J A N UA RY 2 0 1 9
SPEC I AL REPO RT B e auty i n the B oo ts
THE B O O T ISSU E UT ILITARIAN LOOKS GET A ROYAL MA KEOV ER
T EC H TI TAN L ar r y Sc hwartz o n Bui ld in g the Per fec t Be ast: Ae tr e x SH ADES OF B ROW N T r usty To ne s f or Fall MI SSI ON C ON TR OL R o ge r R awli n s Le adi n g DS W â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ne w Growth Er a TR END SPOT TING W hi te i s W hi te H o t
A L L- W E A R WAT E R P RO O F B O OTS
THE ZURICH BASEL — THE EARTH DREAM CARAWAY THE JOURNEY VIGOR — THE JOURNEY VERVE — THE KODIAK GLACIER
EARTH® BOOTS THAT TRULY HAVE IT ALL - STYLE, COMFORT - AND WATER PROTECTION
FN PL AT FO R M FEBRUARY 5-7 / LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER ATL A N TA S H OE M A R K ET FEBRUARY 16-18 / COBB GALLERIA CENTRE
cH2O™ men’s, women’s and kid’s weather boots: Built to live in the cold, wet and wild.
COME AND SEE US AT THE FOLLOWING SHOWS OUTDOOR RETAILER January 3oth-February 1st, Booth 46128-UL PLATFORM February 5th-7th, Las Vegas Convention Center FFANY February 5th-7th, Warwick New York Hotel
cH2O Dryfit™ Weather Boots by Western Chief | 2019-2020
get out there.
Turn your unwanted inventory into critically needed emergency funds for industry employees who contact Two Ten for help. We can help you clear out your warehouse and you can help us support footwear families in crisis.
SEND INFO Complete a simple donation form. www.twoten.org/sys
SHOES EXPORTED OFF SHORE
Two Ten will coordinate date and time with donor and our logistics partner.
Two Ten-selected logistics partners distribute shoes according to donor restrictions.
Visit www.twoten.org/sys to learn more. Contact Jenny Lamott with questions – firstname.lastname@example.org • 781.736.1537
2018 PLUS AWARDS EXCELLENCE IN DESIGN & RETAIL
C O N G R AT U L AT I O N S TO A L L N O M I N E E S ! BRAND OF THE YEAR
c Red Wing
c Saxon Shoes
c Pegasus Footwear
c Timberland Pro
c Mar-Lou Shoes
c Keen Utility
c E.G. Geller
COMPANY OF THE YEAR
c The North Face
c VF Corporation
c Shoe Carnival
c Wolverine Worldwide
c Sam Edelman
c Steve Madden
c Stride Rite
c Packer Shoes
c Katy Perry
c Old Soles
c Sneaker Politics
c All Black
c Clarks Originals
c Clarks x Land Rover
c Lori’s Shoes
c Keds x Kate Spade
c DNA Footwear
c Samuel Hubbard
c Dr. Martens
c Birkenstock x Rick Owens
c Comme Des Garçons x Nike
c Chattanooga Shoe Co.
JA N UA RY 2019 Caroline Diaco President/Group Publisher Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL Aleda Johnson Assistant Editor Emily Beckman Assistant Editor PA G E
Kathy Passero Editor at Large Kirstin Koba Contributing Editor
This page, left to right: All Black platform work boot, Joynoëlle skirt and jacket; Cougar platform sneakerboot. On cover: Bedazzled hiker by Gabor, Joynoëlle dress. Photography by Bill Phelps/Casey Creative Group; styling by Barb Ries; hair and makeup: Fatima Olive/Utopia NYC; model: Juliana/Arquette Talents.
Melodie Jeng Marcy Swingle Contributing Photographers ADVERTISING/ PRODUCTION Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Laurie Guptil Production Manager Bruce Sprague Circulation Director Mike Hoff Digital Director Ana Novikova Office Administration 9THREADS CORPORATE
16 Weather or Not Bootmakers are upping the style quotient while blending in protection for Fall ’19, proving fashion and function need not be mutually exclusive. By Aleda Johnson
40 Game Changer Roger Rawlins, CEO of DSW, is leading the charge to radically reposition and reinvent the company in order to thrive long term. By Greg Dutter
10 Editor’s Note
18 Tech Talk Larry Schwartz, CEO of Aetrex Worldwide, on the company’s unique high-tech approach to building healthy comfort footwear. By Greg Dutter
42 Brown Around Town From dark chocolate to light buff, shades of the trusty fall hue present a warm and enticing palette in men’s boots. By Aleda Johnson
60 Shoe Salon
24 Trend Spotting: Boots The Fall ’19 preview rounds up the latest materials, hues, embellishments and silhouettes. By Aleda Johnson
46 Hiker Chic Stylish embellishments and sexy silhouettes lead hikers out of the woods and onto the runway. By Aleda Johnson
12 This Just In 14 Scene & Heard 38 A Note To My Younger Self
Xen Zapis Founder 1926-2018 Lee Zapis CEO Rich Bongorno Chief Financial Officer Debbie Grim Controller OFFICES ADVERTISING/EDITORIAL
62 Upclose Dress 64 Last Shot
214 W. 39th St., Suite 205 New York, NY 10018 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
FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, 214 W. 39th St., Suite 205., New York, NY, 10018. The publishers of this magazine do not accept responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage is paid in New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: $48.00 in the U.S. Rates oustide the U.S. are available upon request. Single copy price: $10.00. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to FOOTWEAR PLUS, P.O. Box 8548, Lowell, MA 01853-8548. Publisher not responsible for unsolicited articles or photos. Any photographs, artwork, manuscripts, editorial samples or merchandise sent for editorial consideration are sent at the sole risk of the sender. Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. ©2008 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Printed in the United States.
8 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
WALK OF FAME An icon since its debut 50 years ago, the Blundstone Original 500 Series boot is now a member of Footwear Plus Magazineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Style Icon Hall of Fame.
Visit us at OR, Liberty and Atlanta trade shows
E D ITOR’S NOT E
Three of a Kind
Will Act III be a Charm? MY 7TH GRADE science teacher was a true throwback. His daily uniform was a white shortsleeved shirt, thin black tie and tan slacks. He had a no-first-names policy, a manic way of scrawling on the blackboard and a fondness for abbreviations. He also believed firmly that in the realms of physics, chemistry and biology, the rule of three was pervasive. Cases in point: the strongest geometric shape (triangle), the stages of life (childhood/adolescence, middle age and old age) and the human species (Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens). It got me thinking about my other classes—the three act play (English), “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (history), “blood, sweat and tears” (gym) and the “Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (CCD). Outside of class, rules of three abounded: Three Stooges reruns; three-ring circuses; BLTs; Rock, Paper, Scissors; ZZ Top, The Police…My science teacher was spot on: The rule of three was everywhere! Post college, I enjoyed watching the documentary series Behind the Music. The arc of rock stardom, too, is often a three-part saga. 1) Starving musicians rocket to fame. 2) Abundant decadence triggers downfall, often into rehab. 3) Redemption and reunion tour. I always found those stories reassuring because, even in the darkest depths of Spinal Tap–like shame, one can rise from the ash heap and relive the glory days. Redemption comes in the form of re-invention, re-imagination and, above all, resolve. A third act is possible—for those willing, able and determined enough. This brings me to the current state of retail and the encouraging possibility that it’s entering Act III. Act I featured heady days of overexpansion. Act II was about cutbacks, closings and Chapter 11 filings (a trifecta of trauma). Now adapters and disruptors are playing lead roles in Act III. Much of the dead wood has been cleared and the remaining players are in major reinvestment mode, introducing new in-store experiences, embracing omnichannel and rediscovering the value of physical stores in attracting shoppers and attaining better conversion rates. In fact, studies put the online conversion rate for purchases at 3 to 4 percent, whereas the in-store rate is a whopping 35 percent. In the age of data analytics, that’s one nugget you can’t pooh-pooh. Nor can you overlook the healthy quarterly reports over the
past year from old guard brick-and-mortar retailers like Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Macy’s, DSW and Target. All are up, notably in comp sales, too. Granted, the previous year was pretty dismal. Still, these market leaders have rolled out reorganization manifestos with new strategies and concepts. In short, they’ve departed Denial-ville and moved to the town of Do Something About It. Roger Rawlins, CEO of DSW and the subject of this issue’s Last Word interview (p. 40) is among them. The exec has led the charge with a series of bold moves—notably the recent acquisition of the Camuto Group that transforms the retail-centric operation into one of North America’s largest footwear companies, with topnotch global production, sourcing and design capabilities. Rawlins isn’t just tinkering with DSW; this is a full remodel with major additions. He says continuing to operate strictly as a retailer would lead to the company’s demise, while out-of-the-box experiential concepts offer exciting new possibilities. Every good Act III includes plot twists, and Rawlins’ view of fellow retailers as partners in an epic fight against Amazon—not to mention vendors selling directto-consumer—is one of them. Larry Schwartz, CEO of Aetrex Worldwide and the subject of our Q&A (p. 18), is another lead-by-example exec who redefines the typical vendor. Led by its in-store iStep foot-scanning devices and accompanying Albert software for its Lynco over-the-counter orthotics, Aetrex is as much a technology company as it is a shoe manufacturer. Indeed, Schwartz is not your typical Shoe Dog. He talks enthusiastically about the company’s latest software introductions that enhance the in-store shopping experience as well as improving the health and comfort of its customers. He cites the growing importance of data analytics, and how it reflects an about-face in the way shoe companies are run. He reports that the company is steadily recruiting machine learning and computer vision programmers to keep pace with its expansion in areas like 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Aetrex is far from a typical comfort footwear maker, and that’s equally exciting—not to mention another example of a company developing multiple revenue streams. It can be done. I believe Act III is in the process of unfolding in our industry. And I hope the rough and tumble journey we’ve all been on is resolving itself into a healthy, vibrant, more stable landscape. Happy New Year!
