OUTDOOR RETAILER SHOPPER: CHILLS & THRILLS • GETTING TO KNOW GEN Z • THE BALANCED APPROACH DRIVING DANSKO
J U LY 2 0 1 7 đ ƫ ƫ Ă Ĉ ƫ đ ƫ ƫ ć ƫ đ ƫ ĸāĀ
PRETTY IN PINK
From Blush to Dusty Rose, it’s the Hue of Spring ’18
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J U LY 2 0 17 FEATU R ES 10 Meet Gen Z Spendthrift, entrepreneurial and smartphone-obsessed, here’s how best to reach this throwback generation. By Ann Loynd 12 Balancing Act More than a year after being named president of Dansko, Jim Fox details the delicate balance needed to succeed in today’s topsy-turvy retail landscape. By Greg Dutter 18 Thrills and Chills Spanning the extremes of peak performance to casual bliss, leading outdoor brands offer a broad range of styles for Spring ’18. By Ann Loynd 28 Think Pink Designers look through rose-colored glass this spring. By Ann Loynd
PA G E
DEPA RTM ENTS 4 Editor’s Note 6 This Just In 8 Scene & Heard 23 What’s Selling
On the cover: Blush tennis shoes by Lacoste, Asos track pants, stylist’s own top and earrings. This page: New Balance joggers, Berenik shorts, Spiritual Gangster sweatshirt, Kangol hat.
Photography by Trevett McCandliss; styling by Ann Loynd and Daniela Lukomski; hair and makeup: Abraham Sprinkle/Next Artists; model: Vanessa W./Wilhelmina Models.
24 My Turn
Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL Ann Loynd Fashion Editor Emily Beckman Associate Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Melodie Jeng Contributing Photographer ADVERTISING/ PRODUCTION Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Katie Belloff Associate Art Director Production Manager Ana Novikova Office Administration Bruce Sprague Circulation Director Mike Hoff Digital Director OFFICES Advertising/Editorial 135 W. 20th St., Suite 402 New York, NY 10011 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 editorialrequests@ 9Threads.com Circulation 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 circulation@9Threads.com Corporate 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300
26 Trend Spotting
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42 Shoe Salon
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44 This Just In 46 Comfort 48 Last Word
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Caroline Diaco Publisher
Rich Bongorno Chief Financial Officer Debbie Grim Controller
EDITOR’S NOT E
Shake, rattle and roll
and so it goes THE TECTONIC SHIFTS rumbling through the retail landscape in the past year were earthshaking enough, but these past few weeks have created shockwaves on a new level of the Richter scale. Nordstrom announced it may go private. Hudson Bay Company lopped off 2,000 employees (many of whom were senior-level executives at its portfolio, which includes Saks and Lord & Taylor). Retail icon Mickey Drexler threw in the towel at J. Crew. Macy’s might have leased the rooftop of its iconic Manhattan flagship as a public park. And the jolt of jolts: Amazon offered $13.7 billion in cash to buy 400-plus prime (pun intended) storefronts across the U.S. with the pending acquisition of Whole Foods Market. Can a struggling department store chain be far behind? Last but surely not least, there are reports that Nike will soon begin selling direct on Amazon. This caused several competing retailer stocks to lose a collective $1 billion in market value in a day! Guess investors think a walk down the aisle for these two Pacific Northwest darlings could be a walk on the plank for many mid-level national retailers long reliant on Nike as a top draw for their stores. J.C. Penney and Foot Locker, for example, saw single-day stock value declines of about 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Swoosh, there it is…a new retail world order where Amazon sits atop the heap and Walmart continues to snap up online apparel sites—Bonobos being the latest, for $300 million—in what looks like a desperate attempt to be a bridesmaid. Lest someone else enjoy a moment in the spotlight, Amazon countered that acquisition with the test launch of its subscription box service, Prime Wardrobe, which lets customers try on clothes and shoes before they buy them and return any items they don’t like—for free. The service will be available to Prime members at no extra charge. One Wall Street firm projected Amazon’s share of the U.S. clothing market, currently 6.6 percent, will zoom to 16.2 percent by 2021. Antitrust whispers regarding Amazon will surely grow louder. One industry analyst noted it would be a smart move for an ambitious politician to go after the company that may well put millions of Americans out of work. Perhaps, but Amazon’s impact in the near
term will continue to shake up the retail landscape across every sector, our industry included. One well-connected wholesale industry exec revealed, in strict confidence, that many leading brands are doing 20 percent or more of their total sales annually between Amazon and its third-party Marketplace. Guess who calls the shots. Every pundit in the land is predicting more store closures in the months ahead for those fortunate retailers who haven’t already gone six feet under. The long-teetering, over-retailed house of cards has come crashing down. The jig is up on reporting overall growth by opening more stores. Same goes for brands that gladly fulfilled orders to stock the shelves of less-and-less trafficked locations. Not only did the practice lead to regular end-of-season markdowns and make-good battles with so-called retail partners, but brands spread themselves too thin while feeding the malignant tumor that is too much sameness at retail. Is this really the retail apocalypse that experts have long feared? Have consumers stopped wanting to shop in stores, preferring to purchase everything from toothpaste to T-shirts to tires to tomatoes on Amazon? Do eating out and spending money on experiences beat shopping for anything else? Has entering a store become so mundane and miserable that it simply isn’t worth the effort? In these extreme times, one often hears extremist views—like the activist investor at Hudson Bay Company who recently urged the board to get rid of every brick-and-mortar location ASAP. While the epic real estate deal would generate billions in much-needed capital, might it be a bit radical to go entirely digital, especially given the fact that the world’s largest online retailer is spending billions to add brick-and-mortar operations? Amid the gasp-inducing changes sweeping retail, it’s easy to lose perspective. But not one retailer or wholesaler I have spoken with in the past year believes brick-andmortar stores will become extinct anytime soon. Nor will Amazon and Walmart become shoppers’ only options. History has shown repeatedly that retail changes constantly. Just when a format seems on the verge of world domination, something new comes along that reinvents the shopping experience—again. Amazon rules now, just like Walmart, Macy’s and Sears once did. Something new—perhaps extreme curation—will come along.
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THIS JUST IN
kicks in the city As temperatures rise, New Yorkers take to the streets in dresses, separates and sneakers. Photography by Mary Kang
6 footwearplusmagazine.com â€˘ july 2017
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SCENE & HEARD
On the Menu:Two Ten Gala TWO TEN FOUNDATION’S 78th annual VIP Dinner and Gala, “One Team: Connecting Generations,” kicked off with a bang when gala co-chairs, Dr. Robert Campbell, BBC Intl. chairman and founder, and son Seth Campbell, vice president of international sales, donated $200,000 to the industry charity. It set in motion 20 lead gifts, including those from Wolverine Worldwide, Steve Madden, Aldo, Caleres, New Balance, H.H. Brown, Foot Locker, Micro-Pak Ltd., Nordstrom, Nine West, Weyco, Clarks, DSW, Shoes.com, Titan Industries, Zappos, FN Platform, Birkenstock and Camuto Group. In all, $1.2 million in donations were made—a record for the annual launch event and a big step toward reaching this year’s goal of $3.6 million. Scheduled for the evening of Nov. 29, 2017, the gala will again be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. It will begin with a VIP Dinner in the Grand Ballroom for 500 industry leaders and supporters. Cocktails will be followed by a live auction of prizes, special tributes to Two Ten clients and industry icons, and presentation of Two Ten’s T. Kenyon Holly Award for outstanding humanitarian achievement; the AA Bloom Award for dedication to Two Ten Footwear Foundation; and the Two Ten Social Impact award for commitment to giving back to the footwear community. “This year’s theme, ‘One Team: Connecting Generations’ captures the spirit of the 2017 Gala—multiple generations of our industry working together to help change the lives of thousands of shoepeople,” says Neal Newman, president of Two Ten. “We are one team, dedicated to helping our colleagues recover from a natural disaster, a health crisis or to pick up the pieces following the loss of a job or death of a family member.” “Not only are we co-chairs, we also represent two generations of our ever-evolving industry,” says Bob Campbell. “And just like our business, the footwear industry feels like one family, one team. It’s what I love most about [this industry], and I want to be sure we understand how essential it is to nurture the next generation of industry leaders.” Speaking of which, Seth Campbell and the Two Ten Associate Board, a newly established group of 16 next-generation industry leaders, will host festivities in the ballroom. Cocktails, lite fare and dancing—led by acclaimed DJ SubZero, who has performed for the likes of Kanye West, Alessandro Ambrosio and Prince. More surprise DJ SubZero entertainment will be announced on a later date.
Priced to Move A RARE PAIR of limited-edition, custom Nike “Mag” shoes complete with light-up panels and self-fastening laces—just like those worn by Michael J. Fox as “Marty McFly” in Back to the Future II—went up for auction recently at Profiles in History, the largest dealer of original Hollywood memorabilia. The futuristic kicks, #72 in the series, is reportedly in mint condition, contained in the original custom packaging and should fetch between $50,000 and $70,000. Other Nike Mag auction bids have topped out at $200,000 during the Michael J. Fox Foundation Gala in New York last fall and a follow-up Shanghai auction ended with a bid of $105,000. The vision of legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield and his team (including Nike CEO Mark Parker), the original Mag was first released in limited quantities in 2011. It featured the electroluminescent Nike on the ankle strap but no power lacing. The style made a triumphant return in the fall of 2015—this time with self-lacing capabilities thanks to Nike’s Adaptive Fit technology. Fox was presented with the first pair and an additional 89 pairs were made for auction and raffle with proceeds benefitting the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Also hitting the auction circuit: Nike’s Zoom VaporFly Elite, the shoe recently worn by an elite team of distance runners that tried to break the first-ever sub-two-hour marathon by relay. (Missed it by 25 seconds.) Only 100 pairs were made—a few were seeded to celebrities and other went to winners of a Nike+Run Club giveaway. A size 8 pair, packaged in a special wooden box with carbon fiber lid and collectible card, hit eBay recently Zoom VaporFly Elite with a starting bid of $10,000.
