Footwear Plus Magazine | October/November 2019

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THE NEW EASY Designers Embrace Espadrilles for Spring

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS How Pedestrian Shops Became a Comfort Institution EURO REPORT MICAM Show Highlights THIS JUST IN London Looks




OCTO BE R / NOVE M B E R 2019

Caroline Diaco President/Group Publisher Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL Lauren Parker Executive Editor Emily Beckman Associate Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Kirstin Koba Contributing Editor Melodie Jeng Marcy Swingle Contributing Photographers ADVERTISING/ PRODUCTION Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Laurie Guptil Production Manager Bruce Sprague Circulation Director

PA G E

30

Mike Hoff Digital Director WAINSCOT MEDIA

DEPA RTM ENTS

F E AT UR E S 12 Bold & Beautiful From brazen neons and animal print mashups to delicate woven details and sheer mesh, the MICAM show in Milan showcased a plethora of Spring/Summer 2020 trends. By Lauren Parker

comfort specialty format, spanning selection, service, location and community outreach. By Greg Dutter 30 Weekend Getaway Easy like espadrilles...the definitive summer staple is dressed up and down in breezy flats, smart wedges and sporty sneaker hybrids. By Aleda Johnson

Mark Dowden President & CEO

4 Editor’s Note

29 What’s Selling

6 This Just In

40 Shoe Salon

8 Scene & Heard

42 Trend Spotting

26 In the Details

44 Upclose Outdoor

OFFICES

28 Trend Spotting

48 Last Shot

ADVERTISING/EDITORIAL

18 Golden in Colorado Celebrating 50 years, Richard Polk, founder of Pedestrian Shops, has set the gold standard for the

Carroll Dowden Chairman

This page: slip-ons by Enjoiya, Carol Chugani top and shorts, Queenie Cao earrings. On cover: Born gladiator espadrilles, dress by Talabaya. Photography by Mark Andrew/The Garden Party; styling by Julia Morris/Utopia; hair and makeup: Clelia Bergonzoli/ Utopia; model: Amanda Moreno/Major Model Management; stylist assistant: Beatrice Goudet. Shot on location at The Silver Sands Motel, Greenport, NY.

Agnes Alves Controller

214 W. 39th St., Suite 205 New York, NY 10018 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 editorialrequests@ 9Threads.com CIRCULATION

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

FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by Wainscot Media, 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. Wainscot Media will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. ©2008 by Wainscot Media. Printed in the United States.

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ED ITOR’S NOTE

Here’s the Story

FULL DISCLOSURE: I never even knew what a trade magazine was growing up, let alone dreamed I’d work at various ones for nearly 30 years. I first heard the term “trades” while listening to the Springsteen song “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street.” Amid the Dylan-esque stream of consciousness lyrics, “They take out a full-page ad in the trades” caught my attention, probably because I didn’t know what The Boss was referring to. Around the same time, I came across my first trade magazine, even though I had no idea what it was. Sorting through the mail one day, I spotted KBB magazine. The acronym—what I would later discover to be a trademark of many trade publications—stood for Kitchen & Bath Business. A magazine devoted to the latest tubs, toilets and faucets news. Seriously? But I would soon learn that my father, an architect, read it along with a handful of other building-related trade magazines as religiously as he did the sports section. It’s where he found news and analysis of the latest industry trends and product introductions—vital information that helped him stay at the top of his profession. A few years later, I was sitting in a magazine journalism class at Syracuse University when trade publications entered the discussion. Our professor, trying to allay the growing unemployment fears of us seniors, assured us that our tuition and efforts would be rewarded. He then suggested applying to the numerous trade publication houses. I saw by the many blank stares of fellow classmates that they had dreams of newsstand jobs. The trades were a definite Plan B. Upon graduation, I took what I could get, following in my mother’s footsteps, and became a reporter for a local newspaper chain. It’s where I earned the equivalent of a master’s degree in journalism, covering crime, corruption, zoning board minutia, board of education battles, beauty queens, parades, store openings, assorted local heroes and whatever else the West Orange Chronicle deemed newsworthy that week. It was journalism without a net. And while I took some lumps along the way, I loved it. Alas, it was low paying. About two years into the newspaper gig, trade publications again popped up on my radar. I was at a Super Bowl party where, during halftime, I overheard a friend’s sister telling another friend that she was a human resources manager for a company that published trade magazines and to send a resume. I asked if I could do the same. A couple of months later, I became an editorial trainee at Gralla Publications, located in Times Square. My first stop was MHN, which stood for Multi-Housing

News. (I quickly discovered that whatever the industry, there’s likely a trade magazine covering it.) Having been dialed in on West Orange, NJ, for the better part of the previous year, I was jazzed about interviewing housing executives on the West Coast. My horizons had gotten so much bigger! From there, I went to Corporate Travel, where I met my future wife. (That was a pretty fruitful stop!) Soon after, I landed my first fulltime position with Gralla, at B&I, which stood for Business + Incentives. Not long after that, I moved to SGB (Sporting Goods Business), where I covered the athletic footwear beat. A couple of years later and looking for another bump in salary, I switched companies, becoming Features Editor for Earnshaw’s Publications, one of whose magazines was Footwear Plus, where I’ve been plying my trade ever since. The point of my journalism retrospective? Trade publications provide a unique focus. Similar to the way a local newspaper serves as a town’s book of record—reporting wedding announcements, obits, graduations, honor rolls, civic duties, Little League feats, etc.—trade magazines give industries the spotlight they deserve. They are an invaluable resource, offering an independent forum for wholesalers and retailers to work through contentious issues as well as introduce product breakthroughs and retail strategies, report on the latest trends, analyze consumer shopping habits and mark career milestones. Speaking of that, it was my honor to profile Richard Polk, founder of Pedestrian Shops on his Colorado comfort specialty chain’s 50th anniversary (p. 18). The captivating tale of how Polk came into the business by happenstance and became one of the country’s benchmark comfort dealers, not to mention a trailblazer in sustainable retailing practices and social outreach efforts, is a must read. His war stories, survival tactics, breakthrough concepts, general love of retail and seasoned perspectives are exactly what a trade magazine should showcase. The article offers an inspiring, in-depth and heartfelt look at how this renowned retailer plies his trade. And as a trade magazine, Footwear Plus gives you the complete story, including how Polk’s daughters, Zoe and Lauren, are poised to take the business to the next level. Any journalist worth their salt relishes telling great stories. And Polk’s is no exception. As a trade journalist, I have the luxury of really getting to know the players and the field. That’s the key to creating a meaningful and informative profile. Done right, it’s the essence of trade magazine journalism. What I’m trying to say is, I’m glad I followed all those trade magazine career hints over the years!

Greg Dutter

Editorial Director

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P H OTO CO L L AG E BY N A N C Y C A M P B E L L

P ly i ng On e ’ s T r a de


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THIS JUST IN

english beat What’s black and white and seen all over? The leading shoe trends coming out of London Fashion Week. Photography by Melodie Jeng

