents surveyed plan to buy shoes, with fashion styles increasing. In addition, the percentage of consumers delaying purchases due to the pandemic has declined from nearly 18 percent in early April to less than 12 percent in July. Those consumers who do venture out to shop aren’t seeking experiential concepts. Aspects like quick, easy and safe—think curbside pickups and returns—are better draws. If anything, digital platforms should up their augmented and virtual reality aspects to better replicate an in-store shopping feel. “This is a time like no other,” Goldstein says. “Blending the virtual and physical aspects of retail is the way of the future.”

10 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

Two Ten Facing Unprecedented Requests for Assistance FOR 81 YEARS Two Ten Footwear Foundation has answered the call to U.S. footwear employees in crisis, be it natural disasters, wars, economic depressions, industry downturns and personal crises. But nothing compares to the need for assistance caused by the Covid-19 pandemic—not even close. Since Mar. 16, 2020, the industry charity has granted nearly $2.6 million to 4,200 footwear colleagues nationwide, and the numbers are rising daily as the foundation receives a tsunami of applications—a staggering 10 times the normal rate. “We’ve seen wars, recessions, depressions, industry setbacks, natural disasters…but never a disaster on this scale,” says Terri Rawson, chief marketing and development officer for Two Ten. Typically, she notes, Two Ten allocates between $2 million and $2.2 million annually in aide, but for its fiscal 2020 budget (ended June 30) it surpassed $4 million. Worse, there looks to be no slowdown in need any time soon as the virus continues to spike across much of the nation while additional government assistance may run dry. Two Ten is anticipating a sustained ripple effect of financial hardship as jobless or reduced income footwear families defer payment of their rent, mortgage, utilities, autos, etc.—creating a need upwards of $5 million to $10 million in its fiscal 2021 and into fiscal 2022 budgets. “In just a four-month period we’ve exceeded our entire annual grant budget,” Rawson says. Many industry donors, thankfully, have rallied around Two Ten, helping it to try and keep pace with Glenn Barrett, CEO, the escalating financial need. Through corporate OrthoLite and individual contributions directly to the Crisis Relief Fund, and inventory donated to Two Ten’s Covid-19 Share Your Shoes campaign, whereby product is converted to emergency funds, many supporters are helping to ensure Two Ten continues to take care of industry colleagues and their families during this challenging time. Those companies include retailers, wholesalers and suppliers. “Foot Locker has been a proud supporter of Two Ten Footwear Foundation for many years,” says Giovanna Cipriano, senior vice president and chief accounting officer for Foot Locker. “Our industry community counts on Two Ten during times of need, and the foundation’s crisis assistance has never been more critical to footwear families than it is right now.” Adds Glenn Barrett, CEO and founder of OrthoLite who, along with his wife Midge, recently donated $500,000 to Two Ten and is spearheading the foundation’s Major Gifts Campaign: “This is an extraordinary time of unprecedented need, and our collective support has never been more important.” Beth Cross, CEO/founder of Ariat and supporter of Two Ten since 1997, says donations of footwear to Two Ten’s Share Your Shoes program are especially helpful. “We’re able to offer financial aid and resources to individuals and families impacted by Covid-19,” she says. Two Ten is urging others to step up amid the industry’s greatest challenge. That spans social media requests to larger efforts, like the Covid-19 Share Your Shoes and Major Gifts campaigns. Every donation adds up, Rawson says. “Even just sharing the information helps, because there could be people who don’t know we exist and need our help, or people who want to donate $25,” she says. “That helps us while we focus on helping people through the application process and major fundraising efforts.” It’s all hands-on deck now, Rawson adds. “This is what Two Ten was built for: to help footwear employees in crisis. Nobody is immune to this virus, and the industry needs our help.”



Q&A BY GREG

DUTTER

EASY DOES IT

K e i t h G o s s e t t , p r e s i d e n t o f E a s y S t r e e t S h o e C o m p a n y, on how its unique business model is weathering the pandemic— n o t e a s i l y, m i n d y o u — b u t b e t t e r t h a n m o s t .

THE OLD ADAGE “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” has never rung truer than at Easy Street Shoe Company in 2020, the year when everything seems to have broken. While the New Hampshire–based company’s three pillars—an extensive range of styles offered in sizes and widths, a massive inventory (1 million pairs on average) and in-stock ordering capabilities—may not be a panacea for this pandemic, it has provided enough antibodies to avoid a debilitating shutdown or loss in overall sales this year. In fact, Easy Street President Keith Gossett reports that the company’s ecommerce business has grown significantly in 2020, its catalog unit has come on strong and its Easy Works occupational brand, launched about a year and a half ago, had been doing very well before the pandemic—and has continued to during it. “Our sales, year-to-date, are flat, and we are thrilled to be flat,” Gossett affirms. “During the peak of the virus this spring we were very fortunate in that what we lost in at-once shipments to our brick-and-mortar business was largely picked up from the increase in sales by our online partners. We haven’t closed for one day because we’ve been able to adapt and pivot successfully.” The ability to adapt, pivot and pounce are cornerstones of Easy Street. Its business model is built well for today’s wildly unpredictable landscape. For example, its broad assortment of at-once offerings available in sizes and widths is highly appealing in a world where retailers don’t know if their stores will be open from one week to the next, let alone what to plan inventory-wise six months down the road. Gossett reports that Easy Street is ready to ship on many Fall ’20 needs, should they arise. “Maybe your demand has shifted—you used to sell more dress shoes, but now you need more driving mocs,” he says. “Well, we’ve got those and we’ve got plenty of other options across Bella-Vita, Bella-Vita Italy, Easy Street and Easy Works. We have evening shoes, boots, sandals, leather, man-made, fabric…and we can ship down to one pair. That’s been the success of our business for over 50 years, and we are planning on it to continue being our success.” One might say Gossett is even doubling down on Easy Street’s more-ismore business model, especially in comparison to many wholesalers who have cut their inventories to the bone during the pandemic. Gossett, in contrast, 12 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