YouTube to Air Sneaker Design Series
YOUTUBE HAS TEAMED with legendary sneaker designer D’Wayne Edwards, founder of the Pensole Footwear Design Academy, and America’s Next Top Model executive producer Ken Mok to launch “Lace Up: The Ultimate Sneaker Challenge,” the first-ever sneaker design competition series. The show, airing on YouTube Red this fall, will take place in a real-world environment, as it follows a heightened version of the existing master class program at Pensole Academy in Portland, OR. The unscripted series emphasizes a mix of footwear design and professional skills, and features 12 competitors operating in four teams. The
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ultimate challenge: who can design the next great sneaker. “I’m humbled that YouTube found an interest in Pensole’s mission of providing free education and opportunities to aspiring designers,” says Edwards. “This show will help us reach those future students around the world that never knew jobs like this existed by revealing the process of how sneakers are created.” Each week, teams will create and present a new sneaker whose design is inspired by a guest sneakerhead. Special guests slated to appear include Anthony Anderson, Fetty Wap, Ashley Graham, Macklemore, Jamie Chung, Stan Smith, Jesse Wellens and Jacques Slade.
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S P E C I A L R E P O RT
MEET GEN Z Sp e n d t h r i f t , e n t r e p r e n e u r i a l a n d s m a r t p h o n e - o b s e s s e d , h e r e’s h o w t o b e s t reach this throwback generation. BY A N N LOY N D WHILE REAMS HAVE been written about much-coveted Millennial consumfor a while.” To get these shoppers to buy, Dorsey adds, brands need to have a ers, all aimed at attracting their attention, devotion and discretionary dollars lower-price offering that is perceived as quality. “Pricing and transparency is (millions upon billions of them), there’s an up-and-coming demographic really important to this generation,” he says. “They want to hear they’re getmarketers are now salivating over: Gen Z. Born between 1995 and the early ting a good deal, but it’s got to last or have other benefits that make sense.” 2000s and making up approximately 27 percent of the global population, Authenticity is crucial, Cohen agrees, since this generation is good at doing Generation Z (also known as Centennials, Founders and iGen) looks to its homework, thanks to the Internet. “They have the ability to do more ‘presoon dethrone Millennials as lead trend-drivers. And everyone take note: search’ on how to buy than their predecessors,” he says. “And they’re used to They may be social media savvy and comfortable shopping online—just like the ability to buy what they want, when they want and from whomever they Millennials—but any similarities pretty much end there. Studies show this want to buy at any price.” younger demographic has more in common with generations that precede That’s a tall order for brands and retailers to meet, but Martire believes it Millennials and Gen X. In fact, the Center for Generational Kinetics dubbed can be done. “This is a generation of multi-devise and multi-tasking, so from Gen Z the “Throwback Generation” in a recent study for a Call It Spring standpoint our strategy has shifted to its collective attitude toward work, spending and saving. digital-first, which also focuses on ease of access to “Generation Z doesn’t remember 9/11, which was such our product offering across all channels,” he says. “It’s “They key to a defining moment for Millennials,” says Jason Dorsey, also important to stay connected with the customers reaching Gen Z president of the Center for Generational Kinetics. For frequently and consistently, best achieved through Millennials, 9/11 and the Financial Crisis of 2008 were social media.” Mobile engagement and streamlined is through instances of innocence lost. Gen Z, on the other hand, browsing is crucial, Martire adds, reporting that 45 consistent, grew up with those realities, and it’s shaped them quite percent of Call It Spring’s online sales are being made differently. “At a high level, Gen Z is much more frugal on smartphones. “The power of social media has been limited-edition than Millennials, and they want to feel like they’re getting an amazing tool for us, making it easier for new shopcapsule collection a better deal,” Dorsey says. “They’d rather buy fast-fashion pers to discover us and as a way for our brand to stay or at a discount to feel like they’re stretching their dolrelevant and connected to our current customers,” he drops, ditching lar.” Dorsey’s study reveals one in five Gen Zers say debt says. Nonetheless, no amount of engagement on social the traditional should be avoided at all costs, they’re already thinking platforms can take the place for trend-now styles and retail spring/ about retirement and many go to work early. (Seventysilhouettes at affordable prices. “Gen Z is a demoseven percent of those age 14 to 21 currently earn their graphic that doesn’t have a lot of disposable income summer, fall/ own spending money through freelance work, part-time and credit cards yet, so it’s important our price point winter format for jobs or earned allowance.) remains fair and the styles on-trend,” Martire says. While there are billions of discretionary dollars up for Despite its digital marketing focus, Call It Spring a monthly or grabs as Gen Zers develop brand relationships that could remains committed to its brick-and-mortar stores—in even bimonthly flourish for decades, those dollars are much more difficult malls, no less. Artful instillations, multimedia displays to get. “They’re spending money, but they’re not purchasand a tightly curated assortment of product satisfy product offering ing the same way as their predecessors,” says Marshal this customer’s short attention span and delight for with an emphasis Cohen, retail industry analyst at the NPD Group. “The instant gratification. NPD’s Cohen adds that while the younger generation is all about building memories, not proportion of online shopping is high in this group, on limited wardrobes. They prioritize their image and position in they still shop in stores. “They like the store experidistribution.” social media higher than fashion,” he adds. ence; they like instant gratification,” he says. Dania Indeed, social media plays a huge role for this group, Shiblaq, spokesperson for Birkenstock USA, notes which has never known a world without cell phones. that the younger members of this generation have to “Growing up connected to mobile, their attention spans are shorter than shop in stores. “Online requires a credit card, so shopping brick-and-mortar previous generations—only eight seconds,” notes Nicholas Martire, senior still matters, and it also presents the opportunity to engage this group if the vice president, Aldo Group/Call It Spring. In addition, the emphasis Gen Z experience is exciting,” she says, adding, “Don’t be boring. Be authentic and puts on quality isn’t quite the same as previous generations, since each outfit express a real point of view. Presenting a sea of shoes is no longer good enough.” is only worth one social media post. “As you look at footwear, Gen Z is more Cohen cautions brands not to look at online as additional business. It’s about utilitarian in their view about something they’re going to wear,” Dorsey says. offering newness and innovation; it’s another language. “Gen Z doesn’t want “It’s going to go on social media. Once it’s on Instagram, they can’t wear it to look at the same product for four months,” he says. An ever-changing >41 10 footwearplusmagazine.com • july 2017
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BY GREG DUTTER
BALANCING ACT More than a year after being named president of Dansko, Jim Fox de tails the delicate balance needed to succeed in t o d a y ’s t o p s y - t u r v y r e t a i l l a n d s c a p e .