6 footwearplusmagazine.com • october/november 2019


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SCENE & HEARD

Stadium Goods Teams with Fred Segal but a huge baseline will remain constant.” Nyilas IN A CASE OF East meets West of influential says the activation will allow patrons the time to retailers, Stadium Goods is operating a collaboraappreciate the expression of the art behind the tive shop inside Fred Segal’s flagship on Sunset design without the more herded mentality of a Boulevard in West Hollywood, CA, through traditional drop. “Also, through curation and January 2020. A variety of immersive, standalone storytelling, we are connecting dots that link pop-ups will offer customers access to exclusive different artists that can only be seen by slowing collaborations and a rotating, curated display things down,” he says. of sneakers and streetwear apparel. Stadium McPheters says the decision to team with Goods will highlight prominent brands such as Fred Segal is in no way random, noting Stadium Supreme, Off-White and Travis Scott’s Cactus Goods turns down most partnership requests. Jack Collection, showcasing the New York-based “We saw some natural affinities—Fred Segal streetwear retailer’s unparalleled inventory and helped establish premium retail with cuttingcuratorial acumen. The partnership kicked off edge cultural relevance in L.A. in much the same with the Stadium Goods x Smalls Studio Tie Dye way we have in Soho,” he says. “Fred Segal is collaboration in mid-October. where Bob Dylan shopped and we’re where the “There are some obvious choices of brands and Bob Dylans of today shop. But Fred Segal also collections, but we’ll also be curating products in offers us a chance to showcase our product and ways that people haven’t seen before,” says John expertise in a new setting.” McPheters, co-founder and co-CEO of Stadium Just what that will look like, McPheters Goods. “We want to give the people what they says, is a series of unique experiences that will want, of course, but we also want to give them be faithful to the core DNA of both Stadium the things they didn’t even know they wanted Goods and Fred Segal while showing off aspects until they saw them grouped together in this Rare kicks and capsule collections curated by of both brands that people might not expect way.” He adds, “This collaboration is about giving Stadium Goods at the Fred Segal flagship. to see. “We’ll present the complete collection customers new experiences and ways of looking of shoes from arguably the most hyped sneaker designer of the last at some products that might be familiar in other settings.” three years and a selection of coveted rarities from the most iconic Brian Nyilas, vice president men’s merchandising for Fred Segal views streetwear brand of all time, but there will be tie dye and outdoors gear, the collaboration an exhibition rather than a pop-up. “Even the term ‘poptoo,” McPheters says. “We want to provide customers with a range of up’ we are moving away from,” he says. “This is more of an exhibition; one experiences that transcend the product.” where it is encouraged to drop by as often as you can as parts of it will evolve,

SAS HIT THE streets of Manhattan with its first-ever mobile pop-up truck. The 18-foot long, glass-enclosed truck made day-long stops in Midtown and Columbus Circle areas during a October weekend, drawing locals and tourists by the hundreds. “It was really busy,” says Nancy Richardson, CEO of SAS. “We had a lot of existing SAS customers and lots of people who don’t know anything

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about us, and that’s been great too.” Reaching out to a broader audience was a key goal of the pop-up. Richardson notes that SAS doesn’t have a lot of coverage in Manhattan, yet its concept of luxury comfort, offered in a broad range of sizes and widths, is ideal for a walking city like the Big Apple. “Our luxury is practical and functional,” she says. “And we have a range of sizes and widths that aren’t very easy to find in stores, so this let them step in, get fitted and order online.” Customers were incentivized with a 20-percent discount on purchases made in the truck as well as the chance to enter the SAS Step into Luxury giveaway of four pairs (one for each season)— a $1,200 value. In addition, social media influencers, Eric Wertz and Natalia Levsina, spent time on the truck interacting with customers and posting coverage on their feeds. Richardson reports the mobile pop-up delivered on its intentions. “It was a great success,” she says, noting there were 200 fall styles in inventory and even a few Spring ’19 styles to whet their appetite. “People weren’t hesitant; they just climbed into the truck to see what it was all about,” she adds. “Of course, you don’t see a glass truck decked out like a shoe store very often, so this was attention-grabbing.” On that note, Richardson says the truck might make future stops in select cities around the country.

P H O T O C R E D I T @ D I VA N E R D P R O D U C T I O N S

SAS Pop-up Rolls into NYC


Tradition since 1774.

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SCENE & HEARD

Clarks Casts Start Power in New Campaign

Alexander Skarsgård

CLARKS HAS GONE Hollywood by enlisting actors Alexander Skarsgård and Freida Pinto as brand ambassadors for its new worldwide marketing campaign debuting this fall. The 194-year-old British brand chose the two celebrities to convey its belief in the importance of comfort in every situation, asking them to share their comfort story in cities most meaningful to them. The campaign also marks a “reset” for Clarks, says Tara McRae, CMO. “This is the first time we’ve truly been aligned with a global campaign,” she says. “It’s a step change for us in the marketplace, and it’s only the beginning of a very exciting time for the brand.” Skarsgård was photographed in his hometown of Stockholm, Sweden. His shoot features the Desert Boot, Ronnie Walk, Clarkdale Gobi, Trace Quest and Batcombe Lord styles. Pinto was shot on location in London—a city where she feels most comfortable—wearing the Desert Boot, Clarkdale Arlo, Pure Viola, Sense Lula, Tri Spark and Trace Pine. McRae says the actors are a genuine fit with Clarks as both have deep organic ties to the brand. Skarsgård, for example, tells the story in one of the campaign’s videos about buying his first pair of Desert Boots as a teenager when the rock band Oasis ruled the charts. Wanting to dress just like the band’s front men, Noel and Liam Gallagher, he relates how his father ran over his “too clean” pair with his car several times for a desired worn-in look. Skarsgård’s personal style, McRae says, speaks to a core element of Clarks’ ethos, which encourages everyone to make the brand their own. Meanwhile, Pinto came into contact with Clarks at a young age. In another video, she tells the early career story about being told she had to sacrifice comfort for style to be a fashion icon, which she scoffed at. “Their stories are both authentic,” McRae says, noting a strict pay-to-promote spokesperson arrangement was never a consideration.

“The connection has to truly be there. Both actors grew up wearing Clarks and they love the brand. The partnerships are organic, and they’ll be the faces of the campaign as we head into Spring ’20 as well.” McRae says Skarsgård and Pinto are also ideal because of their broad appeal and social activism. “They connect well across every generation,” she says. “It’s less about celebrity and more about ambassadors who can really help us in this space.” Over the last four years, Pinto has served as an ambassador of Girl Rising, a charity that empowers young women to share their stories to change the way the world views and values girls and to highlight the importance of education. Clarks is supporting the organization this fall across its various channels worldwide in celebration of International Day of the Girl (Oct. 11). “When Freida asked us to partner with Girl Rising, we said absolutely—it’s everything we’re about as well,” McRae says, noting social activism has been imbedded in Clarks since its founding in the early 1800s. Going forward, consumers will hear a lot more about Clarks’ extensive goodwill efforts. “We have Quaker roots and we’ve just been way too humble about it,” McRae says. “People today want to know what type of companies they are buying from. They are turning away from ones that aren’t doing good because there are other options.” This effort extends to informing Clarks employees as well. “Employees want to work for a company that has a larger purpose that they buy into and feel are doing good in the world,” McRae says. “It’s something that we have almost 200 years-worth of doing, and we should be proud of it.”

Freido Pinto

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The Art of Anna Sui WANT TO WALK in the eclectic shoes of iconic American fashion designer Anna Sui and experience her creative process? Then check out “The World of Anna Sui” at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), running through Feb. 23, 2020. The major retrospective explores Sui’s colorful, illustrious career. The thematically arranged show celebrates the 12 archetypes that have influenced the Detroit born designers collections: Hippie & Rock Star, Schoolgirl, Punk, Nomad, Surfer, Grunge, Victorian, Americana, Mod, Fairytale, Retro and Androgyny. Abundant sketches, mood boards, runway videos and cultural ephemera illuminate how Sui fuses vintage inspiration with current cultural obsessions. “A prolific storyteller, Anna weaves together popular and little-known visual references every season creating singular looks that are unmistakably Anna,” says Barbara Paris Gifford, assistant curator at MAD. “Throughout the exhibition, you see evidence of her vast knowledge of music, movies, interior design, books, time periods, graphic design, art movements, fashion and photography.” Accessories and beauty have always played a strong role in Sui’s fashion visions and an adjacent gallery highlights her licenses, all shelved on her personal furniture and décor. Most of Sui’s shoes, boots and handbags have been crafted by Ballin since 1997. Teva, one of the exhibits supporters and a collaborator with Sui on its classic Universal sport sandal, hosted a private tour at the Museum of Arts and Design last month. Sui guided guests through the exhibit where they then had the opportunity to customize a pair of Teva sandals.



e u r o p e a n t r e n d r e p o r t : SPRING / SUMMER 2020

Bold & Beautiful Celebrating its 50th anniversary, MICAM exhibitors showcased a plethora of vivid trends and engaging initiatives to keep the shoe universe buzzing. By Lauren Parker