continues to carry a hefty inventory load, including what will be a sizeable offering of fresh merchandise for Spring ’21. Many other brands (and retailers) are planning to carry a lot of current merchandise over into next spring rather than trying to clear it out now, but Gossett believes there are risks to that approach. “You have to show new product for next spring because ecommerce has already exposed a lot of the current product,” he says. “The consumer has seen a lot, and a lot has already been marked down greatly. So I can’t go back



Q&A to our customers and say, ‘Let’s just do those again.’” Gossett has already brought in 29 new constructions for Spring ’21 with more styles, patterns and colors on the way. “I absolutely believe that new product will be critical to next season,” he says, noting that carryovers will amount to only a fraction of the collection. The way Gossett sees it, Easy Street must be in business to get business. Curling into a fetal position until a vaccine arrives is not a viable option for him. And that’s no different from any other year at Easy Street. “Some of our customers who bought 15 new patterns last year have bought 16 for this coming year, while some have bought 12 and others have bought 20,” Gossett says. “It’s a moving target, but they are still buying.” He cites the catalog business as an example. “It’s performing relatively well and those retailers aren’t suddenly going to start their next season a month or two late because of this pandemic. They’re going to mail their books on schedule to try and meet their customers’ needs, so we need to be ready with inventory.” Of course, none of this is easy or predictable—and the pandemic has ratcheted up the volatility factor. “You speak with a retailer on Monday and agree to a delivery plan that by Wednesday might all have to be changed,” Gossett says. “Whatever you think is going to happen, I guarantee you that will not be your shipment. It will either go up, down or whatever, because that’s just the landscape we are dealing in right now. It’s constantly moving.” Meeting that target, Gossett, adds, requires enormous flexibility, but “There’s no other choice. We just have to try and figure it out and adapt to our customers’ needs as best we can.” Along the way, Easy Street has completely redesigned its offices and warehouse to meet safety guidelines—all while working 10-hour days to keep pace with the flow of orders, cancellations and reallocations. It’s required a tremendous amount of work and logistics between Easy Street and its factories to balance the incoming inventory relative to the demand. Gossett says the pandemic-fueled challenge has been exhausting—and exasperating—at times. “It’s definitely not for the weak-willed,” he says. “On a grand scale of challenges, this one is certainly the winner, but just like all the others we’ve faced, we adjust and try and move forward.” Easy Street’s ability to adapt and move forward may have something to do with its New Hampshire DNA. The company seems to have taken its “Granite State” nickname to heart, with no furloughs or shutdown. “We just pressed forward,” Gossett says, noting that until mid-July the company was operating overtime, seven days a week. “You’ve got to stay at it and be willing to adjust. I mean, if you told me a year ago that I’d be making virtual presentations to very large retailers—big pieces of our business—on a Zoom camera in our conference room, I would’ve said you’re crazy. But guess what? That’s what we are doing now. It’s just one of the new realities of our current way of doing business, and we will move forward from there.” 14 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

As a company that carries a huge inventory, was there ever a moment, say when stores nationwide closed, where you thought you might be in real trouble? We did adjust some of the fall future back-up inventory that we had planned. But the adjustments were of a level where the factory didn’t even complain. Because of our ecommerce business, we have to have product available. You can’t do one or the other. You’re either in business or you’re not. Now, when someone cancelled thousands of pairs, we didn’t just stack them up in our warehouse, unless they were already on the water. I don’t sense any normalcy returning soon, do you? No. People ask me that question a lot. I’ll be conservative

afraid lots of them don’t want to be the first. You’ve weathered a lot of challenges over the course of your career, where does this pandemic rank? This is at the top of the list, for sure. We’ve never been through anything like this in our lifetimes, and we have no idea what to expect. The most important aspect you have to take into consideration is it’s constantly changing. You have to be flexible and work with retailers. There’s no other choice. Going forward, retailers are going to be looking for their wholesale partners to be flexible. That and, of course, our ability to fill at-once business will be critical. While we’re culling it back some, we’re doing the exact same things we’ve done in the past with an added level of flexibility.

OFF THE CU FF What are you reading? A Life of Risks Taken by Seymour Ubell. It’s great! He’s from our industry, and it’s about ambition and the drive for the sale. He’s 88 years old and still going 100 miles an hour. I enjoyed it a lot. What are you streaming? I watch American Pickers a lot. When I’m not doing my day job six days a week, I’m doing one of two things: I’m antiquing for footwear industry items or tin toys. I don’t like it; I love it. The show is a great distraction. Is your collection showworthy? I have 10,000-plus items. Their episodes that

feature a barn lined with items from floor to ceiling…I’ve got more than that. People want me to open an antique toy museum, and I will for sure in retirement.