10 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
www.gabor.de Purveyors of premium European comfort footwear
Tel: (800) 361-3466 - email@example.com
THIS JUST IN
Cold Chic New Yorkers blend bundling up with booting up to battle the elements in style. Photography by Marcy Swingle
12 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;˘ january 2019
46 Sizes & 4 Widths | ALL National & REGIONAL SHOWS | 1-800-970-VITA
SCENE & HEARD
Michael Greenberg, president, Skechers
Two Ten Gala Raises $3.7 Million THE INDUSTRY’S COLLECTIVE goodwill came out in record force—again—at the Two Ten Footwear Foundation’s annual Gala, raising $3.7 million for footwear employees and their families in crisis. Held at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, the evening brought together more than 800 shoepeople to reconnect and raise funds for emergency financial assistance, natural disaster recovery, referral services and other support services and programs provided by Two Ten. Designer Sam Edelman, founder and president of his eponymous label, a division of Calares, along with his wife Libby Edelman, co-founder and senior vice president, and son Jesse Edelman, vice president of sales, served as Gala co-chairs. A highlight of the evening was the presentation of Two Ten’s three annual honors. The T. Kenyon Holly award for outstanding humanitarian achievement went to Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers, for his years of making a difference for children with special needs. Katie Butler, general manager of Franco Sarto, received the A.A. Bloom award for her tireless fundraising efforts on behalf of Two Ten. The Social Impact award, in recognition of giving back to the local community, went to Zappos. Jeff Espersen, general manager,
14 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
accepted. The evening also recognized 12 individuals and organizations as Two Ten Heroes—advocates who extend themselves in extraordinary ways to support the foundation, often behind the scenes. The emotional stories inspired Gala attendees to make on-the-spot donations in three ways. First was the “$1,000 for every year in the footwear industry” model created by Debbie Ferree, CMO of DSW. She donated $38,000 to get the initiative rolling. The second opportunity called for donations in incremental amounts, beginning with $25,000 down to $210. Last was a spontaneous drive led by Two Ten board members Dr. Bobby Campbell, CEO of BBC Intl., and Joe Ouaknine, chairman of Titan Industries. Collectively, the efforts raised $950,000 and hit the goal. “We are again humbled by the caring and community our industry exudes,” says Neal Newman, president of Two Ten. “Two Ten will be able to help thousands of footwear employees in the coming year recover from a natural disaster, a health crisis, pick up the pieces following the loss of a job and so many other emergencies that can upend their lives.” Along those lines, it’s not too late to donate. “Anyone can donate any amount, using TwoTen.org/Giving/Donate,” Newman says, noting that Two Ten provides an average of $1,200 per help request. “That $1,200 prevents an eviction and covers months of overdue utility bills. Every single donation is meaningful.” This past year was a struggle for (too) many industry members. “When you combine the hurricanes, floods, wildfires, bankruptcies, store closures and social disruption swirling around us, I believe our industry’s leadership knew it was time to rally and do something special,” Newman says. Stories shared by five industry employees who received assistance drove that message home. They included a woman fighting cancer at age 29, a Hurricane Irma victim, a person who nearly became homeless, the first-ever recipient of the Bruce Fendell Memorial Scholarship, and a retailer who lost her home and store in the California wildfires. “The real life stories are so important for all of us to hear,” Newman says. “We forget that many full-time employees in the U.S. are living below the poverty line and one paycheck away from crisis. The more real stories, in their own voice, the better informed we are as a community to make change.”
Zappos and Shaq Team Up
FOR THE PAST 26 holiday seasons, former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, a.k.a. Shaq-O-Claus, has delivered thousands of gifts to children in need. The tradition started when O’Neal rented a U-Haul to distribute toys on his own and has since partnered with a variety of companies to give and reach more. Zappos signed on this past season with an event at its Las Vegas headquarters. More than 150 kids from the Tyler Robinson Foundation and The Boys and Girls Club—a charity O’Neal holds close to his heart—were invited. Welcomed with holiday decorations and toys in sight, the children had no idea O’Neal would be in attendance. “The kids went crazy when Shaq came out as his alter-ego, Shaq-O-Clause,” says Steven Bautista, head of charitable giving at Zappos. The seven-foot-two-inch gentle giant pumped up the kids with rousing chants as they lined up single file to choose between a Kindle Fire and a bicycle, and take a picture with him. “The opportunity to select their gift was important since they may not always have that chance,” Bautista says, adding that meeting Shaq was an equal thrill. Likewise for Shaq. “It was easy to see how much Shaq genuinely wanted to be there,” Bautista says. “He made sure to meet every kid, take a picture and provide a few words of wisdom.” Following the meet-and-greet, dinner was served and the kids then picked out a new pair of shoes, courtesy of Zappos. “The kids left with a ton of holiday cheer,” Bautista says. The feeling was mutual, as Bautista says Zappos is eager to continue its partnership with O’Neal later this year. “We can’t wait to work with him on ‘Shaq 2 School’ to help kids in need with their school supplies,” he says.
E C C O
W O M E N â&#x20AC;&#x2122; S
ECCO premiers the AW19 collection at Outdoor Retailer at booth 42043-UL.
S P E C I A L R E P O RT
WEATHER OR NOT Bootmakers are upping utilitarian features and the style q u o t i e n t f o r Fa l l ’ 1 9 , p r o v i n g f o r m a n d f u n c t i o n n e e d n o t be mutually exclusive. By Aleda Johnson
BLAME IT ON the athleisure movement’s utilitarian takeover of the fashion world: Today’s consumers want clothes they can actually live in and boots they can actually walk in. Although this practical mindset has everyone from British Vogue to the Paris Review gushing about their love affair with “ugly boots,” Fall ’19’s styles are much less ugly duckling and much more swan. They’re versatile, comfortable and good-looking. While not high fashion, they’ve got a higher fashion factor than ever. Bearpaw Athleisure styles have taught the market that consumers don’t want to be limited, so it’s no surprise that versatility is one of the season’s biggest boot trends. “Consumers are so dynamic and on-thego that their footwear has to work with that new lifestyle,” says Erin Sanders, vice president of global product at Sorel. “Gone are the days of sitting at a desk for nine hours in stilettos with six pairs of back-up shoes under the desk for whatever else the day holds.” Features like water-repellent leather and slip-resistant soles are must-haves to combat Cougar fluctuating weather conditions and unpredictable winters, but forget the bulky, heavy snow and rain boots of old. Women want boots that look professional, are comfortable enough to commute in and can hold their own at cocktail hour. The increased demand for fashionable utilitarian options comes as no surprise to Steve Sedlbauer, president of Cougar Footwear, which has been making waterproof boots for more than 30 years. Over the past few years, changing weather and market conditions have forced Sedlbauer to expand Cougar’s style sphere. “If you’re just making a snow boot or cold weather styles, it’s a risky business as a brand and a retailer because you put all this money into a product that doesn’t sell until there’s snow on the ground,” he says. “By then, they’re selling on markdown.” Waterproofing, insulation and traction are practical features that add instant value to trendy lug soles and haute hikers, he says. “When you’re using waterproof leathers, boots look better longer,” Sedlbauer explains. “Get them wet, wipe them down, and they still look good when the season is over.” By upping Cougar’s stake in style, Sedlbauer is making the brand’s tried16 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
and-true tech palatable for a Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor customer. The brand has shifted away Sorel from sporty nylon and puffy winter looks to more leather and fur. In fact, the Fall ’19 line is composed of almost 70 percent leather styles. Add varying heel and shaft heights, buckles and fur trimmings, and there’s nothing stuffy about the collection. “A snow boot is good for wearing on the weekend or to shovel snow, but this is something you can wear seven days a week to the office or out to dinner with jeans,” Sedlbauer says. At Sorel, designers have known where the market’s sweet spot is: at the convergence point of function and form. “Our customer is not willing to sacrifice style or fashion for function, but our designs win because they are both,” says Sanders. “Our product team is a mix of people who come from the fashion, outdoor and athletic worlds, so functionality is in our DNA. Weaving it in comes easily to us.” Sorel’s Fall ’19 styles include waterproof full-grain leathers, boiled wool and flannel panels, along with chunky buckles and shearling accents. The woman who wants height will find sturdy yet fashionably heels and stable wedges on scalloped soles in the mix as well. On the flipside, brands that once focused solely on style or comfort are now dipping their toes into waterproofing technologies at the request of customers. “Whenever we have boots, we’re always asked, ‘Is this waterproof ?’” says Katie Dobbs, director of marketing for Earth. “People love us for our comfort and fashion, and now we’re giving them something they can wear in the rain and snow.” Earth’s designers experimented with Ross & Snow different materials, combining synthetics with leather and succeeded in making a handful of waterproof leather booties and futuristic sneakerboots for Fall ’19. Bearpaw, too, is innovating to keep its fans’ feet dry. In addition to proprietary Neverwet hydrophobic technology, the brand has introduced Hibertech to certain styles for Fall ’19. This layer of 200-gram insulation gives suede wedge hikers and fur-capped leather booties warmth at sub-zero temperatures. “We’ve always tried to offer the best styled footwear with on-trend details, and the Hibertech insulation provides added value at a minimal cost,” >61
Nailed it. c. 1975
ATLANTA SHOE MARKET
FN PLATFORM Feb. 5-7th, 2019
Feb. 16-18th, 2019
Las Vegas Convention Center
Cobb Galleria Centre
Booth 1408 W W W. O R I G I N A L S . M E P H I S T O . C O M / U S
D UT T ER
Larry Schwartz, CEO of Aetrex Wo r l d w i d e , o n t h e c o m p a n y ’s u n i q u e high-tech approach to building healthy c o m f o r t f o o t w e a r.