THIS YEAR MARKS the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, and Italy is awash with exhibitions celebrating his artistic genius. Similarly, the MICAM show in Milan, Europe’s largest and oldest shoe fair, served as a showcase of artistic shoe genius. The 50th anniversary edition hosted more than 695 Italian exhibitors along with 608 more from 30 countries displaying their Spring/Summer ’20 collections to an audience of 44,000 visitors. Those in attendance included a growing contingent of independent retailers from the United States, according to Chuck Schuyler, president of the National Shoe Retailers Association, who was on hand. “Retailers are attending shows like this because product differentiation has become so important,” he says. “Many are rolling out more product introductions during the year than in the past, and they’re looking around the world for brands and styles to set them apart.” Alan Miklofsky, CEO of Alan’s Shoes, a four-store chain in Arizona, came to MICAM seeking newness as well as bigger profits. “By sourcing brands and styles not carried by my competitors, I can reap higher margins,” he says. “We did find some interesting items that could bring life to our women’s and men’s assortments. Our focus is on brands from Brazil and Turkey.” The show was divided into Luxury, Contemporary, Cosmopolitan, iKids and Active categories. New exhibits included the Players District, which highlighted sports and outdoor shoes from Lotto, Dolomite, Garmont and Skechers, among others. MICAM also tweaked its Emerging Designers section by pairing each designer with a prominent influencer to help spread the word at the show. Another 50th anniversary initiative was It’s Shoe Time!, an exhibition that took visitors on a digital trip through five decades of pop culture and shoe trends. Comfort was a consistent theme throughout the show. Dressier labels balanced out their offerings with sneakers, flats and loafers. Sustainability also continued to be a strong theme, led by technology upgrades that no longer sacrifice style for eco-friendliness.

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Stephanie Kélian

Giovanni Fabiani

Anne Gestroemi

Gladz

Art of the Heel

Mid-height and high heels got sculptural treatments, often with sharp vertical lines evoking Art Deco skyscrapers.

Balluta


’90s Rewind

Adding heft, height and 'tude, white and nude lug soles showed up on loafers, lace-ups and work boots.

Rad Rattan

Cappelletti

AGL

Le Babe

Mi/Mai

Rattan patterns have long been a staple in spring/summer footwear collections, but usually in more natural colors and materials. Designers updated the classic look with shiny metallic in gold, silver and copper, as well as paired it with synthetic materials such as Lucite heels.

Pretty Ballerinas

Castaner Genuins Cappelletti

Rainbow Revelry

The bar on what defines a men’s sneaker has been raised—again. Look for dressy and elegant luxury uppers with antiqued leather mixed with traditional sneaker soles, or leather sneakers with a leather sole/rubber bottom hybrid and loafers with sneaker bottoms.

Arezzo

Pollini

Brunate

Stefano Branchini

2019 october/november • footwearplusmagazine.com 1 3

R U N WAY P H OTO BY M I C A M

Brands continue to see a pot of gold at the end of their rainbowinfused designs. Pollini rolled out water snake pumps and slingbacks with painted rainbow stripes, not to mention rainbow stripes in canvas, while Brunate went for a dressy mesh loafer. Metallic foils also come into play in a rainbow of hues adding shimmer and shine to the trend.

Sartorial Sneakers


e u r o p e a n tt r ee n d d rreeppoorrtt : FA S PLRLI N 2 0G1 7/ S U M M E R 2 0 2 0

Tie One On Write On!

Giampaolo Carli for Cappelletti

Emojis had their run; now it’s graffiti and sketch designs that send a stylish message.

Scarves—either builtin or removable to accessorize around a wrist, hair or handbag— took last season’s oversized bows trend up a notch. Bold and colorful, they were a playful alternative to traditional laces.

Gianna Meliani

Bottega 23 Le Babe

Pezzana

Ezzio

Wild Life

The lion might be the king of the jungle, but zebras and tigers are the alpha animal print in shoes for next season. Leopard and snake prints made strong showings as well, sometimes in beyond wild mashups. Calpiere

Hegos

The Woven Ones

Behold, a materials story in men’s that moved beyond distressed leather. The openwork and tight-knit weaves came in a range of hues and materials, creating an exciting shelf option. Moreschi

XSA

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e u r o p e a n tt r ee n d d rreeppoorrtt : FA S PLRLI N 2 0G1 7/ S U M M E R 2 0 2 0

What a Mesh!

Giorgia B

Offering sheer coverage and sexy transparency, both clear and colored mesh updated everything from cowboy and dressy booties to sneakers. Chiara Biasi

AGL

Putting Neon

Salar

Maison Ernest

Weave Believe

The latest crop of straw and fabric woven styles featured interesting texture blends and mixed materials.

Seven All Around

Bold neon was big in men’s and women’s. The '80s flashback popped up on Pretty Ballerinas, which teamed with supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio for a capsule of pointy or rounded toes. Others sported pops of neon on laces, piping and soles.

Giovanna Grazzini

Brunate

Buckle Up! Pablo Gilabert

Sarah Summer

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R U N WAY P H OTO BY M I C A M

Castamer

Bold yet minimal, decorative gold and silver buckles let suede and leather detailing show through.


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5 0 T H

A N N I V E R S A R Y

Pedestrian Shops

GOLDEN IN COLORADO

C e l e b r a t i n g 5 0 y e a r s , R i c h a r d Po l k , f o u n d e r o f Pe d e s t r i a n S h o p s , h a s s e t t h e g o l d s t a n d a r d f o r t h e c o m f o r t specialty format, spanning selection, service, location and community outreach. By Greg Dutter

I

T WAS 1969, the year of Woodstock, and Richard Polk, fresh out of University of Denver, was unsure of what his next life chapter might be. While he hailed from a legendary Chicago retail family (Polk Brothers was once the largest dealer of name brand appliances in the U.S.) and assumed he’d wind up working in retail in some capacity because, as a family, it’s “kind of who we were,” becoming a comfort shoe retailer was the furthest thing from his mind. In fact, at that time Polk and a buddy, Tony Chirikos, along with their dates, had embarked on a “magical mystery tour,” attending a friend’s “crazy” wedding in a warehouse in Manhattan’s Bowery district. But that’s where Polk’s career fate would be determined. That’s where he met Ray Jacobs, who had recently begun distributing Kalso Earth shoes in the U.S. The three young men immediately hit it off. Chirikos, too, came from a successful Chicago business family and he and Polk were under pressure to carry the family flags into the future. Jacobs would be the catalyst. “We ended up in his living room. One thing led to another, and my buddy and I agreed to open the third Kalso Earth Shoe store in North America,” he says. “And we did.” Little did Polk know that the chance encounter would kickstart a lifelong career during which he became one of the country’s benchmark comfort shoe specialty retailers. Nor did he imagine that all this would begin in a converted bookmobile. (He and Chirikos drove the vehicle around the hippie/ academic enclave of Boulder, CO, for about two

Dream Team: Laurie, Richard and Zoe Polk, the brains and talent behind Pedestrian Shops.

years before opening their first location across the street from the town’s courthouse.) Polk also had no idea that the business would evolve into the multi-branded Pedestrian Shops that eventually