100 percent effort and have stuck with us through thick and thin. They’ve stepped up, been careful and done all the things they’re supposed to be doing.

Do you have a favorite antique? A 1915, German-made, tin toy cobbler that hooks up to a steam engine. He moves his hands like he’s working. It’s pretty cool. I bought it on eBay. One of my collectors texted me that he’d never seen it before and, as always, followed that up with, “It needs to be in the museum.”

Who is your most coveted dinner guest? You might guess it’d be the hosts of American Pickers, but it’s the person who I could always talk with endlessly: my mother. I’d love to be able to sit down with her again and just talk for hours like we always could.

If you could hire anybody, who would it be? I’m proud of the team we have at Easy Street right now, so I’m not even thinking about hiring anyone, even though there’s a lot of great talent that’s probably been let go amid this pandemic. Still, our people have worked through this situation at

and say it’ll be multiple seasons before any kind of normalcy returns. We have to cycle through the season ending now, this fall and next spring, at least. So maybe by Fall ’21, depending on a vaccine, people will feel somewhat comfortable again. But there’s a caveat to that. I’ve asked lots of people if they were to come out with a vaccine next week would they get the shot? Many people are hesitant and want other people to take it first to see what happens. Like, if you don’t die in 90 days, we’ll think about it. So everybody claims they want a vaccine, but I’m

What are you most proud of? My family. What is your motto, and might it have changed amid this pandemic? It has changed. My new motto is, one day at a time. I believe this will pass, but it’s one day at a time until it does.

Do you feel your portfolio is well-suited for this landscape as opposed to, say, being overly dependent on dress shoes? Yes, but this industry is notorious for overcorrecting. While dress shoes are going to be challenging, to say the least, in the near term because of the lifestyle changes going on in society, I expect the industry will cut back to a level where if you want a dress shoe, you’ll have to be a cobbler and make your own. We still offer dress shoes at Easy Street Shoe Company, and we’ll be offering a nice assortment



Q&A for next year as well, albeit adjusted accordingly. But ever since I came into this business, I believe an assortment should be balanced. Now, if it doesn’t work, it won’t be the first or the last time. But I’m not going to go from 100 MPH to two MPH from one year to the next. Taking into account that retailers don’t even know if their stores will be open a few weeks from now, how would you assess their general mood? Our retailers are being as confidant as they possibly can be, but at the end of the conversation it’s always, ‘You know, everything we are agreeing to is subject to change.’ No one has a definitive answer. Sure, everybody wants everything to be open and to be positive—we’re all in the same boat, in that regard. But they could get a call the next day saying all these stores in this state or that one must close. It could be for two or four weeks. They don’t know, and we don’t either. So all you can do is your best and understand that you have to work with them. It’s a day to day, week to week adjustment. There’s such room for error in this approach. There is, but there’s not a lot of choice. When this virus first hit, it was a lot different. Today, there’s more general optimism that eventually this is going to pass. So it’s more about moving the inventory around, delaying something 30 days or something for 60 days. It’s about moving pieces of the puzzle, as compared to before when it was cancel everything. Now it’s, ‘I have X amount on order and here’s how, at this point in time, I feel it’s going to flow and how you’re going to ship it.’ Maybe that’ll change a bit positive or negative, but they feel comfortable with the amount on order and that they’ll be able to work through that versus canceling everything or planning big increases. Is this the real Retail Apocalypse? Absolutely not. The retail environment has been changing, specifically the distribution channels, and all this pandemic has done is make the situation

move just that much faster. So if people were shopping online X percent, now they are doing it more. So I don’t think it’s the end, but I do think there will be major adjustments at retail, although I still think it’s absolutely important that we show freshness and stores have some assortment. But I don’t want to be the guy to predict the end of retail. The world is not coming to an end as far as retail is concerned. Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are definitely on the ropes and if this virus rages on into next year, it could be a knockout blow for many. Well, every day it seems you hear about who else is filing bankruptcy or reorganization—I mean, every. single. day. It used to be a couple a month or so in between. Of late, someone walks into my office and says, ‘Guess what…’ And I’m like, who is it now? It’s going to be difficult for the foreseeable future, for sure. But this country has been through a lot of this stuff. There’s certain categories that may face more difficulties, but we’ll reposition. I also think the consumer is still shopping and wants to keep shopping going forward. It’s part of our DNA; it’s a thing to do. As soon as stores reopened, there was pent-up demand as lines formed in front of stores of people waiting to get in. Now, partially that was caused by a limited amount allowed in at one time, but the important aspect that I saw was people were doing something that I hadn’t seen in a long time—they had shopping carts, and I’m not talking about grocery stores. It was ready-to-wear stores. Nine out of 10 times I don’t see people using carts in those stores. The number of people shopping like they meant it was amazing and encouraging. Well, if they made the effort to leave their house, don gloves and a mask, risk exposure… it’s likely not just to browse. At the same time, millions of people remain unemployed. That could have permanent changes, no? Forget the footwear industry, the changes in general to this country and the world are going to be dramatic. And I can’t even predict one percent of those


