Footwear Plus | February 2014

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VOL. 24 • ISSUE 2 • FEBRUARY 2014 • $10

Fall Forecast From Calf Hair to Velvet, the Textures of the Season

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- Taylor K.

Becoming a costume designer has been my lifelong dream. My Two Ten college scholarship is making that dream a reality. Fashion Design Major

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Caroline Diaco Publisher


Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors

20 Late Boomers Why Baby Boomers are just too good to ignore. By Lyndsay McGregor

22 The Right Stuff Marc Fanning, COO of Consolidated Shoe Company, on how the 116-year-old firm builds partnerships made to last. By Greg Dutter

28 Trend Spotting Moody hues, gritty suede and throwback silhouettes capture fall’s dramatic nature. By Angela Velasquez

48 Turn of the Century Johnson’s Shoes reflects on its 100 years in business with an eye to what the future might bring. By Brittany Leitner

52 The X Factor An influx of design collaborations keep retailers and consumers guessing. By Angela Velasquez

58 Fall Fashion Forecast Four distinct looks captivating fashion. By Angela Velasquez

62 Velvet Underground The uptown material gets a hip makeover. By Angela Velasquez

64 Whisper From elegant to edgy, Fall ’14 reveals the many sides of calf hair. By Angela Velasquez

12 Editor’s Note 14 Scene & Heard 16 This Just In 74 In the Details 76 Shoe Salon 78 E-beat 80 Street 82 Comfort 88 Last Word

EDITORIAL Angela Velasquez Fashion Editor Lyndsay McGregor Associate Editor Social Media Editor Brittany Leitner Assistant Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Melodie Jeng Contributing Photographer

On the cover: Cougar pony hair hikers, Southpaw vintage dress, Mawi necklace, tights by Adrienne Vittadini. This page, from left: Pointed toe flat by Klub Nico, Suno dress, jacket by Jenni Kayne, Adrienne Vittadini tights, hat by August Accessories, Mawi bracelet; Caterpillar pony hair work boot. Photography by Trevett McCandliss. Stylist: Claudia Talamas; hair and makeup: Sabrina Rowe/Next Artists; model: Adrianna Bach, Fusion Model Management.

Judy Leand Contributing Editor ADVERTISING/ PRODUCTION Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Capri Crescio Advertising Manager Tim Jones Deputy Art Director Production Manager Alexandra Marinacci Operations Manager Joel Shupp Circulation Manager Mike Hoff Digital Director OFFICES Advertising/Editorial 36 Cooper Square, 4th fl. New York, NY 10003 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 editorialrequests@ Circulation 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300



Corporate 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis Chairman Lee Zapis President Rich Bongorno Chief Financial Officer Debbie Grim Controller

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, 36 Cooper Square, 4th fl., New York, NY, 10003-7118. The publishers of this magazine do not accept responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage is paid in New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: $48.00 in the U.S. Rates oustide the U.S. are available upon request. Single copy price: $10.00. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to FOOTWEAR PLUS, P.O. Box 8548, Lowell, MA 01853-8548. Publisher not responsible for unsolicited articles or photos. Any photographs, artwork, manuscripts, editorial samples or merchandise sent for editorial consideration are sent at the sole risk of the sender. Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. ©2008 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Printed in the United States.

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editor’s note catching fire

Happy Hunger Games Welcome, welcome…to our semi-annual seasonal preview issue, where the style wars commence once again. IT’S OUR FEBRUARY issue and that can only mean one thing: time for our fall product reaping, where we gather the latest trends for the buying arena (i.e. store shelves). That’s when the real bloodletting begins. In the end, the styles that perform best at sell-through will allow the respective brands and retailers to emerge victorious. It’s our industry’s ongoing version of The Hunger Games. I can’t help noticing parallels between our industry and the hit book and movie series (starring Hollywood’s latest “it” girl, Jennifer Lawrence) that chillingly depicts a dystopian society part Brave New World, part Lord of the Flies and a little 1984. First, fashion plays a pivotal role in both. Second, our industry, too, has a kill-or-be-killed ruthlessness. Winners always emerge, but a staggering number of losers fall prey to the fashion industry beast each season. Many never even get onto store shelves to compete in the retail arena. The aisles are littered with casualties by the time the tradeshows close. The entry round has only gotten more brutal, as a weak economy continues to force retailers and wholesalers to play it safe with conservative designs and established brands. This risk aversion is a growing concern among both retailers and wholesalers. To borrow a few more Hunger Games references, it’s a trend we may all live to Rue. Because our industry is always in need of a Mockingjay—a brand or style that creates the right spark to ignite a revolution in sales. Is there a Katniss Everdeenlike style or brand in the pages of this issue? Just like the gamemakers in The Hunger Games, we give odds to each style and place bets on which we think will come out on top next fall. There are presumed winners (Careers), dark horses and underdogs, but no guarantees. Expect plenty of surprises and

some devastating disappointments. It’s too bad shoes can’t form alliances to stay alive for as long as possible. Who knows? We have smartphones and increasingly wearable forms of technology. Perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future there will be smart shoes, too—styles that could morph on shelves to take on trending characteristics. We already have shoes that change color in sunlight, so how far a leap is it? Until then, the battle remains in human hands. It starts with talented designers homing in on the right trends to create shoes consumers will want to buy. Then comes the “prep team” of logistics personnel, marketers and salespeople, who make sure these styles get made properly, priced accordingly, ordered by retailers and shipped on time. From there, the retailers step in to merchandise, advertise and sell effectively. That’s a whole lot of effort to pique the attention of shoppers. And with so many consumer goods competing for a piece of their discretionary dollar, it’s a wonder any shoe is ever crowned in the greater retail arena. But, as history has proven repeatedly, we have our share of victors. And we have an eager audience watching. How eager? Consumers shelled out $72 billion on shoes in 2013, according to The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America’s (FDRA) annual report. While overall units were down, dollar volume increased, thanks to higher overall price points. Knowing the enormous effort involved in making shoes and selling them, I say the price increase is more than deserved. And the $72 billion should give both hope and incentive to all contenders in our industry’s never-ending Hunger Games. As they say in the book, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” Greg Dutter

Editorial Director

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One shoe. Two widths. Come see us at: FN/Platform Feb. 18-20, 2014 Las Vegas, NV South Hall

The Atlanta Shoe Market February 13-15, 2014 Atlanta, GA Booth#: 1552,54,56/1553,55,57

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¡+¢ scene and heard Stan Smith and Sky Ferreira promote the re-launch.

Tennis, Everyone AFTER TWO YEARS on the sidelines, Adidas is bringing back its iconic Stan Smith sneaker to woo a new generation of consumers. The cult kicks have sold more than 30 million pairs worldwide since tennis superstar Stan Smith first lent his name to the shoe in 1971, and this time around the man himself, now 67, will be on hand to help promote the Spring ’14 re-launch. “Some of Stan Smith’s most remarkable feats as a tennis player happened while wearing his namesake shoe,” notes Kelly Olmstead, U.S. brand director for Adidas Sport Style. Footwear’s equivalent of a plain white tee, there’s little detail beyond foam padding at the rear to protect the tendon and a row of perforations on the side for ventilation. Adidas has turned to its brand ambassadors to promote the re-launch in an online series titled, “The Return of Stan Smith.” British tennis star Andy Murray and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls are shown talking about their first pairs alongside actor Will Arnett and singer Sky Ferreira. Adidas is also offering fans who tweet an image of themselves wearing the shoe using the #stansmith hashtag a chance to replace Smith’s trademark tongue graphic on a pair of personalized shoes. Three new heel tabs hit stores in January and, come March, there will be a range of Crayola-bright suede versions in green, red and blue. “A silhouette as simple and beautiful as this just can’t be replicated,” Olmstead says.

Shoes and the City ACTRESS AND STYLE icon Sarah Jessica Parker is hitting the road for the launch of her new line, SJP Collection, debuting later this month exclusively at select Nordstrom stores and online at Parker’s first stop on the promotional tour will be her hometown of New York, where Nordstrom will host a pop-up shop from Feb. 28-Mar. 2. After that the former “Sex and the City” star will head to Seattle for an appearance at the retailer’s national flagship on Mar. 5, followed by stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Dallas. It’s been 10 years since the last episode of the hit HBO series aired, but Parker’s name will be forever synonymous with the shoeobsessed Carrie Bradshaw who helped make Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo household names. It’s only fitting that the actress has partnered with Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus for her first collection of shoes, handbags and trench coats. Parker has even named a T-strap style after her character. “This endeavor has been a long time coming, but now that the pieces have come together as they have with Nordstrom, George and a collection I’m so very proud of, I believe it was worth the wait,” the actress states. Prices for the Italian-made range of pumps, peep toes, sandals and flats will range from $195 to $485.

Team U.S.A. Looking ‘Fly’ in Sochi Medal winners from Team U.S.A.’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes at this month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will hit the podium in style wearing Nike’s Flyknit Trainer Chukka FSB boots. This winterized version of the chukka features synthetic wool woven into a one-piece Flyknit upper for lightweight warmth, while reflective laces and overlays deliver enhanced visibility in low light. Additionally, a rugged Nike Free-inspired outsole in lime green provides an awardwinning pop of color. Patriotic details— some only visible to the athletes—top off the look, including U.S.A. branding on the tongue and “Land of the Free” and “Home of the Brave” embroidered on a stars-and-stripes themed sock liner.

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Check, Please From New York to Milan, the preppy classic gets a global stamp of approval. Photography by Melodie Jeng 16

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Backstage Pass

Behind the scenes at the Salvatore Ferragamo men’s Fall ’14 runway show in Milan. Photography by Melodie Jeng

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More than just great-looking shoes.…

Superior comfort Extended sizes and widths Award-winning displays Stellar customer service Responsible inventory

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Late Boomers AT 76 MILLION strong, Baby Boomers have shaped this country’s culture for decades. Born between 1946 and 1964, they have reinvented and redefined each stage of life they’ve passed through, from young adulthood to careers to parenting to retirement. This year the youngest of the Boomers turn 50, while many of the oldest have already left the workforce. But whether they’re working or retired, wealthy or on a fixed income, living alone or with other seniors, they have taken it upon themselves to stay active and young looking—and they spend plenty of money doing it. According to the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey, boomers outspend other generations by roughly $400 billion a year, forking out for such recreational and lifestyle pursuits as traveling, gyms, spas and salons. “Men and women in their 50s and 60s see that there’s a healthier way to live, so they want to look better, they’re exercising, they’re more fit,” says Perry Miroballi, co-owner of Chicago’s Miroballi Shoes. Not only do Boomers want to look young, they want to dress the part, says Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributers and Retailers of America. “These are active people; they don’t view themselves as old or out of step,” he says. Miroballi seconds this: “They see these images out there of actresses and actors they grew up with that are dressing really fashionable and looking really good, and they want to identify with that.” Yet many boomers find themselves trapped between a rock and a hard

place—desperate to not look like their parents and reluctant to dress like their children. On the shoe side of things, their challenge is to find footwear that is age-appropriate, fashionable and comfortable. “They feel very young and they want their footwear to reflect that, but they also need comfort for their changing feet,” says Jillian Avey, marketing manager for Propét, whose new Rejuve line of biomechanically engineered sandals targets the 40-plus market. “That older consumer is very features and benefits driven. The shoe has to be comfortable, but it doesn’t have to look like a comfort shoe,” echoes David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock USA. Despite the proven market size and the copious amount of research that shows boomers don’t shop, spend and dress like their predecessors, the segment is still largely ignored. Many marketers continue to focus attention on younger demographics, believing that’s where the growth lies. In fact, 95 percent of marketers’ ad budgets are spent on consumers under age 50, according to the senior marketing firm, Coming of Age. It seems that many businesses have yet to shed the outdated view that the mature market is made up of old fuddy-duddies set in their ways. But let’s think about that for a minute: Why target a group that is drowning in student loan debt, having difficulty starting their careers in a tight job market or are working at entry-level positions and earning entry-level salaries? Why not, instead, go after a demographic that is looking to indulge themselves as opposed to having to raise a family? A demographic that refuses to grow old and has shown to be quite open to new products, brands and technologies. “They’ve moved on from putting their kids through college, from mortgage payments and all the other expenses that go through life before retirement,” Priest says. “And, just like anyone else, they want to buy shoes.” Try these statistics on for size: In three years nearly half of the country’s adult population will be 50 and older and they will control a full 70 percent of disposable income, according to research firm Nielsen. The median age of an American head of household is now over 50, and households headed by seniors have more than 20 times the net worth of those headed by consumers aged 35 and younger. They are also the only age group in which inflation-adjusted income has increased since the 2008 recession began. There are a few brands waking up to the Boomer market’s potential. Cole Haan, for example, marked its 85th anniversary with a series of campaign shots of people also born in 1928, including poet and author Dr. Maya Angelou and Apollo 13 astronaut Captain Jim Lovell. Elsewhere, a weathered looking Willie Nelson, 80, was the Fall/Winter 2013 face of John Varvatos’s ad campaign, while L’Oreal has recruited 53-year-old Julianne Moore to promote >84