IM FOX HAD some very big clogs to fill when he was named president of Dansko at the beginning of last year. He was replacing Mandy Cabot, Dansko’s founder, visionary and, for all intents and purposes, den mother of the (primarily) women’s comfort company for the past 27 years. Cabot is Dansko and Dansko is Cabot. The two are intertwined, their DNA strains woven together in a bond unlike most corporate structures. Every detail— down to the artwork hanging on the walls of Dansko’s renowned ecofriendly headquarters in West Grove, PA—reflects Cabot’s influence. Her motherly instincts and expert business skills have served the company well. It has steadily grown into a cornerstone comfort brand for thousands of retailers. Along the way, Cabot made every business decision, always with the long-term health of the company and its employees in mind. (The recent decision to make Dansko 100 percent employeeowned is just one example.) So when the time came to look for a successor—one who could begin by running the day-to-day operations while Cabot focused on the company’s big picture initiatives—it’s little surprise that she tapped in-house talent. She chose Fox, who had spent the past 11 years as Dansko’s CFO. “Jim shares our vision and values, understands our history and the factors that have contributed to our success,” Cabot says. “I take great comfort in passing the baton to someone we know so well and trust so implicitly.” On a more symbolic level, Cabot adds, “Dansko has always been about providing opportunities, about making the unavailable available and about sharing something great, starting with our flagship clogs. Promoting people from within, providing growth opportunities for our employees, indeed providing equity for our employees’ commitment and contribution, is at the heart of what we do and who we are.” When Fox joined Dansko he never thought he might one day become its president. But what he did know right away was that he hoped he could make it a career. Fox felt he had found a home following his six-year stint
as CFO of And1, an athletic apparel and footwear brand based nearby. (Fox had had the good fortune of having lived across the hall from Jay Gilbert, one of And1’s founders, during his freshman year at Stanford. Following a stint in the United States Air Force’s intelligence unit during the first Persian Gulf War, he completed business school then the
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• 43 SIZES & 4 WIDTHS • IN-STOCK & OPEN-STOCK • SPRING 2018
O&A two reconnected and Fox began his footwear industry career.) Fox says it was the people at Dansko—specifically founders Cabot and her husband Peter Kjellerup along with longtime COO Mimi Curry—who made him feel welcome at Dansko. He also liked Dansko’s corporate culture, which takes business seriously but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Case in point: Pet dogs are allowed in the office. He says the culture prioritizes “caring about its employees and the local community.” Eight years later, Cabot reached out to Fox about becoming Dansko’s president. “She wasn’t and hasn’t gone anywhere, but she wanted to make sure any such transition wouldn’t be an abrupt change,” he says. Cabot knew Fox was the right man for the job, taking into account what Dansko has become. “While my less What are you reading? structured approach worked when we were I enjoy history books. a smaller mom-and-pop, Jim is better able Most recently I read The to manage—and measure—the details that Wright Brothers by David matter in a larger organization,” she says, McCullough. The details adding, “I’m a dreamer; Jim is a doer. While about the competition I ask why, Jim asks how.” and the skepticism they The partnership looks to be a balance faced were fascinating. of right- and left-brain talents. “Mandy and I are very complementary,” Fox says. What is inspiring you “She’s always looking forward about what right now? I went to we can do next, whereas I’m trying to exemy goddaughter’s high cute those ideas.” For example, Fox considschool graduation party ers Cabot a great asset to the marketing recently and the young team because she can ground the mempeople going off into bers in Dansko’s history but is flexible in the world are always thinking about where it should go. “We inspiring. ask different types of questions of people,” he adds. “She’s more into product, while I What is your motto? defer to the experts and ask questions about I really don’t have one, SKU management, business strategy and but I like to say it’s the so forth.” Adds Cabot: “Jim brings a high same as my blood type: level of discipline to the work of the execB positive. utive team, riding herd on strategic initiatives, documenting what’s worked, what If you could invite hasn’t and lessons learned. In that sense, anyone to dinner, who he demands a higher-degree of accountwould it be? ability from the team than I did.” David Letterman, Bruce Take the management of SKUs, for examSpringsteen, David ple. Cabot has long been known to love all McCullough…I’d have a the new styles and has a hard time trimtough time picking just ming the final assortment down each seaone, but I don’t think son. Fox, on the other hand, believes less can be better. “We have to be focused without losing anything,” he says. “It’s helpful to retailers from an inventory management perspective and in terms of the choices they have to make.” That said, Fox knows you can’t satisfy everybody by having everything each season, nor can you be too tight. “While I would love to get all our sales out of just black and brown, that doesn’t work either,” he says with a laugh. So far so good on the executive balancing act. While Fox won’t take credit for the range of products performing well at retail this spring, he cites the hiring of Tiss Dahan as the new vice president of marketing last summer as helping the company to kick start several initiatives regarding ways the brand can understand its consumer better and making sure it clarifies the messages
it’s delivering to them. “We’ve made a real effort to make sure we have more photography and digital assets that we can provide to our retailers as well as use ourselves,” he says, adding, “These may seem like small details, but we’ve done a good job overall on focusing on the right areas and getting the right people involved working on our priorities as we go forward.” As for the immediate future, Fox says Dansko will focus on its core business in the years ahead. He sees enormous potential for growth in the brand’s existing categories, both in women’s and men’s. “Whether it’s in our lifestyle categories, everyday essential footwear for people to wear to work, occupational, expansion in men’s…we have lots of opportunities within those categories,” he says. It’s an enviable position for Dansko. “It’s helpful to be able to focus on what I’m going to get any of them you know you already do well and to know any time soon. that there are opportunities for growth in those categories,” Fox says. “It’s defiWhat is the best business nitely a positive for Dansko.” decision you’ve ever made?
OFF THE CUFF
Besides coming to work at Dansko, a lot of them come back to trusting the people who work with me, whether it’s been someone in sales who was pushing something for somebody or somebody in product who really believed in something. More times than not, when I’ve helped them get to the right place, it’s worked out well. What talent would you most like to have? I would love the ability to get up in front an audience and extemporaneously entertain—make them laugh and think. What is your favorite hometown memory? I grew up outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one of my best memories is July Fourth fireworks on Lake Michigan at the Summerfest Grounds.
What are doing differently as president that you weren’t doing before? My role has changed quite a bit. Setting aside my heavy involvement in finance and budgeting, my job now involves a more holistic view of the business and asking different types of questions. It’s less about the numbers and more about specific issues and problems. That said, the good thing about having been CFO is I have nice visibility into how the entire business is run. Fortunately, the people I work with are tremendous. They know a lot more about their respective work areas than I ever will. As such, my job as president is making sure that they are thinking about the right aspects and working with the right people internally to overcome any hurdles. The other big change, which is one that I really enjoy, is meeting with our customers in their stores and at trade shows.
The transition of you assuming dayto-day responsibilities has been seamless, correct? Yes. For starters, everything is a lot easier when you have a strong brand, a talented team and great relationships already in place. And all those aspects can be traced back to Mandy. In addition, it’s not like I’m stepping into a completely new role, a new company or a business with a lot of problems. We’ve got a business with all these fantastic things going for it.
How is business for Dansko this year? Knocking on wood, business has been good. We’re pleased. We can’t track all our sales but for the ones we do get reports on, we are up over last spring. While we’d like to be up a lot more, we’re happy that we have successful shoes across different categories. We have had success in our sneaker category, the
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O&A Honor and Charlie styles have performed well this spring. Our Demetra peep toe, open back bootie has also sold through well this season, as has our Vera sandal. Overall, we’re not relying on a particular pattern, collection or category, and that makes us optimistic about the future. Being up at all is no easy feat considering the overall volatility in the market of late. It’s a very challenging environment. Everybody is affected by changing consumer habits and reduced traffic in stores. Retailers are understandably acting conservatively in terms of orders and managing inventory, and that affects us all. It’s not like we are up 20 percent, but we are at least happy that we are performing well, and I think that’s a testament to the channels that we are in, having the right product and getting our message out there. Success starts with good product, but might there be other aspects helping Dansko, too? Nothing else really matters if you don’t have good product. But I believe our customer service is top-notch. We’ve won awards and we always strive to be the best, whether in terms of deliveries, dealing with people on the phone and so forth. I also believe we are fortunate in terms of the strong retailer relationships that we’ve established. They’re very important to us and we do everything we can to make them strong. They are a testament to the people we have here who have developed these relationships over the long term. We don’t have a lot of people changing in and out of positions in terms of who our retailers work with. It’s a huge asset in that our team understands the business and has built a mutual respect with their customers. It’s another tenet of the company that Mandy established, and we will continue to build on. Also, it should be noted that a lot of the turmoil that is going on at retail
of late are channels that we don’t necessarily sell. That doesn’t mean we are immune to everything, but we have been fortunate in that aspect. Dansko started out as the “little clog company that could” that evolved into a big clog company and now a women’s comfort company. Is that an accurate assessment of where the company now stands? We describe ourselves as a premium quality comfort footwear brand. It isn’t just clogs, it’s a wide variety of footwear. It’s predominantly women’s, but we want to do more in men’s. Internally, we say we strive for people who want to get the most from life. That means shoes that are good for your feet, all day and every day. But also in a range of styles that are right for our customers. It’s not rocket science, but I believe there are a lot of things we have yet to deliver to really maximize the opportunities there. Like growing your men’s business? We’ve always had men’s, but it’s been a small component of the business. We launched a new collection last fall and we are moving forward with that. It did fine. It was like retail overall: mixed. In some places, it did well and in other places we’re still working at it. Part of that was due to not being able to make a big splash in terms of marketing, but we got good product into the right places and I believe that approach just takes time to build, just like the Dansko brand in general. Other brands have tried or are in the process of spending lots of money trying to cross over into men’s. What are Dansko’s potential dual gender brand attributes? Aspects like comfort, premium quality and styling that you are comfortable wearing all translate into men’s. Now to your point, there are some brands
Adjustable. Adaptable. Comfort.
With removable footbed.
SEE OUR SPRING 2018 COLLECTION FN Platform Outdoor Retailer Booth # 31168W Atlanta Shoe Market Booth # 1204 / 1206
7/5/17 1:13 PM
that are so representative in people’s minds as one gender that it’s difficult to crossover. For us, I think it’s more a matter of men getting to know Dansko. It’s not like they know us as something else. It’s similar in how people have gotten to know us as a comfort brand and not just a clog brand. It’s always fun to see consumers say, “I didn’t know Dansko made shoes like that…” That’s a big part of the opportunity for our growth going forward, and that includes men’s. Being a predominantly “brown shoe” brand, how has the athleisure trend impacted sales? As consumers wear sneakers more frequently, it does have an impact on the rest of the business, no question. But you don’t want to be a copycat and you don’t want to be too late to the party. You want to are deliver what consumers want. It’s figuring out what the right balance is. We are fortunate that consumers have been happy to accept that sneaker look from us, but we’ve delivered something unique. It has the Dansko DNA and yet it’s n athletically inspired look. It’s one thing to have a soft sneaker, but ours have the builtin arch, premium materials and outsole support. It’s a similar ride that you get from other Dansko footwear that people have come to know and trust. It’s been doing very well at retail. It also means we must up our game in the [non-sneaker] categories. Like everybody else, we have to give people a reason to buy in those categories as well. That goes back to what Mandy has always preached from the beginning: being balanced. Care to predict how much legs this yoga pants-craze has left? If I could predict the future, I would be doing something different. That aside I would say the trend toward casual will certainly continue. It’s really a long-term shift. But that doesn’t mean every other category will go away
entirely. In general, I think it bodes well for Dansko because we are more of a casual brand. Even our go-to-work items, whether it’s clogs or other styles, are more versatile and casual. Plus, we’ve got that casual history. Well, I don’t envision consumers shifting back to being uncomfortable. I don’t think that’s going to happen, either. But at the same time, when I first got here, styles and collections had a longer life span. Now everything is shorter because people want it to be more fashionable. They don’t expect to see the same thing that they saw a year ago. Our product development team is working very hard to figure out the right balance—what makes sense to bring back and when to bring in something new. Speaking of new, there have been several Dansko-esque clog collections introduced by other brands of late. Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? While the imitations confirm that we are doing something right, our job is to stay a step ahead on product innovation as well as focusing on the Dansko brand because, as we talked about earlier, it’s not just the product that differentiates companies. It’s the brand image and all the other business aspects that a company delivers on. What’s more, we can’t worry about what other brands are doing. We have to worry about what we’re doing and just try to get better at it. Occupational clogs, specifically, is an important category for us as a lot of folks depend on that product to wear day-in and day-out. The same goes for any new products that we roll out. Those are aspects within Dansko’s control. Now what’s your take on the state of retail that seems quite out of control lately? There’s always change and uncertainty in retail, but there’s been an unusual amount of late. That’s what has everybody so uncomfortable because >47
7/5/17 1:12 PM
OU TD O O R PREVIEW : SP RI N G ’ 1 8
Chills & Thrills Spanning the extremes of peak per formance
to casual bliss, leading outdoor brands offer a broad range of styles for Spring ’18. B Y A N N L O Y N D OUTDOOR BRANDS CONTINUE to push the versatility envelope with styles that can tackle the toughest of trails at one end of the spectrum while, at the other end, offering on-trend looks suitable to take consumers from boat to beach to street. Overall, brands are expanding their lifestyle assortments this season, answering the increasing demand for performance and style. Here, 18 brands present their projected home run styles for chill- and thrill-seekers, alike.
