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JA N UA RY 12 Keep ’em Coming Customer retention tips to keep shoppers coming back for more. By Lyndsay McGregor

14 What’s Up, Doc? Bob Bradford, senior VP of sales for Dr. Martens USA, discusses why the iconic brand is rocking again. By Greg Dutter

20 Trend Spotting Materials, silhouettes, details and colors—the latest Fall ’14 boot trends. By Angela Velasquez

38 Hot on the Trail The outdoor category gets more versatile, stylish and youth-driven. By Judy Leand

44 Outdoor Preview Essential styles for outdoor’s diverse consumer. By Judy Leand

52 Knit Wit Sweater-like upper and details put a cozy spin on boots next season. By Angela Velasquez

2 01 4 8 Editor’s Note 10 This Just In 42 What’s Selling 50 E-beat 62 Shoe Salon 68 Boots 70 Street 72 Last Word On the cover: Sbicca pull-on boot, vintage cropped sweater, hat and scarf, Club Monaco pants. Below, left to right: Yellow mohair sweater by Topshop, Southpaw scarf, plaid skirt by Zara, stylist’s rings. Restricted slouch boot. Photography by Trevett McCandliss. Styling by Kim Johnson. Hair by Seiji and makeup by Tamah at The Wall Group. Models: Carley, Red Model Management, Ella, APM Model Management

Caroline Diaco Publisher Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL Angela Velasquez Fashion Editor Lyndsay McGregor Associate Editor Social Media Editor Brittany Leitner Assistant Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Melodie Jeng Contributing Photographer Judy Leand Contributing Writer ADVERTISING/ PRODUCTION Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Capri Crescio Advertising Manager Tim Jones Deputy Art Director Production Manager Alexandra Marinacci Operations Manager Bruce Sprague Circulation Director Joel Shupp Circulation Manager Mike Hoff Digital Director

PA G E

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OFFICES Advertising/Editorial 36 Cooper Square, 4th fl. New York, NY 10003 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 editorialrequests@ 9Threads.com Circulation 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 circulation@9threads.com Corporate 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis Chairman Lee Zapis President Rich Bongorno Chief Financial Officer Debbie Grim Controller

""/7 ,Ê*1-ÊÒÊ­-- ›£äx{‡n™n8®Ê/…iÊv>ňœ˜Ê“>}>∘iʜvÊ̅iÊvœœÌÜi>Àʈ˜`ÕÃÌÀÞʈÃÊ«ÕLˆÃ…i`ʓœ˜Ì…ÞÊ­iÝVi«ÌÊvœÀÊLˆ“œ˜Ì…ÞÊ«ÀˆÉ>ÞÊ>˜`Ê"V̜LiÀÉ œÛi“LiÀÊi`ˆÌˆœ˜Ã®ÊLÞÊ-ޓ«…œ˜ÞÊ*ÕLˆÃ…ˆ˜}Ê 9]Ê ]ÊÎÈÊ œœ«iÀÊ-µÕ>Ài]Ê{̅Êv°]Ê iÜÊ9œÀŽ]Ê 9]Ê £äää·ǣ£n°Ê/…iÊ«ÕLˆÃ…iÀÃʜvÊ̅ˆÃʓ>}>∘iÊ`œÊ˜œÌÊ>VVi«ÌÊÀi뜘ÈLˆˆÌÞÊvœÀÊÃÌ>Ìi“i˜ÌÃʓ>`iÊLÞÊ̅iˆÀÊ>`ÛiÀ̈ÃiÀÃʈ˜ÊLÕȘiÃÃÊVœ“«ï̈œ˜°Ê*iÀˆœ`ˆV>ÃÊ«œÃÌ>}iʈÃÊ«>ˆ`ʈ˜Ê iÜÊ9œÀŽ]Ê 9]Ê>˜`Ê>``ˆÌˆœ˜>Ê“>ˆˆ˜}ʜvvˆViðÊ-ÕLÃVÀˆ«Ìˆœ˜Ê«ÀˆViÊvœÀʜ˜iÊÞi>À\Ê f{n°ääʈ˜Ê̅iÊ1°-°Ê,>ÌiÃʜÕÃ̈`iÊ̅iÊ1°-°Ê>ÀiÊ>Û>ˆ>LiÊÕ«œ˜ÊÀiµÕiÃÌ°Ê-ˆ˜}iÊVœ«ÞÊ«ÀˆVi\Êf£ä°ää°ÊPOSTMASTER: -i˜`Ê>``ÀiÃÃÊV…>˜}iÃÊ̜Ê""/7 ,Ê*1-]Ê*°"°Ê œÝÊnx{n]ÊœÜi]ÊÊä£nx·nx{n°Ê,ˆ`i‡>œ˜}ʓ>ˆÊi˜VœÃi`°Ê*ÕLˆÃ…iÀʘœÌÊÀi뜘ÈLiÊ vœÀÊ՘܏ˆVˆÌi`Ê>À̈ViÃʜÀÊ«…œÌœÃ°Ê˜ÞÊ«…œÌœ}À>«…Ã]Ê>ÀÌܜÀŽ]ʓ>˜ÕÃVÀˆ«ÌÃ]Êi`ˆÌœÀˆ>ÊÃ>“«iÃʜÀʓiÀV…>˜`ˆÃiÊÃi˜ÌÊvœÀÊi`ˆÌœÀˆ>ÊVœ˜Ãˆ`iÀ>̈œ˜Ê>ÀiÊÃi˜ÌÊ>ÌÊ̅iÊ܏iÊÀˆÃŽÊœvÊ̅iÊÃi˜`iÀ°Ê-ޓ«…œ˜ÞÊ*ÕLˆÃ…ˆ˜}Ê 9]Ê ]Ê܈Ê>ÃÃՓiʘœÊÀi뜘ÈLˆˆÌÞÊvœÀʏœÃÃʜÀÊ `>“>}i°Ê œÊ«œÀ̈œ˜ÊœvÊ̅ˆÃʈÃÃÕiʓ>ÞÊLiÊÀi«Àœ`ÕVi`Ê܈̅œÕÌÊ̅iÊÜÀˆÌÌi˜Ê«iÀ“ˆÃȜ˜ÊœvÊ̅iÊ«ÕLˆÃ…iÀ°Ê^ÓäänÊLÞÊ-ޓ«…œ˜ÞÊ*ÕLˆÃ…ˆ˜}Ê 9]Ê °Ê*Àˆ˜Ìi`ʈ˜Ê̅iÊ1˜ˆÌi`Ê-Ì>Ìið

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editor’s note from ugg to ugh?

Digital Daze

Is too much of everything too much to shop? WHEN IT COMES to issues associated with excess, Eagles drummer Don Henley once said it best: “The problem was we could have it all, all the time.” No wonder unlimited access to wine, women, drugs, money, parties, fast cars—i.e. living life in the fast lane—led to overindulgence and, eventually, burnout for the rock star. Now, if you’ll indulge me in the analogy leap, the same might be said in regard to the instantaneous, continuous and overwhelming selection of goods being offered online. The digital stores never close and the selection appears endless. If there ever was a time when you could shop it all, all the time, it’s now. But is it a case of too much selection? Are consumers overwhelmed trying to shop it all? Are they choice-fatigued? Are they in desperate need of more effective filtration devices and curating before they log on? Could the current eclectic state of fashion be a byproduct of what seems like every brand and look under the sun being offered simultaneously? It’s increasingly difficult for a trend to gain critical mass today because we’re drowning in a sea of trends, compounded by the speed at which they all zoom across cyberspace. The result is that trends have much shorter lifespans than ever before. If there was one takeaway from the recent FFANY show, it was the lack of a defining trend. Nobody could point to a slam dunk in the current marketplace. Nor was there a consensus as to what might be a good bet come next fall. For the past decade or so, Ugg has taken a lot of the guesswork out of buying for retailers. And, while this winter has actually been winter-like so far and bodes well for Ugg and boot brands overall, the general mood during market week was still of distinct uncertainty and apprehension. When asked whether they had seen anything that might have real potential, attendees often responded with a shrug and, “Beats me.” Befuddled, you might say, has become the new black.

Hence the apparent movement toward brands with a rich heritage. The strategy is to go with brands consumers know and (may) trust rather than to bet on a newcomer and/or a look that might turn out to be fleeting at best or a bust at worst. Dr. Martens is a perfect example. Bob Bradford, senior vice president of sales and the subject of this month’s Q&A (p. 14), reports that the iconic brand is on a major upswing thanks to new and expanded collections, numerous (unsolicited) celebrity endorsements of late and—not to be overlooked—retailers’ increasing willingness to embrace a brand that is dripping with authenticity. Bradford, refreshingly candid, notes how difficult it is (next to impossible, really) for a start-up to become a meaningful player in the current industry climate. Nonetheless, Woolrich is giving it a go with its first-ever boots and shoes collection for Fall ’14 (see p. 68). Like Dr. Martens, the brand possesses a rich history, one that dates back all the way to the mid-1800s when its wool factory—still in operation today— supplied blankets to Union soldiers during the Civil War. If the collection lives up to the brand’s story, Woolrich may really be onto something. I find it ironic—and a bit puzzling—that it’s harder than ever for new brands to break through in an age when it’s easier than ever to introduce new brands online. This takes me back to my initial concern: Is there simply too much to choose from? Is that preventing consumers from developing a meaningful consensus? Might offering less actually be more? Could it allow our industry to develop something we could truly build momentum around? As an editor, it’s in my nature to strive for clarity and conciseness. Perhaps it’s a good rule of thumb for our industry, too, specifically with the online tier. Because if being able to shop it all, all the time, does lead to shopper burnout, where will we all be?