The buying power of aging Americans presents enormous opportunity. Here’s how to go about attracting that Baby Boomer buck. By Lyndsay McGregor

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NEARLY ALL WHOLESALERS claim they can do it all, and usually better than anyone else. They believe they possess enough human talent, technical systems, factory operations, established brands and spot-on styles to provide a resource that retailers simply can’t afford to pass up. But nearly all retailers know these claims are not always true. Too often, capabilities are lacking, misses exceed hits and promises end up broken. That’s why proven results speak volumes. And the longer the legacy of proven results, the louder it speaks. Enter Consolidated Shoe Company of Lynchburg, VA, and its century-plus legacy as a full-service wholesale partner. It currently features a portfolio of seven women’s brands (Nicole, Madeline, Madeline Girl, Poetic Licence, OTBT, Axxiom and Dimmi) and a substantial first-cost division (Trade Winds). Marc Fanning, COO, credits the longevity primarily to three generations of Carrington family ownership (Billy Carrington is CEO) and a unique blend of strong family values, state-of-the-art customer service and production capabilities. All customers receive equal and individualized attention, whether they’re one-store independents or national chains.

Fanning stresses that each account is a partner of Consolidated Shoes in the truest sense of the word. “We are not just selling them shoes,” he says. “We work with each account closely in order to ship them the right products, at the right time.” Helping to make those decisions is an executive management team that, in total, possesses 180 years of industry experience. “Down to a single thread or a last shape, we know what we are doing because we have been doing it for so long,” says Fanning, who has more than 30 years of industry experience in retail and wholesale. “We are confident that we can do a good job for anybody.” Consolidated’s executive team members are all former retailers who made their industry bones managing Kobacker stores. “We have worked together for 25 years and we talk all the time about what we would do as retailers,” Fanning offers. “We are more conscientious about trying to do what’s right for the retailer because we know what it’s like to be on the other end of that phone call.” For example, Fanning’s team understands the impact a wholesaler can have on a retailer if he requests an extension on a delivery or seeks to pass on a price increase. “That’s why we do everything possible to prevent having to make those sort of calls,” Fanning adds. “We want to get the right shoe at the right quality and at the right price for each store, because if they’re not successful then we’re not going to be successful,” he says. “Our staying power boils down to our ability to work with each customer. More importantly, our wanting to work with them.” The first non-Carrington to run the company’s dayto-day operations, Fanning honors the customer-always-comes-first approach to business. “It’s what the Carringtons have always done and what they have instilled in all of us who work here.” He recalls a red chair that sat in second-generation CEO Dick Carrington’s office and was actually called the hot seat. “I can’t tell you how many times I heard him ask someone sitting in that chair, ‘Did you take the order?’ They’d say, ‘Yes.’ Then he’d say, ‘Then whatever the deal was is the deal you’ve got to live up to.’ There was no swaying from that.” People who work at Consolidated Shoes tend to stick around. (The average employee tenure ranges from 15 to 20 years.) “Plenty of my customer service reps started around the time I did or before,” notes Fanning, now in his 21st year at the company. It’s a distinct advantage, particularly when dealing with larger accounts where buyer turnover is high. “We know their shoe business more than the buyer does, and that consistency helps our customers,” Fanning says. While not the largest of corporations, Consolidated Shoes’ rela-

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O&A tively nimble size enables it to react and adapt quickly, which is an increasingly attractive quality for buyers who are looking to order closer to season. “We’re different from a lot of competitors, especially the bigger ones. And the smaller ones don’t have the diversity of product that we offer.” Take this past fall, for example. During the sell-in period, the prediction was that short boots would be all the rage, but that turned out to be wrong. Consolidated had the flexibility to adapt in time and still deliver what women really wanted: tall boots. “We basically told our factories to not cut the material,” Fanning explains. “The heel, last, buckles, straps—they were pretty much okay. Instead of making, say, 6,000 pairs of short boots, we made 2,400 pairs of tall boots.” While it might sound simple, the ability to discover the mistake, make the What are you reading? necessary production shifts and still ship Blockbusters by Anita on time is no easy feat. That level of flexiElberse and King of bility and speed to market is rare. Maxwell by David The need to react and adapt faster is Baldacci. increasing, according to Fanning. It’s a fact of life in a risk-averse retail cliWhat is inspiring you mate. “Customers just don’t give you that right now? As always, my 50,000-pair order upfront anymore,” he son, Spencer. says. “They might give an order of 20,000 pairs up front, followed by several 3,600What famous person pair orders and then maybe some 1,800in history do you most pair orders. But they are also looking to admire? Walt Disney. ramp it down if a style is not performing.” He had a vision, turned Today’s market is much more fluid. it into a reality and it Each account has its own ebbs and flows. became a huge business. The companies that are able to navigate And it’s the fun business, them successfully stand to gain the most. which I think we would “Today it’s all about how fast you can react all like to be in. to the latest trend,” Fanning confirms. It makes the business more difficult, he says, What is your motto? Say but also more fun. “Being able to figure out what you are going to do what a customer needs in time and being and do what you say. able to solve the problem is much more rewarding.” Who would be your most coveted dinner How would you describe Consolidated guest? Blair Moseley, Shoes’ niche in the market? who was a good friend, We are a women’s fashion house that cona great colleague and a centrates on the upper mid-tier market. confidante. She passed Our team shops markets around the world away from cancer this to find the latest information on styles, silpast year and I would houettes, materials, ornamentation, etc. love to be able to sit to make sure we have the right product down and speak with her at the right time. It’s backed by one of the most sophisticated ordering systems in the industry. Customers can order as small as a 9-pair or 6-pair case that ships out the next day. They can even order a single pair. Our warehouse is completely open stock. People can log on and buy anytime, anywhere. Our warehouse can ship 5,000 pairs at a time up to 25,000 pairs in a week—by style, color and size. Everything is automated, which is a credit to (CEO) Billy Carrington. He saw that coming years ago and reacted. He’s the visionary for our company and is always five steps ahead. The next step is having our salespeople enter orders at a show on their tablets for delivery the next day or in a month. It all relates to our never-ending drive to service our customers as best we can.

Everybody says they do that. But it’s not always the case. To be fair, everybody services their customers to some extent. Otherwise they would never stay in business. I just don’t know how much importance other companies put on customer service. We try to always take it to the next level, and I believe that differentiates us in the marketplace. It’s not easy and it takes time. But everyone is going to have to get there if they want to survive. Take e-commerce, for example. That’s the future. We need to embrace it, which is why we have been developing those systems and capabilities for years. It’s no longer a competition between tiers; retailers have to be able to sell on all levels. They have to be able to accommodate however consumers want to buy goods from them. That’s the way I shop. I buy lots of things from Nordstrom, but again. She worked for our I haven’t gone into an actual store in ages company for 25 years. to do so. She ran our operations. She did everything. We Can independents compete in a meancalled her the Queen of ingful way online? Consolidated. I don’t think most independents will invest the money to have a significant What is your least e-commerce business of their own, but favorite word? we can help service them in this arena by Unacceptable. having inventory available to them at all times. They can log on and buy anything What is your favorite they want, at any time. We are working on part of the day? Late taking that to the next level, where we have evening, when the dust tablets in stores so a consumer can order has settled and I can plan something right on the spot and, if it’s in for the next day. However, our warehouse, it’ll be shipped for nextin the shoe business, your day delivery. In some cases, a retailer may plan doesn’t always turn carry five styles from one of our brands out the way you expect. and the consumer will see on the tablet But having one at least that the styles are offered in additional gives me a good feeling colors. After trying a style on in-store and inside. seeing how it fits, she may decide to go with a color that can be ordered online. What is your favorite hometown memory? How close are you toward reaching that I grew up in Toledo, level of capability? OH, and it’s of being It’s six months to a year away, perhaps. It’s with my family at my very important because independents are grandparents’ lake house. where we do most of our business. That’s why it’s our job to make sure they have What sound do you love? capabilities available to them that allow A boat coming across a them to compete with the major chains. lake in the early morning Another way for them to compete is to break the silence. through product differentiation. Between the breadth of our brands and first-cost business, we offer that capability. We make sure our seven brands don’t overlap and we work closely with our retail partners to choose the most suitable mix for that particular store.


I often hear people say it’s becoming less worth the aggravation of working with independents because there are fewer and fewer of them and those that remain represent small volumes. It does require a lot of work. But we are willing and able to make sure what they buy from us is right for them. We do it with all of our customers, regardless of their size. But we don’t need a $1 million order. Buy three shoes that

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O&A we recommend and the next season we’re confident you will want to buy at least five styles because those first three are going to do well. We’re not a small company, but there aren’t a whole bunch of layers that you have to go through to get a decision. Basically, you call me [laughs]. How important are independents to the industry right now? We need those stores. For starters, they don’t come after you for markdown money at the end of a season. They are also usually great people to work with, really know the shoe business and are an important part of the overall retail landscape. It’s the American way, right? Consumers like participating in “shop local” campaigns. They want to support their local communities. So we want them to be successful for a whole bunch of reasons. Fortunately, for the most part, we do business with ones who have stayed relatively healthy. It is difficult for them to survive, but I don’t think independents will ever go away entirely. There’s still a healthy array that spans multi-store operations, one-store powerhouses and plenty of boutiques.