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added a second Boulder location, the ecommerce site comfortableshoes.com, a store in downtown Denver (opened in 2018), and—his biggest mindblower—his two daughters taking the reins of the family business 40-plus years later. Polk’s career journey is nothing short of a magical mystery tour, one chock-full of fate, fortune, vision, passion, compassion, love, hard work, ups, downs, political office and plenty of retailing ingenuity along the way. While much of the growth has been organic, the long-running success of Pedestrian Shops is no accident. The retail DNA coursing through Polk’s veins is genuine. He possesses almost a sixth sense, excelling at the golden rules of location, curation, activation and service. On top of that is his willingness to embrace new ideas and dream big. Polk is an eternal optimist and, therefore, a retailer through and through. That was exactly his mindset during that chance run-in at his friend’s wedding in New York 50 years ago. Anything was possible. “It was a very exciting time; it was the heart of the ‘let’s create the Aquarian Age days,’” Polk says. “There was this spirit about doing it on your own, and doing something that had more purpose, and you did it in a way that was more egalitarian.” Polk has practiced and preached that philosophy throughout his distinguished career. Pedestrian Shops is renowned for its community outreach programs, including its long-running biannual shoe drives that have, to date, collected an estimated 50,000 pairs of reusable footwear for people in need. The stores are also a pioneer in eco-friendly business


practices. In fact, Pedestrian Shops has operated a 10 kilowatt solar array for almost 20 years and is considered to be the world’s first solar-powered shoe store. Polk, who was elected to Boulder’s City Council (2005-07), proposed the city’s Solar Rebate ordinance, which continues to fund solar power on affordable housing and non-profits today. He has also received numerous community service honors, including a Pacesetter Award from the Daily Camera for leadership in business, the Ron Porter Lifetime Achievement Award from Downtown Boulder Inc., the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame and the Franny Reich Local Business Hero Award from the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. Polk has also chaired The Dairy Arts Center board for 18 years. During that time the organization has raised $7 million for funding improvements to local art centers. Polk is also the creator and curator of the global Decarbonization, Innovation & Arts Network, which shares information and ideas worldwide about the arts and sustainability issues, like combatting climate change. Polk is a retail/Renaissance man. John Moran, a sales rep for Dansko who has called on Pedestrian Shops since 2006, sees Polk as a rare capitalist/ hippie hybrid, which he believes lies at the core of the retailer’s success. “Richard has embraced the specialness and creativeness of his customers while also doing his best to be a responsible human being of the planet,” Moran says. “He’s conscious of not only his customers’ needs but of the needs of the town, the planet and its inhabitants.” Polk, who wakes up 4:30 a.m. most days, loves every bit of his job(s). “The only thing you question is mortality,” he says. “You only get so much of this fine wine, but I’m very grateful. I’ve got a great life and it was funded by footwear—that’s at the base of all of it.” Polk is quick to credit his daughters, Lauren and Zoe, who joined the business in 2006 and 2013, respectively, for freeing him to further pursue his many passions now that they’re managing the dayto-day operations. What’s more, they’ve brought their own skills and talents, which Polk is confident will make Pedestrian Shops even stronger going forward. “It’s not just their business acumen and carrying on the legacy; it’s the values they hold,” he says proudly, describing Zoe as a big ideas person and Lauren as very analytical. “It chokes me up to talk about it.” Polk’s daughters say they’ve learned from the best. “He taught us to pay attention to the data and use it to make good decisions,” Lauren says. “He’s also big on ‘magic moments,’ which is about being ready to be successful—to jump and buy more when a product starts to take off. He’s also taught us the importance of supporting our communities.” Adds Zoe, “We put a lot of focus on people—our staff, customers and community. We try to run our business in a way that benefits everyone. We also prioritize the environment and try to operate in the most sustainable way possible. And we try to not

“Summer is so busy for us and we just wanted to thank them for working so hard. We want them to feel like we care, which we do.”

Inside the new Pedestrian Shops in downtown Denver—a modern decor inside a historic building.

take anything too seriously—we have fun!” For his part, Polk hasn’t fully separated from the business he founded. For starters, he believes retailing matters like concept, cash flow, community engagement and treatment of employees are all related to matters of sustainability. They go hand in hand, he says. “I think the emergency of climate change is providing opportunities to help the world become a better place, and it’s very rewarding and exciting,” he says. “And footwear is a part of that story, because walking is the original carbon-free mobility. Everything is related.” Turning 70 this November and already twice the age of his father when he passed away suddenly, Polk, a survivor of a triple bypass surgery, views each day as a gift. Does he have a motto? “I’m just thankful when I recognize the guy in the mirror in the morning,” he laughs. Kidding aside, he loves his life and the shoe business. “The other day I held a party at my house for all our employees,” Polk says. All aboard! Pedestrian Shops’ sponsored free train rides for Boulder kids and its electric bus wrap campaign in Denver.

THE SALAD DAYS Not long after Polk and Chirikos returned to the “hippest place within 30 miles of Denver” a case containing 12 pairs of Kalso Earth shoes arrived. The partners loaded them into the back of Polk’s 1953 Ford pickup and headed straight to Brillig Works bookstore. “It was a very progressive crowd, somewhere between Beatnik and Hippie and very academic,” Polk says. The partners chatted up a few customers about these cool new shoes, which Polk said immediately drew interest because, back then, the choice was pretty much limited between sneakers or hard-sole dress shoes. “This was biomechanical—a negative heel construction and an oblique toe,” he says. “It was the perfect type of shoe for that crowd. We sold like three pairs that first day!” Word among the bookstore crowd spread fast and within days more pairs were ordered. That’s when the burgeoning business partners reached out to an attorney friend to borrow his idle bookmobile. “He was a long-haired progressive, Harvard graduate who was teaching at the University of Denver,” Polk recalls. “That became our first ‘shoe store.’ We could stock more shoes and get around town easier.” A “great” day in the bookmobile meant selling four or five pairs. Polk says it might not seem like much, but it was a long time ago and they managed to get by. More importantly, he loved his new job. “It was a wonderful time to be a young entrepreneur—if you had the courage and willingness to get up early in the morning and go do it,” he says. Polk’s mobile shoe store startup would join good company. In the mid ’60s, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman sold waffle sole running shoes under their Blue Ribbon Sports label (the progenitor to Nike) out of the back of a station wagon at track meets around the Pacific Northwest. And Mandy Cabot and her husband, Peter Kjellerup, first sold Dansko clogs out of the back of their station wagon at equestrian events beginning in 1990. (That brand would become one of Pedestrian Shops’ cornerstones.) Polk sees the vehicle launch similarities as reflective of the shoe business. Specifically, it’s an industry that welcomes creativity and entrepreneurism. Not too many industries are as accessible, according to Polk. He believes food and shoes are. “You can become the next Justin’s Nut Butter or Crocs relatively easily,” he says. “You’ve got spend a little money, but it’s not like trying to build an electric car. I think people in our industry historically have been able to pull the oars with modest resources, and if they are offering something that’s right for the market—a better product and/or service and value—it can work.” Their startup was working well enough that, after about two years, Polk and his partner put down roots at 1334 Pearl Street. The small, former print shop

2019 october/november • footwearplusmagazine.com 19


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Pedestrian Shops

The way we were: A downtown Boulder fixture, Pedestrian Shops has been introducing the latest and greatest comfort brands and styles to locals and tourists for 50 years.

featured displays cut from tree trunks by a local firewood businessman and a window display that included plants donated by a nearby greenhouse in exchange for a promotional sign. The store’s early years were quite successful. “At one point, we’d have an allocation of 800 units and they’d all be pre-sold,” Polk says. “It became a telephone business, basically.” Then, in 1974, Polk saw the handwriting on the wall. If the business was to survive, he no longer could be reliant on just one brand, especially one struggling with fulfillment. His first target: Birkenstock. Polk knew it was an ideal match of Pedestrian Shops’ biomechanical comfort shoe philosophy and its progressive clientele. But he needed a foot in the door, and then that door cracked open. Birkenstock’s local Boulder account had run into some financial trouble and had marked the brand at a big discount. Polk’s retail genes kicked in. He pounced, purchasing the entire inventory and then informed Birkenstock that Pedestrian Shops “didn’t want your shoes to be part of this big half-off sale…can we can go forward together?” Birkenstock and Pedestrian Shops have been loyal partners ever since. “Pedestrian Shops has been a great partner with Birkenstock for many years,” affirms David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock Americas. “They continue to think of creative ways to engage their local consumers and to share our brand messaging.” Kahan cites a recent Denver electric bus wrap co-op campaign as an example—something the brand would never have considered doing before. “With Pedestrian Shops, we took a leap of faith and, lo and behold, it’s become one of the most successful examples of local brand activation in the entire country,” Kahan says. The bus wraps are Polk at his retail best: dreaming big and making it a reality. Even though the wraps required funding beyond what a business the size of Pedestrian Shops normally rates, Polk’s track record of success proved worth the investment for Birkenstock, as well as Dansko and Merrell. “We don’t have a big enough pencil to justify those kind of investments, but on the other hand it’s about the sizzle and steak,” Polk offers. “Brands want to find the future and are learning whether buses are an effective advertising program—it becomes an opportunity, not an exploitation.” He adds, “The bottom line is you have to get things in front of the eyes of potential customers, and these bus wraps do that in a major way.” COMFORT EPIPHANY By 1977, Polk had bought out his partner and changed the store’s name to Pedestrian Shops. In his efforts to become a multi-brand format, he was