Greg Dutter

Editorial Director

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THIS JUST IN

Miami Heat Voluminous silhouettes and slinky stilettos justify the hot spot’s glam reputation. Photography by Melodie Jeng

10 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2014

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SPECIAL REPORT

Keep ’Em Coming Customer retention is key to long-term success, but it’s not easy to achieve amid an increasingly competitive retail landscape. Here, industry experts share tips on how to keep customers coming back for more. By Lyndsay McGregor

E

VERYONE KNOWS THAT customer loyalty is the cornerstone of a long-term, successful retail operation. But just how valuable is it to retain customers rather than attempt to lure in new ones? Try these statistics on for size: One loyal customer is worth more than $10,000 in advertising, as motivational business speaker (and mentor to Tony Robbins) Jim Rohn liked to say. A Lee Resource Inc. statistic reveals that attracting new customers can cost five times more than keeping an existing one. And a Gartner Group study projects that 80 percent of a store’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of its current customers. The fact is gaining new customers is increasingly difficult. A better bet, experts say, is to hang on to those who have already made the choice to do business with you. “When a customer has already bought from you, it’s like a stamp of approval, and with good service and selection they will come back,” says Dave Astobiza, co-owner of Northern California’s 12-store Sole Desire chain, noting that he often sees repeat customers every two weeks. “In today’s retail environment, with all the avenues to make purchases, when you get a customer to buy you better do everything in your power to keep them coming back,” he adds. Yet many retailers remain focused on gaining new customers, failing to address the lower hanging fruit. “Marketers simply want to bring in as many new leads as possible. But if you bring in bad leads, there’s nothing to retain because they’re bad to begin with,” notes Jerry Jao, CEO of Retention Science, a two-year-old Santa Monica startup that offers customer retention and marketing automation software. “Customer retention should be as important, if not more important, than customer acquisition,” he adds. According to a recent Bain and Co. study, a 5 percent increase in customer retention can up a company’s profitability by 75 percent. In addition to the retail basics of polite and knowledgeable service, an inviting store atmosphere and a tempting selection, retailers should offer weekly promotions and incentive to reward existing customers that entice them to return. Here are four areas to focus on to keep ’em coming back to buy again and again.

SELL SMILES According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a retailer after experiencing poor customer service. “If people leave your store feeling like they didn’t get good service, they aren’t likely to come back,” confirms Tamsin Carlson, co-owner of Wee Soles, a children’s shoe store in Silver Lake, CA. Toni Budworth, who with her husband, Frank, owns Birkenstock Midtown in Sacramento, CA, instructs her staff to sell solutions to customers rather than just racking up any sale. “We emphasize to customers that our goal is to find them great shoes so when they get up in the morning and go to the closet they’re happy to put that shoe on,” she says. Those smiles go a long way to generating repeat business, she adds. Jennifer Atkins, co-owner of Angelique Kids, a high-end boutique in New Orleans, LA, goes so far as to spoil her customers to make them happy and

more likely to return. “If there’s no easy parking for them, we run out to the curb for transactions,” she says.

KNOW THY CUSTOMER Get to know customers on a personal level, and that’s by name as well as their preferences if at all possible. In short, make them feel at home and like the store is designed to fit their needs. “Most of my customers have my personal cell phone number and are friends with me on Facebook,” Atkins reveals. “Sometimes we could be texting at 10 p.m.!” If customers receive that level of warm familiarity each time they visit a shop, they’re likely to keep coming back. “We have a list of clients that I ask our employees to call every day,” Atkins adds. “They update them on merchandise that’s coming in, but it also helps them get to know that client.” Jao advises collecting as much data about customers as possible, noting that every touch point is an opportunity to do so. Retail POS software can collect basic information like names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers, which in turn can track what customers bought and when. Armed with that information, one can build shopper segments, which will enable to send customized offers and information to shoppers. Carlson keeps a database of Wee Soles’ customers and their shopping histories. When she receives new inventory, she delves into her records to see who she thinks might be interested and calls to let them know. It’s a tactic that is working: One-third of her business comes from repeat customers, she says. Tracking online shopping behavior is valuable, too. According to Jao, “If two customers each spend five minutes on a site where customer A spent three minutes reading product reviews closely, while customer B looked at 20 different products and jumped from page to page, then customer A is more likely to buy in the future.” Jao adds that being able to anticipate a need or pinpoint a customer preference can get a retailer a step ahead. Beyond that, simply talking to customers can be an effective means to getting to know them. “I often just walk around on a busy day and ask customers why they like a certain shoe, or I look at the clothes they’re wearing,” Astobiza offers. “Trends, colors and categories are moving so fast these days and you need to make sure you stay caught up with your customer.” He adds, “Don’t be afraid to change if your customer is changing.”

BE SOCIAL Retailers are increasingly turning to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to engage with customers, share promotions, introduce new products, drive traffic to stores and websites, and, best of all, generate repeat business. What’s more, it can be the more affordable alternative. “We used to run a very expensive ecommerce site back in 2006 but it was a lot of labor,” Atkins shares. She shut it down when she realized the store was generating more sales through Facebook. Each time she shared a photo of a new arrival, Angelique Kids would receive at least one phone call to set aside for purchase. Carlson recently set up Wee Soles with an Instagram account. “Rather than send my customers an e-mail every time I get a new product in, which >66

12 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2014

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BY GREG DUTTER

WHAT’S UP, DOC? RECORD PROFITS, CELEBRITY BUZZ AND NEW OWNERSHIP— BOB BRADFORD, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES FOR DR. MARTENS USA, ON WHY THE ICONIC BRAND IS ROCKING AGAIN.

IT’S THE KIND of exposure brand managers dream about. The triple crown: unsolicited, unseeded and unpaid. And the cherry on top: It’s a who’s who of influential trendsetters that spans a broad age range with diverse backgrounds. The hit parade includes Sasha Obama, who was viewed by millions wearing a pair of Dr. Martens’ classic 1460 boots at the annual pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey. The 12-year-old daughter of the leader of the free world added a personal fashion twist by weaving in both pairs of laces that come in the box—bright yellow and black, specifically. Bob Bradford, senior vice president of sales for Dr. Martens USA, admits that the two pairs of laces were intended to be an either-or option. But Obama’s double lace touch (An example of self-expression that is right in step with the brand’s successful Stand For Something advertising campaign.) made it all the more special and noteworthy. Perhaps more influential and, some might argue, more powerful than a member of the first family was the recent sighting of Blue Ivy, daughter of Jay-Z and Beyoncé, rocking Dr. Martens’ floral print boots recently in New York. The sighting—like pretty much every

Blue Ivy one—instantly went viral. A similar scenario played out when David and Victoria Beckham’s 2-year-old daughter, Harper, was photographed this fall wearing a pair of classic black 1460 boots. The member of English fashion royalty sporting the U.K. brand was an ideal match. Not only do such celebrity tot sightings help usher in a new generation of Dr. Martens customers, if one didn’t know the 53-year-old brand had launched its first kids’ collection only last July, they probably do now. The coveted brand exposure doesn’t stop there. Bradford says product sightings of late include Rihanna, Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj and members of the Black Eyed Peas. “I was sitting with my daughter recently watching an episode of So You Think You Can Dance and an entire dance troupe came out wearing our boots,” Bradford says of the unexpected but pleasant surprise. “The cast of Glee has been wearing our boots in recent episodes,” he adds. Then there’s the heavy hitting product sighting that’s been crashing through TV screens worldwide on a near hourly basis: Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video. In case you’ve missed it, the queen of twerk and reigning gossip magazine cover girl is wearing nothing but a pair of oxblood 1460s as she swings back and forth on an actual wrecking ball. Love or hate the performer, it’s a pop culture phenomenon and, if one is a believer in the old adage that any publicity is good publicity, then this is a home run for Dr. Martens. “Pretty much everyone has seen that video,” Bradford confirms. “Our boots definitely stood out.” But he is quick to reiterate that not one of these celebrity sightings has involved a paid placement, nor are any being directly promoted by Dr. Martens. “I believe that they see us as a brand that represents individual self expression,” Bradford says. “It’s a way for them to stand out and be a little different, like we hope it is with all of our customers.” The organic celebrity exposure is surely helping fuel Dr. Martens’ strong sales of late. Global sales were up about 20 percent in 2013, which follows similar annual gains during the prior three years. The brand that experienced its sales peak at the turn of the century is more than half way back to that volume, Bradford reports. The outlook for 2014 looks equally promising. What’s more, Bradford, who has been with the brand for 17 years, believes it’s only the tip of Dr. Martens’ long-term potential. “We want and believe we can become a $500-million brand, and go on from there,” he says. Bradford believes such growth is attainable because, for starters, few brands possess as rich a heritage and have as strong of an emotional

14 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2014

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O&A connection with its customers as Dr. Martens does. It’s a legacy of cool that stretches back to Pete Townshend of The Who, Joe Strummer of The Clash and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, who have all helped pass the baton of rebellion from one generation to the next while wearing the brand. Dr. Martens is rock. It’s punk. It’s alternative. It’s genuine. It’s English. It’s a brand dripping with attitude and authenticity. And, Bradford likes to add, Dr. Martens boots and shoes are comfortable, durable and versatile—all musts in today’s footwear universe. What’s more, Dr. Martens now has firm financial backing, following last October’s acquisition by the private equity firm, Permira, for a reported $485 million. (The deal is expected to be completed this month.) Permira has What are you reading? extensive expertise in backing global The Complete Book of brands, as it demonstrated with Hugo Woodworking, the tomb that Boss and Valentino. The general conI fall asleep to at night. sensus is it will help take Dr. Martens to the next level. The plan is to keep What is inspiring you the existing management team, led by now? It’s the people at Dr. CEO David Suddens, in place and let Martens, the work we are them keep doing their thing. doing and the shared success Another macro trend benefiting Dr. we are experiencing. Martens lies within the current eclectic nature of fashion. With no dominant What person in history trend to lead the way, retailers are do you admire? Nelson increasingly turning to heritage brands. Mandela. He was able Bradford says the recent FFANY show to forgive every person in New York only reaffirmed this sentiwho treated him poorly ment: “We had appointments throughthroughout his life and he out the week and we asked every one was able to unite a nation. what they were seeing and what is That level of forgiveness working, but there didn’t seem to be and pulling together for a a huge defining must-have,” he says. common good is admirable. “It’s a wide open marketplace, and that bodes well for strong brands that have What is your motto? Do a diverse product line.” the right thing. That’s how Along those lines, Bradford says Dr. we approach our business. Martens has learned from previous We want to be a company mistakes, most notably not to overly that takes care of people rely on just its iconic 1460 boot. The and treats others the way we product line has become much more would want to be treated. diverse and sales are now split about 50-50 gender-wise. Previously, it was a 60-40 in favor of men’s, which skewed even higher when sales hit a downturn during the previous decade. Just as noteworthy is the diversity of Dr. Martens’ manufacturing base. What was once the Achilles heel of the company—trying to keep its English manufacturing facilities up and running—now involves 12 state-of-the-art factories in four countries around the world. “Before, we were pretty much locked in to one factory and one (high) price,” Bradford says. “Now we are more a sourcing company than a manufacturing one. It was one of the best moves we made.”

retail store in the U.S., and that business is strong. Certainly, the overall strength in boots is helping propel our growth, but we are experiencing success across our product range. Of particular note is the launch of Kids in July, which has been selling like crazy. We believe we are only at the tip of the iceberg there. What factors are helping contribute to this broad success? It’s a combination of factors. Our retail partners are doing a really nice job of presenting the full product range. We’re also selling more at full price. Along those lines, we have very tight distribution, which certainly helps in that regard. And, quite honestly, we’re Who would be your most a much smaller, flatter organization. coveted dinner guest? We have quite a few less people as comJohnny Carson. He was pared to our peak years that spanned born the same day as me 1999 to 2001. The belt-tightening that and started his show the occurred during our lean years has year I was born. He was really helped. For example, we’re not a great communicator, an spending $1 million per show at WSA unbelievable interviewer anymore. Back then we had a 50-foot and, having lost my dad by 100-foot, two-story booth with last year, he was one of the AC, live bands and we damn near fed commonalities we shared. everyone attending the show. I mean, we had the Foo Fighters playing at our What is your least favorite parties. word? No. But I always tell my reps the selling starts I remember. It was a blast. when the buyer says no. Yes, it was phenomenal (laughs). Those Up until that point you are were great times, but I think we’re basically taking orders. In spending a little bit differently and that sense, I guess it should smarter than we were back then. really be my favorite word. Record profits are not solely the What is your favorite result of belt-tightening. hometown memory? I’m No. There’s certainly an increasing from Billings, MT, and it’s my demand for our brand overall and our friends and I hopping on our boots, in particular. I know that my bikes early in the morning, marketing brethren would also tell mooching popsicles off the you that the new Stand For Somemilkman and being on our thing ad campaign that we launched own until dinner time. this year is really resonating with consumers. It champions self-expression by showcasing authentic customers who wear our boots coupled with personal stories about what they stand for. We also have a whole new group of designers, led by Damien Wilson, our global design director, who are doing terrific interpretations of our entire product range.