I agree. It was Mark Twain who once said, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” There are plenty of examples where people wrote things off, but they didn’t go away. Take the iPhone. People said no other company is ever going to ever be able sell another type of phone. And then Samsung comes along and proves that theory wrong. I was talking recently with our design team about the online tier and one of them said, “Women are women.” They might not have planned on buying a pair of shoes when they went shopping, but often they’ll be in a strip center or a mall, they’ll see an attractive shoe display and they will buy. They still like to see the shoes, touch them, try them on and compare them to other styles. Or maybe they just bought a new outfit and they’ll realize they need a pair of shoes to go with it. My point is that part of the business is still going to be around. Online may take a share of it, especially with regard to men, but for women, shoe shopping in stores, I suspect, will remain an enjoyable experience. Speaking of shoes women like, what are some of your brand highlights? In general, our branded portfolio is lifestyle driven with distinctive interpretations of current fashion trends. The styles are also developed to connect with consumers beyond the immediate fashionable attraction. They engage consumers on an emotional level and tap into habits, experiences and philosophies that are unique to each individual lifestyle. So for OTBT, what does that mean? OTBT (Off the Beaten Track) is a fashion-casual brand inspired by travel, music and culture. It features high-quality materials and finishes along with comfort technologies. It launched four years ago as a replacement to our Palladium brand, which we sold to K•Swiss. That’s been a good decision for us, as OTBT features a much broader assortment of styles. Last year, in particular, was a good year for OTBT ($89 to $199 retail). Sales increased by about 20 percent.

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What’s Poetic Licence’s niche in the market? Poetic Licence is a United Kingdom-designed dress shoe brand for women who want to show an individual sense of style. The brand’s personality is offbeat, distinctive and exclusive. It perpetuates creativity in a world of conformity. The shoes ($79 to $159 retail) often feature lot of different materials in one style—say, polka dots mixed with stripes. It’s like a material factory blew up sometimes. The sales have been strong. Macy’s Herald Square, for example, has been reordering frequently.

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Nicole and Madeline are Consolidated’s portfolio veterans. What do they bring to the mix? Nicole started it all for us. It’s a tailored brand ($49 to $149 retail) that offers effortless versatility for women on the go. The designs are chic yet extremely wearable. It features plenty of rich leathers and classic designs with a twist for shoes that are relaxed yet sophisticated. Madeline, on the other hand, is a fearless collection of couture footwear that bridges the gap between high style and affordability ($32 to $79 retail). The brand, which has been around for 20 years, delivers up-to-the-minute, trendy designs at an attainable price. It’s carried in a lot of fashion boutiques. Madeline Girl is junior takedowns of that. Which leaves Axxiom and Dimmi. Axxiom is our price point ($32 to $79 retail) comfort casual brand. And Dimmi, our newest brand ($39 to $59 retail), is based on a unique charitable premise. Billy Carrington’s brother passed away a few years back from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) disease. Initially, we started a website called Dimmi (it means “tell me” in Italian) that was designed to be a social networking community for people suffering from a variety of diseases. The site would allow those afflicted and their family and friends to communicate with one another about treatments and coping. Unfortunately, it didn’t take off, but the ALS cause is still important to the Carringtons, so we decided to launch a shoe brand under the Dimmi name, where all of the profits would go to support medical research. The first donation will go to ALS most likely, but going forward donations will be made to help fight a variety of diseases. How’s it going so far? This fall will be our third season, but it’s really more of a re-launch. Our initial collection was okay, but we upgraded the quality and have a nice line

now. It includes a mix of canvas casuals where it’s all about the fun and bright prints with plenty of material treatments like satins and sequins. The challenge lies in convincing retailers and consumers that it’s legit. There are plenty of false charitable tie-ins as a ruse to get sales. Oh, for sure. I even went as far as setting up a separate company with separate accounting for Dimmi so that anyone who wants to take a look can see it’s legit. The brand slogan is “100 percent good.” It’s not really about the shoes, although the stores must make their margins. It’s really about trying to do some good for people in need. Fortunately, we happen to be pretty good at making shoes and consumers will have the added benefit of feeling good that their purchase is contributing to a good cause. That’s why it’s important to get the message of Dimmi’s charitable platform across first, which is one of our main initiatives this year. We have a website that tells the story. We made some videos about ALS. But we really need to get Dimmi into chains like Shoe Carnival, Kohl’s and Rack Room in order to get the necessary volume on the patterns and units so we can then offer it to better-grade independents as well. We have been doing business with these chains, in some cases, for as long as 50 years. If we tell them we are going to make these donations they believe us, which gives them confidence in telling their customers that we will. Beyond that, if we put this message in a Dimmi ad, we’d better damn well do it because our whole business could go under if we are dishonest. You’ve been in the business for 32 years. Is it easier or harder today? Oh, it’s definitely harder. Of course, we laugh about how 20 years ago we thought life was miserable. But we would take those days in a heartbeat right now. What was so miserable back then? Pretty much the same things as today [laughs]. Prices are too high, >86

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Witch’s Brew

Bewitching black patent casts a magical spell. 1. Palmroth Original 2. Penny Loves Kenny 3. Vogue 4. La Canadienne 5. Tsubo



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Penny Wise

The classic cuts a sharper look with slender profiles and sleek materials. 1. Nicole 2. Dune London 3. Nina

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Chain Reaction


The edgy embellishment transforms basics to statement makers. 1. Golo 2. Nina 3. Matt Bernson 4. White Mountain

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Open for Business

D’Orsay heels add a one-two punch of style. 1. Elliot Lucca 2. Mia 3. Poetic Licence 32 • february 2014

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Night Fall Navy and black make a moody and dark impression. 1. Restricted 2. Wolverine 1883 3. Lacoste 4. Elliot Lucca 5. Alegria 6. Melissa

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Sling Shots Velvety suedes and chunky heels winterize peep toe sling backs. 1. Klub Nico 2. Mia 3. Nicole

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Going Dutch

Old world charm meets modern comfort with a new class of clogs. 1. Dansko 2. Alegria 3. Cliffs by White Mountain 4. Rialto

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Coat Check

Outerwear materials put a protective and techy spin on boots. 1. Kamik 2. Rockport 3. Palladium 4. Aigle 5. Moon Boot 40 • february 2014

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Gold Standards

The rich metallic raises the bar for glam style. 1. Vogue 2. Sorel 3. Bass 4. Very Volatile 42 • february 2014

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Slick Deals

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Hello Kitty Glossy patents and ladylike bows elevate the retro powerhouse. 1. Pura Lopez 2. Rialto 3. Restricted 46 • february 2014

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NE HUNDRED YEARS ago, Babe Ruth made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox, Henry Ford jumpstarted the Industrial Revolution by launching his $5-a-day production line and Louie Johnson opened his own cobbler shop. Although these events have little in common aside from the year they happened (1914), each is uniquely American. Ruth went on to become a baseball Hall of Famer, solidifying the sport as “America’s pastime.” The Ford Model T revolutionized society by putting millions of Americans in the driver’s seat. And Johnson’s Shoes—a family-owned business that began in Orland, CA—carved out a unique place in footwear retailing history. Still family-owned and operated, the thriving five-store comfort chain in many ways epitomizes the American dream. Johnson’s weathered some formidable storms and setbacks: The Great Depression, World War II, the Great Recession, and the rise of malls, discounters, big-box formats and the Internet. Boom and bust growth cycles nearly spelled doom in the early ’90s, but the company kept its doors open. Sure, the format and the number of stores varied (it peaked at 50 about 25 years ago), but what business hasn’t? Current president and third generation shoe man Don Johnson should know. He has spent his entire career—40-plus years—working in the family business alongside his grandfather, father, aunts and uncles. He is now

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With Louie Johnson Jr. front and center, three generations of Johnsons pose for a family portrait, including Don Johnson (front left).

to work adjusting inventory methods, adapting to the system known as FIFO (first in, first out). “We would stamp the arrival date on each shoe box,” he says. “After three months, we would go through the wall and decide to put on clearance anything that had been there longer than that. We remembered to always watch our dates and get rid of them to get dollars back.” He adds, “Stamping the date and clearing out slow movers was the biggest and best business lesson I ever learned.”


watching with pride as the fourth generation of Johnsons (his daughter Valerie and nephew Ben) learn the trade. One day, either may take over the reins. As a newly minted college graduate and aspiring accountant, Johnson never planned on a lifetime in the family business when he joined in 1969. But, “you come to know where your place is,” he reflects. “As a result of my grandfather, father, uncles and aunts who worked in our stores, I came to value a family business and the area where we lived. I thought it was my destiny.” Today, Johnson runs the stores along with his two younger brothers, Marty and Scott. The Johnson family, he says, extends to all the chain’s employees. The feeling seems to be mutual, given that the stores’ managers and full-time employees have been with the company on average more than 10 years. The chain’s current comfort format is right in step with its family-values approach to business, according to Johnson. “We’re buying the bread-andbutter footwear for Middle America,” he says. “Our shoes have moderate fashion appeal, but we mainly focus on comfort, durability and fit.” The chain caters primarily to a rural, agricultural-based demographic that seeks versatile footwear to meet the needs of their active lives. Johnson’s shoes have to work for customers, many of whom travel miles to reach its stores, located in northern California’s Chico (two locations), Redding and Susanville as well as Medford, OR. While key brands include SAS, Dansko, Ugg, Keen, Clarks and Merrell, the chain is always on the lookout for new ones to add to its mix. In the last year, for example, Johnson’s added Alegria and Cobb Hill, and sales for both have taken off. “You need to take risks,” Johnson says of his shoe-buying philosophy. “But they need to be carefully evaluated risks. We choose what we think our customers would like based upon listening, reading, watching and looking at things going on in the market.” From there, he says, they “build on it or get out of it. [We] try it on and then manage that inventory as soon as it comes in.” Johnson developed his current approach to inventory management in 1991, following a visit from a consultant. “The consultant said, ‘Those aren’t shoes on the wall, those are dollar bills. They need to be in circulation; don’t just let them sit there.’” He immediately went

One needs to go back to 1909 to trace the real roots of Johnson’s Shoes. That’s the year Louie Johnson Sr. came to Ellis Island from Sweden at age 14 to join his sister in St. Joseph, MO. His brother-in-law worked as a cobbler and Johnson went to work helping him at his shop, where he learned the ins and outs of making and repairing shoes. When Johnson fell ill, his older brother, who was living in Orland, CA, thought the warmer weather would be good for his health. Soon after arriving in the Golden State, the two brothers opened Orland Shoe Shop (years later the name changed to Johnson’s Shoes), a shoe repair shop with the motto, “Work done while you wait.” The shop got by during the Depression, partly kept afloat by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. During World War II, Johnson’s Shoes repaired footwear for the U.S. government. When Johnson’s son, Louie Johnson Jr., returned home safely from the war, he went to work with his father and the business was renamed Johnson and Son. During the same time period, the shop began selling nascent brands such as Red Wing. Louie Johnson Sr. worked six days a week until he was 81 years old and he retired in 1976. “I was able to work with him daily for about seven years,” Johnson says. Louie Johnson Jr. had the same fierce work ethic. Though he retired officially in 1991, he remains involved with the stores.

Johnson’s Shoes, circa 1924.

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Three Johnson’s Shoes stores are located in bustling shopping centers, including this one in Redding, CA.