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Pedestrian Shops doing a lot of sole/soul searching. Polk looked back on the success of Kalso Earth, asking himself what was so magical about those shoes? Then it hit him: “Why would you make, sell or wear a shoe that wasn’t comfortable? Why would you do something that wasn’t good for the person you’re selling it to?” That comfort epiphany became the core of everything Pedestrian Shops would sell going forward. As good timing would have it, there were a handful of “wonderful” comfort brands making inroads in the U.S.—Clarks and Rockport were two such early Pedestrian Shops success stories. The challenge, however, was convincing reps to sell to a long-haired, twentysomething running a small shop in the Rocky Mountain foothills. “We had to gain credibility, which wasn’t easy,” Polk says. “Most of those companies didn’t identify themselves as progressive. This was a long time ago and business was a lot different.” Slowly but surely, though, Polk built up the merchandise mix. His genuine curiosity in technology as a WORD (fashionable) solution coupled with A S S O C I AT I O N his retail acumen led to an enticing assortment of innovative brands, Richard Polk sounds off on many of which have become major key retailing touchstones. industry players. Take Crocs, for instance. The foam-based brand had DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER: been the domain of beach shops and Marketing scheme, mall kiosks until Pedestrian Shops not sustainable. became its first “shoe” store account. Despite the price tag undercutting AMAZON: Not us. No curation. its merchandise on average by about BRICK-AND-MORTAR: Great $100, Polk saw something in the locations. concept and reasoned the volume potential was worth the low-price INDEPENDENT RETAILER: gamble. He was (really) right. Community values centric. “There was a point in time we sold SERVICE: Unpretentious 100 units before lunch,” Polk says, delivery. noting that trucks would drop off pallets of Crocs and employees CUSTOMER: Friend. would roll the inventory in as fast EMPLOYEES: Thank you. as they could. Pedestrian Shops’ LOYALTY: Must be earned. original location went under a 760-square-foot expansion for a GREEN: Why would you make Crocs Room. “Dads would come uncomfortable shoes? Similarly, in at lunch and they’d be on their why would you do anything cell phones saying, ‘I’m getting that’s not green? You can’t. red for Billy, blue for Sarah and COMFORT: Our first filter when what should I get for Uncle Bill?’ They’d leave with eight pairs. It we select shoes. was insane!” FAMILY: Values. Polk estimates to have sold approxCOLORADO: Outdoors, arts, imately 100,000 pairs Crocs signature sports, education, food, climate. Cayman clogs to date. Specifically, what he saw (and still sees) in Crocs is a breakthrough concept. The clogs are unique, lightweight and comfortable, which fit Pedestrian Shops’ buying algorithm. “Our curation model has always been comfort for an active lifestyle,” he says. It starts with comfort followed by fit, materials and quality. Polk believes shoes should live on people’s feet, not under beds. “One of our mottos is: Life is short, longer if you walk,” he says. “I think Crocs is a part of your closet. If you own 10 pieces of footwear, one of them is a pair of Crocs.” Polk used the same guidelines when Pedestrian Shops became one of the first stores to stock Vibram Fivefingers—another huge run for the chain. It was around 2005 when then Vibram Fivefingers CEO Tony Post (now CEO of Topo Athletic) met with Polk, his longtime friend and retail guru. Post, a


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Pedestrian Shops

F R O M T H E H I P : Ri ch ar d Polk talk s sh op THE AMAZON AFFECT: It was a big threat for a while. We don’t sell on Amazon anymore because we just don’t want to feed them that way. But we’re grateful that they exist. About three to six times a year, we’ll buy a shoe off Amazon and sell it to our customer, even if it’s at a couple dollars less than our price. At the end of the day, I believe it’s everybody or nobody. It’s important that people everywhere have the same shopping options. I believe there are enough people who prefer a sensual shoe shopping experience as well as those who prefer not to buy from Amazon for political reasons that there’s no need to spend energy fighting with them. GOOD TIMES: Business is good. Our sales are up this year, but not dramatically. When you’ve done really good business, sometimes pretty good means you’re maintaining numbers. In Boulder, specifically, you can make a living with great marketshare with locals, but you can become affluent if you can add in tourists. HELP APPRECIATED: We’ve employed young, old and disabled people, and the best are the ones

Viasol

we’ve helped to be great. We’ve had great success, for instance, hiring overqualified people with babies at home who want somebody willing to schedule around what’s important to them. We’ve also employed people who are serious about academics and need a job until they go onto their field of study. Although, those people don’t have the best longevity. I like to have at least one employee with 10 years of experience. It helps maintain a sustainable culture. My daughters fulfill that criteria now. WHAT RETAIL APOCALYPSE? Certain portions of retail might be over, but not shoes. Retailers should think of themselves as an art gallery and curate the entire experience. It starts with a great location—one that people go to because it’s activated with joyful experiences. If you get the location right, which is trickier and more expensive today, it’s still easier than trying to succeed online. There, you must have a very clear niche. Just being a general shoe site is too hard to compete with Zappos. It’s about creating that magic moment: when great service, location and curation converge into a sale. It’s a lot of variables, but they must come together often enough to sustain your business.

native of Colorado, had a soft spot for Pedestrian Shops ever since he began calling on the store in the mid ’80s while at Rockport. “It felt like going home,” he says. More importantly, Post relished his visits for the unfiltered feedback Polk offered on product. “Richard has always been great about telling me what we could do better, but never in a mean way,” Post says. “His feedback is always honest, super direct and sincere.” What’s more, Post says 99 percent of the time Polk is right. Still, the FiveFingers concept was pretty radical, and Post remembers the early going as tough sledding. “I only sold 24 dealers nationwide that first year, and half of them were friends who bought it as a favor, usually saying something like, ‘You’ll take these back after we don’t sell them, right?’” Post recalls. Polk wasn’t one of those skeptics. “He wanted to try something new and different, and encouraged us to go for it,” Post says. “Richard has always been known to have a good vision for new ideas, but more than that he has the courage to act on them, and he encouraged us to do the same.” In fact, Post believes Pedestrian Shops is a must-stop for brand execs who want a lay of the land. “I would list him as one of maybe five dealers around the country that every brand owner should visit,” he says. “The stores and Richard are Colorado institutions.” Post adds that having worked >46