Under Armour Horizon 50 Trail Shoe thrill Retailing for $150, the Horizon is light, fast and built for long treks. Highlighting Under Armour’s evolution into trail running, a smooth heel-to-toe transition allows for less fatigue over longer miles and an integrated collar prevents debris from entering the shoe. Meanwhile, a podular rubber outsole decreases weight by only adding rubber where the wearer needs extra grip. Adam T. Garrett, director, outdoor footwear, reports thumbs up reactions across the board from retail partners and wear testers, who proclaim the style is among the best they’ve tried. “With such strong tester feedback, this style will be a standout next to its competitors,” Garrett predicts. “The rim-and-core construction gives instantaneous underfoot comfort and the integrated collar keeps your feet blisterand debris-free over long miles.”
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Bearpaw Haden Oxford chill In an effort to adapt to inconsistent and unpredictable seasonal temperatures, Bearpaw is showcasing Q4/Q1 styles that are suitable for whatever Mother Nature may throw at us. Its standout for Spring ’18 is the Haden ($60 SRP), a hybrid oxford on a lightweight blownEVA outsole. With a perforated upper and hidden elastic band across the vamp, the laceless style offers flexible fit and easy on-and-off. A 6mm latex cushion microsuede footbed allows the style to be worn with or without socks. For colors, Bearpaw is betting on feminine pastels including lilac, sand and dove gray. “We’re looking to fill that void in the market for trans-seasonal, versatile footwear that’s also comfortable,” says Denise LeMons, head designer. “This shoe offers durability that you can wear barefoot or with socks when it’s chillier,” she adds. “And the suede is treated with NeverWet, so if you’re caught out in a rainstorm, you’re protected.”
Keen Targhee III Boot thrill Designed for any terrain or trail, the Keen Targhee II features a dual-density, compressionmolded EVA midsole and a removable footbed for cushioning and arch support. Its aggressive outsole delivers high-traction grip with 4mm multi-directional lugs. Paired with an ESS shank, injected TPU heel-capture system and waterproof, full-grain Nubuck leather upper (sporting a leather mud shield and breathable mesh lining), this style offers breakthrough durability and resilience for Spring ’18. “We have updated the iconic and trusted Targhee franchise with this bolder, edgier design that delivers the trail-ready performance and comfort our fans expect,” offers Kieth Carrato, business unit director, trailhead. “We utilized Keen technologies and coupled them with new designs and updated materials.” Carrato reports excited reactions from buyers for both the mid (SRP $145) and low ($135).
Cougar Rainy Day Slip-On chill Turning rainy days into adventures in style, this rain shoe from Cougar draws inspiration from athleisure to create a new look in the category. Rainy Day features a handcrafted textured rubber upper on a lightweight anti-slip sole. Paired with a breathable jersey lining and leather insole, the style delivers comfort and versatility in any weather. Retailing for $60, President Steve Sedlbauer reports the response has been “tremendous” thus far. “It represents a viable alternative to the heavy/utilitarian rainwear that is currently saturating the category,” he says. “This style has been resonating with travel-based magazines and fashion influencers, alike.”
Minnetonka Fricso Deerskin Boot chill Available for women and children, this classic moc bootie ($68 SRP) features lush deerskin leather inside and a bright, serape-inspired fabric upper for breathability and a fresh pop of style. A new take on Minnetonka’s popular Classic fringe boot, the flexible outsole is ideal for walking or lounging. Toni Nelson, vice president and national sales manager, reports that the reaction has been so positive, the brand fast-tracked the style from Spring ’18 to September ’17 delivery. “We’ve been receiving orders daily from accounts across the country,” Nelson says. “The style is clearly Minnetonka—from the high-quality leather, Western-inspired details and all-day comfort craftsmanship.”
Kamik Jessie Rain Boot chill Davide Degano product manager for Kamik, describes the Jessie as “part rain boot, part sneaker, all comfort.” He predicts the style’s marriage of athleisure and classic rain boot will make waves come spring, featuring lightweight rubber and a thick, anatomically shaped EVA footbed. In addition, recyclable and made-in-the-U.S. product attributes provide attractive consumer touch points at retail. (Not to mention the children’s Riptide style for mommy-and-me pairings.) Retailing for $65 SRP, Degano says reactions to the boot—which he adds is as comfortable as a sneaker—have been positive. “The Jessie addresses the increasing need for comfort with a trendy, athleisure design while continuing to feature Kamik’s durable technologies,” he says. “With the lines blurring between work and play and a booming athleisure market, we think consumers will gravitate toward the modern, functional style.”
Merrell Sunstone Sandal chill The motto for Merrell’s Sunstone Sandal ($80 SRP) is, “pack light, live big,” says Elizabeth Gutierrez, active lifestyle product marketing specialist for the subsidiary of Wolverine Worldwide. Ultra lightweight construction makes the style extremely packable for exploring cityscapes or light terrain between excursions. Rock climbing bungee straps are a nod to Merrell’s rich outdoor heritage, making a style statement as well as allowing for breathability and easy on-and-off. “The reaction to the Sunstone is mirroring the original intention,” Gutierrez reports. “Easy on-and-off, versatility and all-day comfort for urban exploration.”
2017 july • footwearplusmagazine.com 19
OU TD O O R PREVIEW : SP RI N G ’ 1 8
Taos Zen Sandal chill Adidas Terrex Two BOA Trail Runner thrill For those who want to move fast in the mountains, the Terrex Two trail runner ($120 SRP) from Adidas Outdoor features breathable mesh and lightweight cushioning built for performance training and competition. In step with the brand’s movement to be more eco-conscious, the upper is made with water-saving materials. A BOA closure system offers micro-adjustment and secure, consistent hold while TPU overlays on the upper lend durability and support. Continental rubber outsoles offer grip, holding the trail with smooth roll-off, even in wet conditions. “Speaking to Adidas eco-innovation platform, the NoDye style skips the dying step to use less water, less energy and fewer chemicals,” says Greg Thomsen, managing director, Adidas Outdoor. “Consumers are looking for sustainability, function and style—the Terrex Two BOA checks all three boxes.”
Early tests at retail provided exceptional reads on the Taos Zen sandal, reports President Glen Barad. Retailing for $110, the style is casual and comfortable, featuring the brand’s Soft Support premium footbed with Cool Recover Foam. Multiple points of adjustability and a lightweight outsole with rubber stabilizer ensure ideal fit for long trips and quick jaunts alike. With grosgrain-and-suede uppers for style, Barad says the reaction to the Zen thus far has been “better than great.”
Naot Pixie Sandal chill This breakout style for Spring ’18 pushes Naot into a whole new category, reports President Steve Lax. Priced at $150 retail, the Pixie is more fashion-forward than previous styles from the European-made brand, featuring a cork latex insole on a slight wedge and a padded heel strap. “The excitement has been unbelievable,” Lax says. “To have a comfort shoe that’s sexy is unique.” Lax predicts the Pixie, in sleek white and silver, will be a sellout for brides and mothers-of-the-bride next wedding season.
Oofos OOmg Sneaker chill After hiking, biking or running, the Oofos recovery sneaker is designed to absorb 37 percent more impact than traditional footwear. Already a hit for women, the OOmg sneaker is slated to release in men’s for Spring ’18. Four-way stretch mesh uppers conform to the foot, allowing for natural movement during the recovery process, and a stretchable strap across the vamp adds support without binding. “The new style is great for walking around the city when traveling or after a long workout,” says Duncan Finigan, marketing director. She notes that women had reached out to the company hoping to get the style for their husbands. “We think the new men’s sizes and colors will be a huge hit at retail,” she says. “We have been hearing from both our male and female customers that they want more colors and sizes. This is the answer to that feedback.”
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Dansko Alissa Gold Sneaker chill Part of the Alberta Lifestyle collection, the Alissa marks Dansko’s continued push into athleisure. Gold leather suede uppers are on-trend with warmer metallics, giving women the flexibility to wear to work or out and about in the city. And it doesn’t skimp on performance, featuring a 3M Scotchgard protector for stain-resistant uppers, anti-microbial Aegis R treatment in the footbed and lining for odor control, and removable molded EVA footbeds with Dansko’s Natural Arch technology. “Our entire lifestyle collection continues to perform well,” says Sal Agati, senior vice president global design and sourcing. “This particular style is generating excitement with retailers [across categories].”