Throughout its existence, Johnson’s Shoes has faced challenges. Today, they include high rents, increased competition and finding trustworthy employees. But none compare to the epic woe the business faced in the early ’90s. Don Johnson had just become president and the chain was at its peak, with 50 stores, including an array of family-named outlets, concept stores and athletic shoe stores. The business had mushroomed into a corporation, employing more than 200 people and profiting annually in the millions of dollars. Johnson prided himself on expansion and was constantly exploring ways to grow the business. That is until one day, the bank called about a loan that needed to be repaid. Johnson had two options: repay the loan or file for bankruptcy. “We were in a tailspin,” he remembers. The loan was too high to pay off at once, but Johnson couldn’t fathom the idea of filing for bankruptcy. “I

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remember going to see an IRS agent and as they were interviewing and videotaping me, the agent said he’d like to speak with me privately,” Johnson recalls. “He said, ‘If you just file for bankruptcy, this will all go away.’ And I said, ‘That’s just not a word in our vocabulary. We believe we’ll be able to pay off our bills and that’s what we’re going to do.’” Johnson’s frankness must have resonated with the officer, and together they came up with a solution. Instead of paying back the allotted $5,000 per month, Johnson convinced the agent to let him pay $1,000 a month. He promised to close some stores to avoid giving up on the business entirely. “I’ll take the blame personally,” Johnson says in hindsight. “I had a desire to get big, but my reach extended beyond our grasp. But, boy, did I learn about financial management. In the end, we worked through it.” From 1991 to 2001, Johnson’s Shoes survived by selling assets, inventory and closing most of its stores. The family paid off its debts and rebuilt the business with a new comfort format in mind. They also learned to keep it simple. Johnson returned to the lessons his grandfather and father had taught him about running a successful business. “We now live by three basic retail laws,” he says. “Quality product, affordable price and caring service. If someone is unhappy or unable to find what they want, don’t react. Act. And always respond with care, first.”


Today, Johnson and his team focus on the future as well as the present—determining how to adapt to changing times and capitalize on the opportunities they may offer. For now, that means emphasizing the brickand-mortar locations rather than delving into e-commerce. Setting up a meaningful e-commerce operation would require too heavy an investment in salary and inventory, he explains. “The way I see it, we’ve got plenty to do in our stores already to jump into online sales. Plenty of people still like to try shoes on and walk around in them before they buy,” he says. “And we’re here seven days a week, all year long to help them with any problems they might have.” The company enjoyed a six percent profit increase in 2013—a success he attributes to having the right selection, the right price and caring customer service. He also credits 2013’s jump in profits to “freshness and rotation in our inventory management due to a consistent and professional selling team.” A weekly performance summary and periodic special incentives help employees stay motivated throughout the year. “We send out a daily sales report of how associates are doing compared to last year and we note the highest dollar and the top five highest sales of the day,” Johnson explains, adding that associates are rewarded with cash awards, discounts for friends and family and purchase perks at wholesale price points. He’s quick to add that sales reports are meant to be a friendly recognition, not a critique. 2014 is expected to be a good year sales-wise, but Johnson admits, “Things aren’t as strong as they were in 2010 or 2011. Independents are going to have a rough time.” He cites rising unemployment and lower regional incomes as factors that are putting a drag on sales. He has instructed his team to try to maximize sales among customers who come in to shop. “Our people are all trained in product knowledge and salesmanship, and that’s all we can ask for,” he says. To mark the centennial milestone, Johnson’s Shoes is planning new advertising initiatives and a rewards program to bolster customer loyalty by rewarding shoppers with half off their seventh pair purchased. Four years ago, the store began advertising on TV, and a special 100th anniversary commercial has already hit the air. Johnson says TV advertising is one of his strongest forms of customer acquisition. “We’re going to celebrate our anniversary in a way to hopefully sell shoes and not glorify ourselves,” Johnson says. “We want to use our 100th year as a reason for new people to come in and take a look as well as affirm with existing customers that we’re here and we intend to stay here.” •

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Norway Almond

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MAYBE IT’S THE eclectic nature of fashion or, more accurately, the lack of an “it” brand or style driving the market of late. Or maybe it’s the weak economy, which keeps consumers from shopping with wild abandon. Or perhaps it’s the result of too many products with too little differentiation to excite shoppers in stores or on the Internet. Wherever the blame for today’s general malaise lies, the merchandise mix needs spicing up. Enter, product collaborations. Be they with a retailer, a fashion designer, a lifestyle guru or even one very friendly kitty, collaborations can provide an effective way to generate new interest in a brand and entice buyers. Think of them as design steroids. Collaborations give a loafer, sneaker, boot or other ubiquitous style a fashion boost and pump up sales. That’s especially true when the collaboration involves a one-time or limited-edition run or exclusive distribution. Take the Pony x Colette collaboration, which debuted this past December. In the midst of its re-launch, Pony chose the concept store in Paris—known for bringing together innovators in fashion, art and technology—as the ideal partner to reintroduce itself as a casual athletic brand. Santino LoConte, vice president and chief marketing officer of Contest Footwear, the licensee of Pony, says the French retailer gravitated toward its heritage styles like the Topstar. But what really made the retro style shine was Colette’s signature Pantone sapphire blue (code 293, to be exact) done up in Pony’s reflective 3M material. It transformed the Topstar into a sneaker that literally glowed in the store’s window. Paired with spotted laces—a reference to Colette’s logo—the collaboration was a blend of classic New York street fashion and fearless Parisian design that had stateside fashion hounds and sneakerheads begging their Parisian friends to score them a pair of the coveted kicks. The style sold out in a week. “News of these collaborations goes viral. They create a tremendous amount of buzz,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of the retail tracking firm NPD Group. He adds that in today’s difficult retail climate a collaboration is a lot less risky than trying to establish a brand or line extension. Not to mention, a whole lot quicker and cheaper. “If I were to try and establish a new brand it would take at least three years to make any relevant con-

nection with the consumer,” Cohen says. “Collaborations let you leapfrog that.” These partnerships not only excite a brand’s existing fan base, they can also attract potential new consumers. It helps to partner with established brands in other fields, notes Andy Salzer, vice president of partnerships for Toms. “When we come together with another brand, we are always looking for leaders in their own respective fields,” Salzer says. That’s why Toms joined forces with designer Tabitha Simmons. The unlikely blend of casual street style and high-end fashion generated the most buzz Toms has seen to date, Salzer reports. “We were able to introduce the partnership to a handful of specialty distributors like Net-a-Porter and Colette,” he adds. Clarks Originals has used numerous collaborations to generate excitement in the venerable brand, founded in 1825. “The basis of our collaborations has been to link an era of our history with the things that we know our different customers love now,” explains Rachael Davies, line builder for Clarks. Collaborations range from working with Woolrich and its legion of Americana fans to celebrating the Wallabee’s popularity in the hip hop scene through the Doom x Clarks Originals collaboration, debuting next month. “We’re always thinking of the next way to transform our image,” she adds. To succeed, collaborations have to make sense for a brand’s image and its fan base, says Isack Fadlon, co-owner of Sportie LA. Ideas that might make a good blog entry don’t always ring the cash register. For example, if a collaborator is the wrong fit or, worse, outshines the brand’s regular collection, the partnership can backfire. “There has to be a balance,” Fadlon notes. “Done right, it creates desirability and draws that consumer to look at the rest of the brand’s collection.” The trick, he says, is finding the right balance between brand and store or collaborator. For instance, this year Sportie LA will debut collaborations with Keds and Crocs. Both speak directly to the brand’s casual, SoCal clientele, with palm tree prints and sunsets motifs on the styles. “These collaborations are a way for us to distinguish our own brand, enhance the product mix and ultimately create a buzz around the store and brand,” Fadlon says. The Sportie LA partnership comes on the heels of a Crocs collaboration with The

From top: Minnetonka moc from the Hello Kitty collection; Jeffrey Campbell vegan-friendly bootie for Convert; Sportie LA’s sneaker with Keds.

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Tannery’s sneaker boutique offshoot, Concepts, featuring a men’s camouflage print boat shoe. “It was an understandable silhouette,” explains Bill Lucas, Crocs’ national sales manager, noting that the style generated a lot of interest on footwear and style blogs. “People were surprised to learn it was Crocs. It got a lot of attention and got people talking about the brand again. It helped break us out of the mold that people have pigeonholed us into,” he says. As for the Sportie LA partnership, Lucas describes it as the perfect laidback counterpart to Concepts’ fashion-forward influence. “It’s totally Californian,” he says. “We like that we’re covering both coasts and getting a great scope of personality and input to the shoes.” These partnerships allow Crocs to experiment with new designs, technology and even packaging. But Lucas stresses that the real benefit of working so closely with retailers is the insight they bring to the mix. “It’s invaluable,” he says. “They see a lot of people come through their doors and it’s great to be that close to what’s happening at their end of the table.” Another example of a retail-brand collaboration that hit the mark is Jeffrey Campbell for Convert, the eco-friendly store owned by Randy Brewer. Hitting upon an underserved vegan community seeking stylish, non-leather options, the duo have partnered successfully for the past eight years. “It was actually Jeffrey who saw the void,” Brewer says, noting that Campbell’s revamped bestsellers don’t demand the high minimums that his own line would require. “The only drawback is that once a style sells out—as they often do—it takes a long time to get back into it. It’s a three-month wait and people don’t want to wait that long for a style that is trendy now,” he explains. Still, it hasn’t stopped the retailer from collaborating with other brands, including J Shoes and Seychelles. As Brewer puts it, “There are worse problems to be had.” The right collaboration can even test higher price points, though NPD’s Cohen cautions that most companies don’t make huge amounts of money through partner-

ships. Collaborations are less about dollar volume than about boosting awareness and brand equity, he says. Perhaps the best example of a company that delves deeply into a range of collaborations is Sanrio, licensor of the Hello Kitty brand. Its list includes Vans, Asics and Dr. Martens. David Marchi, senior director of brand management and marketing, describes the partnerships as “unique, fun and appealing to a wide range of groups.” To that end, Hello Kitty went punk last December in a co-branded collaboration with T.U.K., known for its creeper shoes. The limited-edition collection combined T.U.K.’s classic Mondo Sole with pastel ombré Hello Kitty prints, red bow patches and heart-shaped D-rings. The launch received an unexpected perk when singer Miley Cyrus wore the distinctive shoes on a slew of broadcasts. Debuting this month is a Hello Kitty collaboration with Minnetonka. The women’s and girls’ range will feature kiltie moccasins and fringe boots bedecked with Hello Kitty’s face and signature bow. “Parents who grew up wearing Minnetonka or Hello Kitty decades ago are now sharing that brand love with their own children,” says Kalyn Waters, director of marketing for Minnetonka. “Both brands generate a feeling of nostalgia as well as contemporary relevance.” Industry experts predict the collaboration movement will gain steam. “It won’t fizzle out any time soon,” Cohen says. “The opportunity to mix brands with outside personalities and other interests catches people’s attention.” It might be Vans speaking to animal lovers with an ASPCA collaboration, or Naturalizer linking with popular HGTV host David Bromstad for a line of colorful casual styles. The bottom line, Cohen says, is making a lifestyle connection. When a brand creates something that resonates with the consumer on a personal level, it works. Beyond that, the most successful collaborations occur when two partners combine their creative talents to produce a true blend that enhances both of their images. The following are some noteworthy collaborations for 2014.


CLARKS ORIGINALS’ LATEST collaboration with Patternity, the London-based creative consultancy and pattern research hub, arose from their mutual appreciation for pioneering design. Despite having no defined target customer, the desert boots in tan and black with a lacquered geometric pattern are getting a warm response from buyers for their uniqueness. Davies says collaborations don’t always need an obvious hook. An unexpected twist can work just as well because it creates an element of discovery for consumers. “The collaboration has been unique because it’s so unusual,” she says, noting it will continue for Fall ’14. “There’s been a lot of opportunity to talk to a new retail base and get them interested in both Clarks and Patternity,” she adds. Patternity’s enthusiasm for fashion and treatment of patterns not just as a design element but as a part of everyday life appealed to Clarks, says Davies. What’s more, “They are at the forefront of global trends,” she says. Companies like Apple, Nike, Selfridges and the BBC have collaborated or consulted with the collective.