SPEAKING WITH LARRY SCHWARTZ about Aetrex Worldwide is like a breath of tech air. He’s a unique breed of footwear exec whose priorities as CEO of the Teaneck, NJ-based company have little to do with the everyday tasks involved in the art of shoemaking. Schwartz is not your typical “product guy” who waxes poetic about leather nuances, last shapes, embellishments, etc., etc. And that’s perfectly okay since his brother Evan has capably overseen the company’s footwear design and product development for close to two decades. Meanwhile, his brother Matt oversees sales and business development. Schwartz’s primary responsibilities fall under Aetrex’s tech division, led by its in-store iStep foot-scanning machines
18 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
and accompanying Albert operating system. He talks excitedly about how Aetrex’s latest software introductions enhance the in-store shopping experience. He cites the growing importance of data analytics in marketing and management, and how it reflects an aboutface in the way shoe companies are being run today. He reports proudly that the company has ramped up its recruitment of machine learning and computer vision programmers to keep pace with its expansion in areas like 3D printing and artificial intelligence. It’s all proof that Aetrex is far from a typical comfort footwear company. “We’ve really become a technology company for health and comfort,” Schwartz says, noting that Aetrex now has 17 people working fulltime in its tech development. “We have deep technology talent, which allows us to make products that are very unique in the industry and that retailers really need.” He adds, “I think we have more technology know-how under our roof than any other company in our space under $1 billion in sales. Technology is integral to who we are, and I couldn’t imagine Aetrex without that component. It’s a big part of our story and our future.” Aetrex’s business model is unique; it also seems immune to market volatility, having registered a profit for 22 straight years. Not even the Retail Apocalypse could prevent Aetrex scoring double-digit growth in 2018. What’s the secret? Schwartz’s answer is appropriately tech speak: “It’s all about execution. If we execute and stay focused, we get better and we grow,” he says. In fact, he views the recent retail disruption as just more of the same. “I don’t see 2018 as being any more difficult than 2012 or 2009,” Schwartz says. “It’s just the new rules of the game—there are different challenges, and business moves much faster. We know that going in, and we have to adapt.” It helps that Aetrex isn’t living and dying on one revenue stream like many “shoe” manufacturers. About half of the company’s revenue comes
from its foot-scanning and Lynco orthotics division. And as retailers embrace the need for meaningful in-store experiences to stay relevant in the online shopping age, Schwartz expects that division to continue to grow. You might even say the market is running toward Aetrex, which wasn’t the case when the company
introduced its groundbreaking foot-scanning concept in the mid aughts. very optimistic for Aetrex heading into this year.” It helps that he is in a “Back then, we had to work hard just to get a meeting,” Schwartz laughs. good place personally, having recently moved to Manhattan to enjoy life Not anymore. as an empty-nester with a gym right in his building. “I’m in the best shape On the consumer side, the benefit is straightforward: healthier feet in a long time and our offices are located five minutes from the George (reducing and eliminating pain) make for happy customers. On the retail Washington Bridge. I can drive to work in 15 minutes—it’s the shortest side, Aetrex offers experiential shopping, add-on sales, increased dollars commute I’ve ever had!” Another job perk: working alongside his brothers. per square foot and data analytics capture—all achieved in just 20 square feet of space. “Retailers are doing $3,000 to $4,000 per square foot in sales with our technology,” Schwartz says. “Those are big numbers.” (The retail average, he says, is less than $1,000 per square foot.) What’s more, the data collected—email addresses, phone numbers, sizes and style preferences— What was the last movie development can make it Where is your moment of can easily be integrated into digital marketing you saw? A Star is Born. easy to get to market, but Zen? Almost every year I go platforms. “That information can provide a big then it’s very difficult to to Aruba for a week in late lift to ecommerce efforts,” he says. Who is the most keep up since tech evolves December. It’s very therapeuHence, Aetrex’s decision to up the ante on tech influential person in and changes so rapidly. tic. I always come back with efforts with new hires and product launches. fashion right now? a clear head and energized to This year its new 3D scanning capabilities will In terms of our overWhat may people be start the new year. roll out. Previously, the iStep scanning device all design and branding, surprised to know about used pressure points to determine fit and health Jony Ive (chief design you? There’s probably quite What tops your bucket needs in the brand’s over-the-counter orthotics. officer for Apple) remains a bit. But let’s go with the list? Gal Gadot. I’m Beginning this February, the entire foot can the gold standard for us. fact that, over the past 35 definitely not a climb the be measured and an orthotic will be custom Apple is our biggest years, I’ve seen Springsteen Himalayas type. printed (in Austin, TX) based on the type of influence for our perform over 100 times. casual or athletic shoe the customer wants. “It’s hardware, software and What is your favorite TV show a nice model for retailers to add because there’s marketing design. What is the best advice of all time? Mad Men, by far. no inventory,” Schwartz says. The insoles cost you’ve ever received? Don’t $150 (the Albert scanning experience is free) What is the smartest question people’s intentions. Favorite meal? Starting (on and are delivered in two weeks. What’s more, business decision you’ve It’s important and more releManhattan’s Upper West the machine-learning capabilities will enable ever made? To make our vant today than ever in busiSide) with the chicken soup at retailers to recommend the right shoes/styles own hardware and softness and life. Good people Jacob’s Pickles and then going based on customers’ foot types and sizes. “They ware instead of collabocan have very different a few blocks down to Patsy’s can improve the chance of getting the right fit rating with other perspectives on many issues. for a pizza. It’s not the healthithe first time,” Schwartz says, noting that in one companies so that est meal, but it’s my favorite. style a customer might be an 11 but in another we became a true techWhich talent would you 11.5. “The technology can determine the bestnology company. Broad most like to have? Software Favorite city? Sydney, fitting shoes for your feet. It helps with fit and collaborations in tech coding abilities. Australia. gives retailers the tools to sell more insoles and orthotics.” But all this tech talk doesn’t mean Aetrex’s shoes take a backseat. The division devotes an equal amount of attention and investment to making sure the product looks “I’m so lucky,” Schwartz says. “Having them as business partners and spendas good as it feels, Schwartz assures. The efforts continue to pay strong ing so much time together has been a wonderful aspect of all of our lives.” dividends—Aetrex’s footwear growth is up “30 percent in 2018.” And the overall design aesthetic has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past 10 What is it about the Schwartz brothers and their ability to work so years, Schwartz says, yet comfort and health aspects are never comprowell together? mised. “We’ve just gotten a lot better at developing our shoes, and I think Certainly, we have differences but in many ways, we’re similar creatures. macro trends regarding health and wellness continue to head our way,” We’re all very motivated, hard-working and our goals are aligned. Yet he says. “Our formula—our way of providing extra comfort features and we all put the relationship and family first. That’s key. People are often technologies in shoes—is the right way for a lot of consumers.” surprised just how close we are outside of work. To say Schwartz is bullish about Aetrex’s future would be an understatement. Besides, he’s a glass-is-full kind of guy. “I feel great about our Well, 22 straight years of profitability must help with regards to business. I don’t think we’ve ever been in a better place. We have the best working relationships. team we’ve ever had, and we continue to grow each year,” he says. “I’m Yes, we haven’t had to go through the stress of difficult times. That certainly
OFF THE CUFF
20 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
helps. I’ve been in the business 27 years, Evan 24 and Matt 14, and I know the three of us want to work together rather than any other way. It’s been a very positive part of our lives. People ask our employees if we ever fight. We argue about sports and politics, and we disagree on some things regarding work on occasion, but we don’t really fight about the business. Of course, we take it very seriously. Aetrex is important to our family, but we also have a responsibility to all the people who work here to make sure it remains a very healthy company. We think we run it the right way. With so much volatility in this business, what do you attribute Aetrex’s consistency to most? Discipline and execution. We don’t take shortcuts, and we’re always trying to get better. We’re always trying to make incremental improvements in our business in all areas. We talk a lot about process focus. So instead of projecting numbers five years out, the focus is on improving the small things in our dayto-day to get better. That can include how we execute at a meeting, improving our packaging, products, marketing, etc. It’s a philosophy we instill in all our departments. We’re not always successful, but that’s what we aim for. If you have strong executions and good disciplines, you keep the company moving forward, and that’s what it’s all about. What was the biggest takeaway of the past year for Aetrex? The influx of talent that we added to keep up with our continued growth, especially on the technology side. I did over 80 interviews in 2018, and it’s been worth it. I think we now have the strongest team that we’ve ever had. We’ve added computer vision and machine learning programmers as
Slip into cozy. FN Platform FFANY Atlanta show Outdoor Retailer, booth 46136-UL
Always waterproof. cougarshoes.com
well as people on our footwear side. I think our Fall ’19 line, for the first time, will be as strong in terms of sales as spring. Historically, Aetrex has been known more for spring footwear, but this is the best fall line that we’ve ever had. What makes the fall line special? We’ve really focused on our core strengths, which is the technology in our footwear. A lot of what goes into some of our most successful products, like our Flips & Slides program that features built-in arch support and metatarsal cushioning, are going into our fall collection. In general, there’s a lot more technology in the shoes in the form of great health and comfort features. Bob Infantino (former CEO of Rockport and Clarks Companies N.A.) has been consulting for us, and that’s been wonderful. He’s really helped us with the collection. He brings so much experience and knowledge about product. We couldn’t have a better person helping us develop our footwear. He’s also a great leader. There’s a lot we’re learning from Bob. How would you describe Aetrex—a technology company or a shoe company? We’re technology for health and comfort, and that comes in the form of foot scanners, shoes and orthotics. Might it include other products down the road? Right now, we’re focused on those categories. But why not down the road? The way technology is evolving in 3D and other areas, who knows what the future brings. In the meantime, we’ll be developing technologies to help people get healthier and more comfortable in the footwear and orthotic spaces.