OFF THE CUFF

So how’s business? Business is really good. This (past) year marked the fourth year in a row of double-digit sales increases. It was also the most profitable year in the history of Dr. Martens. Asia is up, our third party distributor sales throughout the world are up and the U.S. is slightly up more than any other region. Our e-commerce business is also up. We just opened our 12th

What caused the lean times? A major reason was that we were slow to move off a very Dr. Martens look: that iconic, eight eyelet 1460 boot with the yellow welt stitching, groove side wall and heel loop. We weren’t able to adapt and evolve quickly enough. But we’ve since been able to transition from that look with different materials, cool linings and rolled down options. We also have a lot more built around our Originals collection with several line extensions. For example, we now have women’s specific product. Back in 2000, it was all unisex styles, which wasn’t particularly flattering on women. To be a great footwear brand today you must be aware of fit, comfort and styling,

16 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2014

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O&A and we’re doing a lot better job of that now in all areas. How much broader is the line today as compared to 2000? It’s probably double. Our collections now include Originals, Casuals, Rugged, Open Airwair (sandals), Kids and Industrial. Originals, believe it or not, doesn’t rank in the top two, volume-wise, in the U.S. They are Casuals and Rugged. Now some might look at a Rugged style and assume it’s an Originals, but it has a more lugged outsole and, unlike our typical smooth leathers, it’s milled. If you walk into a Journeys, which is our largest global customer, they represent looks from across our range. We also now do a significant business with the family channel—DSW, Shoe Carnival, Famous Footwear, etc. They don’t carry Originals, but the label reads Dr. Martens, which is a brand their customers believe provides good value because it’s long lasting product. In addition, sales outside of boots are picking up. Urban Outfitters, for example, is reporting some of our worn-in leather looks have been performing well. Our sandal sales are picking up as well. Birkenstock has experienced an uptick of late, especially in Europe, which is a great precursor for the category overall and bodes particularly well for us. The entry point for a lot of consumers who are currently in their thirties was our footbed sandals. It’s not easy to have any product extension accepted, particularly when a brand is so well known for one specific style. That’s absolutely true. There is nothing harder than going into a presentation and a buyer looks you in the eye and says, “I don’t need that from you.” Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good the product is, the price, the materials, etc. Fortunately, we have been able to break through some of those barriers with additional collections. Might younger consumers see Dr. Martens as a new brand? What we have discovered in our focus groups over the last several years is a lot of people under 20 had no idea who Dr. Martens was. So there is a sense of discovery going with a lot of younger people. Like Sasha Obama, for example. Yes. I doubt she has any idea about the history of Dr. Martens and what the brand represents. And while we would be happy if she knew about our rich British heritage, our strong connection to music and, like one of our original taglines states about our product, that we are “made like no other shoes on earth,” it’s probably none of the above. But that’s OK. Throughout our history there have been a lot of sub cultures—Mods, Punks and Grunge—who have adopted the product as their own. These people saw it as a way for them to express their individuality. The big difference now is we offer a broader range of styles for people to do that. But we never dictate how they should wear our shoes or suggest which particular trend they should pair it with. A mantra used around our offices is individual self-expression, and the Stand For Something campaign really ties into that. Our flagship stores also run a promotion on Facebook called How to Wear It. It features a gallery of photos of customers’ personal style twists with their Dr. Martens. It spans cute skirts with leggings to dresses to full-on punk looks. The overall point being we’re not tied to one look or type of consumer. That said I do believe there’s a little bit of rebelliousness in everybody and we give opportunities to show that through their fashion. What are you doing this time around to try and minimize any downturns going forward? That’s a great question and it’s certainly one that I get asked often. My pat answer is there are many aspects about the company that are >69

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SPOTTING TREND

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Traditional hikers get a sporty makeover with bright laces. 1. Cushe 2. 2568 3. Wolverine 1883 4. Woolrich

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Boots as green as the grass they walk upon make the cut. 1. Chooka 2. Sperry Top-Sider 3. Blondo 4. Aigle 5. Alegria 6. Minnetonka

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TREND SPOTTING

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Intricate details with western roots step up for fall. 1. Harley-Davidson 2. OluKai 3. Plomo 4. Naot

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TREND SPOTTING 1

2

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White Light

Icy hues storm into season with a hint of fur. 1. Manitobah Mukluks 2. Keds 3. Sperry Top-Sider 4. Timberland

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SPOTTING TREND

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TREND SPOTTING

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Bursts of honey hues warm up men’s work-inspired boots. 1. Wolverine 1000 Mile 2. Muck Boot 3. Eastland

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Outdoor Preview: Fall 2014

HOT Outdoor footwear gets

more versatile, stylish and

ON THE TRAIL

youth-driven for Fall ’14. By Judy Leand

Five Ten

Timberland

O

VER THE PAST couple of winters, above-normal temperatures and less snowfall than usual made selling coldweather footwear challenging, to say the least. But so far this year, Mother Nature has blasted much of the country with snow and frigid temperatures, driving demand for winter boots. If the cold weather continues, retailers should be prepared to replenish their inventories for Fall ’14. However, rather than depend on whether the weather will act accordingly, manufacturers are resorting to innovative options that are not as dependent on extreme conditions. In the core categories of light hiking, trail

running, winter and casual lifestyle, vendors expect performance versatility, lightweight comfort and sophisticated styling to ignite consumer desire. “Given some of the past mild winters, the quest for ‘versatile warmth’ is at its highest,” says Marion Minary, Sorel’s footwear product line manager. “Brands are constantly looking for materials and technologies that will bring warmth yet stay versatile and wearable enough in milder temperatures.” “Retailer needs and consumer shopping habits are changing,” notes Ed van Wezel, CEO of Hi-Tec. “[Both] are looking for more products with year-round wearability.” Hi-Tec began addressing this shift 18 months ago and focused its Fall ’14 line on having maximum seasonal appeal. “We want to give retailers versatile, multi-month products that meet consumers’ needs for an active lifestyle in a wide range of

weather conditions,” he says In another effort to help broaden the appeal of outdoor footwear—particularly beyond its traditional base of older consumers—brands are zeroing in on a younger audience, most notably the Millennials. At roughly 77 millionstrong (larger than the Baby Boomer generation and three times the size of Generation X), Millennials present enormous sales opportunities. “Our primary focus is on the next generation of outdoor sports athletes,” confirms Greg Thomsen, managing director of Adidas Outdoor USA. “This new outdoor customer is driving the interest, excitement and new popularity the outdoor market is beginning to experience.” As such, Adidas’ direction is younger and fresher—think sneaker-like, sleeker silhouettes, hybrid end-uses and traditional athletic color pops. “Our marketing efforts are

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focused on bringing more diversity and gender balance to the market and working with our retail partners to address the unique needs of this new generation of outdoor athletes,” Thomsen adds. “The 18- to 20-year-old set is getting more excited about outdoor activities, but these endeavors are not necessarily what their parents do,” observes Charles Cole, founder and president of Five Ten. Rather than a walk in the woods, this demographic is more likely to enter a Muddy Buddy race or go rock climbing. Their outdoor pursuits are broader and more daring, and their footwear needs are more demanding. It presents opportunity to introduce new takes on the definition of outdoor footwear. “The youth market has the least resistance to trying new products and innovations,” Cole adds. Along those lines, Cushe, a division of Wolverine Worldwide, is seeing increased interest in youthful sneaker/boot hybrids, according to Ken Taylor, global marketing manager. “We want to make tech cool,” he notes. “With the sneaker/boot trend, we’re seeing that style needs function. Consumers [want] cooler-looking winter product that merges classic boot and skate looks with waterproof and warmth features.” Taylor adds, “It’s about lightweight lifestyle, easy-wear function and style versatility.” Sorel’s latest collection was inspired by the Millennial consumer. Following an extensive tour of college campuses, Minary says its designers were inspired to create the Campus Collection. Pulling design cues from chunky sweater patterns, knits and colorful felts, the collection offers performance and fashion versatility suitable for going to class, grabbing coffee, shopping and beyond. Minary notes that designers took cues from the fashion world, using toned-down, sophisticated color palettes and a mix of materials to add visual and tac-