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HAVING BEEN A blank canvas for the likes of designer Tabitha Simmons and actress Charlize Theron, this month Toms’ Classic slip-on gets a collaboration makeover by interior designer Jonathan Adler. (The two created sparks last summer with a trio of Independence Day-inspired sunglasses.) The collaboration launches later this month on JonathanAdler. com, and exclusively at Nordstrom. It includes five Adler archival mid-century modern-inspired prints on the Classic— the style the designer was adamant

WOLVERINE BOASTS A rich 130-year tradition of boot making, predominantly in men’s styles. So when the company’s boutique heritage offshoot label, Wolverine 1000 Mile, decided it was time to embrace its feminine side, it sought designer Samantha Pleet for a collaborative project that launched two falls ago. The New York-based women’s designer is known for dreamy frocks and separates tinged with vintage sweetness and cool indie spirit. A granddaughter of a cobbler, Pleet has brought her recipe of vintage-meets-modern to Wolverine’s workroom, hand-drawing designs that showcase the brand’s softer side. In keeping with the company’s long heritage, the Wolverine 1000 Mile by Samantha Pleet collaboration is meant to last. “For us, it’s not just a onetime conversation. It is several seasons now, and we see that our customers are interested in what comes next and the evolution of the collaboration,” notes Christina Vernon, sales manager for Wolverine Heritage. For Fall ’14, Pleet delivers an inventive take on camouflage and an equestrian-inspired buckle boot, and revisits key styles like the Bonnie boot in new colors and materials. “Samantha brings a whole different fashion thought process,” Vernon says. “She goes into our archive and does a lot of things we wouldn’t have done on our own. She brings color and material options that add a lot of pop to our shoes, which appeals to the collaboration’s core customers. They want to stand out and be more creative.” What’s more, Pleet’s touch has helped open doors. “She creates a lot of buzz with her apparel, and retailers that carry her line were immediately able to see why the footwear would make sense for their stores. It’s a natural fit,” Vernon explains. Consistent sell-through and a natural progression of styles doesn’t hurt either. Another key to the collaboration’s success is that designs reflect the Wolverine 1000 Mile range. With styles harking back to rugged women explorers and others inspired by American summers on the boardwalk, the collaboration is in step with Wolverine’s pioneering ethos. “The collaborated styles are never out of our comfort zone,” Vernon notes. “In fact, they merchandise nicely together on the same table.”

DR. SCHOLL’S A MERGING OF like-minded heritage brands can create magic, as Dr. Scholl’s discovered by collaborating with American fashion designer Steven Alan. “The collaboration came together during a dinner conversation between Steven and I,” recalls James Sowins, Dr. Scholl’s creative director. “We were discussing how our lines were evolving. It was a very natural next step to do something together, as we share a similar design sensibility.” Retailing for $100 to $145, the collaboration, which hits stores this spring, includes three women’s styles: a version of the Dr. Scholl’s Original Exercise sandal with a lacquer wood finish, a chambray ankle strap sandal and a wood and linen wedge. All are classic materials in line with Alan’s collection of American sportswear—but with a

about using. It makes a splashy impression with prints like the tikiinfused Syrie and the multicolored Honeycomb, which are patterns and names well known among the interior design crowd. “You see them and you immediately think Jonathan Adler,” Salzer says. Adler’s recent foray into lifestyle products at mainstream stores (dinnerware at Macy’s, scarves at Bloomingdale’s and diaper bags at Target) should broaden consumer appeal of the collaboration (suggested retail is $59) beyond the world of interior decorating.

STEVEN ALAN modern twist. The collaboration also marks the first time Dr. Scholl’s is introducing an exercise sandal for men, which Sowins admits was a challenge to create. By combining forces, they were able to turn a shoe with the qualities of an iconic women’s style into a masculine, functional sandal. A shared love for beautiful, high-quality materials and simplicity with function has created remarkable synergy, says Sowins. “The Steven Alan customer shares a lot of the same sensibilities as the Dr. Scholl’s consumer, but with a boutique and elevated taste level,” he says. The collaboration has created considerable buzz at Steven Alan stores and key retailers that carry the label. The partnership will continue into Fall ’14.

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The intermingling worlds of fashion and footwear combine for one decadent and inspiring season. By Angela Velasquez

WELCOME TO THE Fall ’14 buying season. Prepare to be inundated with boot heights that fluctuate like the stock market. Expect an onslaught of prints from the animal kingdom (pick an animal, any animal). But don’t panic. Thinking positive is on trend, too. This fall offers something for everyone, no matter how traditional or extreme your tastes may be. Wondering where to start? Here’s a look at the season’s hottest silhouettes, materials, colors and embellishments, broken into four distinct themes. FOLKLORIC FANTASY Enchanted forests. Wicked queens. Bohemian fashion turns to dark, luxurious styles tinged with materials inspired by mythical creatures and ornamentation originating mainly from Eastern Europe. With the world’s attention turned to Russia and the 2014 Winter Olympics this month, the emphasis on Eastern Europe is evident in men’s and women’s collections. And what’s a Russian-inspired trend without an abundance of fur? “Fur trim is emerging in men’s more than ever before,” reports Savannah Todd of the trend forecasting firm Stylesight. “Shoes might be lined with shearling and tipped off with fur, or feature an entire fur cuff,” she notes. Fendi even blanketed its men’s Fall ’14 runway with black longhair goat fur, a stunt that undoubtedly caught the attention of animal rights groups. Calf hair and velvet play a strong role here, too, especially in jewel tones. “We’re seeing a lot of wine and reddish hues with purple undertones,” Todd says. Combined with these textural materials, the colors take on subtle, wet sheens. Tapestry and brocade-inspired prints add a regal vintage look to uppers and accent pieces, picking up where last year’s printed pant trend left off. In terms of apparel, the folkloric look ushers in longer, more flowing dress and skirt silhouettes, which demand sleeker footwear like tall boots that sit closer to the leg. “The slim fit goes well with billowing skirts. They balance the portions,” Todd says. Look for more traditional takes on shoes with longer lasts, pointed toes and slim heels. The casual/street iteration of the trend caters to a more traditional bohemian customer. Think earthy textures from the wild, such as yarn uppers with frayed, hair-like fibers. Boots with sweater knits heavy and chunky enough to combat a Russian winter add a cozy element. Shades of brown with warm undertones of cinnamon, chestnut and camel pair effortlessly with homey materials on leather uppers and braided details. Oiled suede offers a grittier alternative.

Rich fabrics add textural interest. TigerBear Republik

SPORT UP Hi-tec materials and holograms elevate sporty styles.

On the rise for several seasons, designer athletic fashion will continue to score big this fall with an emphasis on technology and futuristiclooking materials. Most recently, Karl Lagerfeld accessorized models dressed in Chanel haute couture frocks with sneakers and metallic knee pads. “Sporty looks are coming on in a very big way. It’s a blending of high and low,” Todd explains, noting that Prada also recently revealed gem-encrusted uppers on an athletic sole. A number of designers are following suit, combining luxury materials and exotics with vulcanized, easy on and off styles harking back to Van’s Classic slip-on. As fall’s most colorful trend, the look borrows hues of cobalt blue, sun-kissed orange, golden yellow and lime green from the athletic world. The hues are notably deeper than the neon shades of recent seasons, yet contrast nicely with steely gray, black and white when color blocked—one of the trend’s key design elements. Fabrics like nylon mesh, perforated leather and jersey evoke a familiar sporty vibe, while unexpected materials including Neoprene and PVC soak up the colors

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easy street


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Grace Kelly

and add a futuristic twist. With products like Nike’s sleek FuelBand SE fitness tracker creating buzz and Google Glass hitting the market in 2014, footwear fashion is just one aspect of a gravitational pull to all things techy. The loudest take on tech-chic includes bold uppers featuring foil-like metallic silver and gold and hologram materials. Hi-top sneakers and boots are amped up to shine with reflective material, thick quilting and chunky white lug soles. Down- and polyesterfilled nylon—reminiscent of a puffer coat—add lightweight bulk to footwear as cuff embellishments. Brands like white-hot label Birkenstock (and copycats) will pick up on the trend with updated versions of the traditional comfort sandal. “Some might be in a traditional execution, but others will use all-over color metallics,” Todd adds.

Rita Hayworth

Fall ‘14 casts the return of old Hollywood glamour.


Jon Josef

Cleaned up punk looks strike a chord.


Blame it on the bestselling book Fifty Shades of Grey. Slinky, sultry boudoir fashion is turning heads this season with sinfully soft fabrics with comfortably generous cuts, thanks to designers’ very literal take on pajama dressing. Fashionistas Jessica Alba, Salma Hayek and Rihanna are already walking the red carpet in coordinating pajama separates and robe-inspired jackets. Translating bedroom fashion into street and evening apparel may not be anything new—slip dresses get resurrected every few years—but the latest look takes cues from menswear, with tie prints, dark hues and handsome silks running rampant. Expect to see similar materials in women’s footwear. Tie prints top off women’s oxfords, penny loafers and flats (look for more almond-shaped toes) lending shine to everyday silhouettes, as do jacquards, diamond patterns and opulent brocades. Satin ribbons replace traditional shoelaces and velvet doubles as a bow embellishment and the go-to material for men’s loafers. Tying the look together is a soft palette of dusty rose, powder blue, gray and deeper tones like oxblood and navy. Men’s tailoring (think dark pinstripe wools and tweeds) grounds the look, while a touch of calf hair and exposed fur softens it. The boudoir trend also heralds

the return of the single sole pump. The slender silhouette lengthens the leg, lends a touch of old Hollywood glamour to the season and balances ’50s-inspired oversized coats, boxy blouses, pajama-style pant legs and trending pencil skirts. After prowling through collections for a number of seasons, kitten heels are finally taking center stage this fall in nude shades (Grace Kelly’s shoe of choice in To Catch a Thief) and glossy patents, accented with ladylike bows.

MARCHING ORDERS The rebellious, unruly beat of grunge, punk and rock fashion goes on for Fall ’14. From aggressive combat boots to traditional tartan loafers to hybrids of the two (lugged sole loafers, anyone?), the look spans a variety of men’s and women’s categories. Look for an abundance of plaid, tartan and buffalo check in stores for Fall ’14. Unfussy, embellishment-free traditional silhouettes like Chelsea boots and loafers give the prints breathing room. Todd expects loafers to become a “complete women’s staple,” especially those with lifted soles and stacked heels. Penny loafers and oxfords with tapered toes in moody oxblood, navy and black leather as well as calf hair merchandise well with the look. Bolder styles might feature adaptations of leopard print and houndstooth in nontraditional colors like cobalt blue and royal purple. With the long, drawn-out demise of stud embellishments (they’ve been whittled down to flat nail heads this fall), designers are hedging bets on statement-making closures. Sidezippers, echoing modified motorcycle jackets and vests, double as function and fashion elements, especially when the zipper is a brassy gold. Sometimes the closure is pure embellishment with no function at all like zipper teeth used as an edgy focal point or trim, for instance. Oversized and multiple buckles inch their way up men’s and women’s boots, or act as a prim and proper toe ornament on work-friendly flats and pumps. Finally, chain details speak to customers on both ends of the spectrum, assuming a luxe look on wardrobe staples and lending a militant feel to combat boots. •

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7 Opposite: Lacoste hi-top This page: 1. Restricted wedge 2. Melissa loafer 3. Oxford by Nina 4. Jon Josef embellished smoking slipper 5. Hush Puppies ballet flat 6. Bobs by Skechers slip-on 7. TigerBear Republik platform wedge

5 4


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The uptown material gets a downtown makeover with pavementpounding silhouettes.


ground BY A N G E L A V E L A S Q U E Z

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Topshop button-down blouse and earrings, Preen skirt, tights by Adrienne Vittadini. Opposite, from left: Zipper boot by Yosi Samra, Clarks Originals desert boot.