changes. The way I do things, the way you do things…there will be changes for a very long time. And until things improve from a virus perspective, people will be shopping with masks on, hand sanitizing and social distancing. I don’t think they’ll be going into crowded environments all that much if it’s deemed unsafe. Another example of change: I’ve adapted to the Zoom sales presentation. I can talk to customers from my office and zoom in on a specific shoe so it’s as big as their monitor. I can put it on a model and go through the whole process, just like when we met in person. Maybe we didn’t get to go out to dinner, but here we are: I can see them, they can see me, they can see the shoes, the patterns, etc. There’s one snag: I have to send them a complete sample line ahead of time or as a follow-up, so they have it in their hands to feel how light and flexible it is, see the new constructions, the exact colors and so forth. I don’t think the hands-on aspect of the selling process will change. But, overall, we run our sales meetings the same way as we did before, only virtually. We go through every pattern and do exactly what we would have done if we were locked in the conference room for three days. So much for experiential retail being a possible cure for what ails brickand-mortar stores, at least for the foreseeable future, correct? I think the landscape is going to be so different, but we really don’t know what all the changes will be. To some degree, we’ll get comfortable with certain aspects brought upon by this pandemic. Like how lots of people were freaked out by shopping in grocery stores at first because of all the touching of goods that goes on, but we’ve quickly adapted to gloves, masks, sanitizing, etc. It can be done safely. For example, I went into in an antique store recently wearing my mask and I was met by an employee, standing six feet away and wearing a mask, who told me to put my hands under a touch-free hand sanitizer. I was then instructed that I could touch any items, if I thought I might buy them. On the way out, my hands went back under the hand sanitizer—because he said he doesn’t want me to bring any germs in or have me take any out, possibly. He’s

just being cautious, which we all should be. None of this bothered me, but there are plenty of people who are offended by this for some reason. So a vaccine comes along and it works fine and dandy…do you go back to your old ways, or is this more efficient, affordable and effective way of conducting business? There are some people that I’ve spoken to that are absolutely, positively determined to go back to how we were. But there are also a lot of people, including myself, who will never go back all to the way we were doing business. We’ve learned certain things are now acceptable and, in some cases, we don’t have to be there. We don’t have to do everything the way it was done before. Things have evolved and life goes on. We’ve learned, for example, we can have a great meeting and get our point across without standing in the same conference room. Similarly, my son in-law works for Slack and they were recently informed that they’re never returning to an office, largely because that they haven’t missed a beat working remotely. It’s the same way others I have spoken with, who used to commute into Boston five days a week are now required to go into the office only one day a week. Again, because productivity hasn’t been adversely affected. Everybody seems happy. So are we going back entirely to the way it was before? Some people might push back, but I don’t think we’ll be going all the way back because we’ve already learned we don’t have to. What about trade shows going forward? Trade shows are going to be a challenge for a while. Even with a vaccine, I’ll admit I’m not anxious to come to New York right now. I would be nervous, even taking many precautions. Many people I’ve spoken with feel the same way, and it’s not just New York. When you put all those people in the same space together, it’s all the more challenging. That said I do believe we’ll get back to a modified trade show at some point, but I don’t think there will be as many. There’ll likely be Atlanta, Las Vegas and New York shows in the future. For starters, the > 31

Available Now at Rieker Shoe Corporation 299 Rio Dr. Orlando, FL 32810 | 1-800-960-0050 | www.rieker.us


T R E N D S P OT T I N G

2

1

5

8

7

18 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020


3

4

6

PUT A RING ON IT! A stylish commitment to big toes everywhere. 1. Ron White 2. Ecco 3. Easy Street 4. Restricted 5. Andre Assous 6. Diba True 7. Naot 8. L’Artiste 9. Aetrex

2020 august • footwearplusmagazine.com 19

P HOTO G RAP HY BY N AN CY CA MP BELL

9


T R E N D S P OT T I N G

1

2

4

NEED A LIF T? Platform sandals that rise to the occasion. 1. Blowfish Malibu 2. All Black 3. Gabor 4. OTBT

20 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

PH OTO G RAP HY BY N AN CY C AM PBE LL

3


Bella~VitaÂŽ

Spring 2021 46 Sizes & 4 Widths 1-800-970-VITA


T R E N D S P OT T I N G

2

1

RED ZONE T h e f a s t h u e r e v s u p m e n’s s i l h o u e tt e s . 1. Ugg 2. Blundstone 3. Zelli Italia

22 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

PH OTO G RAP HY BY N AN CY C AM PBE LL

3


THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR DONORS WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE TWO TEN COVID 19 CRISIS RELIEF FUND TO HELP FOOTWEAR FAMILIES IMPACTED BY THE PANDEMIC. $500,000+ Glenn and Midge Barrett

$10,000 - $49,999 Martin Berman Naturino

$100,000 - $499,999

TIEM

Foot Locker Foundation, Inc.