Tecnica Forge S GTX thrill Timberland FlyRoam Trail Mid Hiker chill This heritage hiker–inspired design has outdoor roots, but its lightweight fabric materials and high-rebound sole are ideal for city exploration and light terrain. Retailing for $130, the hi-top includes Timberland’s Aerocore energy system, a knit sock upper and a sneaker bottom for athleisure styling. “Reaction to the FlyRoam has been incredible,” reports Gregg Duffy, senior director of Outdoor Performance Footwear, noting that Timberland’s outdoor and bootmaking heritages comes through with this new design. “With the heart of a boot and the soul of a sneaker, the FlyRoam blends the best of both worlds with unprecedented durability, rebound and the looks to match.” Also available in leather, $140 SRP.
Following intensive research into outdoor consumer needs, Tecnica returns to the U.S. market after a six-year hiatus with the Forge trekking boot (SRP $270). The style combines a precise anatomical fit right out of the box with additional heat moldable customization capabilities performed in-store. Thanks to the Custom Adaptive Shape (C.A.S.) system—first used in Tecnica’s alpine ski boots—retailers can perform a fully heat moldable custom fit in just 20 minutes. (The cost of the C.A.S. system is covered by three free pairs of boots.) Additional boot features include an overlap cuff design, self-locking lace system, Gore-Tex liners, Adaptive Sole System and a Vibram Megagrip outsole. Available in men’s and women’s styles. “The custom fit process is designed to get consumers into stores,” says Leslie Baker-Brown, marketing manager, Tecnica. She adds that the initial launch for Spring ’18 is targeted at select specialty dealers and, if all goes well, the collection may be expanded to include low-cut hikers the following year.
FFANY FN PLATFORM Toronto Shoe Show cougarshoes.com
O U T D O OR PR EVI EW : S PR I N G ’ 1 8
Danner South Rim 600 thrill A lightweight hiker, the South Rim 600 is heritage styling with a performance-loaded punch. Vibram SPE midsole platforms provide next-level cushioning and support while lightweight suede-and-mesh uppers offer the breathability needed for summer trail excursions. Vibran Fuga outsoles feature self-adapting lugs and MegaGrip for ultimate traction on slick and uneven surfaces, making the style adaptable to incline in both temperature and terrain. “There’s a lot of excitement around the South Rim 600,” says Erin Braun, marketing communications specialist. “It borrows technical features from one of our best-selling boots, the Mountain 600, and adds extreme breathability, perfect for warm-weather hiking.” The style falls into Danner’s Performance Heritage category, incorporating classic looks with modern and lightweight performance features. “It’s an aesthetic that resonates really well at retail—a timeless Danner look packed with technical benefits,” Braun says.
Ecco Terra Walk chill Addressing the call for versatility, Ecco took inspiration from multisport trail shoes to create the Terra Walk, designed for outdoor lifestyle use. “The Terra Walk is a great, everyday crossover shoe that, because of the unique tread design, can be used for numerous activities,” says Thomas Dixon, product manager, Ecco golf and sport. “The midsole and last were adapted from athletic shoes so the comfort properties are great.” Available closed-up for men ($150 SRP) and in the Terra Sandal for men and women ($120 SRP), textile uppers are on trend with multisport outsoles ideal for light hiking. Dixon believes the style hits a sweet spot that will appeal to both outdoor specialty and comfort shoe markets. He reports reactions from retailers has been overwhelmingly positive. “You have trendy outdoor shoes with function that aren’t so out there that they scare off the traditional consumer,” he says.
Khombu Solace Sandal chill
Oboz Campster Sandal chill
In recent seasons, Khombu has worked to establish its reputation as a year-round brand, and the Solace (part of its new Yoga Cork collection, SRP $55 to $65) zeros in on that message. “These sandals are perhaps the most innovative fashion comfort story Khombu has ever presented for the Spring/Summer season,” notes Brandy McCarty, vice president of global brand strategy at Eastman Group. The sandals are built with a yoga mat footbed wrapped in synthetic cork and covered with an additional layer of memory foam. High-grip outsoles feature multiple flex points. “Our retail partners have been taken aback by the stylish yet simple fashion uppers combined with such a technical, flexible comfort footbed,” McCarty says. “We believe that we have assembled a remarkable team of design talent that has the pulse on what our customers have been asking to see from the brand.”
After a long day of adventuring, the Oboz Campster ($90 SRP) is designed to comfort tired feet with soft, durable polyester webbing uppers, a contoured footbed and adjustable heel strap (which can slide forward for slip-on ease). The style, celebrating Oboz’s 10th anniversary, is still fit for the outdoors—featuring the brand’s signature sturdy, high-traction outsole and protective rubber toe guard, while a pull loop on the heel makes it easy for campers to clip them onto a pack or boat when its time to hit the trail. “Retailers instantly recognized that the Campster is a completely new direction for sandals, and they have been really eager to buy it,” says Chuck Roth, design director. “The Campster is a completely new concept,” he adds. “The design aims to blend performance fit, light weight and comfort into a highly functional sandal.”
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WHAT ’S SELL ING
LIKELIHOOD S e a t t l e , WA
OR SNEAKERHEADS, COVETED kicks are precious artworks. So that’s exactly how they’re displayed in Seattle’s gallery-inspired men’s sneaker boutique, Likelihood. Picture hexagonal tables displaying the latest drops (echoed by hexagonal light installations above), geometric oak paneling, marble stadium steps highlighting elite styles and a neon sign running across the store that reads, “I called shotgun infinity when I was 12.” Feel cooler yet? Combine that with its trendy location in the Emerald City’s up-and-coming Capital Hill neighborhood—the store sits near a salon, French bakery and micro brewery—and you have a quintessentially hip shopping destination. “When we first opened, we didn’t have much foot traffic, but within the last year it’s gotten better and better,” says co-founder Aaron DelGuzzo, noting its location on Union is a new walking street. “The neighborhood keeps expanding. Renee Erickson opened three restaurants in Capital Hill.” In addition to location, DelGuzzo says most important aspect drawing customers is the shop’s tight assortment of product. “Everything is highly
notes, adding. “Basically, I buy what I like.” Seattleites as well as customers from near and far who flock to Likelihood’s website want what DelGuzzo likes, it seems. He reports the store has tripled sales from its first to second year. “It’s all about constantly going to market— seeing something new and liking it—and being inspired by the best stores across the country,” he says. —Ann Loynd Who’s the core Liklihood customer? It’s a big range. We have high school kids, and then we also have a big tech following of designers and web developers who moved to Seattle to work for Amazon and Facebook. How has the rise of Sneaker Culture impacted your business? It’s been great. It just keeps growing and growing; it’s a way of life these days. How do you stand out from the other sneaker outlets? The shop is highly curated. And we pay a lot of mind to customer service. The way we package things is really important. For our online business, we wrap everything before we send it. We try to put a premium feel on the whole experience. What are some of your best-selling accessories? We sell Miason Louis Marie candles—we can’t keep them in stock! We also do socks by Anonymousism, and we’re bringing in a new line called N/A, which stands for necessary anywhere. The owner of N/A used to work at Bodega in Boston. What’s the most effective way of reaching your customer? Definitely social media. We’re very live on Instagram, but we also send out a newsletter every Wednesday. What’s the biggest challenge facing your business? There are challenges with credit card fraud, especially in our online business, but we’re putting systems in place to correct that. You get smarter with that kind of stuff, and we’re getting smarter.
curated,” he says. “We give things space. We do the work for the customer so they don’t have to go through piles of stuff.” Space is a hot commodity in the store, which measures a compact 1,080 square feet. Within that, Liklihood houses such mainstays as Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Puma and Vans (including plenty of exclusive collabs). That said, DelGuzzo is constantly scouring the market for newness, visiting showrooms and researching online for up-and-coming brands. “Aimé Leon Dore is a new brand that’s been doing well for us in footwear and especially apparel,” he
What’s the next big trend in kicks? It’s hard to tell. I think that things are changing. Adidas has been hot, hot, hot, hot, and I think Nike is creeping back up again. We’re launching a VaporMax tomorrow and it’s just going to blow out. I wish we had more! What are your goals for the future? Just to continue to strive to do retail perfectly. We’re in our second year, so we’re still new, but we want to make things as perfect as we can before we open another door. That’s the ultimate goal, perhaps to open a women’s-only sneaker store. There aren’t many of those! 2017 july • footwearplusmagazine.com 23
STOCK IT TO THEM! Ve t e r a n s a l e s r e p H e l e n R e i d ’ s s e l f - m o t i v a t e d r e s e a r c h e f f o r t leads to helpful inventory management tips for retailers.