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Dennis Comeau stacked heel loafer. Opposite: Maje dress, Topshop earrings, sunglasses by Karen Walker.


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Pointed toe flat by Klub Nico, Suno dress, jacket by Jenni Kayne, Adrienne Vittadini tights, Mawi bracelet, hat by August Accessories. Opposite, from top: Dansko slip-on, camouflage print T-strap heel by Trask, Blondo boot with side zipper.

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Western-inspired camouflage print boot by Nina. Opposite, from top: Lola Cruz single sole pump, printed pump by Nicole.


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Bella Vita oxford, Matt Bernson shoetie. Opposite: Pointed toe ankle boot by Dune London, Karen Walker top and dress, tights by Adrienne Vittadini, vintage bangles from Southpaw. Fashion Editor: Angela Velasquez; Stylist: Claudia Talamas; hair and makeup: Sabrina Rowe/Next Artists; model: Adrianna Bach, Fusion Model Management. 73

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Klub Nico

Meet the New Boss Embossed macabre embellishments reveal fall fashion’s darker side.



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Short Cuts Side cut-out details show a little skin.

D E S I G N E R C H AT : Sarah Flint

Matt Bernson

The Old Soul inspired color palette and textural combinations like calf hair and nappa were spurred on by a recent trip to Africa where Flint was drawn to new materials. The designer plans to take a dressier stance with more evening silhouettes. “I like to think I’m offering timeless, elegance from a young voice,” Flint says. —Angela Velasquez What is your first footwear memory? I have a lot of them because I was always trying to leave the house in inappropriate shoes, like my patent leather tap shoes. They were so shiny and pretty. What is your design signature? I like to focus on fit, shape of the last, construction and integrity of the materials and let that dictate design. Who is your fashion icon? My grandmother, Joan Flint. Since I was a little girl she lived in Paris as a painter and sculptor. I loved to visit because she’d bring me to museums and ateliers, which was always a highlight. Which celebrity would you love to see in one of your designs? Kate Middleton would be the ultimate for me and a lot of other designers, I’m sure. I love her classic, effortless style, and she seems to be very comfortable in her own skin. What is your pet peeve? When I see women wearing shoes where the heel tip has become worn down and the leather begins to tear. I’m like, ‘Your beautiful shoes are being destroyed!’ I also don’t like when I see women wearing shoes they can’t walk in. Heels are supposed to make you feel poised. What is your motto? Taste over trend. I say pick what you love and what makes you feel comfortable and confident. What is your favorite part of your job? Seeing designs come to life from a pattern to a prototype. That’s always an exciting day. And traveling back and forth to Italy is a nice perk!


Yosi Samra



FOR A YOUNG cosmopolitan woman with a taste for elegant lines and luxury products, it may come as a surprise to learn that the focal point in Sarah Flint’s Manhattan apartment is a table with two massive industrial sewing machines, where the designer churns out the prototypes for her namesake footwear collection. What Flint lacks in interior decorating, she more than makes up for in her attention to shoe fit, quality and craftsmanship. Since launching in Fall ’13, the Parsons and FIT graduate, who honed her patternmaking skills at Milan’s Ars Sutoria and worked for Diane von Furstenberg and Proenza Schouler, has impressed sophisticates with her patternmaking and draping skills, including her signature origami-inspired leatherwork. “Understanding how shoes are made, start to finish, is a big part of how I design,” she says, crediting her Italian training. “But what I really fell in love with is the emotional connection Italians have with what they are making. It’s a generational industry that’s handed down and everyone in the factory, no matter at what stage, is so passionate.” That undulated joy for footwear (which Flint says she absorbed like a sponge), coupled with Japanese aesthetic influences, a love for 1940s fashion and whirl of other inspirations made for an exciting debut collection. It spanned boots to flats that were full of unexpected details, like back-lacing, keyholes and toe ornaments. Likewise, the Fall ’14 collection’s rich sunset76 • february 2014

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Pin and Win

Pinterest, the social media scrapbook site, turns pins into purchases. THINK PINTEREST IS just another time-suck? Think again. The social media scrapbook site is a potential gold mine for retailers. Since its launch three years ago, it has become the third most popular social network in America and its conversion rates (turning “pins” into purchases) have quickly outpaced those of Twitter and Facebook. Pinterest offers a visually, aesthetically pleasing user experience that, when coupled with the right product imagery, can provide a sizeable return. Oh, and it’s free. “Consumers are using Pinterest to efficiently browse the web, go through a curated collection of products and create shopping lists,” says Sharad Verma, CEO and co-founder of Piqora, a visual marketing suite for Internet-based networks such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. “They’re spending time on Pinterest in order to figure out what to buy. That’s not the usual behavior on any other social network.” These statistics bode well for Pinterest: 21 percent of adults who are online use Pinterest, spending on average 89 minutes a month on the site. A recent Shopify survey reveals that people redirected to a retailer’s e-commerce site from Pinterest are 10 percent more likely to make a purchase. And according to a recent study by Piqora, the average value of a pin is about 78 cents and while it may not sound like much, pins have a much better chance of driving future sales than more short-lived social media posts. When a pin is popular, it continues to get discovered and chances are that means it’s something worth buying. “Pinterest is the only social network that is driving meaningful amounts of traffic because it is fundamentally about product,” Verma says. To this end, most retailers using Pinterest focus on a relatively narrow basket of goods. Nordstrom, for example, focuses on shoes and handbags, and uses data gleaned from its 4 million-plus followers to flag its most popular items in its stores. Meanwhile the Awesome Shop section on is basically a modified Pinterest page featuring items that have the highest number of recent pins and the top reviews. For those interested in Pinterest, Verma advises to maintain a balance between product and lifestyle content, pin at least 30 times a day to keep boards active and followers engaged, and run promotions and contests to gain more followers. In addition, ensure your site is primed for pinning with shareable visual content. “That will organically cause followers to pin, which will direct new traffic back to your site,” Verma notes. “It creates a viral loop that keeps on growing.” —Lyndsay McGregor

Connecting the dots: Nordstrom alerts in-store shoppers to styles that are popular on its Pinterest page.


Trisha Sweeney Shoebuy

Is there anything unique about the Shoebuy customer? Our customer is a very loyal shopper— two-thirds of our revenue is generated from repeat business. We’ve got that fashion savvy consumer and we also have that consumer that wants a little more comfort in a shoe or who’s looking for something for the outdoors.

WHEN SHOEBUY LAUNCHED in January 2000, the idea behind the site was simple: attract customers, take orders and have the shoemakers ship the product. Since then the Boston-based e-tailer has expanded beyond shoes to offer clothing, bags and accessories to men, women and kids. Today the site’s selection is massive (more than 1,250 brands), spanning Skechers and Sperry Top-Sider to Merrell and Minnetonka, and a new name enters the mix almost every day. “We have millions of unique visitors to the site on a monthly basis and consumers rely on us to deliver a great selection from all of our brands,” says EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer Trisha Sweeney, who’s seen everything from skyscraping stilettos to shaping and toning footwear come and go in her eight years at Shoebuy. With more than 26 years of buying experience under her belt (her background includes stints at Hills, Value City and TJX Companies) Sweeney pretty much has seen it all—again and again. “A good buyer will certainly ride on the coat tails of a strong trend, but the key to success is knowing when to opt out of it,” she offers. —L.M.

What are Shoebuy’s key trends for Fall ’14? Houndstooth, grungeinspired plaid and calf hair, which seems to be replacing animal print for the young consumer. What will be some of the key colors for next fall? We’re seeing a lot of shades from the green family, like olive, as well as some inks and denim blues. What about silhouettes? All kinds of short booties, from ankle to pointy toe to cutout. Also, smoking slippers and classic driving mocs. How important are boots to your overall mix? Boots are a very a large category for us and we had a strong 2013. Although the short bootie is hot, we still have a penchant for tall boots and we are always in the game for winter boots. Are you keeping an eye out for anything unique this show season? We see growth in our handbag and apparel business, so we’re definitely focused on finding new brands to add to these categories. Any trends that you wish would disappear? There’s not one thing in particular that we’re hoping will disappear. Watching trends come and go is really the fun part of being in retail. For example, who knew the wedge sneaker was going to be so big?

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SHOW TIME! Kirstin Deutelmoser, GDS Director, discusses the upcoming show and the shift to earlier dates starting next July. What’s on tap for the upcoming GDS show? This March (12-14) it’ll be business as usual. More than 800 exhibitors from more than 30 countries will be showcasing the entire spectrum of footwear styles for the Autumn/ Winter 2014/15 season. In addition, there will be daily fashion shows, events and supporting programs, which are always essential components of GDS. A highlight will be the 20th anniversary of Design

FOP_Feb2014.indd 1

Attack, a segment that features an array of up-and-coming brands and designers. This show’s theme is “Alpen Rocker Stadl,” which will be a combination of Bavarian lifestyle, idyllic alpine scenery and rebel rockers on roaring motorbikes. Why the shift to earlier dates following this edition of GDS? To continue as the industry’s No. 1 trade fair, we decided to change our basic character and become the global destination for shoes and accessories at a very early stage of the season. (July 30 – Aug. 1, 2014 and Feb. 4 - 6, 2015.) GDS will serve as the kick-off event for exhibitors. It will also enable retailers to obtain crucial guidance as they make their seasonal buying plans.

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Brit Pop Offering fashion on a budget, Dune London lands ashore.

Max Factor

A mainstay in the apparel market, Leon Max steps into footwear for fall. SNAKESKIN, HAND BRAIDING and burnished leathers might sound like the uniform of a cowboy, but when factored into Leon Max footwear, the details lend a bit of an edge to the chic high heels, boots and flats in the women’s collection. The brand is an extension of Max Studio, which launched in 1976 by Russian designer Leon Max, and has been in the experimental phase over the past few years. Fall ’14 marks its official launch into footwear. “With the success of the clothing collection and its steady evolution since its launch in 2008, the time had come for an accessory component of the line,” says Karen Baker, president of the footwear division at Leon Max, Inc. Baker joined the company in August, following a 12-year run at Jimlar Corporation where she was a national account executive for its Coach license. Leon Max might also be called the high-end, sophisticated sister to Max Studio, which represents more casual looks. Baker says the higher price point (wholesale prices range from $100 to $200) gives the designer a chance to experiment with high-quality materials like suede, sheepskin and soft leather. “The shoes are designed with a big picture in mind rather than revised or reshaped from existing footwear collections,” she says. Details like unusual, curved heel shapes, cut outs and tapered square toes have gained attention from retailers who, Baker says, “noted that the line looks very fresh and different from the offerings in the market today.” Baker also cites charcoal gray and merlot colors as trending palettes that will make an appearance in the Leon Max collection for fall. Designed in both Los Angeles and England, the label aspires to evoke a mix of Hollywood glamour and traditional British style for a look that spans a variety of occasions. “Leon Max has created a lifestyle brand in apparel that spans from career wear for day into black tie for evening, to country casual, sportswear and outerwear,” Baker offers. “With each change of direction in a woman’s wardrobe, she needs a different shoe.” —Brittany Leitner

ACROSS THE POND, Dune London has been topping off looks for fashion-minded lads and lasses with its accessories spanning handbags and sunglasses to scarves and footwear for more than 20 years. The brand, established in 1992 by Daniel Rubin, is known for providing high-fashion looks at affordable prices, and this spring marks its entrance into the U.S. footwear market. “With our rapid expansion over the last three years around the world, we felt the timing was right for the introduction of our brand to the U.S.,” says Richard Kelsey, U.S. wholesale president for Dune London. Currently, Dune London has more than 220 stores located in fashion capitals around the world and is also sold in leading department stores like Belk, Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor where, Kelsey notes, it’s “one of the highest performing brands.” The Fall ’14 collection taps into key trends like tapered lasts, pops of color on piping for men’s styles and pointed toe boots and booties for women in leather and suede. Wholesaling from $79 to $229, the women’s collection includes heels, sandals and boots and incorporates zipper accents, studs and buckles in transitional colors like nude, black and brown. The men’s collection includes casual styles like leather sneakers in navy and shades of brown and two formal collections featuring brogues and slip-on and lace-up boots, wholesaling from $89 to $199. The shoes are designed in London and made in Europe, Brazil, India and Asia. Dune has its sights set on becoming a major player in the U.S. market. Plans to open multiple stores in Manhattan this year are already confirmed, and Kelsey expects consumers to take well to the Dune London philosophy. “Our customer is the contemporary consumer who is looking for affordable luxury,” he says. “They understand fashion, but don’t want to spend a fortune to own the right shoes or bag.” —B.L.