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


WHAT’ S SELLI NG

Comfort Specialty

SENSIBLE SHOE Rutland, VT Chippewa and Keen Utility. Keen and Merrell are big outdoor brands for ENSIBLE SHOE IN RUTLAND, VT, has stood the us. And Dansko is an all-around top seller. test of time—112 years and counting—by adhering to old-school retail basics, starting with top-notch How important are accessories to your overall sales? That’s a huge customer service. Fourth-generation owner, Joben portion of our business. Right now, Vermont Darn Tough socks are Fineberg, says the long-trusted store goes above and popular because the locals love to support local and visitors love that it’s beyond to greet, educate and deliver solutions to its from Vermont. Orthotics is also a huge portion of the store. We do a lot customers. Often attracting people frustrated by other with Sole and Aetrex. We’ve also added Mission Belts and Melin hats in retailers’ inattentive employees or ill-fitting online the last year, which was a risk but it’s been very well received. It gave us a orders, Sensible Shoe looks at each patron as a new connection to young folks we wouldn’t normally get. opportunity to create a lifelong client. “Not many people take the time to offer an exceptional experience,” Any new brands you’ve added to the mix this year? Kizik has been a Fineberg says. “But if you want to succeed, it should always be about more good addition. The men’s and women’s casual, hands-free footwear has than just selling shoes. It’s about taking the stress out of staring at a wall done exceedingly well. We’ve also added brands of shoes and winning each customer over with on the outdoor side like Oboz. our expertise.” Local doctors regularly refer patients to Sensible Beyond basics like style and fit, what do you Shoe due to its fitting expertise. Sales associates look for in a brand? I like brand protection. I will gladly sift through the store’s selection of want to know a brand won’t open three other more than 60 premium brands, a handful of doors on the same street. Whether it be that which are sold at nearby retailers that simply vendor’s website or another shop in Idaho not don’t offer the same attentive service. Employees selling product under MAP, I want a brand that also follow up with their customers to address will protect their pricing. Getting shipments on any possible post-purchase issues. Customers are time is also key because we like proper brand also invited to join the store’s loyalty program and product launches publicized on social media. for added perks upon their next visit. “Those added details are more important than ever,” Anything in particular you’ve been on the Fineberg says, noting repeat customers often hunt for with regards to Spring ’20? We’re come in asking for the same associate to help looking to beef up with some new brands in with their next purchase. “That’s the kind of women’s casual comfort. Customers have been relationships we want to create and continue asking for it. We’re seeing calls for new product to foster with every sale,” he adds. and brands. Not necessarily the big player you Fineberg reports 2019 to be another sucIt’s the added details that make this Vermont always see, but we want to add some fringy cessful year. “We’ve only had one down month comfort store a destination for locals and tourists. brands to our assortment. and that was in the spring due to three weeks of rain,” he says. “Our margins are higher but What have been the best practices for marunits are down slightly.” Fineberg anticipates keting your business? We used to do old-school print, but there’s more more growth over the next few years. He’s been in talks to buy a building social media play these days on everything from Facebook to Instagram. across the street to expand into casual and work apparel that will pair My brother handles that side of the business since that’s his background, up with Sensible Shoe’s selection. “All of this is made possible by more and we reach a lot of people for very little time, effort and money. It’s a people realizing the value that comes with shopping local and supporting grassroots thing. independent businesses,” Fineberg says. “Those customer relationships are the roots to everything else.” —Aleda Johnson What’s the smartest business decision you’ve made? Other than owning all our property, the loyalty program really helps. Customers appreciate Who is your core customer? Our life-long customers are typically over 30 it and are encouraged to come back for more great service and rewards and geared more toward function rather than fashion. They come in for a for future purchases. purpose, whether it’s for work boots, athletic shoes or a doctor’s referral, and they expect us to help them get exactly what will fit their lifestyle best. What do you love most about being a retailer? You feel this sense of pride when you help someone solve a problem. It’s in our blood, and it What are your leading brands? In athletic, it’s New Balance and Hoka passes through us as owners to the employees. We’re forging relationships One One, which has been a major player for us in recent months. Brooks with those who may have once dreaded shoe shopping. It never gets old has also been performing well. And like with everyone else, Birkenstock is hearing repeat customers request you by name. extremely popular. For work, our top earners are Timberland Pro, Red Wing, 2019 october/november • footwearplusmagazine.com 29


ST YLING BY

MOR R IS

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AN DR EW

Easy like espadrilles… the definitive summer staple is dressed up and down in breezy flats, smart wedges and sporty sneaker hybrids.

PA G E 3 0


OTBT platform joggers, blouse and pants by LUSH Clothing, Metrix Jewelry earrings.


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From top: White Mountain thong, Bella Vita slingback, wedge by Geox. Opposite: Toms slip-ons, Lahive blouse and pants, Sky Phaebl bracelet.


Verbenas d’Orsey flats, Chelsea and Walker dress, jacket by Velana Luxury, Metrix Jewelry earrings. Opposite: Slip-ons by Enjoiya, Carol Chugani top and shorts, Queenie Cao earrings. 3344



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Clockwise from top left: Patrizia wedge, Musse & Cloud flat, slingback by Easy Street, wedge by Aetrex, Gabor sawtooth wedge. Opposite: Sandals by Madaeline, body suit and cardigan by SOH, Jill Herlands earrings.


Azura sneakers, All in Favor blouse and pants, necklace by Rainbow Unicorn Birthday Surprise. Opposite: Sperry slip-ons, dress by Chelsea and Walker. Fashion editor: Aleda Johnson; hair and makeup: Clelia Bergonzoli/Utopia; model: Amanda Moreno/Major Model Management; stylist assistant: Beatrice Goudet. Shot on location at The Silver Sands Motel, Greenport, NY.


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EDITOR’S PICKS

Ron White

D E S I G N E R C H AT

MANY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES start as a dream followed by a lot of hard work and, often, a dose of good fortune. For German natives Johannes Quod, who grew up fascinated with high-end European brands and sneaker culture, and business partner and fellow sneakerhead, Chris Wichert, it’s been a similar tale. The duo started out in business school working on Koio, a sneaker brand offering European sensibility and quality with American ambition and attitude. A couple semesters into the process, they traveled to Italy for several weeks in search of a manufacturer—they visited 34, to be exact—and that’s when fate struck. “We eventually found this family business already producing for Chanel,” Quod says. “We convinced them to make our shoes, but had no idea that six months later Chanel would buy the place and bring other high-end brands into the factory.” Fortunately for Quod and Wichert, they had a foot in the door, which gave their startup (debuted in 2015) access to one of the best quality manufacturers in the world. “It gave us instant credibility, despite not being shoe dogs,” he says, adding it positioned the brand in both luxury and athletic segments. “We’re on the top end of quality (SRP: $178 to $368). We use materials that age more beautifully, are more comfortable and more durable.” Known for its signature minimalist aesthetic, Koio’s super-sleek Capri and Primo styles quickly became favorites of influencers and celebrities. Quod describes the brand’s design ethos as a lifestyle balance for today’s creative types. “They might be meeting a potential client and run into friends and go to dinner,” he says. “Flowing seamlessly between these worlds requires a wardrobe to match, which for us means high-quality materials and clean designs that are versatile and comfortable.” For Spring ’20, that means more of Koio’s signature leathers and neutral tones with pops of neon orange and yellow as well as the introduction of cooler colors such as blues, purples and greens. In addition, two new silhouettes will debut. “One is more everyday and very accessible, while the other is a bit more fashion forward and quite the eye-catcher,” Quod says. He credits the brand’s new designer, who hails from Balenciaga and was responsible for its wildly popular Triple S and Track Sneaker styles, for Koio’s fresh takes. It’s also the next chapter in a business dream coming true. “It’s the type of shoes people in the U.S. are asking for, but you can only make them in our factory in Italy,” he says. “It’s unique.” —Aleda Johnson 40 footwearplusmagazine.com • october/november 2019

Sperry

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Who is the Koio customer? We’re very much a unisex brand that strays younger but is more defined by what our customers are interested in and how they live their lives. They tend to come from creative backgrounds and are more into this lifestyle of dressing for the borderless worlds they inhabit. They also tend to live in bigger cities, like New York, L.A., Chicago and Miami. Where do you draw design inspiration? Running a business in New York, we’re fortunate we can just walk down the street and open our eyes. People dress edgier and always push the boundary, which inspires us. We’re also active in L.A. and Italy, so combining all the aesthetic directions of influential cities and countries gives us a pretty clear picture of where we want to go. And that is? We believe the best category to start supporting a lifestyle brand on the move is footwear, but there’s a lot of opportunity to add other categories. People

need good accessories, and there’s so much we can do in footwear first. We’re pacing ourselves because it’s a big project to add other factories, but that’s something we’re very interested in for the future. How’s business of late? We’re a young company, so our main focus has been growth, which has been great so far. In 2019, we’ve more than doubled our sales, and we’re getting a clearer idea of what shoes are making a difference for us. We’ve been doing well with our black, white and neutral sneakers, and we’re excited to keep working on those. What do you love about designing shoes? I love how we start with an idea and work with a team that contributes their insight. From merchandising to design to manufacturing, you get to see how the project takes shape and then see the final result on the shelf. I also love hearing from our customers how our shoes have made a meaningful impact in their lives.