AS A VETERAN of the footwear industry of nearly 25 years, I find this time of great retail turmoil to be scary yet exciting. While e-commerce disrupts the landscape and forever changes how consumers shop for goods across all categories, it’s a brave new world where the choice for traditional retail formats is simple: adapt or disappear. Having begun my career by rising from sales associate to buyer at On Your Feet in Santa Fe, NM, I’m in favor of the survival of independent retailers. My career is rooted in this base, which I have worked in as a sales rep for Dansko for the past 17 years. Sadly, I’ve watched many of my independent retail partners struggle of late and seen too many close for good as they failed to adapt their formats to this new age of shopping. But I also see determined retailers finding ways to keep their dreams and family legacies alive. They continually adjust and are finding ways to succeed. Still, the ones who struggle caused me to think long and hard about what I could do to help them. Knowing that the independent base acts much like a single massive unit with many branches—much like a large corporation—I asked myself, “What do corporations do when they struggle?” They often hire research firms to study the market to determine what has changed and what the company can do to get back on track. I decided to do just that by taking a business research and analysis course where I studied the e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar phenomenon at great length. It gave me a launch pad to formulate a survey that has since allowed me to determine why consumers shop brick-and-mortar stores and what ultimately drives them to make a purchase. The No. 1 reason? Consumers need something immediately. This is huge, because if a store doesn’t have that particular style/size, the customer will likely buy it online and have it shipped to their home the next
24 footwearplusmagazine.com • july 2017
day for free. The days of special ordering and customers willing to wait are long gone. Yet many of my retail clients still use the old count-andfill approach to inventory management. That’s no longer a viable option. Brick-and-mortar retailers that continue to follow this old model will likely not survive the next five years. The fact is, vendors no longer stock product throughout a season. They, too, are adjusting to the industry shift. Vendors have become more reliant on pre-season orders to plan their inventories. If retailers don’t become better about planning their buys each season, they will continue to lose potential sales because of their inability to fill in merchandise. The second most common reason customers purchase shoes at brick-and-mortar stores? They found an item they’ve just gotta have! This is the emotional purchase. Not only must independent retailers manage their stock aggressively, they need to have fresh and exciting product delivered on a regular basis to create that emotional purchase. Customers want to be excited by the shoes they might buy, and they want instant gratification. This might seem like a tall order, but it simply requires a shift in inventory planning. Backup orders should be revered, not feared. Place orders and then set a day on your calendar to adjust them once a month. Vendors usually allow for adjustments, as long as they’re three weeks out. And when placing your Spring/Summer ’18 buys, for example, don’t forget to include some window-stopping styles for those emotional purchases. If this still seems daunting, use the approach on your top five to 10 brands and ask trusted reps to help manage the backups to spread out the most attentiongrabbing styles. Reps are here not only to help vendors be profitable, but to ensure that retailers purchase the right products for their respective customer bases. Retailers and vendors need each other to survive. Only by working together can we brave this new frontier and glide into the next chapter of retail.
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T RE N D S POT T I NG
THE NEW BL ACK The classic hue takes its turn in the spotlight for spring.
Photography by Katie Belloff
Top, from left: Propét, Clarks, Nick Jonas x Creative Recreation. Bottom, from left: Diadora, Cycleur de Luxe, Hoka One One. All socks by Richer Poorer.
26 footwearplusmagazine.com • july 2017
2017 july â€˘ footwearplusmagazine.com 27
Fly London woven sneaker, Asos dress. All jewelry is stylistâ€™s own. 29
Creative Recreation lace-ups, Asos top, stylistâ€™s own shorts. Opposite: Perforated slip-on by Johnston & Murphy.
Spiritual Gangster romper. Opposite, clockwise from top left: Keds tennis shoe, satin sneaker by Reebok, Rockport hybrid oxford, platform creeper by Tretorn. 33
Knit trainers by Supra, New Balance sports bra, joggers by Berenik. Opposite: Dansko suede sneakers, blouse and pants by Berenik. 34
Diadora suede tennies, beaded dress by Asos. Opposite: Suede trainers by Gola, Spiritual Gangster romper. Fashion editor: Ann Loynd; model: Vanessa W./Wilhelmina Models; hair and makeup: Abraham Sprinkle/Next Artists, piglets from NY Teacup Piggies. 36
S H O W C A S E S P RING ’1 8
Spring into action with JambuKD’s Anthozoa. Its sleek design blends the durability of a sneaker with a sandal’s breezy feel. Quick-drying, water-ready materials and cutouts turn puddles into playtime, while a closed-toe con-
Cougar’s SS18 collection draws inspiration from the sport leisure
struction keeps feet safer for rough-and-tumble play. Removable, washable
trend to create a new feminine look for the rain category. The “Rainy
insoles keep these sneakers fresh. Preview the Anthozoa and more at FFANY,
Day” offers a handcrafted textured rubber upper on a lightweight
Outdoor Retailer, The Atlanta Shoe Market, The Children’s Great Event, BSTA,
anti-slip sole. A jersey lining and leather insole deliver comfort and
Michigan Shoe Market, Bluegrass Buyers Market and Northwest Market
versatility, whatever the weather. Visit us at FFANY, FN Platform
and select regional shows across North America.
Restricted Footwear styles focus on edgy elements of design and present eye-catching details to the fashion-forward consumer. Unique silhouettes and styles appeal to a broad range of consumers. The smart shoppers
Handmade in Hawaii over the past 70 years, Island Slipper is the last remain-
who like to combine fashion,
ing made-in-Hawaii, locally born footwear brand. The brand is rich with
comfort with quality and a great price always look to Restricted for
history and revered for its expertise in creating numerous men’s and women’s
the latest shoe inspirations! You can see Restricted Footwear at the
slippers of the highest function, quality and fashion. Visit Island Slipper at
following shows: FFANY, The Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform,
Hawaii Sales Representative Assn., West Coast Trend Show, FN Platform and
Atlanta Apparel, Windy City Shoe Show, Dallas STRUT and many
other regional shows.
Birkenstock offers sandals, clogs, shoes and arch supports all based on our
Keep cool all day in what’s sure to become your favorite summer go-to
original contoured cork latex footbed for women, men and children. Birkenstock
sandal, the Farrah. Buttery soft full-grain leather uppers and insoles meet
products are made in Germany since 1774 and reflect our key values of health and
a fashion stacked heel. Decorative upper braid adds to the beauty of
wellness, quality, craftsmanship and environmental sensibility. Visit us at Dallas
perforated ankle and inner zipper. A walk in the park never looked so
STRUT, Outdoor Retailer, FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe Market and FFANY.
good. Preview this style and more at FN Platform and WWIN.
THATSARAP! This fashion-forward metallic leather slip-on has easy access hidden double gores along with twisted tubular cross-strapped
Earth is a modern collection of smartly styled casual shoes, made for
uppers with gold-studded wrapped welt. Full-grain leather uppers and
real women’s real lives. With a fundamental belief in ground-up design,
linings meet the perfect combination of smooth and textured rubber
uncompromised comfort has been combined with fashionable style
outsoles. Athleisure all day and into the night. Preview the collection at
to the delight of discerning women for over 40 years. Find us at FFANY,
FN Platform and WWIN.
Outdoor Retailer, FN Platform and The Atlanta Shoe Market.
Comfort starts with fit. We take great pride in crafting footwear that provides for proper foot function. We’ve spent over 30 years perfecting our product line to offer diverse, fashionable footwear for everyone. Our new women’s sandal line has little details that make a big difference for
Introducing the Gadelina, featuring beautiful multi-color braiding and jewel-
walking comfort and durable wear, including removable footbeds to
accented uppers on our back elastic thong sandal. Quilted comfort memory foam
accommodate orthotics. Preview them at FN Platform, Outdoor Retailer,
cradles your foot, with an embossed rubber leaf sole for additional all-day comfort.
The Atlanta Shoe Market, Windy City Shoe Show and BSTA.
Fashion from top to bottom. See for yourself at FN Platfrom and WWIN.
Tamaris, the best-known shoe brand in Europe, has been sold in the U.S. since 2015. Tamaris combines premium quality, excellent comfort fit and an exceptional price/performance ratio in perfect synergy. New for spring, Alis #28381 is a modern hybrid athleisure sandal. The 2 ¾-inch wedge, paired
NAOT’s superbly crafted
with a trendy white lightweight outsole
products demonstrate a response to
and a metallized leather upper, is the
the compelling need for healthy,
perfect companion for those hot sum-
comfortable and fashionable footwear. At the same time, NAOT’s unfailing
mer days. Preview the style and more at
commitment to integrity makes quality customer service the very
FN Platform, The Atlantic Shoe Market,
highest priority. There is nothing like the original—your feet can tell! Stop by
Chicago Shoe Market and BSTA.
at Outdoor Retailer, FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe Market and BSTA.
S H O W C A S E S P RING ’1 8
EasyWorks by Easy Street is designed for modern professionals with slip- and
Western Chief is leaping into kid’s sandals! Play-friendly, lightweight
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anti-fatigue comfort technology. Available in 35 sizes and 3 widths. Visit us at
prints and popular glitter finish. Western Chief has been making family
The Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform, Magic, Project Sole, Chicago Shoe
footwear since 1891. Visit them at Outdoor Retailer, FN Platform and
Market and SMOTA.
The Atlanta Shoe Market.
Bos & Co provides reliable, quality footwear with an eye on comfort as well as style. (Reliability and quality are always in fashion.) Preview the SS18 collection at FFANY, Dallas STRUT, FN Platform,
Bella~Vita, it’s a beautiful life! New for Spring ’18, the Pacey collection includes
The Atlanta Shoe Market,
elegant leather silhouette sandals, available open stock in a large range of sizes
Chicago Shoe Show and many
and widths (N, M, W and WW; 5–12). Preview the collection at The Atlanta Shoe
Market, FN Platform, Chicago Shoe Market, SMOTA and all regional shows.
In the spotlight for SS18, Wolky adds even more flair to its wildly popular models with new fashionable leather uppers, adding elegant styling and femininity to its latest comfort collections. Wolky has been
perfecting the artisan craft of comfort shoemaking for more than 30
Discover the highlights of our Rollingsoft sensitive collection and experience the
years. Come visit our collections at FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe
unique flexibility of a Rollingsoft sensitive shoe by Gabor! View this and more at
Market and regional shows through the U.S. and Canada.
FN Platform and regional shows.
S P E C I A L R E P O RT
In the comfort footwear landscape, L’Amour Des Pieds stands out among other brands, transcending expectations for comfort styles by making shoes that are beautifully designed, loved by podiatrists and constructed with the highest quality materials and methods. Our passion for what we do is even in our name: L’Amour Des Pieds means, “the love of feet,” in French. Preview the collection at FFANY, TRU Show, FN Platform, The Atlanta Shoe Market, BSTA and Sole Commerce.
Aetrex aims to provide the healthiest shoes you’ll ever wear. The Jillian is a quarter strap sandal featuring Aetrex’s signature braid on each of the fully adjustable straps. The cork midsole make this stylish yet comfortable sandal a fan favorite. Visit us at TRU Show, The Atlanta Shoe Market and FN Platform.