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JUNE 3-5, 2014

TUESDAY–THURSDAY New York Hilton Midtown & Member Showrooms

Shop FFANY 365 days a year–visit Special hotel rates at FFANY.ORG SAVE THE DATE: August 5-7, 2014 (Tuesday–Thursday) @ffanyshoeshow FOP_Feb2014.indd 59

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Great Adventures Dansko debuts outdoor performance collection.

Warm Embrace Knowing its comfort zone, Bearpaw expands with fashion and function for under $100. AS THE VICE president of sales of a brand with sheepskin roots, John Pierce says he’s heard it all. “There has been a lot of talk the last couple of winters that this is a dying category, that it has run its course,” he says. Well, nothing like a visit from the Polar Vortex to the eastern half of the nation this year (Twice in one winter, no less!) to silence naysayers about the need for warm and cozy footwear. “I bet a lot of women are going back to their closets now and wishing to refresh their boot collection,” Pierce says. And the exec hopes their go-to brand of choice for affordable updates will once again be Bearpaw. “This fall we are embracing what we are in the market: a great value and price to consumers and great margin for retailers,” the exec explains. “We excel at under $100. That’s what our consumer has come to expect from us.” To capitalize on the cold weather that has helped clear out inventories this winter, Bearpaw is forging ahead with a range of 100-percent waterproof, seam-sealed, cold weather boots after dabbling in it last fall. “We’re taking it to the next step. People bought into it in a small way, but we know it’s going to gradually build,” Pierce says. The tan, charcoal and black styles for women (offered in 9-inch, 10-inch and 13-inch versions) feature suede uppers, smooth leathers and quilted materials accented

with knit pieces, braiding detail and exposed fur trims. On the men’s end, two waterproof hikers, priced at $49 and $69 retail, are expected to help grow that side of the business, which Pierce says is still in the early stages. “Men’s is our biggest battle because we are still discovering who our consumer is,” he explains, noting that its men’s slippers business has been steady thanks to the category’s broad demographic appeal. For fashion-minded ladies, Bearpaw is vetting a new collection of boots with hidden wedges. “It’s a stylish look that is sleek and sophisticated, not at all bulky,” Pierce describes. It’s also a chance for the brand to tap into short boots with transitional silhouettes, including a version with a turndown cuff. Other key styles include a 7-inch lace-up boot with an inside zipper for ease, a double buckle 8-inch pull-on and fun with colors and prints, including camouflage, emerald green, cranberry and dark honey. With the introduction of slimmer silhouettes and utilitarian features, Pierce says, “We’re spreading our wings.” But he is quick to point out that the company will remain value and price conscious. “I think our boots have become staple items, like a flipflop. Every girl has one to eight pairs of flip-flops,” he says. “These type of boots priced under $100 can be their winter flip-flops.” —Angela Velasquez

DANKSO MAKES TRACKS into the outdoor arena with Boulder, an adventure-ready lifestyle collection for women, for Fall ’14. “At Dansko we believe women should have a comfortable option for every occasion in their lives,” states Ebeth Pitman, vice president of marketing for the West Grove, PA-based brand. “The Boulder collection works to deliver this promise, offering outdoor-inspired style for light walks, trips through the snow and everything in-between.” The four-shoe package is infused with outdoor performance features for all-day comfort on and off the beaten track. It includes seam-sealed waterproof constructions to keep feet dry, slip-resistant Vibram outsoles for durability and stability, DuPont Sorona linings to wick away moisture and Cleansport NXT technology to control odor. In addition, triple-density EVA footbeds deliver a cushioned feel and can be removed and replaced with an orthotic insole for additional support. “Boulder was designed for the woman seeking purposeful, outdoor-inspired footwear for adventure of all sizes, keeping her on any path she chooses,” Pitman adds. The nubuck leather styles span sneakerized slipons and lace-ups to fur-trimmed booties and mid-calf boots in a nature-inspired palette of neutrals peppered with pops of taupe and wine. Wholesale prices range from $72.50 to $112.50. “We truly believe this collection is as good looking as it is functional,” Pittman says, adding that a similar assortment for men is in the cards. —Lyndsay McGregor

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Doctor’s Orders Vionic expands its men’s offering and ups its fashion ante. WHEN A PATIENT walked in to Dr. Philip Vasyli’s office about 10 years ago complaining that his orthotic insoles didn’t quite “vibe” with his Australian flip-flop lifestyle, Vasyli got the idea to create shoes with the insoles built directly into them, thus Orthaheel technology was born. Vasyli then merged with Vionic Group to create a line of footwear designed to restore the foot’s natural alignment; therefore alleviating joint, neck and back pain. Having earned its comfort cred, Vionic is shifting its focus to fashion. “When we started, 98 percent of styles were orthotics, now we are evolving

into a stylish footwear company for men and women,” says Chris Gallagher, president and CEO of Vionic Group. Vionic launched with a women’s focus, offering just a handful of looks for men beginning two years ago. But in keeping up with growing demand, Spring ’14 marked an expanded offering for men. The decision came largely from hearing out Vionic’s loyal female consumers, who make up 85 percent of business, that were complaining there were no shoes available offering the same support for their husbands and boyfriends. “Customers are asking for it,” Gallagher confirms. “And people in the industry are telling me men’s is flat right now—nothing new is happening.” Enter Vionic’s updated and expanded collection for Fall ’14: A mix of premium leather dress and casual styles with a few canvas options thrown into the mix. Muted gray, shades of brown and navy cover the lace up and slip-on walker styles while the leather strap flip-flops come in dark gray, black and brown tones. Vionic will also introduce a collection of men’s slippers that incorporate the same comfort technologies—an unusual feature for the often unstructured footwear segment. The entire collection wholesales between $30 to $100. So far so good as Gallagher reports the men’s collection has received a strong reaction from a range of retailers, including key independents and leading department stores like Dillard’s and Nordstrom. “We’ve continued to build more style in our product range and the consumer eats it up,” says Gallagher. “I would challenge anyone to put our men’s range on the floor and tell me it looks like ‘orthotic’ footwear.” —Brittany Leitner

intrigue too Merlot

prosper Military Grey

solar Pewter

Come and see the Fall/Winter 2014 collection from Kalso Earth® Shoes! Atlanta Shoe Market | February 13-15 | Cobb Galleria Center | Booth #1645-1647


FN Platform | February 18-20 | Las Vegas Convention Center | Booth #82610

Kalso Earth® Shoes ( is a trademark of Meynard Designs, Inc. licensed to Earth, Inc. (Waltham, MA). © 2014 Earth, Inc.

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continued from page 20 want to give up comfort. That is essential.” its hair care products. And Toyota, which designed its Venza model specifiWhile Boomers may have more disposable income, expectations run high cally for older Americans, featured Boomers with their Millennial-aged kids when they invest their money. “The good news is for those who deliver, the in its marketing campaign. over-50 segment is extremely loyal to both brands and individual products Boomers, it should be noted, want to be catered to at the age and menthat consistently meet their needs,” Pitts says. tality they see themselves, not what they actually are. That’s why it’s betAlong those lines, Boomers expect to be treated with respect. And doing ter to leave “age” out of it. “We don’t market specifically by age group. so increases their loyalty, especially since many brands and retailers ignore Our brand essence is feeling free, starting with your feet,” explains Evert them. “The over-50 consumer needs comfort, they understand quality and Rotteveel, senior marketing manager at Ecco USA. “It’s about being comthey like and appreciate good service when making purchases at retail,” fortable and feeling good about yourself in the footwear you have on.” This Kahan says. “But they need to be treated with respect, because many are approach is also being used by Clarks. Recently the brand switched up its now very tech savvy and many are very fashion aware.” designs and marketing to target consumers ages 30 to 44. But that’s okay as Weiner says the in-store experience is really what makes the difference Senior Marketing Manager Carly Danforth reveals that focus groups show for customers over 50. “If you take good that its 55- to 64-year-old customer base care of them and have the shoes in is responding to the younger marketing stock, they tend to stay with you because vibe. “They realize they don’t need to be they’re happy when they find things they wearing a clog to have the comfort we like,” he says. deliver,” she adds. Avey says that having a knowlSperry Top-Sider has found that stayedgeable sales staff is vital. “Boomers ing true to its heritage has been the often have already done their homemost important strategy in appealing to work online before they come into the the over-50 crowd. “Macro trends supstore so they want to know the differport the fact that consumers are findence between the style they’re looking at ing comfort and connection in prodand other shoes,” she says. “They rely on ucts and brands that evoke nostalgia,” staff to inform them on their purchases.” says Karen Pitts, vice president of marRotteveel echoes this sentiment: “The keting, adding that the 50-and-over whole notion of comfort in its widest segment is drawn to the brand’s classic explanation within a store is important, styles, like the Authentic Original boat as is exceeding the consumer’s expectashoe. Birkenstock is also staying true tions.” Weiner adds that if you can build to its roots, despite its recent renaisa personal relationship with your cussance on the runway. “We don’t push tomers, you can recognize their situthis whole youth thing. It’s nice that the ation and connect them to a shoe that more trendy people are now picking up works for them. “Carry the brands that on Birkenstock but we’re never going to you’re able to do that with,” he advises. do anything that will alienate our core “And send them thank you notes aftercustomer,” Kahan assures. “They’ve been —Jillian Avey, marketing manager, Propét wards—they love that.” around long enough to not accept anyIndeed, how you communicate with thing less than a comfortable shoe on Boomers is key. And don’t underestitheir foot.” mate their social media skills. Boomers Indeed, products and services adaptrepresent one-third of all social media users, while another third of them ed to older customers often benefit everybody, and retailers are cottoning shop online, spending almost $7 billion annually. They influence and are on, too. “We try to be current for that 29 to 54 age group, which really makes influenced by what their social network is saying about a specific brand or our store acceptable for anybody aged 18 to 80,” says Gary Weiner, presiproduct as much as any Millennial. In fact, the over-55s are the fastest growdent and CEO of Saxon Shoes in Richmond, VA, adding that heels are not ing demographic on Twitter—active usage has grown 79 percent since 2012. as powerful as they were 20 years ago. “The world is gravitating towards the So tweet that! comfort market, whether it’s a flat or a comfort pump. That really plays right “People love to share, particularly in their own age group, and now that into the mature market, which demands comfort.” He cites Clarks, Ecco, those over 50 are just as much on social media as the younger generation, Pikolinos, Munro, Stuart Weitzman, Mephisto and Beautifeel as Saxon’s bestselling brands, and notes that it sells as many of Dansko’s comfort clogs they have more of an ability to share,” stresses Marshal Cohen, chief industry to 20-year-old nurses as it does to the 50-and-over age group. analyst of the retail tracking firm, NPD Group. “You need to multi-tier your Another demographic attribute of Boomers that should be attractive to marketing.” Sperry Top-Sider, for instance, communicates to all ages using the footwear industry is it’s a generation raised on technology as a solution multiple marketing platforms—from print, digital and social media to expeto their problems. The latest innovations—be it smartphones, tablets, flat riential and in-store events—because, as Pitts notes, “It is less about age and screen TVs, wearable technologies—all send a similar message: upgrade to more about the lifestyle that we are celebrating.” enhance your overall well-being. “Boomers are the generation that creatBrands and retailers need to convert sales and the simple fact is Boomers ed product development in all areas of their life. They really demand innorepresent huge potential. “The 50-plus demographic is one of the most convation in all their products and they want style in everything,” Avey says. sistent growth markets in footwear, has been and will continue to be,” Cohen “They’re looking for footwear that’s flexible for a lot of different wearing claims. “Ignoring them is giving away a big part of your business and a chunk occasions—styles that can take them from work to play.” Miroballi agrees: of market share.” If you adopt the right approach they will open their minds “They don’t want to look older, they want to look fashionable, but they don’t and, more importantly, their wallets. •