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

JOHANNES QUOD: KOIO


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

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ON THE WEDGE When a little lift is all you need. 1. Enjoiya 2. Dansko 3. Easy Street 4. FS/NY 5. Bearpaw 6. Naot 7. Revere 8. Aetrex

42 footwearplusmagazine.com • october/november 2019

PH OTO GRAPHY BY T RE V ET T M CC ANDL I SS ; P ROP STYLI NG BY R OB I N Z ACHARY

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SCENE & HEARD

Rebel Yell: Dr. Martens x Dolls Kill THESE DAYS COLLABS are everywhere, but too often the partnerships fail to elicit much intrigue. It’s more often a case of, where’s the brand synergy in that marriage? But then there’s the first-ever Dr. Martens x Dolls Kill collab: a melding of two brands dripping in rebellious attitude and style. It’s a match made in defiant bliss. The package, inspired by ’90s DIY culture, features the Jadon Hi Max DK, a bold 10-eyelet black boot, and the Dr. Martens x Dolls Kill 1B60 Max DK, a towering 20-eyelet silhouette. Both sit on the brand’s highest air-cushioned sole to date—the stacked Quad Retro Max—and both are kitted out with a black Pisa leather upper, Goodyear-welted construction, a full-length metal zipper and black laces. Dolls Kill adds its touch with a branded lace keeper, a piercing-inspired lace charm and a dual-branded tongue and sock art. Packaged in a premium dual-branded box, the one-off limited edition collab debuted on dr.martens.com and dollskill.com. The launch kicked off with a party at The Dance in Soho featuring a performance by Dana Dentata. The former frontwoman of the all-women metal-punk band has shifted gears, releasing edgy rap songs about empowering women—an ideal collab with Dr. Martens and Dolls Kill.

D R . M A R T E N S P H OT 0 BY DA R BY D U T T E R

Camper Marks 10th Anniversary of its Himalayan Sneaker CAMPER HAS REVISITED its collaboration with eclectic German designer Bernhard Willhelm to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Himalayan sneaker. Willhelm’s new collection, CamperLab Exclusives, draws inspiration from football socks, geometric prints and large-knit elastic yarn of bold monochrome options in blends of black and off-white. “There’s a relaxed and spiritual attitude,” Willhem says, noting a playfulness to the graphics and colorways. In contrast to the artist’s original collaboration of tubular rope laces and multi-material uppers, the 10th anniversary collection enhances the line’s signature zigzag outsole with minimalist uppers knitted from furry Jacquard fabric inspired by Japanese textiles. A new memory foam insole and more refined silhouette provide additional comfort and durability to the updated styles. Ranging from $330 to $420, the collaboration offers three options for men and four for women, including two sneakers boots with black-and-white checkered weave and a high black boot unisex offering, as well as an all-white high boot available just for women. The collaboration will also feature an edit of outdoor-chic garments and accessories by the designer. It’s available now at CamperLab locations in Paris, London and New York and online at Camper.com and select retailers worldwide.

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U P C L O S E OU T D O O R

Growing Green Ccilu launches sustainable spring styles for new licensees Hang Ten and Hang Ten Gold.

Fresh Catch Xtratuf teams with Salmon Sisters for female-focused Spring ’20 fishing collaboration. MAKING A SPLASH for Spring ’20, Xtratuf, a fishing boots manufacturer for more than 50 years, is partnering with Salmon Sisters, a seafood and design company based in Alaska, for its first sea-worthy women’s collection. Designed with the community of female fisherman, adventurers and ocean enthusiasts in mind, the partnership yields a selection of Xtratuf ’s tried-and-true designs, infused with the Salmon Sisters’ nautical yet feminine aesthetic. “Our Salmon Sisters prints for women add an element of personal style that has continued to be incredibly popular with our Xtratuf customers everywhere,” says Dave Mesicek, CMO of Xtratuf, noting that the duo first noticed their potential synergy in 2017 when they met at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle. “Women are out working on boats just as hard as men, so this partnership was an obvious lever to targeting that community specifically,” he adds. Instantly receptive to the idea, Emma Laukitis and Claire Neaton, the Alaskan sisters who founded Salmon Sisters in 2012, got to work designing prints for a handful of Xtratuf ’s key commercial and sports fishing styles. “We are inspired by creatures from the deep—whether they provide us with good food or good stories, whether real or imagined,” Laukitis says. “Fisherman, sailors and coastal residents around the world have told tales of mermaids for thousands of years, and our designs for the 2020 Xtratuf x Salmon Sisters boots come alive with depictions of our sisters of the sea.” The collection includes the six-inch Ankle Deck Boot (SRP $105), a popular slip-resistant, low-cut style, available in a yellow celestial sea print, a light blue mermaid print and a white octopus print. In addition, the updated 15-inch Legacy Boot (SRP $150), offering flexible, all-day comfort and protection against a range of acids, corrosives and contaminants, will be exclusively available in a fashionforward mermaid print. Mesicek reports the women’s collection has been well-received by several retail partners. “We’re so thankful for our partners and the experience of banning together with other like-minded folks,” he says, noting that all the company’s collaborations have been about more than selling product. “In business, it’s important to remember when we work together, we’re only going to be stronger.” —Emily Beckman 44 footwearplusmagazine.com • october/november 2019

CCILU FOOTWEAR IS debuting an eco-conscious selection of spring styles for new licenses Hang Ten and its premium counterpart Hang Ten Gold. With more than 2,000 retail partners worldwide and over $1 billion in sales, the California lifestyle labels have made an impression in the surf market since the ’60s and is eager to expand with a planet-friendly family assortment of sandals and sneakers made from recycled plastics. “We are excited about Ccilu’s capabilities and innovative plans to meet the demands of an increasingly socially conscious consumer,” says Marc Setton, CEO of Hang Ten. An innovator in lightweight, comfortable shoes and green tech, Ccilu has won numerous awards, most recently recognized for XpreSole, a method for turning recycled coffee grounds into footwear. “We need to transform the role that recycled plastic plays in the worldwide economy and that begins with bottles dumped at our beaches and oceans,” says Wilson Hsu, founder and CEO of Ccilu Footwear. “Our commitment is to honor the California beach lifestyle of the ’60s so indelibly personified by Hang Ten, and to optimize its potential in today’s marketplace.” For Spring ’20, Hang Ten styles will retail Wilson Hsu, from $25 to $65 in broader distributions, founder and CEO, while Hang Ten Gold will retail at $45 to Ccilu Footwear $85 in the mid- to high-end channels. “We are excited by the response from retailers, who are ready to start selling the shoes tomorrow,” Hsu says. “It’s not surprising, but it’s really encouraging that we have tapped into everyone’s awareness regarding ocean plastic waste and other environmental crisis points and taken it to the next level of action.” Setton agrees the partnership has been a great strategy for rounding out Hang Ten’s portfolio while staying true to its earthy brand heritage. “With awareness of the integral part our oceans and beaches play in our inherently Californian DNA, it’s been an opportunity to expand our ‘footprint’ and further our messaging of originality and authenticity,” he says. The partnership is already setting its sights on the “first-ever footwear collection that’s carbon-neutral and carbon-negative” for 2021. “We look forward to our recycling technologies benefiting as many consumers as possible,” Hsu says. “Just as people remember buying the first-ever boardshort from Hang Ten decades ago, we want them to recall the moment they put on these shoes and felt lighter, happier and better about the world.” —E.B.