Are consumers willing to suffer for fashion like they once did? There’s always going to be a place for fashionable high heels, and that’s okay. We provide products for day-today wear. There’s plenty of room for both. That’s why we plan to continue in comfort footwear, orthotics and scanning. It’s an integrated approach to help a lot of people, and we’ve done just that for years. Word of mouth is big for us. Nearly all the time we can reduce or eliminate pain. Our technology helps the retailer’s business, but at its core it’s about finding the path to get consumers feeling great on their feet. We say it’s a win-win-win. Instead of the consumer spending $400 or $500 for a custom orthotic that may not be effective, they get a great value, the store gets an add-on sale as well as a more loyal customer, and we get the sale while helping another customer.
(Direct-to-consumer) is important to us, but i t ’s o n l y 1 5 p e r c e n t o f o u r b u s i n e s s . . . I t ’s not as high as a lot of our competitors.
Is it fair to say the market is heading toward Aetrex as opposed to you having to “sell” the concept? It does. There’s certain aspects of the evolving economy and the marketplace
that are coming toward Aetrex. While some retailers obviously jumped in earlier, the momentum overall definitely changed last year. We’re getting more and more calls about what we provide. Retailers are realizing they have to offer in-store experiences and services. Particularly, there’s an increasing demand for authentic technology experiences like ours. It’s why, after we sold our Apex medical division a few years ago, we doubled down on technology development and recruitment.
As experiential retail expands, might the brick-and-mortar channel strengthen? There’s always going to be a place for both. But it’s exciting to see, walking through malls now, more experiences in the stores. There’s more technology available to do that. You can go into a store to buy footwear, have your foot scanned and enjoy a smoothie. I think any retailer that focuses and executes on providing better services, product and experiences can succeed. And while business moves fast and the rules of the game continue to change, there will always be a place for good retailers. Sometimes challenges can lead to creativity that leads >63
Peri VISIT US AT: • OUTDOOR RETAILER #46162-UL • FN PLATFORM
SPOT I F IED
T R E N D SSPPOT OTTTIINNGG
Designers go wild for leopard, jaguar and cheetah prints.
24 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;¢ january 2019
1. Bearpaw 2. Hush Puppies 3. Bill Blass 4. All Black 5. Easy Street 6. BC Footwear 7. Joules 8. Minnetonka 9. Restricted
P h o t o g r a p h y b y Tr e v e t t M c C a n d l i s s
2019 january â&#x20AC;¢ footwearplusmagazine.com 25
HAUTE HYBRIDS S n e a k e r b o o t s a s v a r i e d a s t h e t e r r a i n t h e y c a n c o v e r. Clockwise from top left: Cougar, Bella-Vita, Earth, Geox, Minnetonka.
26 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;¢ january 2019
P H OTO G RA P H Y BY T R E VE T T MCCA ND LI SS ; P R O P STYL IN G BY R O B I N Z AC HA RY
T R E N D S P OT T I N G
JANUARY 20-22, 2019 JACOB JAVITS CENTER, NYC CONTEMPORARY FOOTWEAR FOR MEN
FEBRUARY 5-7, 2019
EAW N TION C O L
Now located in the
NORTH HALL LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER
LUXURY TO LIFESTYLE BRANDED FOOTWEAR FOR MEN, WOMEN, JUNIORS AND CHILDREN
FEBRUARY 25-27, 2019 JACOB JAVITS CENTER, NYC WOMENâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S CONTEMPORARY FOOTWEAR
FEBRUARY 25-27, 2019 JACOB JAVITS CENTER, NYC LUXURY FOOTWEAR FOR WOMEN
APPLY TO ATTEND OR EXHIBIT: UBMFASHION.COM
T R E N D S P OT T I N G
MAROON BELLES The full-bodied hue is always in season. 1. Butter 2. Hush Puppies 3. Andre Assous 4. Splendid 5. Naot 6. Soft Comfort 7. Propét 8. Aetrex 9. BC Footwear
28 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
P H OTOG RAP H Y BY T R E V E T T MCCA ND L I SS ; P R OP STY LI NG BY R O BI N ZAC HA RY
eco-friendly technology can be used with all our formulations to further achieve higher recycle content. We developed this unique patent-pending formula by blending our OrthoLite® post-production waste foam, recycled rubber, and proprietary open-cell foam. The benefit —
20% total recycled content,
waste and close the loop and answer the demand for eco-responsible products. Comfort & Performance—Driven by Innovation.
formulation. Our newest game-changing
Ort h Hyb oLite® rid ™
Want for nothing with the OrthoLite® Hybrid™
Sustainable innovation for maximum comfort and performance
P E N DI
FUR YOUR LOVE Cozy embellishments and linings heat up the style ante. Clockwise from top left: Patrizia, Splendid, Azura, Gabor, L’Amour Des Pieds, Sorel.
30 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
P H OTOG RAP H Y BY T R E V E T T MCCA ND L I SS ; P R OP STY LI NG BY R O BI N ZAC HA RY
T R E N D S P OT T I N G
STREET CRED Sneakerboots for wherever the trail heads. From top: Hush Puppies, Quoddy, Pendleton, Geox.
32 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;¢ january 2019
P H OTOGRA P HY BY T R E V E T T MCCA N D L ISS
T R E N D S P OT T I N G
P H OTO GRAP HY BY T R E V E T T M CCA N D LI SS ; P R OP STY L ING BY R O BI N ZACHA RY
T R E N D S P OT T I N G
ROMEOS FOR JULIETS T h e s h o r t C h e l s e a s i l h o u e t t e i s t o d i e f o r. From top: Merrell, Spring Step, Emu Australia, Western Chief.
2019 january â&#x20AC;¢ footwearplusmagazine.com 33
T R E N D S P OT T I N G
WOOL YOU BELIEVE IT! Alpine boot accents echo heritage hikers. 1. Propét 2. Bearpaw 3. Pendleton 4. Minnetonka 5. Aetrex 6. Merrell
34 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
P H OTOGRA P HY BY T R E V E T T MCCA N D L ISS
P H OTO GRAP HY BY T R E V E T T M CCA N D LI SS ; P R OP STY L ING BY R O BI N ZACHA RY
T R E N D S P OT T I N G
LONDON CALLING Chunky soles and rich hues add a fresh spin to the Beatles-inspired boot. Clockwise from top left: Johnston & Murphy, Blundstone, Supply Lab, Geox, Keen.
2019 january â&#x20AC;¢ footwearplusmagazine.com 35
T R E N D S P OT T I N G
BUCKLE DOWN S l e e k o r c h u n k y, f a s t e n e r s s h o w t h e i r m e t t l e . 1. Azura 2. Bearpaw 3. Gabor 4. Dr. Martens 5. Ross & Snow 6. Geox 7. Easy Street 8. Restricted
36 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;¢ january 2019
P H OTOG RAP H Y BY T R E V E T T MCCA ND L I SS
▶ Sign up for FFANY at The Warwick Hotel
Venue conveniently located in midtown Manhattan, offers easy access to and from mass transit and locations in close proximity to FFANY Member Showrooms for ease of appointments. The Warwick Hotel offers an upscale spacious exhibition space to display new seasonal product. Contact Phyllis Rein | 212.751.6422 x4 | firstname.lastname@example.org
FFANY ForWArd@40 BUSINESS
CELEBRATING 40 YEARS oF SErVICE To THE INdUSTrY
▶MAKING IT EASY TO DO BUSINESS offering a consistent calendar of Market Weeks in New York City, the fashion capital of the world;
▶UNITING THE INDUSTRY IN CHARITY creating cutting-edge investments in breast cancer research and supporting key partners in their vital philanthropic efforts; and,
▶STRENGTHENING THE INDUSTRY THROUGH EDUCATION to nurture the talent of tomorrow and provide thoughtful seminars to benefit members outside of Market Weeks. As a non-profit association, FFANY’s only interest is in supporting its members and the industry.