Topo Athletic

tile interest. Gone are the clashing, sometimes garish hues of seasons past, replaced by earthier, richer tones such as burnt orange and ginger, navy blue and deep burgundy. “The lines that define the outdoor market’s perimeter are getting further blurred and converging in the consumer’s need for casual products that look as good as they perform,” she says. “Consumers should not have to compromise one for the other.” LIGHT HIKING Waterproof technologies combined with slimmer, athletic designs are helping to drive the segment. Companies are also paying closer attention to versatility and fit. For instance, Hi-Tec’s Cool Season collection is designed for year-round use. Key models, such as the men’s Valkerie Lite 200 i WP, boast proprietary i-shield hydrophobic technology. According to Simon Bonham, CEO of Hi-Tec USA, i-shield gives footwear water repellency and is stain- and oil-resistant. “The solvent-soluble, low-viscosity liquid provides an invisible guard for all open types of leather and most types of fabric and mesh, and when combined with HiTec’s Dri-Tec technology (a waterproof/breathable bootie membrane), footwear becomes completely waterproof and protected,” he explains. Adidas Outdoor will introduce new energy return foams for hiking boots, and lighter weight materials and construction techniques that allow for faster, lighter adventures. Such advances are also trickling down to more casual styles that can go from trail to street while still being waterproof, breathable and stylish. In terms of color, “The days of all-brown leather hiking boots are over as new technical styles embrace pops of color to accent technical materials and performance components,” Thomsen says. The Terrex Swift R GTX Mid Cut boot is a

particular standout, and its low-to-the-ground silhouette accommodates fast and light hiking. Thomsen adds, “Lightweight and rugged is the direction for materials: new soft shell materials for cold weather, new rubber compounds for better grip and new foams for both energy absorption and energy return.” TRAIL RUNNING For the most part, extreme minimalism has run its course, and now trail running footwear brands are responding to consumer demand for cushier rides and more protection, albeit in a lightweight construction. Toward this end, manufacturers are employing 3-D printing, sonic welding and molded components on uppers to reduce or eliminate stitching, increase flexibility and improve stability. Tony Post, founder and CEO of Topo Athletic, believes that it all boils down to shape, platform and weight. For Topo, this translates to a roomy toebox, a more neutral platform (0-mm to 4-mm drop) and low-profile mid-stack height and lightweight constructions and materials. “There’s a trend toward thicker platforms and more cushioning, but sometimes this can prove to be more of an insulating experience,” Post offers. “The market often over-reacts. People need a range of products; some days they need to be fast and agile, and other days they need more protection.” Post adds that it’s good for retailers that consumers need more than one product. “Ultimately, people will find the middle ground between minimalism and super-thick shoes,” he says. Similarly, Topo came onto the scene last July with split-toe shoes, but Post doesn’t want the brand to get pigeonholed. The company’s new Speed Trainer (ST) and Mountain Trainer (MT) models both feature a conventional toebox. In addition, three of the eight models include BOA clo-

Brooks

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Outdoor Preview: Fall 2014

sure systems for a customized fit. Chris Dunn, Salomon’s product category manager for footwear, suggests that although the minimalist trend is behind us, it has left its mark on upper constructions. “Brands have been looking for a sock-like fit, playing with fabric variations and seamless uppers that offer enough protection with welded or printed overlays,” he says, adding that outsoles are increasingly moving toward the versatility of a hybrid. “We still see trail-inspired lug patterns, but the lug depths are becoming road-friendly.” The Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3 illustrates both of these trends with its welded upper, EndoFit internal sleeve technology and low-profile outsole. For New Balance, the emphasis is on developing flexible, less-bulky options, as well. It includes the launch of the T980v1 trail Fresh Foam model that utilizes 3-D printing technology to add stability. A new outdoor collection called Multi-Run, which includes midcut, entry-level low-cut and Gore-Tex models, is designed for outdoor adventurers who enjoy both hiking and running during a single excursion. “Merging the two worlds of traditional performance shoes with the barefoot running category, we see lightweight, flexible performance shoes combined with more underfoot cushioning to allow for an overall faster look and feel,” says Brendan Murray, senior product

Blundstone

Columbia

manager for Running/Outdoor.

WORD ON THE TRAILS “Mid-calf is the new tall in boots. And as far as materi-

WINTER PERFORMANCE als go, sweaters and blankets are still very strong—they The latest winter performance bring a casual touch and versatility.” —Marion Minary, boots are designed to handle a footwear product line manager, Sorel wide range of temperatures and conditions. The offerings are “Colors are shifting away from all-over neons to rich, lighter, sleeker and more stylish than their traditional pack saturated tones.” —Kira Harrison, merchandiser, Brooks boot brethren, making it easier for consumers to wear the “With Boomers getting older, the Millennials are reitems for more months out of defining what it means to be ‘outdoors.’” —Evan Wert, the year. general manager, Icebug Enter Columbia’s expanded Minx collection for women that “Consumers are redefining what value and versatility now includes lower heights. The are and have pushed multi-function to new heights. Our line also features mixed textiles, products have to be ready for anything.” —Yahn Lebo, quilting details and visually product line manager, Wolverine interesting patterns and prints. “Shorter styles are especially popular for fall Lewis,” reports “Retailers such as J.Crew and Nordstrom are offering Todd Lewis, global product more outdoor crossover styles that blend performance director. “The boots are winterand fashion—better-looking options that are going to capable, but aren’t limited to attract new customers.” —Tal Dehtiar, founder, Oliberté winter-only.” For example, rain boots feature the brand’s Omni“The minimal barefoot trend didn’t deliver on the comHeat reflective technology to fort factor, and now many runners are flocking back to extend the style later into the cushioned, yet flexible, product.” —Todd Lewis, global season. For men, Lewis says the trend is products that can go product director, Columbia from street to trail and, along those lines, the incorporation “In hiking, there’s a bit of a pendulum swing back to of OutDry waterproof/breathmore traditional leather boots and away from the ultraable technology improves perminimal solutions.” —Jeff Dill, business director, Keen formance and eliminates bulk. Enter Icebug’s new urban, waterproof upper trimmed with faux fur, a natupscale aesthetic collections: ural motion midsole and a Contagrip ice grip Outdoor City that takes traction to a higher rubber compound outsole. fashion level and Stockholm that is designed for commuting, city walking and après ski. Also, CASUAL LIFESTYLE the brand’s popular Ivalo boot will be offered This is represents the fastest-growing segin men’s sizing for the first time. “We are seements in the outdoor footwear realm. Its buzzing more textures being used, such as the layerwords are versatility, craftsmanship, authentic ing of different materials to create new looks,” heritage, functionality and youthfulness. The says Evan Wert, general manager. “Also, we are application of mixed materials, metal hardseeing more embossing and more color—wine, ware and handcrafted details harmonize with apple, off-white and tans—in the winter boot a toned-down color palette. Silhouettes run channel. But black still continues to be the most the gamut from waterproof insulated boots to popular color for the season.” action sports-inspired sneaker-boots, retro hikThe fact that the weather hasn’t acted accorders, furry pull-ons, classic leather lace-ups and ing in recent seasons makes this a difficult catpackable après sport styles. egory. “We’re seeing assortments shrink as buyOf the latter, Pakems makes its debut with ers take a more conservative position with their a collection of lightweight, packable footwear. winter-specific styles,” says Salomon’s Dunn. “They are looking for products with a lonThe shoes, made of ripstop nylon, come in highger selling season; something comfortable and top and low-top versions, and are insulated and warm enough to pair with jeans and can be water-resistant. “We are a solution shoe, so our worn from the beginning of October through attention is more on getting people out of their the end of March.” For example, Salomon’s specialty outdoor footwear and into something Hime High lace-up boot for women provides a comfortable,” says Pakems Founder Julie >66

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a

CAMPMOR Paramus, NJ

t Campmor in Paramus, NJ, every item carried has to fit the outdoor specialty store’s unique end-user DNA. “If you want to just go camping with your family, you can go to a big box store and get tents and whatever inexpensively. But we sell items to people going on high mountain climbing expeditions and more specialized activities,” says Campmor Footwear Buyer Kevin Montanye. In that sense, he is willing to carry styles that may fall flat when it comes to adhering to the latest runway trends, but so long as the product offers features and benefits that nature lovers will geek out over, then it can make the shoe wall at Campmor. Put another way, Montanye says with a chuckle, “The top three colors are brown, brown and brown.” The 37,000-square-foot space, which has been operating since 1978, carries category leaders like Merrell, Asolo and New Balance, featuring styles that serve nature lovers to U.S. soldiers gearing up for a tour of duty. Customers go to Campmor for the real deal in outdoor gear— everything except “hooks and bullets” as Montanye notes the store does not deal in the hunting or fishing categories. Beyond its extensive selection, Montanye claims the most competitive advantage Campmor holds over the competition is its employees, who are bonafide outdoor enthusiasts. There’s a reason customers continue to come from far and wide to Campmor to be fitted by experts as well as informed of the latest products that let them enjoy the great outdoors. “We sell thousands of hiking boots each year,” Montanye notes. “That’s really our core.” —Brittany Leitner

Best selling brands and styles: Merrell, Teva, Ugg and Keen. Best new brand added to the mix: With times being what they are we’ve been cautious about adding new brands. But we are looking forward to adding Salewa this spring. It’s an outdoor specialty brand that looks promising. Best selling accessories: By far, socks. SmartWool and Darn Tough Vermont are nice high-end hiking socks that wear like iron. How was business last year overall? Flat. With Hurricane Sandy, it wasn’t a great way to start that holiday season, and that’s usually when we catch momentum going into spring. It was a downer. But this past fall we did well overall, especially in footwear. How so? We’re doing very well with select casual items, but it’s more a brand story

The Garden State emporium stocks a wide range of outdoor gear.

than a category one. Sanuk is doing very well. The North Face has also done well. It’s a fashion boot, but it’s also waterproof. Another brand that’s really been in the spotlight of late is Sorel. Somewhere along the line it has become a fashion brand. Not all of their styles are applicable to a shop like ours, but some are performing well. Are you looking to expand into additional shoe categories this year? Cautiously, yes. In 2013, we put on the breaks. This year we’re looking into CrossFit and adventure-type races like the Muddy Buddy series categories, where people are wearing specialized footwear. The problem is it can be too specialized. If people are just buying shoes to wear for those types of activities, that’s too small of a niche. We’re trying to find something that speaks to many outdoor activities. That’s the challenge— finding that magic style to satisfy as many needs as possible. What is the most effective form of communicating with your target audience? Direct e-mail marketing. We have a Twitter account and a Facebook page, but our best response from customers to sale promotions and store news comes from e-mail. Is there anything unique about your customer compared to other parts of the country? We’re not too far from Manhattan so that allows us to sell a little more fashion type of product. That said our customer is an actual end user as opposed to somebody who may go to L.L. Bean and buy a quality jacket but may never actually step on the trail. What is the biggest challenge facing your business right now? The online marketplace is evolving and changing rapidly, and now it’s the Amazon Marketplace competitors, in particular.

Ugg

The North Face

Any New Year’s resolutions business-wise? Make every shot count. We have to be cautious not to turn opportunities or products away that are important to our customer, and at the same time we must make every dollar count.