Voile Blanche Dona Young

$50,000 - $99,999 Designer Brands Debbie Ferrée New Balance Foundation SHOES.COM

$1,000 - $9,999 John W. Florsheim Gregory Goldstein Richard M. Graham Howard C. Jenkins Nancy LaPann Guillermo G. Marmol The McHugh Family Olemberg Family Foundation Seychelles & BC Footwear Lawrence A. Siff Super Team Footwear LLC

THANK YOU TO OUR COVID 19 SHARE YOUR SHOES CAMPAIGN DONORS AND TO OUR PARTNER, THE JAY GROUP.

FOR A FULL LIST OF DONORS VISIT TWOTEN.ORG

All donations as of 7/12/20.


T R E N D S P OT T I N G

1

2

4

BLOCK PARTY I t ’s h i p t o b e s q u a r e ! 1. Sarah Flint 2. Bella-Vita 3. Naot 4. Ecco

24 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

PH OTO GRAP HY BY N AN CY C AM PBE LL

3


T R E N D S P OT T I N G

1

2

3

4

PH OTO GRAP HY BY N AN CY C AM PBE LL

5

THE CUT TING EDGE Sawtooth soles add bite to platform sandals. 1. BC 2. Cougar 3.Fly London 4. All Black 5. Gabor

2020 august • footwearplusmagazine.com 25


T R E N D S P OT T I N G

1

2

3

4

MOC MARKET Dressed up or down, the seamed style is a seamless transition. 1. Zelli Italia 2. Twisted X 3. Ecco 4. Ugg 5. Propét

26 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

PH OTO G RAP HY BY N AN CY C AM PBE LL

5


FOOTWEAR PLUS MARKET

THANK YOU

Exhibitors, Seminar Hosts and Retailers! FPM, the industry’s first-ever, virtual trade show, is a success! You shopped, you learned, you bought— safely, conveniently and cost-effectively. And you still can! FPM will be available on-demand through Sept. 15, 2020! SEE what all the BUZZ is about!

To register for Footwear Plus Market or shop again... www.footwearplusmagazine.com


T R E N D S P OT T I N G

1

2

3

4

5

6

LEISURE CLASS S o c k - l i k e s n e a k e r s f o r t h a t e a s y, s t a y - a t - h o m e v i b e . 1. Aetrex 2.Asportuguesas 3.Propét 4. Naked Feet 5. Merrell 6. Flexus 7. Remonte

28 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

PH OTO G RAP HY BY N AN CY C AM PBE LL

7


National Shoe Retailers Association America’s largest organization supporting independent footwear retailers — since 1912

NSRA membership offers these benefits, and more: Sales & Management Training

E-Blast Updates

With the re-opening of stores, it’s a perfect time to revitalize sales and leadership in your business! John Lees offers complimentary and confidential personalized training that is tailored to your staff and store. It’s a specially curated program exclusively for NSRA retail members!

NSRA is dedicated to supporting its members by sharing timely information as it becomes available. We continuously monitor and gather resources related to small business and the current climate, and send out a weekly update in a concise and easy-to-follow format.

Shoe Retailing Today A bi-monthly industry publication featuring topics such as: • Marketing • Retail Store Training • Inventory Management • Best Practices/Business Management • NextGen/Succession Planning, and more!

NSRA OnLine Bi-weekly electronic newsletter featuring: • Industry News • Educational Articles • NSRA Member Updates • Best Practices • Vendor Product Showcases, and more!

NSRA’s Annual Leadership Conference Discover ways to reinvigorate your business and connect with industry leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities. Learn from nationally recognized experts who explore retail business topics and provide leadership insights. NSRA’s conference is the largest of its kind, giving attendees a unique opportunity to connect and network with top independent retailers and the vendors who support them. Join us in November 2021 in Tucson, Arizona at the Hilton El Conquistador.

Financial Services & Savings Opportunities Membership gives you access to programs which directly affect the bottom line. Cost-saving member benefits include: • FedEx Shipping through PartnerShip • Best credit/debit card processing rates in the industry – please call us for more information! • Save up to 30% on Constant Contact email marketing

Retail Education Webinars Join industry professionals and NSRA in live education seminars via the internet, discussing topics that will help energize your business: • Sales Training Retail Education • Retail Finance • Marketing • Succession Planning, and more!

WEBINARS

RyTech Online Marketing Services A full service digital marketing firm, RyTech will provide a complimentary website assessment and an exclusive 10% discount on online marketing services for NSRA members.

Trends Sharing Pivotal Research Group offers monthly and quarterly reports of activity in the independent footwear retailing, including sales, margins, inventory, and brand and category performance. Results are anonymous, and are extracted from quick surveys completed by participating retailers.

Retail Education Seminars NSRA’s educational programs are held in conjunction with premier shoe shows, and are complimentary to show attendees. The seminars feature experts who offer quality business education to independent retailers on relative industry topics.

Atlanta, GA Las Vegas, NV

Next Generation Leadership Program

GEN

A program that answers the needs of the next generation of leaders with cutting-edge and hands-on sessions that focus on practical solutions for generational transitions.

Visit nsra.org, or call 800-673-8446


A N OT E T O M Y Y O U N G E R S E L F

PERSEVERANCE PERSONIFIED Steve Gallo, president of OOfos, on never giving up and practicing ABL—always be learning.