dISCoVEr. LEArN. CoNNECT. JoIN. SHoW. BE A PArT oF FFANY
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
JUNE 3-7, 2019 NY SHOE EXPO SHOWCASES JUNE 4-6, 2019 MARKET WEEK
A N OT E T O M Y Y O U N G E R S E L F
FULL BLOOM M a r t y R o s e , a g e n t a n d d i s t r i b u t o r f o r A C L F o o t w e a r C o m p a n y, makers of All Black, on a career spanning continents, industries, tigers and working alongside Calvin Klein. DEAR MARTY, First off, I’m pleased to inform you that you’ll You then decide it’s time for a change, leaving the ad agency world travel extensively, live in far-away places and make long-lasting friendfor the fashion business. You learn that Calvin Klein wants to expand ships in all corners of the world. Your friends will embrace and help guide his in-house ad agency to become a global entity. You write a letter to you, playing key roles in the seasoned Marty that you’ll become. These Mr. Klein requesting an interview. You get the opportunity and draw an treasured relationships determine how you overcome the challenges organizational chart right in front of him, explaining how you would build that cross your path. Your wife—your greatest friend of all—will serve his global operation. The offer is made on the spot! For the next two years, as a guiding light that helps you navigate the ins and outs of business you manage the global image of Calvin Klein, working 9 a.m. to midnight and the ups and downs of life. She’s the yin to your yang that others most days. Organizing a creative process from the ground up is a massive (rightfully) envy. You’re a lucky man. challenge, but working with a true I’m also happy to inform you that visionary as Calvin Klein is a thrill. You you’ll reach your desired career goals— help establish production timelines, a so long as you roll up your sleeves and competitive bidding process, improve work that much harder than the next communications with licensees, negotiguy. You determine your own fate. Do ate talent agreements and open allinot expect anything from anyone. ances with media and creative teams in If someone delivers what you want, Europe and Asia. By setting up a global praise and thank them. Remember, advertising center in New York, you the glass is always half full. Such a establish global image requirements positive approach is a healthy use of that unify brand images across both your energy. retail and advertising. As for how you embark on a career Your next move is to Warnaco, a in advertising only to wind up decades major licensee of Calvin Klein brands, later in the shoe business, it’s a fascinatwhere you have two desks—one in Hong ing journey best told chronologically. Kong and the other in New York. You It all begins at Syracuse University, live two years in Hong Kong during where you majored in advertising at the handover period to China. You the Newhouse School. There, a profesdevelop several loyal relationships, Cage match: Marty Rose, circa the mid ’80s, sor gives you an F on a project about one of which introduces you to ACL petting tigers in the Philippines and gaining courage. disposal diapers: “Very creative but Footwear. It marks your next stage in not a practical campaign.” You save life: working in the shoe business. It’s that paper and use it on your first job interview at Benton & Bowles here where your true entrepreneurial spirit flourishes as you introduce, where you happen to meet with the manager of the Pampers account. with the support of the design and production teams at ACL, All Black You show him your idea—as well as the F. He leaves the room and to the North American market. You love everything about this business! returns with a video of a similar concept they just shot for Pampers. The product, the people, the travel…It’s the most satisfying time in your You’re hired before leaving his office! Best of all, you learn to follow adult life. While you certainly aren’t a Shoe Dog (yet), you credit All your gut and trust your own judgment after taking advice from those Black becoming an influential player in a very competitive industry to who are more experienced. your years of business acumen backed by your boundless creativity. That Your next stop is at J. Walter Thompson, where you’ll work the next and not having a shoe history to cloud your instincts! 23 years. You live in Tokyo for four years, working on international The journey continues. You look forward to going to work each day. accounts that include the introduction of the first side-by-side comWhen looking back on your career, you recall a trip to the Philippines petitive ad campaign in Japanese history, the Pepsi Challenge. You in the mid ’80s as instrumental to your success. It’s where you enter a introduce Listerine and create the mouthwash category. When you cage and pet tigers. The unforgettable experience helps you deal with return to the U.S., you run operations and major accounts, including adversity and finding a balance between confidence and courage. a partnership with New York Cares to start the first organized comI’ll leave you with three tips: 1. Evaluate the options and then make munity service support group for New York businesses. New York a final decision that you must own. 2: Embrace challenges. The busier Cares Day and the Annual Coat Drive are launched citywide. You you become, the easier it is for you to take on more responsibility. 3. are recognized by then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo for your You achieve results based on what you contribute to the effort. Nothing commitment to community service. is easy in this world. You must work hard to succeed, and you will!
38 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
SCENE & HEARD
Studio Hagel x Ecco Collab’s Techy Twist TURNING THE HEADS of sneakerheads worldwide, sneaker provocateur Studio Hagel teamed up with leading “brown shoe” maker Ecco to create a collection of 18 exclusive styles that poke fun at the excessive tech in street fashion. “It looks like everyone is about to climb a mountain,” says Mathieu Hagelaars, founder of Studio Hagel. Since establishing his studio in 2015, Hagelaars has participated in the annual four-day Ecco Leather Hot-Shop event, where designers worldwide are invited to experiment with new leathers at the Ecco Leather tannery in Dongen, the Netherlands. In fact, Hagelaars regular attendance was rewarded when Panos Mytaros, executive vice president of the Ecco production group, invited him as a guest hacker. “He told me: ‘If you have a good concept, there are no limitations. Just go for it!’” he says. Enter UTW63716, a collection of styles featuring nonfunctional covers, un-pullable pull-tags, ornamental zippers, complex patterns, florescent colors and gratuitous lacings. “We’ve reimagined some of Ecco’s iconic styles, so they connect with a different consumer,” Hagelaars says. “Clearly, we don’t need all that functionality, so what happens when you put functionality in a different context, and start having fun with the language of function?”
Only 24 pairs were made of each style and sold exclusively at W-21, Ecco’s experimental store in Amsterdam. A select range will also be available at K-9, Ecco’s experimental store in Copenhagen. Hagelaars reports the styles have been well-received. “It all started with a bit of a joke,” he says. “But we ended up with seriously exciting products that all of us really love.”
Make a Splash! WIN A SEASON’S WORTH OF JOULES’ RAINWEAR FOR YOUR STORE Just place an order at all three Joules booths for your chance to win Can’t make it to all three booths? SAVE UP TO 10% ON YOUR ORDER Simply place an order at two of the three Joules booths View the new AW2019 collection at FN PLATFORM STITCH CHILDREN’S CLUB To book an appointment please contact E: email@example.com T: 917-675-7254 Joulesusa.com
JMC7375~55714_C6_Footwear Plus 1_Half Page Ad_7.75 in x 5 in.indd 1
L A S T WO R D
Man on a Mission
Game Changer R o g e r R a w l i n s , C E O o f D S W, o n h o w t h e c o m p a n y i s r a d i c a l l y changing in order to thrive long term. By Greg Dutter DSW MADE LOTS of headlines in 2018—most notably the acquisition of Camuto Group, which transforms the retail-centric operation into one of North America’s largest footwear companies, complete with topnotch global production, sourcing and design capabilities. The $375-million deal, which includes a partnership with Authentic Brands Group (ABG), arms DSW with an array of brands to be sold exclusively through its stores as well as the ability to manufacture brands for other retailers and wholesalers. In short, DSW’s survival no longer relies solely on store traffic, a model that entails tremendous overhead costs. DSW CEO Roger Rawlins believes the old approach limited the company’s growth potential at best and at worst meant a slow death sentence. “Just selling shoes long term isn’t going to be successful because all we’re going to be doing eventually is competing on price,” he says. “We have to have a higher calling.” Enter DSW’s mission to inspire self-expression for customers. “Footwear can make you feel different, and you can be a different person every 15 minutes, if you desire,” Rawlins says. Think deep inventories on leading brands and must-have styles each season. Rounding this out are experiential draws such as manicure bars, orthotics, repairs and, soon, storage and rental services. “Those are experiences consumers want that can’t be had through dotcom,” he says. “We have to bring those experiences to life for our customers.” Layered on top of that is DSW, Inc.’s enormous wholesale and DTC growth potential. For starters, Rawlins says the Vince Camuto, Lucky and Jessica Simpson brands currently have little digital presence, which represents a huge opportunity as does the exclusive brand space. “(Camuto Group) does it for Dillard’s and Nordstrom, and now we’ll be able to do that for DSW,” he says. “Then you add in the ABG partnership that gives us the in with a lot of the brands in their portfolio to be the exclusive footwear providers, all those factors combined along with where we’re headed is unique in our space.” Here, Rawlins talks candidly about the Camuto Group acquisition; it’s already delivering huge dividends, and it’s just the beginning of what DSW, Inc. will become. A new day has dawned at the company, as the numbers are already proving. (Third quarter revenues spiked by 17.3 percent with comps up 7.3 percent—the best results in five years, beating Wall Street expectations handily.) In addition, an expanded kids’ department rolled out nationwide last summer, earning DSW its best back-to-school season in its 50-year history. In the so-called Retail Apocalypse, DSW is a phoenix rising from the ashes. “If we’re living our mission, we’re not going to just survive, we’re going to thrive in what we think is a very disruptive and ever-changing retail environment,” Rawlins says. “We’re going to have the best retail outlets and killer brands, and we’re going to own the sourcing and distribution side for other retailers and wholesalers. We’re uniquely positioned to grow this business in a big way.” DSW isn’t just a shoe retailer anymore? About two years ago we set forth on this mission of how do we grab marketshare and grow the DSW, Inc. enterprise? It had to start with getting the DSW brand healthy, which I believe
40 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
we’ve demonstrated. Then it was about how do we grow beyond the core DSW brand? That’s where completing the transaction of our Canadian retail partners came about. And with private label being a huge opportunity, how do we get bigger in that space? Do we build it ourselves or do we acquire it? We decided acquiring (Camuto Group) would be less risky, and we think it has other opportunities for growth on the wholesale and DTC sides. What makes Camuto Group the right fit? We looked at numerous partners—we tried to buy Nine West, but it didn’t work out. Then Camuto became available and we thought, ‘Wow, that’s actually a better fit for what we’re trying to do.’ Sometimes you’re better off being lucky than good. In our opinion—and it’s even stronger now—they’re the best in the industry at sourcing and designing footwear, and I think you would hear that from everyone who buys product from them. So when we take what we think is the best practice retail operation in DSW and combine that with what we think is the best practice design and sourcing capability, those two aspects together can create magic within our industry. How does DSW make Camuto Group better? They’ve been in the process of uncertainly the past couple of years since Vince (Camuto) passed. Having us come in as a stable business helps. This isn’t the typical acquire and then break the company up into pieces scenario. We need everything they have. To operate the business from day one as it had been while layering on ideas of how else we want Camuto Group to grow is also a huge benefit to them. And this isn’t about just benefiting the DSW brand. It’s about how can we help Macy’s, Dillard’s, Nordstrom and other retail partners grow and compete in a landscape that is changing every day. That’s a different mindset than Camuto Group has had over the last couple of years, and I think that’s been refreshing to the people in that organization. Should DSW help competing retailers sell shoes? It’s about defining who your competitors are. Our opinion is that Macy’s, Nordstrom and Dillard’s are not competitors of DSW. Our two primary competitors are Amazon and vendors going DTC. The reality is we’re all fighting the same fight against King Kong (Amazon) and Godzilla (DTC). We’re all trying to manage through this fight. If you look at marketshare gains over the last five years, those are the two areas that have really grown. DSW invested $1 billion over about a six-year period, opening a couple hundred stores, and we grew marketshare by 20 basis points. The vendor community through DTC grew by 12 whole percentage points. So a brand like DSW that has a history of working with other retailers, like we do with Stein Mart, and the fact that we have a best-in-class rewards program that we’re willing to share with other retailers exactly how we go about it—that’s a unique proposition we offer. What’s more, retailers have been okay buying footwear from Caleres, which also operates a retail chain. I don’t think what we’re doing is unique. What is unique is the assets we can provide other retailers that we think can help them differentiate their product mix. Now we prefer the additional footwear they sell is made by
us, but we also want to help them be successful overall because, long term, we’re all in this together.