42 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2014

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ru n n i n g s p e c i a lt y wh at ’s s e l l i ng

PORTLAND RUNNING COMPANY

f

Portland, OR

or Dave and Paula Harkin, co-owners of Portland Running Company, the key to getting people into the store—and off their computers—goes much deeper than discount incentives. The athletic hub hosts free workshops, seminars and group runs to get people moving. Of course, the ability to touch and feel the latest running styles from industry leaders like Brooks, Nike and Asics doesn’t hurt. “The most successful promotions for smaller stores squeezes the human element out of digital media and connects it back to brick-and-mortar,” says Dave, a former teacher and a successful long distance runner (winner of the Race for the Roses half marathon, the Vancouver Lake half marathon and the Hagg Lake 25K trail run, among others). When not racing, coaching or speaking at running seminars, Dave can be found at either his Portland or nearby Beaverton store locations assisting customers with expert knowledge about product and exercise. Meanwhile, Paula is an avid runner and a recognized leader in specialty running retail and event marketing. The founder of Run With Paula Events, she has created a vibrant community for local runners that includes Portland Running Company, Portland Fit, the Hippie Chick Women’s Run/Walk Academy and marquee events: the Hippie Chick half marathon, Helvetia half marathon and the Crawfish Crawl. In an age where people tell all and share all, the store shelves aren’t just stocked with footwear and apparel, but with GPS and Nike Connect tools that serve as a great way to keep employees connected to customers. “People love to report back to us like they would to a coach or a teacher,” says Dave, noting that this led to his unconventional hiring strategy. “We don’t run resumes, we hire based on personalities.” He adds that they are proud to employ more than 30 part-time and full-time runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts. —B.L. Best selling brands: Brooks, Nike and New Balance. What is the best new brand added to the mix of late? Altra. It successfully blends technology and good common sense with respect to minimal designs. What are your best selling accessories? CEP Compression socks and sleeves. And GPS devices. They’ve become less tech-y and geeky. People want to know how far and fast they’re running; it’s a socially driven market. How was business last year overall? Footwear sales were up 10 percent and business overall was up 18 percent. Most of our growth is in higherend accessories and in women’s apparel. What’s your take on the barefoot/minimalist category? People fell in love with the glamorous idea of getting closer to nature, but it’s a tricky category. Now there needs to be more technology for a minimal shoe to genuinely work.

Runners meet outside the Beaverton location for marathon training.

What about the recovery footwear category? It’s totally legit. It lines up with what we advocate: to keep running shoes just for running. We always say there’s never a time when you should go barefoot. What are you doing to encourage your locale to adapt a healthier lifestyle? We conduct 10 or 11 group activities a week that are free. One of the best is our guided walks. That’s the best way to get people outside and moving, it’s a gateway drug to more activities. We also host free seminars that are focused not just on your activity, but things that will improve it like hydration, sleep and nutrition. What’s your fastest growing demographic and why? Females between 35 and 45 years old, because often their kids are entering school full time for the first time in four or five years. It’s not possible to be serious about your own fitness when you have young kids. What’s the most successful promotion your store has done recently? There’s a relay race here called Hood to Coast, and we had a competition to let people name each leg of the race. We sold T-shirts with the winning name on it. We thought there were going to be a few hundred people involved but it ended up being thousands. I found that people love when they can chime in and have a lasting impression. Is there anything unique about your customer as compared to other parts of the country? I think we have a super wide range of customers, from people with doctor referrals to competitive athletes. It’s cool that we don’t have to focus on just one group. Any New Year’s resolutions? To become better at the actual business of running a business, from evaluating the benefits provided to employees to how we market and reach out to customers to how we get new customers. 2014 january • footwearplusmagazine.com 43

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New Balance

FALL OUTDOOR PREVIEW

Keen

Montrail Asolo

GOING G R AY The new neutral for nature-lovers.

Wolverine

COLORCODES 44 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;˘ january 2014

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S

The North Face

Saucony

Topo

Vasque

Brooks

Hi-Tec

BRIGHT LIGHTS Racy hues for fast times. 2014 january â&#x20AC;˘ footwearplusmagazine.com 45

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Kamik

FALL OUTDOOR PREVIEW

Sorel

Columbia

Sperry Top-Sider

46 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;˘ january 2014

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Adidas

Salomon

Moon Boot

Teva

COLD COUNTRY Light in weight but loaded with tech to combat the elements.

Timberland

2014 january â&#x20AC;˘ footwearplusmagazine.com 47

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FALL OUTDOOR PREVIEW Woolrich

Timberland

THE EARTHY SHADE SUITS THE URBAN

Oboz

OUTDOORSMAN.

BROWN TOWN 48 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2014

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Oliberté

OluKai

Merrell

2014 january • footwearplusmagazine.com 49

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E-beat

Travel Happy Zappos put a positive spin on a stressful day with giveaways at baggage claim. IT’S NO SECRET that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest—and most stressful—travel days of the year, as millions of Americans take to the air and roads for the holiday. But for Zappos, the harried commute was the perfect opportunity to put its “Deliver Happiness” mantra into action, turning a baggage claim carousel at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston into a Wheel of Fortune-type game: Zappos-branded roulette slots designated different prizes, including gift certificates, The North Face jackets, Jansport backpacks, Ugg boots and Kitchen Aid mixers. Lucky travelers on seven different American Airlines flights won whatever their suitcases landed on. Boston ad agency Mullen dreamed up the game, which allowed the e-tailer to inject fun and, as Zappos Manager of Brand Communications Catherine Cook puts it, “a little weirdness” into a typically anxiety-inducing day for passengers. Improv actors and Zappos crew were on hand to verify winnings, with at least one dressed like a turkey. “We are constantly looking for ways to deliver the ‘wow’ factor, whether it’s to our customers who are already shopping the site or to the communities in which they live,” Cook says. “We are also strong believers in word-of-mouth marketing. If someone won a prize on the baggage belt, there’s a good chance they shared the good news at their Thanksgiving dinner.” Zappos chose to hold the event in Houston because the city represents one of its largest customer markets, Cook says, and the game allowed the company to show its appreciation to the community. “We believe that reaching customers at unexpected times, like the busiest travel day of the year, gives us the opportunity to spread the most joy,” she says. “We saw travelers who left the baggage claim a little happier than when they arrived, which was all we wanted.” In 2012 Zappos decided to pay some drivers’ tolls on Thanksgiving Eve in Massachusetts, and Cook says the e-tailer plans to continue its tradition of surprise next year. “The question in our minds is, what will we think of next and where will it take us?” —Lyndsay McGregor

The Zappos baggage claim game put smiles on the faces of weary Thanksgiving travelers.

FFANY 365 will connect retailers and wholesalers year-round.

FFANY Goes Virtual Buyers can now shop brands every day of the year, any time of the day. THE FASHION FOOTWEAR Association of New York (FFANY) is looking to impress itself upon digital culture when it debuts a wholesale marketplace online this month. The trade show has partnered with POP-Market, a B2B platform already used by 50,000 retailers, to launch FFANY365, a portal that will allow buyers and brands to stay connected all year long. Going live Jan. 15, the site will allow wholesalers to present orderready, merchandised line sheets and look books, along with customized assortments, suggested upsells and re-orders. Meanwhile, buyers can follow favorites and receive real-time alerts on immediate deals, news of trends, best sellers and editor picks from the user-friendly platform. It’s free for retailers to register and navigate the site, but wholesalers can specify with whom they want to share their wares, similar to confirming a friend request on Facebook. Wholesalers can sign on for an introductory rate of $365 this season. Set up is handled by POP Market and includes a Brand Marketing Portal, an Online Showroom of 12 featured styles and a brand listing in the Interactive Brand Directory that is made available to thousands of international footwear buyers. FFANY President and CEO Joe Moore says FFANY365 will enhance its four annual shows by allowing vendors to easily continue transactions and communications that were initiated on the floor. “It’s not designed or intended to replace the trade shows” he says. “People still want to touch and feel product, but they can’t do that 365 days a year and their time at a show is limited.” Moore adds, “FFANY365 offers the best of the both worlds.” Specifically, it allows buyers to shop on their own time and it provides 24-7 branding opportunities. “Wholesalers don’t have the same size sales force that they used to and it’s expensive for some independents to go to trade shows several times a year,” Moore notes, adding the response to the launch during last month’s show was positive. “FFANY365 will enable buyers to keep up with the latest trends and to shop the market year-round.” —L.M.

50 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2014

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BUYER CHAT

Brooks Maitland PlanetShoes

before that she was a buyer at Filene’s. “It’s great to know what it’s like to work on the floor, and from the wholesale side to know how to deal with sales people,” she offers. “But I love being online and seeing the instantaneous consumer experience; there’s no middleman there.” Here, Maitland chats about the boutique experience, Fall’ 14 boot trends and the over-the-top style she believes is now over the hill. —L.M.

SHOPPING CURATED COLLECTIONS online can be a lot like shopping in a real-life boutique—a specialty shop where the goods are selected and stocked to meet the needs of its target customer. Pair that with an eco-friendly platform and you have the PlanetShoes approach to buying. “Consumers know when they come to us they will find unique styles and brands, but at the same time they will find the staples they already have in their wardrobe, like Clarks, Sorel and Born,” says Brooks Maitland, director of merchandising, who’s been with the 13-year-old comfort-focused e-tailer for six years. Committed to helping men, women and children live healthier, greener lives, PlanetShoes’ ever-expanding assortment spans comfort staples like Ecco, Rockport and Keen to Sperry Top-Sider, Merrell and Dansko. And Maitland is keeping her eyes peeled for new brands to include in next season’s selection. “My approach is simple: Buy cautiously, test the products, see what the consumer reacts to and buy accordingly,” she says, citing Fly London and Vivobarefoot as two recent success stories. That philosophy topped off with stellar service has allowed PlanetShoes to remain competitive in a tier that’s increasingly driven by lower prices. Maitland credits her diverse background for keeping the site out of the discount fray. She previously worked for women’s clothing company, Susan Bristol, and

What sets the PlanetShoes customer apart from the pack? Our customers care as much about the shopping experience as they do the price. They enjoy the boutique experience. It’s important for people to understand that our customer is willing to pay full price for the look and feel of a well known brand that they know will be comfortable and will last. What are PlanetShoes’ key trends for next fall? Material blocking, quilting, oversized buckles and zippers, and biker details. What about boots, specifically? We’re moving away from tall boots to carry more ankle and mid-calf styles. The bootie looks to be the most popular silhouette for next fall. That silhouette is now a year-round staple? With the crazy way the world is changing in terms of weather, boots with a lower profile that are less clunky tend to have a longer selling season. You see the Sorels and The North Faces of the world making their boots more fashion-driven so they don’t have to rely on a foot of snow to sell. What will be some of the key colors for next fall? Brighter blues in denim hues and rustic colors like forest green and red. What trend are you sick of seeing? Over-the-knee boots. The sell life was very short, it’s a very particular customer and it’s a tough trend to wear.