DEAR STEVE, When you read this note, you will just have graduated college with a degree in business and know two things for sure: 1. Find a job where you can apply your passion for sports and fitness. 2. Get to work ASAP, as you have a ton of student loan debt, no car and no money in the bank. (Good luck!) You apply to every athletic company you can think of—and receive rejection letters from every one of them! (BTW, keep those letters, because they’ll serve as motivation throughout your career.) You finally land a job at Raytheon in Waltham, MA, as an Assistant Project Manager. It’s certainly not a sports and fitness company, but the rent is due! And while it’s a cool first title, it’s basically delivering mail around the building. You do a great job; they love your work ethic and teamwork, but you soon realize that you didn’t put yourself through college to do something you’re not passionate about. You get back to the job search. After being a “nice pest” to many folks at Reebok—i.e. sending letters, cards and the occasional flower bouquets to senior management executive assistants—you finally receive an interview! You’re super nervous and leave that morning for Reebok’s headquarters, a 55-minute drive away, two-and-a-half hours prior to your appointment. Unfortunately, a an accident shuts down Rte. 128, you have no way to contact the manager (unfortunately, a cool gadget called cell phones don’t yet exist) and you arrive two hours late! The manager refuses to see you. You tell him that you’re not leaving the lobby until he does. He finally agrees to reschedule, but you get a call the next day informing you that there are no positions available. Still, you stay in touch and, three weeks later, you receive a call offering you a Tech Rep position. It’s as if you’ve won the lottery! From there, you hit the fast track, getting promoted twice in one year! You’ll move to the Midwest and then back east, take on several sales and product marketing roles that take you all over the world, where you’ll meet incredible athletes, business people and celebrities, along the way. Not bad for a kid from Saugus, MA, who hadn’t stepped on an airplane until he graduated from college! You’ll spend more than 15 great years at Reebok and then move on to Adidas, where you take on multiple senior management roles. During this time, you realize the importance to always be learning. You obtain an MBA, at age 40, as well as certificates from many of the top business

30 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

schools within their executive education programs. These experiences are life-changing and make you a better leader and business person. The mentors you meet will be your greatest assets; several have a profound impact on your life. All they’ll ask in return is that you pay it forward. Then, after 30-plus years at two fantastic brands, you decide to take on a leadership role at OOfos. The team, the product, the recovery technology and the company’s mission to give back match up perfectly with what you have come to realize makes a great organization and business. You’ve found your home—and it’s back in your home state of Massachusetts, to boot! Now for the most important piece of this letter and my two cents. Most people will tell you that they “wouldn’t change a thing” about what they did or didn’t do in their careers, especially if it’s considered successful. I disagree! There are always things you can improve upon. So here are my nine nuggets of wisdom: 1. Pay your dues and trust in the process. Just because you’re promoted quickly early in your career, don’t think that you know it all. 2. Have a continuous learning mentality. 3. Hard work and perseverance is critical to your success, but you also need to apply critical and strategic thinking, frameworks and learn from others’ experiences. 4. Get your MBA sooner, but not too soon. What will make your MBA more effective is work experience. 5. Don’t be afraid to apply to the better business schools. You can do it! 6. Embrace failures as necessary parts of the process. You’ll get bogged down several times where you didn’t achieve what you wanted. Don’t wallow in them. Learn from the experiences. 7. Find balance in your life. You’ll hear people talk at length about work/ life balance, but I have yet to meet anyone who has done this successfully. It doesn’t have to be perfect, though. Learn to compartmentalize. 8. Don’t take your work attitude home. Be present with your family. 9. Focus on long-term goals but celebrate the victories along the way. I’m happy to inform you that you’ll have a wonderful career in an industry that you will love, along with a fantastic wife and family that will inspire and support you every day. You truly are blessed! Best Regards, Your older (ancient) self


continued from page 17 organizers will push to have it, and I really don’t think the industry is willing to say goodbye to the concept entirely. But I don’t think attendance will be as strong. In the shorter term, some people are just not going to put their employees at risk or take on the expense. Similarly, many retailers are saying if you are in a hot zone, whether you plan to travel here by car or plane, don’t. And you have to abide by those rules, the same way we expect them to follow our safety protocols. The two protocols must marry together so that everybody feels safe. That’s just what it comes down to. I mean, we’re selling shoes here. This doesn’t have to be a life and death situation. There are ways to do that without putting people at risk, and that’s the most important thing for us to do. We should be able to sell shoes without jeopardizing anyone’s well-being. At the very least, both should be would be wearing a mask. That’s my pet peeve…it amazes me that you still see lots of people shopping in stores without them, even though the sign on the door clearly states a mask is required. I don’t understand? The sign reads you can’t. It’s not for me to enforce, but I definitely avoid those stores because they are not enforcing their own safety guidelines. We should all, at least, follow the minimum rules. Why wouldn’t you? Unless you have an illness that prevents you from wearing a mask, which is a low percentage of the population overall, arguing about whether or not you should protect yourself and others is ridiculous. You should wear a mask! Meeting over. If the nation as a whole fails to do the basic safety guidelines then there stores may be forced to close again. Seems like incentive enough. Right. Granted, we’re getting mixed messages, but the rules are simple: wash your hands, social distance, wear a mask—and don’t go to a pool party attended by 300 people. Certain activities are obviously risky. I’ve always said think about the consequences before you act. Think about the pros and cons—what is the good if I do this and what is the potential bad. In my office, the word “think” is