“Boomers often have already done their homework online before they come into the store so they want to know the difference between the style they’re looking at and the other shoes.”

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NOMINEES! LITTLE BLACK DRESS c Michael by Michael Kors c Vince Camuto c Sam Edelman c Boutique 9

c c c c

WOMEN’S COMFORT Naot Earthies Cobb Hill Dansko

c c c c

OUTDOOR Merrell Rocky S2V Lowa Oboz

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SUIT & TIE Ted Baker Cole Haan Allen Edmonds Johnston & Murphy

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CHILDREN’S Toms Primigi Skechers Ralph Lauren

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MADE IN AMERICA Vintage Shoe Company Sbicca New Balance Munro

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MEN’S COLLECTION Wolverine 1000 Mile Sperry Top-Sider Clarks Ugg Australia

c c c c

RUNNING Brooks Skechers GoRun Mizuno Hoka One One

c c c c

SLIPPERS Ugg Australia Acorn Dearfoams Haflinger


WOMEN’S COLLECTION Modern Vice Elizabeth & James Steve Madden Rebecca Minkoff

c c c c

ATHLETIC LIFESTYLE Keds Adidas Converse Vans

c c c c

c c c c

KILLER STILETTO Badgley Mischka Chinese Laundry B Brian Atwood Ivanka Trump

c c c c

RAIN BOOTS Chooka Hunter Bogs Kamik

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COWBOY BOOTS Durango Old Gringo Ariat Lucchese ONLINE RETAILER PlanetShoes Zappos Net-A-Porter (Write-in)

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BOOTS Born White Mountain Frye Minnetonka

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SURF Cushe Sanuk OluKai Vans

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MEN’S COMFORT Ecco Alegria Aetrex Rockport

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WORK BOOTS Wolverine Rocky Cat Keen

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SIT & FITS Comfort One Shoes Miroballi Shoes Saxon Shoes (Write-in)

BOUTIQUE Shoe Market Bus Stop Leffot (Write-in)

BEST COLLAB Keds x Kate Spade Dr. Martens x Agyness Deyn Melissa + Karl Lagerfeld Wolverine 1000 Mile by Samantha Pleet c Bass Loves Rachel Antonoff

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE RETAIL c (Write-in only) BRAND OF THE YEAR Toms Birkenstock Sperry Top-Sider Steve Madden

c c c c

COMPANY OF THE YEAR VF Corporation Skechers Wolverine Worldwide Nike

c c c c

NATIONAL CHAIN DSW Nordstrom Bloomingdale’s (Write-in)

WINNERS ANNOUNCED FEB. 5, 2014 AT THE FFANY SHOW FW_02_14_ballot_01.indd 11

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deliveries are late… It’s just that today the problems and the business overall happen so much faster. Everything needs to happen faster. And the faster the business, the faster the problems come. But my take is that problems are opportunities. If you didn’t have them, you didn’t have the order to begin with. For example, I see that we shipped 8 million pairs of shoes last year and we might have had an issue with 200,000 pairs. All those individual orders that accounted for the 200,000 pairs made it seem like the world was crashing down. But don’t forget, we shipped 7.8 million pairs on time, in good quality and with no problems. I guess nobody wants to give you credit for the good things you did. They only want to tell you what went wrong [laughs].

• $10 • FEBRUA RY 2014 VOL. 24 • ISSUE 2

Fall Forecast From Calf Hair to Velvet, the Textures of the Season

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Why has the business gotten so much faster? Fashion is happening faster. Retailers see a shoe pop up online somewhere and they want it right away. Consumers want product shipped the next day as well. In the past, the August trade shows were when orders were placed. Now we’re getting orders in December to arrive by the same deadline. We’re trying to turn it around as fast as we can. It’s a big reason why Steve Madden has been so successful—he makes a certain style in New York, puts it into his stores and finds out right away if something is working. Then he’ll fire off an order to his factory for 70,000 pairs and sell a boatload of them because he knows they will be good. The business is moving really fast, but it’s not a bad thing. Because? It meets what retailers and, ultimately, their customers demand. In that regard, I don’t think the Internet shortens the lifespan of a trend. It just makes everyone aware of it faster. Before, there were trends nobody knew about because they never got beyond where they originated. Social media might keep a trend going longer. It has with tall boots. Where do you see Consolidated Shoes in five years? We expect to be a bigger business. We work on that every day and I’m confident we will achieve our goals. We will have more partnerships. One of our main goals is to establish our brands further in order to be a player with the Nordstrom and Dillard’s of the world. We also want to become more of a globally known resource. We are opening accounts around the world and will continue to do so. Is there another Carrington in the wings? No. Twelve years ago we became an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) company. Eventually, Consolidated Shoes will become 100-percent owned by the employees. What do you love most about your job? The diversity and the people. I’m just not a standstill guy. I can’t sit in an office 52 weeks a year staring at the four walls. I love traveling to our Asia factories, the shows and seeing our customers. I just love it all. I used to be on the road eight months a year, but now it’s about six months. Being the boss makes me have to be in the office a lot more than I really want to be, but that’s okay if it means helping us reach our goals. Are they within reach? Absolutely. We would become a hugely profitable company if just our branded business grew to a certain volume—and that is a more than reasonable goal. We believe OTBT has the potential to reach that goal on its own. And if our branded business could one day equal the size of our first-cost business, then I’d turn the job over to somebody else and take my ESOP dividend check and check out [laughs]. •

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Ahoy, matey! We’re going overboard for adventure!

The USRA May Event May 4-6, 2014 Red Rock Resort Las Vegas

Red Rock Casino • Resort • Spa




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Yo ho! Treasure awaits. So swash buckle your shoes and prepare to board. Rum runs, booty, and smooth sailing ahead! N Keynote Speakers, Panels & Workshops N Continuing Education Points for CPEDs N Order Discounts N Golf Tournament N Hotel & Meals included N Industry Networking N Jolly Roger Buccaneer Blast!

Arrrrr! You in? Aye, our crew needs all hands on deck! Call or email the USRA office for Membership info or a May Event package. Phone: (818) 703-6062 Email:

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For he’s a Jolly Roger good fellow, USRA honors Cap’n Gary Champion, Earth Inc. 2014 USRA Industry Icon



1/18/14 4:20 PM


catch of the day

Sole Survivor After a fisherman survives 12 hours at sea using his boots as makeshift flotation devices and later becomes the subject of a New York Times Magazine cover story, the bootmaker finally gets its well-deserved moment in the sun. By Brittany Leitner

The lifesaving Dunlop Purofort Thermo+ boot.

John Aldridge’s cover story in The New York Times Magazine.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon may star in the movie adaptation of this incredible story.

IT WAS MAN overboard—in the middle of the night, miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean off Montauk Point, with no life vest, no tracking devices and not a soul in the world who knew of lobster fisherman John Aldridge’s plight last July. Aldridge slipped and tumbled off his boat while two crewmembers were fast asleep and the boat was on autopilot. All he could do, bobbing in the water, was watch his boat disappear into the darkness as he faced certain death, be it from hypothermia, predators (one shark did circle a few hours into his ordeal) or exhaustion. For the next 12 hours Aldridge was indeed “A Speck in the Sea,” the title of a recent New York Times Magazine cover story that detailed his epic survival tale from plunge to rescue that has summer blockbuster written all over it. (Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has bought the rights and plans to reunite Good Will Hunting stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in the lead roles.) And Aldridge would certainly have died if not for the green rubber boots he ingeniously kicked off and—by trapping air in each—turned into makeshift pontoons that he held under each arm. Incidentally, the trick defied the conventional overboard survival rule of discarding boots entirely to lose extra weight. Aldridge’s boots saved his life. They played such a key role in this epic tale that his father later got an image of them tattooed on his arm as a memento of his son’s incredible survival story. Oddly enough, the maker of the boots was omitted from The New York Times Magazine piece and numerous other news sources that covered this story. Images of Aldridge’s boots included in articles had the label shadowed, and in TV interviews the logo was rubbed off completely. What gives?

Aldridge’s father was quoted in one article, joking that they weren’t revealing the brand name so as not to compromise any potential endorsement deals. But then a Canadian fan of Dunlop boots recognized the images as the brand’s Purofort Thermo+ boots. A Holland-based company dating back to 1888, Dunlop holds the patent to the pneumatic rubber tire. The Purofort Thermo+ is part of its agriculture collection of safety footwear. Features include insulation effective down to -58°F, an extra-thick sole that retains heat and provides shock absorption, and a flexible upper that allows for ease of movement. The suggested retail price is $239. For Aldridge, the Dunlops were worth every penny—and many more. In fact, when the exhausted, sunburned and dehydrated fisherman was finally plucked out of the water by a Coast Guard helicopter, he made sure the rescuer retrieved the boots as well. Although Jan Bongers, marketing director for Dunlop, reports having heard of other fishing-related tales where the boots were used as flotation devices, he confesses that he’s never heard of a survival story as epic as Aldridge’s. “It’s a story you want to hear about your product,” Bongers says of Aldridge’s tale. And the father’s story of the tattoo? “We don’t even have people who work for us with tattoos of our product,” he says with a laugh. Bongers notes that English coast guards love Dunlop boots, and the deep cut lug soles help keep fishermen from getting entangled in nets. “We’re first and foremost happy he survived,” Bongers notes of Aldridge. “Secondly, it confirms our positioning in the market in that we want to make the best boots in the world. Using them as a flotation device will definitely become part of our marketing efforts.”

88 • february 2014

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Fashion Inspires Us Value Drives Us


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A Division of White Mountain

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