Follow Us Online

Timely, exclusive bonus coverage — from the shows, inside the parties and on the streets.

Facebook.com/ Footwearplusmagazine @FootwearPlusMag Footwearplusmagazine.com/ sole-searching FOLLOW THE FASHION LEADER Footwear Plus, Est. 1990 For advertising and custom content opportunities contact: Caroline Diaco Publisher Caroline.Diaco@9Threads.com (917) 450-7584

2014 january • footwearplusmagazine.com 51

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C O Z Y S W E AT E R - L I K E M AT E R I A L S B L A N K E T FA L L â&#x20AC;&#x2122; 1 4 B O O T S .        Æ«Æ«     Æ«    Æ«Ä&#x2018;Æ«  Æ«Æ« Æ«  

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From left: Gabor hiker, Cushe sneaker boot, Zara sweater, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hat and scarf.

53

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G.H. Bass & Co. equestrian-inspired boot. Opposite: Cuffed boot by Spring Footwear, Zara skirt and layered sweaters, Uniqlo scarf and knee high socks, Southpaw hat.

54

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55

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HAIR: SEIJI, THE WALL GROUP; MAKEUP: TAMAH, THE WALL GROUP; MODELS: CARLEY, RED MODEL MANAGEMENT; ELLA, APM MODEL MANAGEMENT


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Plaid skirt by Zara, yellow mohair sweater by Topshop, Southpaw scarf, Wolford tights, stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rings. Opposite, clockwise from top right: Western bootie by The Sak, Cougar suede short boot, pom-pom-accented boot by Helly Hansen, Restricted slouch boot with buckles. 57

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58

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Sweater boot by Very Volatile. Opposite: Southpaw sweater, scarf and hat.

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Tall wool felt boot by Zdar, Opposite, from top: Bella Vita quilted boot, Beach Feet sweater-print boot, Zara striped shirt and scarf, vintage pocho.

61

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EDITOR’S PICKS

Zip It Zipper accents expose an edgier side of classic booties.

D E S I G N E R C H AT : Tania Spinelli

Rialto

Evolution of Style What is your first fashion memory? I was very young, around 5 years old, and I loved wearing my mom’s knee-high boots, which reached way over my thighs. Those were my first thigh-high boots! I love boots. If I had to design only one shoe, it would be a boot. What season do you to design for most? Fall, because I love boots. I also feel like there are more possibilities in that season: endless material options from fur to hair calf, lots of textures, all kinds of heights, and open-toe and closed-toe silhouettes. Which celebrity would you love to see in one of your designs? Kate Moss. She is effortlessly chic and makes a cool statement with everything that she wears. Which shoe are you currently wearing most? A biker ankle boot from my current fall line that has a classic pointed toe, 4.5-inch stiletto and foldover collar. If you weren’t designing shoes, what might you be doing? Designing clothes. I miss watching fabric move on the runway. That said, I truly love shoes and I believe in accessories more than clothing, because they have more of an impact and can change how you feel about yourself. Which designer do you admire most? Azzedine Alaia is a technical genius and innovator. He’s a master at designing styles that flatters the female figure. Who is your style icon? Ali MacGraw. I admire her natural, easy style. She always looked beautiful and never like she was trying too hard. Where do you like to unwind? I’m in Italy six to eight times a year, but I still like to vacation there as well, especially on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. It’s where my family is from and it feels familiar.

Nina

Klub Nico

Jambu

EDITOR’S PICKS PHOTOGRAPHY BY TIM JONES

AS THE DAUGHTER of an Italian tailor and seamstress mother who made all her own dresses, Tania Spinelli knew she was destined for a career in design. “I just thought it was going to be clothing,” she quips. In a twist of fate, Spinelli married into a shoemaking family and began working alongside her father-in-law in his Brazilian factory before launching her own label in 2005. “That’s where you learn the most—inside the factory and seeing all the technical challenges that can arise,” she says. “When you work as a designer for a big company, you don’t get that hands-on experience.” Of her line, Spinelli says, “Each collection is an evolution of my aesthetic, which is clean, modern, architectural and classic with an edge. They don’t have a particular theme, but each season is very uniform.” The designer’s signature geometric uppers, caging and killer stilettos have caught the eye of fashion tastemakers spanning Blake Lively and Gwyneth Paltrow to the buyers at Saks Fifth Avenue. As the label matures, Spinelli plans to balance her collection with less polarizing silhouettes, including flat boots for Fall ’14. But she is quick to note that even with the addition of “everyday shoes,” the line won’t lose its star power. Expect a glamorous fall collection with luxurious materials, plays on texture and some details from this spring, including laser cuts. “My favorites are usually the ones designed at the last minute,” Spinelli offers. “They are constantly being developed.” —Angela Velasquez 62 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2014

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Cocktail Party & Casino Night Thursday, February 13, 2014 | 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

Friday, February 14, 2014 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 22, 2014.

HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS Renaissance Waverly Hotel – $134 Please refer to The Atlanta Shoe Market. 888.391.8724 Embassy Suites Galleria – $109 single, $129 double. 678.460.2567 Atlanta Marriott Hotel NW – $113 single/double. 800.228.9290 Sheraton Suites – $104 single, $109 double. 770.955.3900

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

CAR RENTAL To reserve a vehicle please visit Hertz Reservation Interactive System

AIRPORT SHUTTLE SERVICE MT TRANSPORTATION For reservations: Phone: 770-951-1449 or 770.882.5466 E-mail: mttransportations@gmail.com or sales@mttransporations.com Private car or SUV - $65 one way Round Trip - $120 www.mttransportations.com

THE ATLANTA SHOE MARKET | FEBRUARY 13-15, 2014

A & M LIMO & GALLERIA DIRECT For Reservations: Phone: 770-955-4565 (Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) Online: galleriadirect.net/reservations.asp aandlimo.com Service to airport every hour from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. $30* one way (advance reservations only); $49* round trip (advance reservations only). *Prices subject to change

COBB GALLERIA CENTRE & RENAISSANCE WAVERLY HOTEL atlantashoemarket.com

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S H O W C A S E FA LL ’1 4

Fashion meets function in this

T u s ceasy a street ny

easy-to-walk-in wedge sole and waterproof suede bootie with

by

leather detailing, soft faux fur

M a d e i n i ta l y

collar and inside zipper that Jambu introduces Flex Climber to its Fall/ Winter ’14 lineup. Featuring the brand’s patented Flex Traction, the boot’s retract-

screams city-chic. Visit Cougar at FFANY and Platform.

www.cougarboots.com

able built-in titanium spikes offer grip on

®

Tuscany by Easy Street is a new collection of stylish and colorful footwear handmade and designed with love in Italy. Available in a wide range of colors and styles, sizes range from 5 to 12. Visit us at The New York Shoe Show, FN Platform and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

www.easystreetshoes.com

demand in ice or snow. A waterproof and breathable membrane keeps feet dry and comfortable, while the hydrophilic antibacterial lining and footbed guard against odor and bacteria. Visit us at Outdoor Retailer, FFANY, The Atlanta Shoe Market and FN Platform.

www.jambu.com

Girls can walk on clouds with Skech-Air Bizzy Bounce athletic

A non-profit division of Consolidated Shoe Company, Dimmi

sneakers. Air pockets on the insole add extra bounce to every step

(meaning “tell me” in Italian) is dedicated to touching lives through

and the Skechers Memory Foam insole is like a pillow for little feet.

the medium it knows best: shoes. Designed to allow people to share

Learn more at FN Platform.

their story and connect with others, 100 percent of Dimmi profits

www.skechers.com

go to further medical research. Visit us at FFANY, Outdoor Retailer, WWDMagic and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

www.dimmi.com

Meet Samantha, the newest addition to the Aetrex Essence Collection. With Lynco orthotic footbeds for support and alignment, memory foam cushioning for comfort, and Aegis anti-microbial technology to help keep feet healthy and clean, this ankle boot will add a unique flair to any woman’s wardrobe. Aetrex will be exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer, The Atlanta Shoe Market and FN Platform.

www.aetrex.com

Cougar’s Fall/Winter ’14 collections feature fashionable footwear that goes anywhere, anytime and in any weather. Guaranteed to be waterproof. Guaranteed to turn heads. Visit us at FFANY, FN Platform and Outdoor Retailer.

www.cougarboots.com

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Quiddity is Spring Footwear’s standout style

Chooka uses leather, rubber and an abun-

for Fall ’14. Part of the L’Artiste Collection, the

dance of innovation to introduce the Lorum

Western-inspired two-tone ankle boot features

Emboss Quilted collection for Fall ’14. The

metal grommets and contrast stitching on a

styles seamlessly merge fashion and function,

TPR outsole with a squishy padded insole. See

leaving no trend unexplored and every foot

Spring at Northeast Shoe Expo/BSTA and The

dry. Visit Chooka at Outdoor Retailer, FFANY,

Atlanta Shoe Market.

www.springfootwear.com

The Atlanta Shoe Market and FN Platform.

www.chookaboot.com

S H O W C A S E FA LL ’1 4

Synonymous with design excellence for years,

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 hottest trends, the collection spans platforms and wedges to sandals, boots and more. Visit us at FN Platform.

www.blossomfootwear.com Bearpaw’s fashion-meets-function aesthetic is updated with hidden wedges, sleek silhouettes and on-trend upper patterns, allowing customers to stay comfortable without sacrificing style. Check out the new Metropolis Collection at Outdoor Retailer, The Atlanta Shoe Market and FN Platform.

www.bearpaw.com

Designed and handmade in Tuscany, Italy, Bella Vita combines comfort and wearability in its nature-inspired line of genuine leather footwear. Available in a large range of sizes and widths, come visit us at The New York Shoe Show, FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe Market and all regional shows.

www.bellavitashoes.com

Explore the great outdoors in the Skechers Verdict oiled leather waterproof boot, featuring authentic RealTree camo print canvas fabric and a rugged traction outsole. The padded collar and cushioned insole add extra comfort to this casual men’s field boot. Visit Skechers at FN Platform.