At Jones & Vining, we don’t make lofty promises. We work closely with footwear designers and developers to bring your most-inspired ideas to life and to validate your designs and explore the possibilities. We create precision lasts and advanced components that offer a level of fit, comfort and performance worthy of your brand name. For more than 85 years, Jones & Vining has partnered with leading footwear companies who look to us for advice, expertise and our expansive portfolio of proven products. By working together, we can help you deliver what’s next. Visit us at The Materials Show Northwest and Northeast.
continued from page 10 assortment is important, agrees Rolando Garcia Jr., digital marketing manager at 361. “While Millennials shop out of necessity of the season, Gen Z shops out of necessity of an event,” he says. “They key to reaching Gen Z is through consistent, limited-edition capsule collection drops, ditching the traditional retail spring/summer, fall/winter format for a monthly or even bimonthly product offering with an emphasis on limited distribution.” In addition to creative store installations and frequent deliveries of fresh product, Cohen advises to meet Gen Z where they’re heading. “Travel is at an all-time high, and the younger generation is all about it,” he says. “They’re going on these excursions with friends—they want to be tagged in that photo.” The travel for social media phenomenon, Cohen believes, has contributed to the recent popularity of travel-friendly brands like Birkenstock, Keen and Teva. The challenge, he adds, is for brands to get ahead of consumers in this respect. He cites the explosion of Adidas Superstars as an example: This wasn’t Adidas saying it wanted to sell a ton of Superstars, rather consumers who adopted the style and generated the demand. The ultimate goal, Cohen says, is for brands to introduce consumers to new lifestyle uses before they’re randomly adopted. That involves more than just product, according to Dorsey. “You’re going to see Gen Z–targeted brands making consumers feel like they’re part of a movement,” he says. “They’re more socially conscious and want to feel like their money is going to something positive.” Birkenstock’s Shiblaq agrees, noting that this demographic expects brands to be socially and environmentally responsible. “They value their own perceived communities, and there is a diminishing distinction between real-world friends and their extended social network,” she says. Call It Spring’s campaign for this Experts believe this vast social network summer aims to connect to provides a golden opportunity for brands Gen Z with visual storytelling. and retailers to connect with consumers on a whole new level. News and trends are found on online communities, and influencers are often more relevant (and relatable) than traditional celebrities. Gen Zers are apt to take the social media buzz at its word, albeit with a no B.S. caveat. “The more real and authentic, the more the Gen Z consumer resonates with the story you’re trying to tell,” says Martire, noting that a portion of Call It Spring’s Spring ’17 campaign was shot by 17-year-old student Nico Young from Santa Monica High School. “We also cast recognizable social media influencers as the leads in our campaigns as it’s important that our customers resonate with the images we present.” Similarly, Garcia says posting a photo with a witty caption won’t cut it with this demographic. “Gen Z loves discovery—that’s what validates their purchase behavior,” he says. “Engaging with video and de-emphasizing your social timeline is the way to market with a ‘not trying too hard’ attitude.” It’s critical that message also comes in that aforementioned eight-second dose. “Marketing now comes in bite-sized, on-demand portions,” Shiblaq says. And, Cohen says, there’s no time like the present for footwear brands and retailers to start sending out that message to attract Gen Z. For starters, the group’s spending power is only going to get exponentially bigger—in terms of overall size, share of spending and as they increase their income and discretionary spending power. “Shape the behavior of this consumer now so that when they get more income, they are passionate about footwear,” Cohen says. •
D E S I G N E R C H AT
CREATIVE RECREATION DESIGNER James Hansen’s first encounter with the streetwear brand occurred when he was earning his bachelor’s degree in Japan. “I was a student and didn’t have a lot of money, so I saved up and bought a pair of Adidas,” Hansen remembers. “A few weeks later, I came across a pair of Creative Recreation Castuccis, and I was upset because I would’ve bought them instead. That stayed in the back of my mind for a long time.” It was also in Japan where Hansen fell in love with fashion and design. So upon his return to the U.S. with a newly minted marketing degree, he decided to enroll in the footwear design program at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. After graduating in 2007, Hansen again came across Creative Recreation, this time in an advertisement seeking an intern. Hansen got the gig and was hired soon after to a fulltime position as a junior designer under founder Rich Cofinco. Over the ensuing 10 years Hansen climbed the ranks and now shapes the brand’s reputation for introducing fresh styles with what he calls “a little flair.” “Many of our customers say they had never gotten compliments before but are getting tons after wearing Creative Recreation,” Hansen says, proudly. “We’re trying to make our guy cool, no matter what.” The cool factor comes in the form of subtle tweaks to familiar silhouettes, according to Hansen. Creative Rec’s banded hitops, canvas tennis shoes and leather slip-ons each offer a little something extra. The popular Dano style, for example, is a futuristic slip-on featuring angular color blocking and mixed leatherand-suede that gives the classic silhouette striking geometry. For Spring ’18, Hansen invokes his favorite muse: Japan. Inspired by shopping in Tokyo, the new Future Neutral collection consists of creamy colors and futuristic silhouettes. “Dusty pink is still big for men and women,” he says, adding that pinky-reds and browngreens will be hot as well. A second collection is military-inspired, featuring lots of green, navy and yellow. Of course, all the styles possess that special something that makes Hansen so passionate about his job as a sneaker designer. “Men’s dress shoes haven’t changed in 100 years, but with sneakers, there’s so much you can 42 footwearplusmagazine.com • july 2017
Restricted Penny Loves Kenny
HOT TROPICS Island-themed prints and colors heat up classic silhouettes.
play with as far as colors and materials,” he says. —Ann Loynd How’s Creative Recreation faring in the Sneaker Culture age? When I first started, we were getting knocked off by a lot of the higher-end brands. Now it’s come full-circle, and people don’t realize we did it first. The high-end sneaker market has created a chasm between low-end—your Zara, Uniqlo, etc.—and high-end brands like Buscemi and Gucci. And we’re fighting over this middle, no-man’s land, so it’s pretty difficult right now. The low-end brands have also altered the reality for customers on what they should be paying. So what’s Creative Rec’s brand message amid this new landscape? Be yourself. Be creative wherever you can in life.
Who’s your target consumer? We’re looking at a younger, urban contemporary market. Ages 18 to 24, give or take. Who is your fashion icon? Daiki Suzuki, designer for Engineered Garments. And characters from old ’60s Italian movies. What celebrities would you like to see in your designs? We’ve had quite a few celebrities wear Creative Recreation. Kanye has worn our shoes. Personally, I’d love to see some of the big soccer players in Europe in them—I’m a big soccer fan. What is the greatest shoe of all time? It might be the Stan Smith in its simplicity. The last is really nice for an older shoe. It will be timeless for another 100 years, and it looks so simple and good on everybody.
E D I TO R ’ S P I C K S P H OTO G R A P H Y BY T R E V E T T M CC A N D L I S S
JA M E S H A N S E N
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THIS JUST IN
Well Suited Manhattanâ€™s dapper dudes choose sneakers to pair with suits and slacks. Photography by Mary Kang
44 footwearplusmagazine.com â€˘ july 2017
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U P C L O S E C O M F O RT
Rays of Hope Color-changing Suns seeks to spread positivity.