emblazoned everywhere. When people sit on the other side of my desk they see me and they see the word think. Think about what’s happening, think before you act and think about what you say before you open your mouth, basically. So if you think to follow these basic safety protocols, then you shouldn’t have a problem. What’s the biggest takeaway from this whole ordeal? That we’re all in this together, and that there’s still a consumer with an appetite for shoes. She still wants to shop and buy. The demand is still there. She also wants to move forward, like we all do. We just have to move forward differently. We need to accept that the world has changed, deal with it and move forward. Once we figure out and agree on what is a safe shopping environment, then we’ll be ready to go, because the consumer wants us to do the right things so they can get back to shopping and buying shoes. Well, the world is definitely not about to go barefoot any time soon. I went into this business a long time ago and the running joke has always been that there’s always going to be a need for shoes. Maybe something will replace that need one day, but I likely won’t be here so it won’t matter. In the meantime, I’m pretty confidant people will keep needing shoes. I’m also an optimistic person by nature. I’m that guy who believes people are inherently good and that they’ll do the right thing. And like you noted, as much as the industry is in turmoil right now, people aren’t going barefoot any time soon. So I guess I’m going to be one of those guys trying to sell them shoes—until I decide my antique toy museum is dying to be opened! What do you love most about your job? I love the challenge. Our owner asked me recently how many years I’m going to be here and I said here’s how this works: As long as I’m not bored and I’m challenged, I’m here. Well, guess what? I’m surely not bored, and the challenge now is absolutely greater than ever. •

STYLE TEMPEST

SPRING | SUMMER 2021

springfootwear.com | 800.962.0030

/Springfootwear


THE BOYS OF SUMMER

Classic kicks that knock it out of the park. PHOTOGRAPHY BY NANC Y CAMPBELL Florsheim

Ecco

Propét


Geox

Bearpaw

Rieker

Zelli Italia

Fashion Editor: Ann Loynd Burton

K-Swiss

33



Mixed materials slide by Earth. 35


Seychelles creamsicle pool slides. Opposite page: calf-hyde sandal by Diba True; Gola platform slide.


37


38


Verdant floral pattern sandals by Birkenstock. Opposite page: L’Artiste sporty platform wedge.


Aetrex contoured footbed pool slides. Opposite page: suede mini wedge by Ron White; Soft Comfort slide with hiker outsole.


41



Rainbow jelly sandals by BC. Opposite page: Bos & Co. leather bow slides. 43


Ugg platform sport slides. Opposite page: sculptural cross strap sandal by Ecco. Model: Zoie Zeller/Fenton Model Mgmt.; fashion editor: Ann Loynd Burton.


45


EDITOR’S PICKS Minnetonka

D E S I G N E R C H AT

RICK SNOWDEN

What’s the overall theme of the Spring ’21 collections for Chooka and Western Chief ? We’re keeping things neutral and creating hybrids. It’s about combining different elements of sport and fun to create lightweight, comfortable footwear. 46 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

Twisted X

Restricted

Birkenstock

T R IB E VIB E

Aztec prints, subtle or all over, deliver monumental graphic detail.

Where did you look for inspiration? Inspirations can come from anywhere. It can come from architecture or apparel or cars. It’s just a matter of translating the inspirations to create something that best fits each of our brands. What are some of the key colors, materials and silhouettes of the season? Neutrals are a big part of our creations with a few pops of color. I’m a big believer in versatility—being able to wear what we create on a daily basis. Some of the big ideas for us now involve juxtaposing raw materials, like jute and wovens, and mixing them with metallics. Who are the Chooka and Western Chief women, and how may her shoe needs be evolving in today’s (crazy) world? Our Chooka woman is more of a city person who walks or takes an Uber to yoga and to meet her friends for dinner and drinks. She wants to look good and be put together, but her footwear needs to be versatile and comfortable all while having that cool factor. With the way the world is currently, she’s obviously not doing the things she loves most but will try to get out and socialize

while being responsible. Our Western Chief customer is taking advantage of these times to be in the garden and spend time outdoors with family. She likes to show her personality through fun prints that make her smile. Western Chief is a family brand where she can also purchase fun shoes for her kids and husband. It’s about making people happy. Describe your design aesthetic? Overall, our designs are versatile, practical, clean and modern. The aim is to always keep the designs fresh and forward but making sure they aren’t too far out there. Some of our brands move faster than others and we need to have the right balance. Who are some designers you admire? There isn’t any one designer, but I’m always impressed when designers come up with cool, new product that people want to emulate. Is there a perfect shoe? The perfect shoe is when I see someone wearing one of my designs on the street, or when I see the smiles on their faces when they first see one of my shoes. •