SCENE & HEARD

Mephisto Opens 20th Flagship MEPHISTO’S 20TH FLAGSHIP location in the U.S. has opened on Madison Avenue, near Rockefeller Center, in Midtown Manhattan. The new shop complements corporate-owned and independently-owned Mephisto Shops, in addition to hundreds of other retail partners across the country, including Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Saks and The Walking Company. A week-long grand opening celebration will take place this Nov. 3-9. During the event, shoppers can register in-store to win a free pair of Mephisto shoes, receive a free gift with try-on (while supplies last) and the brand will offer a special gift with purchase throughout the week. “New York is arguably one of the most important retail markets in the world,” says James Rowley, CEO of Mephisto USA, “and while this is our third store in Manhattan, we believe there is room for more.” Rowley

expects the new shop to attract locals and tourists alike, appealing to those seeking that rare combination of comfort and style. The location also underscores Mephisto’s endur-

ing presence as a global brand with an expanding audience. So far so good on that effor t, reports Rowley. The brand has garnered recent buzz with coverage in GQ, Highsnobiety and others fashion media for its collaboration with Concepts on a new version of its classic Match sneaker. Mephisto was also featured in Sam Linder’s Spring ’20 runway show during New York Fashion Week (NYFW), which teased a soon-to-be-launching Mephisto x Linder collection. In 2018, the brand celebrated its classic Originals collection with updated Rainbow and Lady styles, accompanied by a succesful #MephistoWalks campaign. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve been driving home the message that comfort doesn’t have to be boring, and style doesn’t have to hurt,” Rowley says.


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Pedestrian Shops continued from page 24 for the past 10 years or so with Polk’s daughters has been a seamless transition. The daughters possess much of the same retailing DNA, he notes. “Not only are they all great retailers, they’re all great people,” Post says. Bruce Gordon, a longtime rep for various brands, including Vibram FiveFingers, Chaco and Smartwool, has called on Pedestrian Shops since 1993 and couldn’t agree more. He credits Polk’s long-running success to always being intellectually curious and believing that some of the crazy ideas can be grand slams. “He’s been so amazingly right on so many occasions,” Gordon says. “Richard’s also fair and a good partner, challenging each party to support each other and making sure we truly work together.” It’s no surprise Polk’s product curiosity has extended to other areas of the business. Over the years, he’s never been afraid to try new concepts and incorporate the latest technologies. “We did early cell phone advertising, and we were early to sell on the internet,” he says. “We’ve always been fascinated by technology and data. We introduced sophisticated sell-through systems for determining how to best monetize busy seasons early on.” Data capture, Polk believes, ranks right up there with location and selection. “You’ve got to know what’s working so you recognize what’s not early enough to get out of it without red ink, which is bad for the brand and you,” he says. Being right early, he adds, is especially important today because of smaller product runs. “You need to stake your claim to get inventory while it’s still available,” Polk says. “That’s also why relationships matter with reps, because they’ll tell you something your data might not show yet.”

Boulder’s outdoor mall, for example. It’s a beautiful area that serves as the setting for art fairs and community events, drawing great traffic year-round. Location is also key to Pedestrian Shops’ strip center success, which centers on convenience. “A percentage of our local population prefers quick accessibility (easier parking), and it enables us to be the area’s market leader for our vendors,” Polk says. “We don’t have many competitors anymore. They couldn’t replicate our culture, plus we have more freedom to curate and maneuver quicker.” A lot of planning went into the Denver location as well. One could even say its choosing was 49 years in the making. Aside from a mid ’80s outpost in Longmont, CO, that ended after three years, Polk is meticulous about location. He believes his daughter Zoe has found one in a historic downtown building (built in 1887) located along the South Platte River. It’s near a walking path, community gathering areas, an REI superstore and Union Station. The Polks’ purchased the building and are using 1,400 square feet housed over two floors for its store and renting the remaining space. “It’s a beautiful building,” Polk says. “On one side is My Brother’s Bar, the oldest saloon in Denver with amazing bar food, and on the other side is Be Kitchen, an incredible health food place.” The location checks all the boxes for Polk. “People have to be excited to go there, but not so much an entertainment venue that it isn’t a legitimate shopping venue,” he says. “The art of location selection is extremely important, especially as people use the internet for everyday buying.” As for potential additional Pedestrian Shops, Polk says it’s a possibility, but expansion is not on the front burner. “We want to get our Denver store right: amazing service, selection, vibe, etc.,” he says. “My daughters are very handson right now and not anxious to over-extend ourselves. For the time being, Colorado is such a strong market that it provides us whatever opportunities we think we need.” Polk is content with Pedestrian Shops’ past, present and future. Looking back on 50 years, he feels most of all fortunate. While he’s earned every bit of his success, Polk knows he couldn’t have done it without the help of his daughters, dedicated employees and loyal wholesale partners. It’s always been a group effort as they’ve travelled together down this long, strange retail trip. Polk has cherished the ride. “I’ve been doing it for so long I remember introducing myself as the kid from Boulder. Now I’m not the kid from anywhere,” he says. “But I have nice children, they received good educations and I’m still alive. I’m going to be 70 soon, and now I’m too old to die young!” Polk adds, “It’s been a warped, wonderful trip. Anybody who tells you that the American dream is dead just isn’t dreaming hard enough.” •

We don’t have many

competitors anymore. They

couldn’t replicate our culture, plus we have more freedom to

curate and maneuver quicker.

COLORADO ROCKS Pedestrian Shops’ continued success flies in the face of the overriding trend of consumers shopping online. They remain destinations even though consumers can find much of what it carries online. One reason the stores’ are still worth the visit, Polk believes, is the curation factor. Pedestrian Shops takes out the hassle of searching the endless web. “You’re going to find all one brand or every brand, like on Amazon,” he says. “You’re not going to find a curated collection that’s selected for its functionality, excellent materials and integrity of manufacturers.” In a world of fake news and consumer products, Polk believes shoppers are hungering for genuine experiences and authentic goods. He notes many now go to its website to pre-shop. “When they come in and touch, smell it and try them on…that’s a huge advantage over just electrons, regardless of how good your photography might be,” he says. The same rule of thumb applies to location. Curation and customer service won’t matter if the store is in a bad location. Take Pedestrian Shops’ store in

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SCENE & HEARD

Rack Room Shoes Raises $1.65 Million for Kids in Need RACK ROOM SHOES raised more than $1.65 million during its annual campaign with the non-profit organization Shoes That Fit. For the past 12 years, the Charlotte, NC-based family chain has hosted a fundraising event during the back-to-school season that empowers customers to give back to their local communities by supplying children in need with new shoes. “We are continually humbled by our customers’ willingness to join our company-wide mission of supporting charitable organizations, such as Shoes That Fit,” says Mark Lardie, Rack Room Shoes President and CEO. “We wouldn’t be able to impact our communities in such a profound way without their generosity and support.” One hundred percent of the money raised by each store stays in the

community and is channeled through local school liaisons, who coordinate the distribution of new footwear to area schools and students in need. During the campaign, Rack Room Shoes invited customers to give to the cause through in-store and online contributions, which resulted in $894,577.87 in donations. Rack Room Shoes’ additional 2018 holiday fundraising and a $300,000 corporate match pushed the final amount to more than $1.65 million. During the 12-year partnership with Shoes That Fit, Rack Room Shoes has raised more than $8.3 million and donated more than 300,000 pairs of shoes. “One in five children in the United States live in poverty, and shoes are one of the most expensive items for low-income families to provide,” states Amy Fass, executive director of Shoes That Fit. “When families have to choose between putting food on the table or buying new shoes for school, you can imagine that food wins every time. The simple gift of a pair of shoes can increase a child’s confidence, attendance and performance at school, and we are so thankful that Rack Room Shoes are taking the time to make such a positive impact on these kids.”

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LAS T SH O T

Sweet Treat

NetResults Voluminous tulle and sheer netting are sweeping the Spring/Summer 2020 runways, offering dimension without the weight. Behold Andrea Mondin’s easy-breezy, sherbetinfused satin sandal— a sheer delight.

—Lauren Parker

Bella Vita

48 footwearplusmagazine.com • october/november 2019



Featur ing Aetrex or thotic suppor t and memor y foam cushioning for super ior comfor t

the healthiest shoes you’ll ever wear Ž


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