our floor. The reality is instead of 800 brands maybe it’ll be 600. We’re still going to carry a lot, but that represents a major cultural change within an organization that has spent its whole life on selling people on why they should sell us.
Some critics say you’re still competitors on some level, and it won’t work. What people have told us, and I would say the same, prove it. Let’s see us have success together and In an age of increasing consolidathen we’ll be willing to go further tion, private label and DTC, will along with you. The great thing is retailers and wholesalers even no one has said no outright. I believe need each other at some point? I most are happy someone came in think we still do for those key brands with a strong balance sheet and a and for identifying the next up-andvision with where they want to take coming incredible brand, which is What women want: The W Nail Bar adds to the DSW shopping experience. Camuto Group’s brands and make always going to happen. Retail is still them healthy again. Those are all going to be critically important for positives that will help our retail partners grow their businesses, which is scouting and making a presence for those brands, because the consumer what we need to help them do. wants and expects that. As a ‘Designer Shoe Warehouse’ concept we need to be curating those brands and bringing them to life. So far, so good then? Yes. Since last May we’ve invested about $400 million, and we’ve grown our marketshare by almost two full percentage And (enough) consumers will want to shop for shoes in a physical store? points. So six years and $1 billion generated 20 basis points while $400 Absolutely. Where we’ve stood up and introduced a deeper inventory on million in six months got us 200 basis points. This’s the direction that we seasonal items and added new experiences, we’ve seen positive traffic. And need to go, and it’s not the end of where we are headed on this journey of our revamped VIP rewards program, which we hadn’t touched in 10 years, growth through acquisition. We’ve got to digest these two businesses, but creates new ways for shoppers to ewalk into our stores. Examples include we’re going to continue to grow. bringing in lightly worn shoes to donate to Soles4Souls and earn $5 for a future purchase of footwear and doing collabs with Just Fab and Shoedazzle How would you describe the company in a word? DSW, Inc. is all about in select stores. Two or three years ago nobody here wanted to do that because growth. DSW the brand is self-expression. That’s what we want people to we saw them as a competitor. The reality is they represent a great opportunity, feel when they are engaging with that brand. especially with Millennials. And we’re going to continue to keep trying new ideas. There’s no fear of failure because we’re learning all the time. Not all You purposely left out “shoe” in that description, correct? Yes. While of them will work—we’re missing more than we are hitting on—but we are we’ll always be about shoes—that’s core to what we do—we shouldn’t limit hitting on enough that we’re seeing it disrupt our business in a very healthy our thinking to just footwear. What are the aspects that you can bring to life way. When consumers enter a store, the conversation rate is 35 percent while around shoes, and that could be services like orthotics and manicure bars. the online rate is 3 or 4 percent. Which would you rather have? I love those ideas. It’s creating what women want, and bringing that to life. It all starts with having the styles, sizes and colors when they walk Well, you’ve already invested in the real estate. Exactly. We have 550 through the door. The No. 1 reason why people didn’t buy product at DSW warehouses across the U.S. and Canada. We only utilize about 18 percent of had nothing to do with selection. It’s that we didn’t have their size. Over the the cubic capacity of that space. So how do we go more vertical and how do past three years, we had pulled back on inventory but spread the cuts like we use the space differently. It’s a fixed cost; we just have to figure out how peanut butter. The result was some in-stocks were nowhere near where they to leverage it. If we do we can grow our assortment—like we’ve found space should have been, especially on seasonal items like sandals and boots. We’re for kids’—as well include these add-on services. If our largest competitor the dominant player in that space, yet we had under-invested in inventory. (Amazon) is opening 500 warehouses but only planned to use 20 percent of So over the past 18 months, we’ve made a commitment to stand for best the cubic capacity, investors would go bananas. So why are we limiting our at seasonal, and our success over the past 12 months is due to that effort. thinking to the way we have historically operated? We have to think differently. The investment has already paid for itself. The fact is we know what our customer wants, so let’s use data to help us pinpoint that, stock it and stand DTC is one of your biggest competitors yet you still partner with hundreds behind it. If we take markdowns on a few items, so be it. But I’d rather do of brands. How might that relationship work going forward? There are that than have people 65 percent of the time walking out with no purchase! maybe 25 to 50 of what I would call true brands that, no matter what you do, you need them in your portfolio. Meaning, when a consumer searches tenDo you envision opening more stores? Remember the science class nis shoes online, they enter the brand name. They may not all sell the most experiments where you filled a mason jar with bunch of rocks? Those rocks shoes, but they might have a larger share of that customer’s mindset. We’ve represent DSW stores, and 70 percent of the U.S. population is within 20 got to double down on those. Then there are labels where we carry an item minutes of one of our locations. I feel we’ve got enough rocks in that jar. The or two and help maintain their business. We’ve got to evaluate which ones sand around those rocks is what our smaller store formats represent. Those are long-term players—which are unique and attracting a new and different are 3,000- to 6,000-square-foot boxes that feature a more family assortment, customer for DSW. Those we should invest in and make certain they’re on and they represent tremendous opportunity for growth in the U.S. •
2019 january • footwearplusmagazine.com 41
B O RW N A R O U N D
FROM DARK CHOCOLATE
TO LIGHT BUFF, SHADES OF THE TRUSTY FALL HUE PRESENT A PLEASING PALETTE IN MENâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S BOOTS.
BY ALEDA JOHNSON PHOTOGRAPHY BY TREVETT MCCANDLISS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL PHELPS ST YLING BY BARBARA RIES
Sorel alpine hiker, JoynoĂŤlle feather dress. 47
Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Amour Des Pieds studded hiker. Opposite: Platform work boot by All Black, JoynoĂŤlle sand skirt and jacket. 48
Earth wedge boot. Opposite: Alpine hiker by Joules, vintage velvet quilt and JoynoĂŤlle dress.
Clockwise from top: Merrell wedge hiker, boot by Muck, Taos logger boot and Hush Puppies hiker. Opposite: Emu Australia boots, dress by JoynoĂŤlle.
Secret Celebrity alpine hiker, JoynoĂŤlle dress and tights. Opposite, clockwise from top: J/Slides utility boot, wedge boot by Pendleton, Spring Step hiker. Hair and makeup: Fatima Olive/Utopia NYC; model: Juliana/ Arquette Talents. 54
S H O W C A S E FALL ’1 9
It’s a beautiful life! The Finn by Bella Vita is adorned with intricate cutouts that flatter the foot and an easy on/off zipper. The fit With its rich, contrasting colors, the Kasmin has a special fall feel. The
is lightweight and flexible, with a
Kasmin’s simple yet elegant design of a bootie with an upper strap ensures
retro block heel available in a large
you look fashionable and feel comfortable for any occasion. NAOT’s
range of sizes and widths, (N, M,
superbly crafted products demonstrate a response to the compelling need
W & WW; 5-12). Find Bella Vita at
for healthy, comfortable and fashionable footwear. Upcoming Shows: FN
all major and regional shows, but
Platform, The Atlanta Shoe Market (Cobb Galleria, room 106).
Cougar’s Fall ’19 collection draws inspiration from around the world to
Comfort starts with fit. For over 30 years, we have perfected our product line to
create modern footwear made to function. “Vanora” combines genuine
offer diverse styles in those hard-to-find sizes and widths. We are an industry
fur and supple suede to craft a distinctive cold weather silhouette. Always
leader in evolving comfort and wellness footwear into fashionable footwear. The
waterproof construction coupled with a lightweight sawtooth outsole deliv-
Delaney Tall is our newest comfort boot that is a perfect fall wardrobe compan-
ers unmatched style and versatility—whatever the weather. See the entire
ion. Shows: FN Platform; Outdoor Retailer, booth #46162 UL; The Atlanta Shoe
new collection at Outdoor Retailer, FFANY, FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe
Market, booth #1537; Michigan Shoe Market; Boston Shoe Traveler’s Association;
Market, Toronto Shoe Show and regional shows across North America.