E D I TO R ’ S P I C K S P H OTO G R A P H Y BY N A N C Y C A M P B E L L

SOMETIMES THE FIT makes perfect sense. Washington Shoe Company was seeking its first-ever Design Director—in its 129-year history, no less—and sought someone who would fit the bill on a multitude of levels. 1. The candidate had to know shoe design inside and out. 2. They had to fit in with its family-run corporate culture. 3. They had to possess the creative vision and expertise to lead a portfolio of lifestyle and performance brands (Chooka, Western Chief, Staheekum and CH20) that span women’s, men’s and kids’. 4. While not a prerequisite, hailing from the Pacific Northwest would likely mean they’d relate to a company that has built its reputation on fashionable and functional rain boots. Enter Rick Snowden, a fellow Evergreen State native, who grew up in the shoe business and made his design bones working at Topline Corporation, a designer, producer and marketer of private label and branded footwear that was founded by his father, William. Snowden has shoe leather veins. Before joining his family business, he worked the floor of a local Nordstrom during college. After graduating, he earned his Master’s in shoes at Topline under the tutelage of his father. “He was so smart and the best product person and presenter of footwear that I know,” Snowden says. “He laid out the framework and the path for me and my career, and he also taught me to work hard and never be above doing any type of work.” Snowden later attended design school in Milan, Italy, followed by a relocation to Taiwan and, later, China to run Topline’s design departments. “That gave me so much knowledge and understanding of how the business is run,” he says, noting he first led the women’s design team before becoming the vice president of design at Topline’s Seattle headquarters. All totaled, Snowden’s experience fits Washington Shoe Company’s needs to a T, and when the two met it didn’t take long for him to join the company last December. “It’s been such a great experience so far,” he says. “It’s a family business that cares and treats its employees as a top priority.” Snowden set right to work on rebranding and reinvigorating the portfolio with the longer-term goal of branching out into year-round styles. And while the pandemic has put the brakes on traveling to China to work on product hands-on, he says the team is overcoming the obstacle and looking forward to the new season and seasons to come. “We have a lot of potential with a lot of really good people,” Snowden says. “Our design team is amazing.” —Greg Dutter


SCENE & HEARD

Documentary Offers Lowdown on High Heels

HIGH ON HEELS, a 45-minute documentary by director Adelin Gasana, delves into the power, mystique, history, pain and beauty of high-heeled footwear. Available for viewing on YouTube and Amazon Prime, the film features interviews from designers, stylists, dancers, models, doctors and fashion bloggers offering their Adelin Gasana, director, High on Heels viewpoints on the good—and bad—associated with wearing such footwear. “When my producer, Lola Kayode, and I talked about her back pain associated with wearing heels on a regular, long-term basis we thought high heels would make for an interesting documentary,” Gasana says, noting that the initial concept was for it to be a style-driven, pop culture film. “But a couple of months into production and conducting multiple interviews, the topic evolved into a nuanced subject highlighting the varying experiences of women’s lifestyle and personal expression. Such fascination led to an in-depth look into this stylish accessory that the general public sees all the time, but doesn’t put too much thought into.” High on Heels discusses the style’s origins that date back to the Middle Ages, how it’s evolved over the centuries and what the future might hold. “It’s a glimpse into the powerful yet subtle symbolism and reality of wearing high heels, featuring the personal stories of a diverse range of women connecting with high heels in their everyday life experiences,” Gasana says. “Who knew a high-heeled shoe could invoke such a rich historical, societal, medical and pop cultural discussion? Viewers will learn a great deal about the psychology of fashion and how women mentally prepare themselves when getting dressed as well as the symbolic power associated with color, heel types and materials.” Gasana says many featured in the film are frank about their lovehate relationship with high heels. It’s not cut and dry about who is for or against the style, as many are personally at odds. It’s a controversial subject that Gasana says involves an “ongoing debate about high heels and sexism in society, the balance between accepting pain for the chance

at beauty, the incorporating of high heels as an identity mark for young girls maturing into adulthood, etc.” He adds that the film’s subjects are not short on their opinions. In fact, Gasana was the one who usually ended the interviews after an hour or two. “This is not common when working within the schedules of busy women,” he says, adding that his male perspective granted him “fly on the wall” status during filming. “I was able to bring a more objective approach to high heel shoes,” he says. “This documentary literally speaks for itself, meaning women are open, honest and frank about all things heels—the good, the bad and the ugly.” Feedback from viewers has also given insights on the pandemic’s impact on high-heeled footwear. Similarly, it’s a love-hate relationship. “Most of the women who’ve watched my documentary during this pandemic said how much they miss wearing heels and going out,” Gasana says. “But you also hear top fashion bloggers, celebrities and everyday women talk (positively) about how they don’t have to dress up and it’s a new way of life, a.k.a. the new normal, that has stalled high heeled fashion statements.” Surely, this sounds like fodder for a follow-up documentary on the ever-controversial love-hate affair regarding high-heeled footwear.


L A S T SH O T

Worth Chasing

Gola

Seychelles

RAYS OF LIGHT Long believed to be a sign of better days to come, rainbow motifs serve as hopeful steps in the right direction. And while a pot of gold would be nice, a vaccine would be worth much more.

48 footwearplusmagazine.com • august 2020

P H OTO G R A P H Y BY N A N C Y C A M P B E L L

Blowfih Malibu



Featur ing Aetr ex or thotic suppor t and me mor y foam cushioning for supe r ior comfor t

H e a l t h y C o m f o r t S t a r t s H e r e !™


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.