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continued from page 40 Adams. “We invented the shoe to be comfortable during après ski, but our customers are finding all kinds of uses, such as traveling, après hiking, getting out of cycling cleats and commuting.” Pakems plans to introduce a kids’ collection next fall. Another relative newcomer is Zdar, a maker of Bavarian wool boots (a contemporary reinterpretation of a Russian classic). Features include uppers made of handmade 8-mm lambs wool felt, Poron shock-absorbing footbeds lined with leather and outsoles comprised of hemp and sticky rubber. “We use texture as a palette in knitted uppers, faux fur, shearling lamb and select real fur that’s sustainably sourced,” notes Markus Mueller, Zdar’s U.S. sales director. Timberland’s take on its classic wheat boot includes a fold-down style with a cozy fleece lining. “The yellow boot is trending younger (18 to 24) and suburban,” says Jennifer DiBello, senior merchandising manager. “Even though that boot is 40 years old, 20 year olds are just

discovering it.” In women’s, Timberland is staying true to being “a crafted, heritage brand with a beautiful, rugged aesthetic.” DiBello adds, “Hiking boots are a declining business and our consumers are looking for more refined styles that showcase lower heels, rich saturated leathers, clean lines and hardware such as buckles and zippers.” Chelsea, biker and prairie silhouettes are becoming especially popular, she adds. As for men, the focus is on “refined rugged” looks that pair clean uppers with rugged outsoles, or vice-versa. Look for mixed leathers and overlays, rolled prints, whipstitch crafted details and the use of wool in trims and linings. Cushe is aiming for similar crossover design appeal, offering outdoorsy takes on action sports and casual athletic styles. “The outdoor footwear market is evolving and growing in the area of lifestyle,” Taylor says. “While there will always be the need for classic, activity-driven footwear such as hiking and running, there’s also a desire in this market for style-driven product that holds up and, most importantly, keeps your feet warm and dry.” •

Pakems

Sorel

continued from page 12 can be annoying, they can follow me on Instagram and see the new inventory,” she offers, adding that it keeps Wee Soles top of mind with its audience. Posting an image is one aspect, but including a message is key. “You need to post something that gets consumers to engage with you and with each other,” Knup advises. “Social media is a platform for conversations. It presents an opportunity to learn a lot more about your customers.” For example, photo contests, customer polls and sneak peeks at upcoming collections can often generate a high number of likes and comments on Facebook pages. E-mail campaigns are also highly effective, affordable and increasingly popular. In fact, a recent AT&T poll reveals that almost half of small businesses now use e-mail to market to customers, a nearly 25 percent jump from 2012. And according to a study conducted by Millward Brown Digital, more than 75 percent of consumers who receive retailer e-mails not only read them, but also use them for shopping. Furthermore, a recent study by predictive analytics firm Custora discovered that customer acquisition via e-mail has quadrupled in the last four years. And customers who come to businesses via e-mail tend to shop more and spend more. “Social media platforms can get people excited about a product, but in terms of actual sales conversion they’re very inconsistent,” Jao notes. “E-mail, however, works very well.” Budworth of Birkenstock Midtown reports a good response to targeted e-mail campaigns. “We recently started to carry a limited-edition sheepskin Birkenstock boot and e-mailed our customers to let them know about it,” she offers. “By the end of the first day, we had five people call.” Part of e-mail marketing success has to do with human nature: e-mails are pushed to inboxes while consumers have to actively seek social media interaction. Just don’t overhelm inboxes with generic emails, experts say. Retailers don’t offer a one-size-fits-all approach, so why do it with e-mail? Jao recommends sending an offer tied to a product that a customer has purchased before so there is greater relevance. The particular time at which an e-mail lands in a

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subscriber’s inbox can also enhance the response rate. For example, catching recipients during lunch time often results in them engaging more deeply.

REWARD AND REPEAT Not only do reward programs offer an incentive to buy additional goods, effective loyalty programs reinforce and cement customer relations. At Wee Soles, for example, loyal customers get a punch card that gives them 10 percent off every sixth pair purchased. “It’s small, but it’s always a nice surprise when reached,” Carlson says. Similarly, Sole Desire’s rewards system offers points based on purchases toward store gift certificates. For every $500 spent, the customer will receive $30 off their next purchased pair. If they spend $1,000 they will receive $100 off. Astobiza reports that 55,000 customers have signed up to the program, to date. Birkenstock Midtown offers a free set of earrings to customers that purchase three or more pairs at a time. “The earrings have a perceived value of $20 to $30 but cost us half that,” Budworth notes. “Hopefully, they think of us whenever she sees them.” The same socks for when they bonus a pair of socks. “Both are tangible ways to thank them for shopping with us,” she says. Targeted promotions can also make customers feel good about doing business with a store and encourage them to come back. “We invite our top customers to shop early in the season at a trunk show and include a small discount as added incentive,” Budworth says. “That gets them wearing new styles early so their friends see it.” Birkenstock Midtown’s recent fall trunk show saw sales up 20 percent over the same period the year before. Last but not least, polite “thank you for shopping with us” e-mails and birthday acknowledgements sweetened with a coupon code are ways to express appreciation and generate repeat business. To that end, good business sense often involves common sense. “In today’s environment customers need to feel good about where they’re spending their money,” Astobiza says. •

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UPCL OSE B O OTS

Comeback Kid American Beauty Tapping into 180 years of brand legacy, Woolrich blends classic Americana styling with modern touches.

IT’S A LAUNCH that’s been in the works for more than two years. Despite a cozy slipper legacy spanning a decade, Fall ’14 marks the arrival of Woolrich’s first ever line of boots and shoes for men and women. “The fact is, wool is a really amazing material that has been underutilized in the footwear world for a long time,” notes Sean Beers, CEO of Portland Product Werks, the licensee for Woolrich. “When we started looking at the strength of the Woolrich brand and the desire consumers have to attach heritage-based stories to products, we saw the opportunity to own wool in footwear.” And the 180-year-old brand certainly has a lot of stories to tell. From Woolrich Founder John Rich constructing the woolen mill in Plum Run, PA, that provided blankets to Union soldiers during the Civil War and is still used today, to the reasons why wool works as such a versatile, high functioning material. It’s a rich history Beers loves telling. “We’re basing our design ethos around American spirit, pioneering effort and all things Woolrich,” he says, noting the motto his team used during the debut design process was “make it worth making.” Along those lines, he adds, “There’s a lot of really great characteristics wool brings to the party,” including thermo regulation, durability and moisture wicking properties. Beers says the collection aims to catch the attention of a younger, fashion-conscious consumer, who he hopes will discover the brand their grandparents may already have hanging in their closet. “Our distribution footprint is targeted at retailers where this consumer shops; better department stores, better footwear boutiques and independent footwear retailers,” he says. “All the right names are in the mix.” Speaking of names, Beers and Portland Product Werks’ creative director, Carl Blakeslee, have a combined 35 years of industry experience with brands such as Nike, Columbia, Sorel and Korkers. The debut Woolrich line retails from $160 for a lace-up oxford featuring a wool upper to $350 for the men’s made-in-the-U.S.A. collection of boots and shoes, produced entirely in the States as opposed to just the wool component like the rest of the line. Each style will feature one of the brand’s iconic patterns, like its flagship Buffalo check (dates back to the mid 1800s) or timeless stripes and solids. Although warm weather styles may seem tricky for a brand renowned for wool, Beers says the fabric won’t disappear in its upcoming spring collection. “We have some interesting things coming up for spring,” he says. “Expect a use of wool in ways that hasn’t been incorporated yet in the market.” —Brittany Leitner

Palmroth, a Finland-based company that hit it big in the ’60s, returns to the U.S. BUYERS AT THE December FFANY may have been unfamiliar with Palmroth, but the Finland-based boot brand is no stranger to the U.S. market. The first collection hit the States more than 60 years ago and was given tastemakers’ stamp of approval later on when it landed on the pages of Vogue during the late ’60s. Celebrities like Julie Christie and Raquel Welch were photographed wearing the brand, which prepped go-go fashion with over-the-knee and calf-length boot styles. Palmroth could be found at high-end staples like Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys well into the early ’90s, but with limited resources and demanding retailers close to home in Europe, the brand failed to keep up with U.S. distribution. After noticing quality declining in footwear designed to “feed the masses,” Mikko Palmroth, CEO of Palmroth International, decided it was time to jump back onto the playing field in 2012 under the new company, Palmroth International. “Big brands have oversaturated the market and are making less quality products than before,” he says. “There is a growing demand for smaller brands that make quality products and are more exclusive.” Following a two-store test launch last year at Colorado Shoes and Galo in New York to positive consumer reaction, Palmroth is ready to expand distribution, targeting high-end boutiques and larger department stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. “Our products were received really well at FFANY,” he notes of the December show. “The feedback from buyers makes me believe this is a niche where we can succeed, especially in winter and fall. We fit in between mid-priced brands and the luxury designer labels.” The cold and wet weather boots are made of water-resistant suede and leather that safeguard against rain and slush. The all-weather material is extremely lightweight, resists dirt and salt marks, and the grip rubber sole guards against slipping in wet conditions. Palmroth believes the sleek patent leather styles appeal to younger consumers while the comfort and traction features are attractive qualities to an older demographic. “We’re only focused on someone who likes elegant style and can use our products for years to come,” he offers. The Fall ’14 collection, which wholesales from $90 to $140, ranges from ankle to calf-length styles in various heel heights and neutral colors with a few on-trend oxblood looks thrown into the mix. The collection, reflecting its Scandinavian design heritage, is sleek and fuss-free. “You could say Italians make stylish footwear, Germans focus on comfort and we try to learn from both,” Palmroth says. —B.L.