A Healthy Makeover Vionic Beach reinvents the flip-flop. FLIP-FLOPS JUST might be the most ubiquitous shoe style worn on the planet, and that’s despite countless wearer-be-warned advisories about how flimsy, unsupportive, uncomfortable and unhealthy the silhouette often can be. But rather than fight fashion, Chris Gallagher, CEO of Vionic, says its new brand, Vionic Beach, addresses all those design flaws by reimagining and revolutionizing the flip-flop. “A flat, rubber soled flip-flop means your body is forced to compensate to the surface versus our product, which is ergonomically contoured to support the whole foot,” Gallagher says, adding that its design has been approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association. “It’s like how walking in sand contours to your feet,” he says. The basis is an injection-molded footbed featuring a blend of EVA, synthetic rubber and two secret ingredients (one which helps with slip-resistance and the other to combat shrinkage). That material is then shaped to incorporate a heel cup to stabilize the foot and arch support to help promote proper body alignment. Gallagher notes that it’s a design concept that Vionic cofounder and podiatrist Phillip Vasyli had started working on two years ago before he passed away unexpectedly. He had come to the conclusion that getting patients to wear different styles wasn’t working, so he set out to design a flip-flop to allow people to wear the style they liked with the support they needed. “Then we hired a chemical engineer to develop the unique sole formulation, which took about a year to perfect,” Gallagher says, adding, “The result is a veganfriendly, handmade product that gets the contours and densities perfect each and every time.” So far so good, Gallagher reports, as the brand has tested well at Zappos this season, and the initial reaction from retailers for its official Spring ’18 debut has been strong. In addition to the comfort attributes, he credits the interest to the engaging patterns, updated bright colors and a brand positioning that taps into the company’s Australian roots. To wit the styles are named after popular Australian beaches and the brand’s tagline is, “Every day is a g’day.” The suggested retail price of $40 is also another point of interest, according to Gallagher. It’s an entry-level price point for Vionic that (so far) hasn’t cannibalized sales of it other styles, most notably its popular Tidal sandal that starts at $65. “We were initially concerned it might take away from our core business, but most sales have been incremental,” he reports. “We’ve found that white space in creating a want from the consumer that they hadn’t really thought about.” Gallagher believes part of that is also due to the style’s travel-friendly attributes. “It’s lightweight, you can easily throw a pair in a bag and it can be worn to the beach or pool where getting wet is not an issue,” he says. To help get the word out, the Vionic Beach Sole Shack trailer will be traveling the country this summer, hitting yoga and surfing events, beach volleyball tournaments and select retailers. “Pairs are for sale, but the real purpose is getting in direct contact with customers so they can learn more about the product and the brand,” Gallagher says, believing that once they do they’ll become converts. “We’re restoring the ability to wear that favorite style in a fun program,” he adds.—Greg Dutter 46 footwearplusmagazine.com • july 2017
THE DEBUT THIS spring of Suns, a sun-activated color-changing athleisure collection, aims to brighten wearer’s lives via its cheery styling as well as its unique positivity brand platform. Conceived by Jeanette and Craig Reingold and Lisa and Dave Mesicek (veterans of Sperry Top-Sider and Toms), the brand has the ambitious goal to encourage positive thinking, gratitude, empathy and random acts of kindness (AOKs) under its “Be Kind and Shine On” rallying cry. “Being kind to one another by performing acts of kindness is a simple way to spread positivity,” says Mesicek, chief marketing officer. “We are helping spread the notion that performing AOKs can be a means to a happier, more positive world.” The founders believe the platform is a way to kick-start a movement towards positivity in teens and pre-teens, who might not have the resources to do big gestures for their community. Examples include holding open the door for someone, telling a friend how much you appreciate him or her and helping a person in need. Mesicek says the team was inspired by research on the community effects and positive psychology of AOKs as well as by the invigorating energy of the sun. In addition, the goal was to introduce something fresh to the marketplace. “We didn’t want to just make more of something already out there; we wanted to create a brand that stood for something,” Mesicek says, adding that as parents this was a cause that was dear to them. “We founded Suns to promote the little things we can all do to make the world a sunnier place,” he adds. Speaking of which, each Suns style transforms when exposed to sunlight, shifting to more vibrant tones and patterns. The patented process on vulcanized styles occurs in the canvas, rubber sidewall and laces. The changes can also be activated with a small ultraviolet key chain light packaged with every pair. “People want products that are fun and provide an experience beyond just their Suns’ lace-up sneaker changes basic function,” Mesicek color in sunlight. notes. “We took both the need for experiential product and the mission of spreading kindness and mashed them together in a way that made sense.” The suggested retail price for girls’ styles ranges from $40 to $50 and women’s from $50 to $60. Mesicek says Suns is also working on future collections and technologies beyond the sun-activated color change. Suns is currently being sold direct-to-consumer on its website, sunsshoes.com, as well as through an exclusive partnership with its launch partners, Shoe Carnival and Tilly’s. The brand plans to expand distribution, both domestically and internationally, for Spring ’18. As for the debut, Mesicek reports the initial few weeks of sales data are, well, positive. “We are beyond stoked with the consumer reaction we are receiving,” he says. —G.D.
O&A continued from page 17 it’s changing so quickly, but where does it level out? Some people tend to overreact and think it’s all going to go in one direction and everything will be online and/or in a showroom format. Then there are people who just resist change. Personally, I think it’s important to figure out how to adapt, which is really challenging because I don’t believe anyone knows exactly how it’s going to shake out. But it’s certainly changing and it feels like we are at a watershed moment with retail changing by the day. Figuring out how it’s going to look in five years, let alone 10…I don’t think anybody has a clear answer, and if anybody told me that they did, I wouldn’t believe it. What is Dansko doing differently in response to the changes that you know are taking place? You have to give everybody, whoever your customers are, a reason to carry you. Some of that is product segmentation, making sure some things are available only in certain areas. It also involves helping drive people into stores, whether that’s with advertising, photography or other assets. We are working closely with our retailers to help them do that, and that can be as simple as Facebook posts to drive customers to events. It’s not easy and we don’t have all the answers, but I think the best thing that we can do is make sure that Dansko is a brand that people want and that they have a reason to go into a store to get. MAP pricing policies is another way. Everyone claims to have them, but it’s the enforcement that seems to be sketchy. We are always trying to keep the brand premium. It’s difficult to do as there are a fair number of unauthorized resellers out there and you can’t police that easily. But we do our best to make sure we know the retailers that we are working with. That’s the main thing: work closely with your retailers. Dansko is sold on Amazon and its Marketplace. How’s that going, noting that the other elephant in the room is Amazon’s growing retail dominance. The consumer is calling the shots today, and when they go to Amazon they expect to find the product there. The challenge is to do it in a way that makes sense for the brand and for all our retail partners. How do you do that, exactly? We are working on that. Some of it is the product that you make available to different channels. And some of it is just making sure you are working with authorized resellers so it doesn’t go to the lowest common denominator. It’s tricky and challenging and I think everybody is trying to figure out the right balance. It keeps coming back to balance. Doing all or nothing doesn’t seem to work very well. We have to figure out what is the right amount to be out there with and who to be out there with. While it may be an exaggeration to say the industry will consolidate down to Amazon and Walmart, their growing influence can’t be underestimated. While I don’t think we’re headed to just two retailers, it doesn’t help to complain about the reality. I also think, for some people, it’s an opportunity because I don’t believe we are going all in one direction. There’s always going to be a reason for good brick-and-mortar stores and I don’t think they are all going to end up as showrooms. There are lot of that are still successful, and that’s because their customer base likes it—the human interaction. I also think a lot of people want to go into a curated environment. It’s hard to shop 1,000 different choices. That can be overwhelming. At the same time, retail isn’t going to stay the same nor is it going back to what it was 10 years ago. The trick is to move quickly, adapt, weather the storm and figure out where those opportunities are going forward. That’s goes for both brands and retailers, obviously. The key word going forward is curation. The friendly retailer that can make shopping both entertaining and efficient. You can’t beat Amazon or Walmart at their own game. You must give people a reason to come into your store, and we’re now seeing some retailers focus more on the experiences instead of just product or price. Malls turning into restau-
rant destinations and offering other experiences, for example. Those are places where people will want to buy stuff, too. What is Dansko’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) policy—the smaller elephant in the room with regards to many retailers? We sell DTC online, and I believe our retailers understand that consumers call the shots. There are some who come to our site and want to be able to buy right away. We offer that option at full MSRP. But we also direct them to retailers. Everything has to be a balance, which I’ve probably said 100 times in this interview. We value our retail relationships and we are doing everything to support them and, at the same time, we can’t disappoint consumers. Amid this all this industry uncertainty, why might you be optimistic? I’m optimistic because we’re a strong brand and I believe in our team. We are also fortunate to have a fanatical consumer base. In times of uncertainty, people often focus on things they are comfortable and familiar with. I think Dansko has a great advantage in that regard going forward. Our customers know what we stand for and they know what they are going to get from us: premium quality and outstanding footwear. That means a lot to people when there’s a ton of uncertainty and change going on, which can be confusing, disruptive and unpleasant. Having said all that, we can’t sit still. We’ve got to adapt and be nimble, and I believe we have the people and the capabilities to do that. What do you love most about your job? One: The people I work with. We have fantastic people. Two: I love meeting consumers who treat people from Dansko like they are rock stars. Whether it’s hearing relayed stories from sales reps or meeting people at a restaurant or hospital and seeing their faces light up as they talk about how much they love our shoes, there’s nothing more satisfying than that. •
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LAS T WORD
If Shoes Could Talk N e w Yo r k e r s b e a r t h e i r souls and soles in a popular new Instagram photoblog/ retail concept. BY A N N LOY N D
HUSTON CONTI AND Lexi Cross believe what you wear tells a story—especially what you wear on your feet. That’s why the duo founded Instagram’s Shoes of New York City about 18 months ago, which now boasts 35,000 followers and counting. The page showcases unique footwear along with quotes and anecdotes from the wearer á la Humans of New York, a popular photoblog that features portraits and interviews collected on the streets of the Big Apple. In the case of Shoes of NYC, visitors can then shop the style and similar options on its website, have2have.it/shoesofnyc. “I think there is something to the well-known phrase, ‘Walk a mile in my shoes,’” Conti says. “More than anything else you wear, shoes are emblematic of the journey.” Telling a story through accessories isn’t a new concept to Conti, who spent his childhood helping his mother in her open-concept shop in Seattle. He was immediately on board when Cross, a social media marketer, pitched the idea. Now, the pair roams the streets of New York looking for great shoes with a telling story, and they’ve had some notable encounters. “I once asked David Beckham for a photo of his shoes, not his face,” Cross says. “He said no, he was in a rush… you never know how someone’s going to react when you stop them!” For Conti, one of the most powerful moments was with a woman who emigrated to the United States 20 years ago after growing up in East Berlin. “It was amazing to hear from someone who lived through that and hear how she doesn’t take things for granted here,” he says. “She said with all the options, she makes sure to purchase a pair of shoes she really, really loves.” Cross reports “bright, loud, tall heels” are particularly popular posts on Shoes of NYC and usually generate a strong sell-through on one of the company’s many affiliate retail networks. “When we photograph a shoe, we look to see if it is available online somewhere so we can offer it to our followers,” she says. “They like to know where they can buy!” Shoes of NYC has also been developing numerous brand partnerships, including a recent collaboration with Adidas. Next, Conti and Cross plan on taking their concept global. “We want to be a discovery platform for footwear around the world,” Cross says, adding that she and Conti are embarking on a tour of Europe during men’s fashion weeks in several cities. Eventually, they hope to have affiliates across the globe who contribute content for the Instagram page and website. “We want to merge content with e-commerce and do it on an international scale,” Conti says.
48 footwearplusmagazine.com • july 2017
From top: Lexi Cross photographing kicks on the street, the rare Pharrell x Adidas NMD sneakers, self-designed heels by a student at The New School.
46 SIZES & 4 WIDTHS IN-STOCK & OPEN-STOCK 1-800-970-8482
Published on Jun 30, 2017
Published on Jun 30, 2017
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