Denver Shoe Market; Kansas City Shoe Show
We are pleased to be celebrating
Spring Step combines quality, comfort, technology and style to bring
our 30th year with a new collec-
you premium footwear. We have consistently crafted outstanding prod-
tion, one that brings together time-honored styles (with a few little twists)
ucts and delivered wonderful value and service. With higher margins,
and new pieces that in time we’re sure will become favorites. Come see
free POP displays and simple e-service, we can be your perfect partner.
us at: FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe Market, Boston Shoe Travelers
Discover why Spring Step is the winning team! Style Shown: Selenia
Born on Tasmanian soil in 1870, Blundstone is recognized globally as the maker of the world’s most comfortable and durable boots. Best known for its Join Earth for an amazing Fall 2019 season! This year marks an exciting new
iconic elastic-sided Chelsea boot, Blundstone’s extensive boot range is built
chapter in the Earth Shoes story with all-new branding and new verve! All
for thrill seekers, explorers and those who appreciate the beauty that comes
Earth styles feature the exclusive Powerpath Footbed designed to energize and
from wandering off the beaten track. Find us at Outdoor Retailer, Liberty and
uplift every step! Shows: FN Platform FFANY and The Atlanta Shoe Market.
The Atlanta Shoe Market
L’Artiste by Spring Step offers colorful, creative and unique shoes for everyone. We have consistently crafted outstanding products and delivered
In 1975, Mephisto introduced the Originals. These styles are the
wonderful value and service. With higher margins, free POP displays and
epitome of our DNA; displaying our commitment to quality, materials and
simple e-service, we can be your perfect partner. Discover why Spring Step
craftsmanship. The Originals have often been copied, but never duplicated.
is the winning team! Style Shown: Bewitch-Plaid
Come view the entire Mephisto Fall 2019 collection at FN Platform and
The Atlanta Shoe Market. www.mephisto.com
Restricted Footwear focuses on edgy elements of design and unique silhouettes while presenting eye-catching details to the fashion-forward consumer. The smart shoppers who like to combine fashion and comfort with quality and a
The makers of Staheekum indoor and outdoor slippers have expanded into
great price always look to Restricted for the latest shoe inspirations! Visit us
more lifestyle shoes for men and women. These waterproof ankle rain shoes
at FFANY, Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform, Atlanta Apparel, Chicago Shoe
for men offer durable rubber with neoprene to keep feet dry and warm.
Market, Dallas STRUT and many other regional shows.
Spring foam insole and traction rubber outsole offer comfort, making it a
great shoe for outdoor exploring. www.staheekum.com
S H O W C A S E FALL ’1 9
The Delta is the latest weather-resistant winter boot from Bearpaw’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection. This style features action leather with a quilted nylon shaft, antique finished metal accents Patrizia by Spring Step offers fashionable footwear with unbelievable
and an exposed wool blend collar. Lined
quality and comfort. We have consistently crafted outstanding products
with our exclusive HiberTech insulation,
and delivered wonderful value and service. With higher margins, free POP
this boot is the perfect blend of fash-
displays and simple e-service, we can be your perfect partner. Discover
ion and function for cooler climates. Tradeshows: FFANY, The Atlanta Shoe
why Spring Step is the winning team! Style Shown: Saige.
Market, FN Platform and Outdoor Retailer.
Made in Italy, our new line of genuine leather boots follows our dedication to quality, finesse and elegance. Whether the season brings sunshine or rain, this line pairs perfectly with the staples of your fall and winter wardrobe. Italian made comfort is built into every shoe. Find us at FFANY.
New Flexible Espadrilles from Easy Street, comfort innovators for over 50 years. The Maureen offers a fresh twist to the classic summer-
Since 1891, Washington Shoe Company has built rugged boots. Today, using
time slingback sandal with
DryBuilt technology, cH2O men’s, women’s and kid’s leather and nylon boots
an all new flexible espadrille
are designed for anyone who loves the outdoors. Whether for work or recre-
wedge. Available in 43 sizes & 4 widths (M, W & WW; 5-12). Find Easy
ation, cH2O boots will keep customers warm and dry no matter what nature
Street at all major and regional shows, but Las Vegas.
dishes out. Trade Shows: Outdoor Retailer, FN Platform and FFANY.
FALL 2019 SHOW FEBRUARY 16-18, 2019 COBB GALLERIA CENTRE
R E G I S T E R O N L I N E AT W W W. AT L A N TA S H O E M A R K E T. C O M A D VA N C E R E G I S T R AT I O N D E A D L I N E : J A N U A R Y 2 1 , 2 0 1 9 O N S I T E R E G I S T R AT I O N W I L L B E AVA I L A B L E O N S H O W S I T E
COCKTAIL PARTY & CASINO NIGHT SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2019 F E AT U R I N G
“PARTY ON THE MOON”
R E TA I L T R A I N I N G W O R K S H O P
DEMYSTIFYING DIGITAL MARKETING SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2019 R E N A I S S A N C E WAV E R LY H O T E L • K E N N E S AW R O O M L O C AT E D O N T H E F I R S T L E V E L O F T H E R E N A I S S A N C E H O T E L
CO M P L I M E N TA RY O N L I N E R E G I S T R AT I O N AT W W W. N S R A .O R G C O M P L I M E N TA R Y B R E A K FA S T
H OT E L ACCO M M O DAT I O N S RENAISSANCE WAVERLY HOTEL Cutoﬀ for advance rate: January 23, 2019
COURTYARD HOTEL BY MARRIOTT
EMBASSY SUITES HOTEL Cutoﬀ for advance rate: January 24, 2019
SHERATON SUITES Cutoﬀ for advance rate: January 15, 2019
HYATT HOUSE Cutoﬀ for advance rate: January 21, 2019
D E LTA A I R FA R E S P E C I A L RAT E S NMQP5 Book Your Flight
H E R TZ C A R R E N TA L CV#022Q9144
A I R P O R T S H U T T L E S E RV I C E MT TRANSPORTATION
C O N TA C T 7 0 6 . 9 2 3 . 0 5 8 0 F O L LOW U S O N FAC E B O O K & T W I T T E R W W W ·
ATLANTASHOEMARKET · C O M
A & M LIMO & GALLERIA DIRECT Prices to and from Cobb Galleria: $25 one way*; $50 round trip* Prices to and from hotels in the area: $35 one way*; $60 round trip*
D E S I G N E R C H AT
LEAH LARSON ’S FOOTWEAR education started from the ground up. Beginning in the stockroom of the flagship Nordstrom in Seattle, Larson has done everything in retail and wholesale from fitting customers, to merchandising, to buying, to line building, to designing and now creative direction as the vice president of product development and creative director for Ross & Snow. “Having such a varied background in all aspects of the footwear business definitely gives me a different perspective and, I think, makes me design from a unique point of view,” she says. Larson, former creative chief for Ugg, seamlessly melded her classic yet edgy aesthetic with the Ross & Snow team over dinner one night. “We discovered that we all saw the same void in the market, which we now call our ‘coat of arms,’” she says. That brand shield is built on decades of combined experience using Italian craftsmanship and luxurious materials with the goal of timeless design. “Our focus is on designing product that won’t go out of style next week, month, or year, and that will actually get better with age,” Larson says. Hidden function is a key component to the design formula. “All our product is functional year-round without looking like a technical boot,” Larson says, adding things like its patented SuPreen weatherproofing, shearling linings for warmth and nonslip soles should go hand-in-hand. “Why should your footwear choice of the day be dependent on the weather? We’re making that part of your daily decision obsolete, and we’re focused on making sure that aesthetics don’t change due to added technical features.” For Fall ’19, Ross & Snow is mixing its signature Italian craftsmanship with an American edge. Think shades of black, saturated earth tones and lots of metal embellishments. “Let’s just say that there was a lot of rock ‘n roll being played while we were designing,” Larson says, noting the hard edge is tamed with soft, cozy touches. “While there‘s lots of metal—subtle and not-so-subtle—we have gorgeous hand-frosted shearlings for texture. We’re keeping true to our original plan: clean, sleek and simple.” —Aleda Johnson How’s business this year? There are always challenges, but we accomplished what we set out to do for our launch. We’re in Nordstrom, Zappos and key high-end independents with a focus 60 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
SKINS GAME Croc and snake prints liven up classic bootie silhoue ttes.
in winter-resort towns. I’m very proud and grateful to the retailers that have partnered with us. Who is the quintessential Ross & Snow customer? Quiet confidence. Their success isn’t defined and fulfillment isn’t met by flaunting luxury brands. They appreciate and can identify high quality, and demand it in all aspects of their lives. They appreciate when life can be simplified for them. They enjoy being the first to know about the next big thing. They value travel, family, relationships and the finest comforts in life. What do you think will be the next big thing in the boot market? Fingers crossed, Ross & Snow! In all seriousness, I love what a moto boot represents: confidence, toughness, freedom with a little bit of rebellion.
Is there a perfect shoe? I believe that a perfect shoe is one that you effortlessly slip into, without thought, because you know it will take you where you need to go—in comfort. Comfort equals confidence. Who is a designer you admire? My two faves right now are Rachelle Hruska, founder of Lingua Franca and Tamara Mellon. They are both strong, bad-ass working moms who are creating insanely beautiful product with a huge focus on empowering women. What might people be surprised to know about you? I’m a very proud baseball mom! And I love to cook. What do you love most about designing shoes? I just love seeing someone wearing our shoes. It’s pretty magical.