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continued from page 18 different this go ’round. First off, we no longer strictly manufacture shoes in England. So in addition to our Goodyear welted styles, we now manufacture strobel and cement constructed shoes. In fact, one of our strongest categories of late is Eclectic, which is extremely lightweight, low profile, cup sole product. It mirrors the DNA of our 1460 boot, but it’s a much lighter weight, more affordable package. We also offer a corner stitch program, which has become a significant part of our business within the family value channel. We’ve also retrenched in our Industrial division, which now includes a dedicated sales force. That division represents more than 20 percent of our business—selling to pipe fitters, welders and construction workers on job sites. That’s the true heritage of Dr. Martens, which was originally developed as a work boot for longshoremen, postal workers and bobbies (British police officers). We have a compelling story in that segment that represents 50 years of success. All of these aspects combined have really made us a more rounded company. What is the distribution strategy going forward in the U.S.? Our distribution continues to be very tight. We have some accounts that we have been dealing with that consist of the exact same people for 17 years. They have always believed in the brand and they believe in what we are doing. And we are very loyal to them. Along those lines, I think one of the contributing factors to our success is that we are not so easy to find at retail. We are very strategic in who we sell. Often, I’ll have a stack of business cards coming back from a Project show of delightful people who represent terrific stores, but it’s just not the right fit. Can you achieve substantial growth within your existing distribution? I told the team at our recent global sales conference that we can double our business with our existing retailers by doing nothing more than expanding

our SKU assortment, making sure that we are in stock and helping drive sell-through. A lot of brands that get hot often get greedy and over distribute. Yup. Conversely, when a knock comes on the door from a 1,000-store chain, it’s really hard to say no when you are struggling. We’ve been faced with that situation a couple of times in the past decade, but we respectively said no. Those were tough decisions. At the other extreme, I get phone calls literally every day from somebody who wants to put up our entire line on their web site—with us doing fulfillment, of course. But they very well could be someone sitting in their mom’s basement wearing pajamas. Those are much easier decisions to make (laughs). How is Dr. Martens approaching the online channel? There was a point about five years ago where we ratcheted back on this tier and decided to focus on key players. These sites are very prominent and can feature our product in such a way that really showcases it to potential new consumers. We will also unveil a new global e-commerce platform next month. It has mobile applications and acts as a real showcase for the brand. Be it branded stores and/or e-commerce platforms it seems like everyone is a retailer these days. It can seem that way. We talk about what that percentage is going to be going forward and, quite honestly, we don’t want that to get too lopsided because we can’t do what a Nordstrom can. Who Nordstrom has walking through its doors may not be the type of person who would walk into one of our stores or shop our site. Nor can we open 1,200 Famous Footwear or 1,000 Journeys stores. And Journeys is a brand, too, that appeals to a broad range of kids. They really know how to cater to them. I want Dr. >71

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UPCL OSE STRE E T

Brogue Trader British brand Northern Cobbler delivers reimagined classics for Fall ’14. FED UP WITH the overload of neon outsoles, camouflage print and sneakerized brogues in men’s shoe departments, Steffan Safhill decided to put his frustration to good use and in 2012 launched Northern Cobbler. “I wanted to do top-end casual products that at the time were really missing from the market. It was very important to me to do something that has a real handmade feel to it,” says Safhill, whose background includes stints at Clarks, Society Footwear and Ted Baker. Two years in, the Londonbased label has grown to include women’s styles, working with shoemakers in Portugal and England for all of its handmade footwear. Traditional silhouettes are reinvented with unexpected details like a fringed vamp or a contrast pull tab or topline, and

welted leather soles feature the brand’s cheeky logo: an embossed sea bass clad in a top hat and monocle. To further the cobbler concept, shoeboxes come with a canvas apron instead of a dust bag. Cut from suedes and Scotch grain leathers, the Fall ’14 collection spans boots and brogues to monk straps and creepers in a plethora of tan, tobacco and oxblood. The women’s line has evolved from its man-tailored roots to include heels. Also in the cards for fall is a hush-hush collaboration with Commune de Paris, as well as a line of branded shoe care. Safhill hopes to gradually expand into small leather goods such as belts for men and bags for women over the next few years. “We always try to do something different that sets us apart. If we put a shark tooth sole on a shoe, it will be a really chunky one,” he offers. “Or we’ll have a brogue but we’ll do it our way with a ghillie loop fastening and leather fringed lace ends.” Expect the belts and bags to follow a similar design philosophy. “We just do what we think is right; we don’t allow trends to dictate us,” Safhill says. —Lyndsay McGregor

Beetle Mania Ko.ee partners with Pakistani artisans to bow an insect-inspired collection. WHEN FATIMA RANA graduated from Cordwainers at London College of Fashion in 2011 with a B.A. in footwear design, she found few job prospects. But was she stressed out about the lack of a career path she spent three years preparing for? Not at all. “I have the contacts, I have the resources. I’m just going to start my own line,” Rana remembers thinking. And that’s exactly what she’s done: Her contemporary women’s brand, Ko.ee, will makes its debut this fall. Production takes place in Quetta, Pakistan, where every step of the shoemaking process—right down to the lasting—is done entirely by hand. The Las Vegas-based designer says inspiration struck when she first saw the factory. “It’s in an old part of town and I thought it was really pretty how the paint chipped off, and I saw all these spider webs and exotic beetles with amazing patterns and colors,” she says. Wholesaling from $110 to $230, the collection runs the gamut from Scarab, a simple menswear-inspired loafer, to Mantis, a knee-high boot with cutout details, to Fiery Searcher, a maroon patent bootie with an ombré vamp. Pops of yellow patent break up the somber palette and most styles feature color blocking and hand-embroidery that call to mind delicate spider webs and insect exoskeletons. Ethical awareness is a priority for Rana, who was brought up in a multinational home. Her cohesive collection of fashionforward footwear is dedicated to promoting traditional artisanal craftsmanship and she has partnered with the charity AHAN (Asians for Humans, Animals and Nature) to help preserve and develop Pakistan’s cultural heritage. “I’m trying to help people from rural areas,” she says. “They can do what they love and their craft can live on as well.” —L.M.

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continued from page 69 Martens to be a part of that. I think it’s critical for our long-term success that we maintain those relationships and offer products that resonate with those consumers when they walk through all of those different retail doors. How many more flagships do you plan to open this year? Currently, we have 12 stores. (The most recent one opened in Columbus, OH.) And we’ll probably open three to five more. I know retailers don’t like hearing that but it’s really only a handful and they serve as a billboard for Dr. Martens. They have helped the perception of the brand in those respective marketplaces. It legitimizes what we are doing. For example, at our store in Portland, OR, which is on the first floor of our headquarters, it’s amazing how many people walk in and the first thing they say is, “I had no idea that Dr. Martens made shoes like this.” And no matter how much I browbeat Dillard’s or Nordstrom, they can’t represent the brand the same way. Even if it’s nothing more than a visitor seeing what our brand is all about, the stores are worth it.

What do these items retail for? From about $300 to $400. It’s certainly a distinctive look for a distinctive customer. Along those lines, we’ve had great meetings with Lord & Taylor, Barneys and Neiman Marcus, who are targeting that type of customer. And while it’s not significant pairs overall, it really honors the brand’s heritage as well as appeals to an older consumer who maybe wore Dr. Martens in the past but doesn’t want to wear a steel toe, 10-eyelet boot now. This gets them back into our brand. Where do you see Dr. Martens in five years? A lot bigger overall and well balanced. We expect to see significant growth across all segments. Similarly, we want growth to come from around the world and not be overly dependent on one particular region. Certainly, the potential is there. There are great growth opportunities in Asia, for example. If we can replicate the amount of sandals we have been selling in Vietnam elsewhere, it could mean great things for the brand. There are stores in that country where half the shoe wall is dedicated to Dr. Martens. We also have good momentum in Canada since we took sales management back from our distributor. That business is probably four times bigger than it was in the hey-day around 2000. We made the same move in France recently, and that business is coming on strong. And there’s plenty of opportunity to expand further in South America, where we’re taking a little different approach by partnering with some retailers to open dedicated Dr. Martens stores.

“[Our premium Made in England collection] honors the brand’s heritage and appeals to an older customer.”

What’s your assessment of retail in general right now? Certainly, there’s been a lot of shakeout these past several years. If I look at the retailer list during Dr. Martens’ three biggest years, it’s absolutely frightening how many of them no longer exist. Those that have survived are certainly more optimistic than they were two or three years ago. But it’s a very cautious optimism. Many are risk-adverse and are more inclined to buy established brands. There was a point in time not too long ago where if you had a great shoe, you could walk in, set it on the table and—boom—the orders would be written on the spot for all doors. That just doesn’t happen any more. Even with our closest partners, there’s a test period now: Let’s get it in 30 doors and see how it does. That’s why I think it’s very difficult now for a new brand to become meaningful. You would need considerable financial backing or already be well-established, like Under Armour. They were strong enough as an apparel brand to get significant placement in footwear.

Is this necessarily a good thing for our industry? As a consumer, I don’t think it’s a good ting. There’s less innovation in the marketplace and there’s less experimentation overall. And there’s less selection. But as someone managing sales of an established brand, it plays into our strengths. It’s also enabling us to introduce a more diverse product line. Like, for example, the Agyness Deyn collaboration? Collaborations like that as well as others we’ve done recently with Hello Kitty, Liberty of London, Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons and Adrien Sauvage have been instrumental in getting us into some key retailers—ones where maybe you wouldn’t normally see Dr. Martens carried. You can expect to see more collaborations going forward. Currently, we have been teaming with classic English brands as part of our premium crafted Made in England collection. It includes wing tips featuring Harris Tweed patterns incorporated in the designs. We’ve also partnered with Stephen Walters and Sons Ltd., which makes beautiful silk ties. We feature select prints as linings in several styles. The best part is we have fired up our U.K. manufacturing facility in Cobb’s Lane to make these shoes. They have had to add an extra shift to meet the growing demand.

Looking back on your 17-year tenure with the brand might this be the best of times so far for you? Oh, absolutely. It’s the overall mood. How we treat our employees and our facilities—it’s a coveted place to work. More importantly, when people are happy their work reflects that. I love going to battle with our people every day. And I’ve even been able to hire back a few sales people. They are thrilled to be here again. They love the brand, the company and the pace of our organization.

Well, it sure must be the lean years. Back then it was more of an entrenchment mentality. We had something to prove that we were not going to let the brand go under and we scratched and clawed our way back. And, an added bonus, is seeing some of the people who have been with us the whole time advance in their careers. The effort is paying off. What do you love most about your job? That it’s different every day. While at times it can seem that I’m on airplanes too much, when I’ve been in the office for a stretch I get that itch to get in front of our customers to show all the new things we are doing. That aspect never gets old. I also love the mystique associated with this brand. When people ask me where I work the response usually triggers a sparkle in their eyes. Immediately, they are taken back to where they were when they bought their first pair. We often get pictures from people who were married wearing their beloved Docs. It’s more than just footwear to so many of our customers. That’s what makes what we do an incredible joy, and I’m very fortunate to be where I am. • 2014 january • footwearplusmagazine.com 7 1

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LAST WORD

boots on fire

From left: Restricted, Durango, Penny Loves Kenny

Kat Power

An unlikely trendsetter fuels the hunger for military lace-up boots. CALL IT THE Katniss effect. Bold, brazen and badass—the military-inspired lace-up boot sported by The Hunger Games heroine, Katniss Everdeen, is catching on like fire among style rebels, becoming the foundation to their weekend warrior uniforms. Having already sparked nail polish collections, the rise of braid bars (Katniss’ signature ’do) and the stampede of army green anoraks on city streets, it should come as no surprise that the boot in question (Sorel’s Conquest Carly) is inspiring women of all ages to lace up and channel their inner Katniss. It’s a tough-girl look that overshadows the haute couture finery the book and film’s resident fashionista, Effie Trinket, dons, proving that fashion may be on the brink of a much-needed revolution. —Angela Velasquez Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, right) wearing Sorel boots, Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks, center) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, left) in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Photography by Murray Close.

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Fashion Inspires Us Value Drives Us

rialto

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Footwear Plus | January 2014