E D I TO R ’ S P I C K S P H OTO G R A P H Y BY T R E V E T T M CC A N D L I S S
LEAH LARSON • ROSS & SNOW
S P E C I A L R E P O RT
continued from page 16 says John Pierce, Bearpaw president. designing for them with comfort in mind, but also considerthe work and Italian-made Ross & Snow is also focusing on function ing aesthetics.” New for Fall ’19, Cat’s women’s line features lifestyle these days. Its name might be more synonymous with luxurisneakerboots and vintage-inspired combat boot silhouettes, all aspect right ous materials than ruggedness, but the brand prides itself with slip-resistant, steel toe, electrical hazard and waterproof on its patented weatherproofing protection (called SuPreen) options. And there’s not a pink style in sight. in the store and interchangeable sheepskin and leather sock liners that Both outdoor- and work-centric retailers can profit from the guarantees let boots transition seamlessly from fall to winter. “All the utilitarian chic trend in boots, according to McGuire. While product should be functional year-round without looking there will always be a market for traditional, technical snow, the customer like a technical boot,” says Leah Larson, vice president of rain and hiking boots, incorporating trendy aspects into a is getting what product development and creative director. “Why should your silhouette tips the scales toward a sale almost every time. footwear choice of the day be dependent on the weather?” “Work is changing, and this new generation has a different they want.” Like good bones, the utilitarian components of Ross & Snow’s expectation for their footwear,” he explains. “Blending the boots aren’t obvious to consumers (shoppers are more likely —Garrett McGuire, work and lifestyle aspect right in the store guarantees the to be lured by metallic finishes on chunky moto boots and Cat Footwear brand category customer is getting what they want.” stacked heel, lamb-leather knee-highs), but they provide a manager for work Another potential boon for retailers: The new designs’ solid foundation. versatility gives stores longer to sell product during the seaEven work brands are prioritizing style for Fall ’19. Data son and less incentive to mark down merchandise. You can suggests that more than two million women will be workbuild third quarter business on transitional, technical boot ing in construction by the end of 2021. What’s more, women outnumber men fashion, says Cougar’s Sedlbauer. And thanks to function’s chic new makeover, graduating with degrees in the field, making it ripe for boot sales. But they’re staff need not focus on the technical aspects of boots to sell merchandise. In not in the market for the “shrink and pink” model work brands traditionally fact, Sedlbauer has his entire sales team lead with fashion, only bringing up offered in women’s boots, says Garrett McGuire, Cat Footwear brand category Cougar’s “Always Waterproof ” slogan as a bonus. “These utility traits are like manager for work. “Not only do women have different feet with different the airbag in your car,” he explains. “You don’t really think about it and you physical needs, but they have a life outside of work,” McGuire explains. “We’re hope you never need it, but it’s there when you do.” •
Power Pumps MM.LaFleur launches work-appropriate collection for today’s women. MM.LAFLEUR IS quickly creating a foothold in women’s fashion for its chic office attire sans boring pantsuits, and with the launch of footwear this past fall, it’s now got women covered head to toe. “That means giving her dresses with pockets, jackets with seams that stretch and shoes that flex with her foot,” says Sarah LaFleur, CEO. “As our company continues to grow year over year, we are exploring a myriad category opportunities that support this vision. Shoes are a natural fit.” MM.LaFleur spent two years researching what women need in their work footwear. “She’s a female, professional business woman age 25 and up who
ARTISTIC JOURNEY The beauty lies in the details
Fall 2019 springfootwear.com | 800.962.0030
has #betterthingstodo than shop, generally,” LaFleur says. The collection, made in Italy, offers the comfort level of sneakers. It features the brand’s proprietary MM Duo Craftsmanship, a combination of flexibility, durability, all-day comfort construction plus style. Each pair is created using sachetto, a technique traditionally used for ballet slippers, where the leather is stretched onto the last like a glove, which eliminates the need for glue and helps the leather flex to the foot. “We wanted to create what women want: shoes they can comfortably dance in, backwards, in heels—as they go about accomplishing everything they need to get done in a day,” says Miyako Nakamura, co-founder and creative director. “The shoes are a natural extension of our line of functional, beautiful clothes you can wear to work and beyond.” While feeling good is key, Nakamura, the former head designer at Zac Posen, knows that looking good is equally important. The initial collection (retails for $350 and up) includes loafers, booties and pumps of various heel heights in rich neutral colors (and statement red) and polished leathers. “We focused on matching the shoes with our core apparel collection and ensuring they are comfortable without sacrificing aesthetic,” says LaFleur, adding that the collection will expand this spring with a wider range of soft colors and textured fabrics. As the apparel line has grown, LaFleur expects the footwear collection to follow suit. The line will be sold direct-to-consumer online, through MM.LaFleur’s showrooms and pop-ups where customers can book a complimentary hour-long appointment with its team of personalized stylists, and through its personally styled Bento box service. “We think women want direction in what to wear to work and that there’s a need for a new dress code,” LaFleur says, citing a wait list of 1,500 for its debut collection. “They want a level of formality in their work wear—they want garments that are professional, polished and appropriate.” —Aleda Johnson
continued from page 23 to a better products and better experiences for the consumer. How would you assess the current health of retail overall? I wouldn’t say it’s the worst ever. Every year presents its own set of adventures, but the economy overall is better than it was from 2009 to 2011. During recessions, retailers usually cut inventory, staff, etc. and that can lead to tougher times. And while there’s legitimate challenges like Amazon and DTC, the fact that the economy has been relatively strong has helped. What’s your take on DTC, particularly in regard to retailers who view it as direct competition? DTC is important to us, but it’s only 15 percent of our business as over half needs to be at retail with our foot scanning and interaction with consumers. It’s not as high as a lot of our competitors. That said, it’s critical for a manufacturer to be consumer centric and offer direct access. We do it in a balanced and proportionate way. For example, DTC allows us to clear out discontinued inventory. And like most manufacturers, there are periods when we’re off MAP but we inform our retailers well ahead of time exactly when. As long as you have honest communication and they know what you’ll be doing and when, it’s generally okay. Aetrex, I believe, is considered a very good partner in that way. What else are you doing to be a good partner? Everything that we develop is with our retailers in mind. We’re always trying to improve upon the in-store experience. What also makes us a great partner is we provide product with strong margins and turns. Very often you’ll have shoes that turn but have lower margins or vice-versa. What are your goals for this year? One is to tell our story better online and through video. That’s something that we didn’t do as well this past year. There’s lots of potential on the marketing side with video, including people in stores using our scanners.
for example, they can capture emails without having to close a sale. Of course, they like the add-on sale aspect, as well. What are you most proud of with regards to Aetrex? I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve made millions of products that have helped so many people. Our footwear and orthotics are designed to give people a better life by providing more comfort and health benefits. We’re lucky to be in a business that provides product that makes people feel better in their lives. That feels really good. What do you love most about Aetrex? Besides working with Evan and Matt, I love how innovative and entrepreneurial we are. People from any department can come in with a good idea and see it turned into a technology or a shoe. That’s exciting. I think it’s one of the reasons we have a very low turnover. Where do you envision the company in five years? We’re trying to build one of the great brands. We hope to be reaching a lot more consumers by being in a lot more stores in five years with our full range of products. The goal is always to build a great company. What is it about this industry that you love most? The people. I know that’s a cliché, but there are so many great people and a genuine good-heartedness in our industry. The casual brown shoe space we primarily play in is a big small industry, and when you’ve been in it for a long time you end up making a lot of great friends. At trade shows we’re always excited to see so many friends—many that I know I’ll be friends with when I finally retire. When might that be? No time soon. •
How many stores have iStep scanners currently? We have over 5,000 scanners active throughout the world. Albert OS is in about 300 locations, and we expect to be in more than 1,000 by the end of this year. While there’s plenty of runway for growth, what might be Aetrex’s biggest challenges in attaining it? There’s always challenges. For example, there’s a lot of demand for talent right now, particularly in the New York job market. We have to continue to make Aetrex a great place to work to attract good people. We have a wonderful culture here, which helps. We’ve been able to add about 25 people this past year who are strong on both the marketing and tech development sides. That’s a nice thing about growth; it’s fun to add talent. Another challenge of being in the technology business is it all moves so quickly. It’s exciting but certainly challenging to keep pace. Also, other technology companies can introduce updates that could impact our scanning products, which has happened. There’s never a dull moment in the tech business, but I’m glad we’re in it. Aetrex is coming at it from a completely different perspective, for sure. When I first got into this business, chief marketing officers generally came from the creative side. Now people are coming out of MIT with math degrees and are running marketing departments, because everything is about data analytics. Everything can be targeted; it’s a completely different world, and we provide a tool that can enhance that. There’s a tremendous amount of data that we capture for everybody who steps on one of our scanners. Typically, our larger retailers are most excited for the data and our smaller-sized customers are most interested in the add-on sales potential. Why is that? It’s more challenging for smaller retailers to compete online. They don’t have the resources to employ a full team on ecommerce and digital marketing where data capture comes more into play. Larger retailers like the fact that,
WWW.RESTRICTEDSHOES.COM I 626.961.8889
L A S T S HO T
WHITE OUT W I N T E R’ S S I G NAT U R E H U E I S T O TA L LY I N .
L’Amour Des Pieds
64 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2019
P HOTOG RAP H Y BY TR E VE T T MCCA ND L I SS , P R OP STYL I NG BY R OB IN Z ACH ARY
43 Sizes & 4 Widths
ALL National & REGIONAL SHOWS | 1-800-826-6430
the healthiest shoes you’ll ever wear ®