Footwear Plus | March 2014

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VOL. 24 • ISSUE 3 • MARCH 2014 • $10

Man’s World Masculine Accents Add Attitude to Women’s Casuals

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JUNE 3-5, 2014

TUESDAY–THURSDAY New York Hilton Midtown & Member Showrooms

R O C K P O R T. C O M © 2 0 14 T H E R O C K P O R T C O M PA N Y, L L C . R O C K P O R T ®

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

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Company of the Year

Brand of the Year

2013 Plus Award for Design Excellence ATHLETIC LIFESTYLE

2013 Plus Award for Design Excellence OUTDOOR

2013 Plus Award for Design Excellence WORK BOOTS

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Caroline Diaco Publisher Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL Angela Velasquez Fashion Editor Lyndsay McGregor Associate Editor Social Media Editor

MARCH 2014

Kathy Passero Editor at Large Melodie Jeng Contributing Photographer Judy Leand Contributing Editor ADVERTISING/ PRODUCTION Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Capri Crescio Advertising Manager Tim Jones Deputy Art Director Production Manager


Allison Kastner Operations Manager


Bruce Sprague Circulation Director

Dansko animal print lace-up, brown oxford by Naot, Alegria purple lace-up, Aetrex buckle-accented slip-on, Vionic driving moc.

14 A Refreshing Approach

42 Trend Spotting

President Bob Infantino gets right to the heart of what makes Drydock Footwear unique in the crowded comfort market. By Greg Dutter

All signs point to an oxford makeover, while fringe ties up loose ends. By Angela Velasquez

20 Award Worthy

46 Girls Will Be Boys

Industry stars step out in style to celebrate the 15th annual Plus Award winners.

It’s a man’s world for women’s comfort styles as designers dip a toe in tailoring this fall. By Angela Velasquez

24 What’s Moore On the cover: Cobb Hill oxford, Burberry trench coat, vintage pants from Southpaw, Equipment silk blouse, vintage hat from Screaming Mimi’s.

Photography by Jamie Isaia. Stylist: Kim Johnson; hair and makeup: Kristin Hilton/The Wall Group; model: Monica Valtin/ APM Models.


Joe Moore, president and CEO of FFANY, reflects on a career spanning more than 50 years in retail, wholesale and tradeshow management. By Greg Dutter

26 Profiles in Excellence Recognizing the designs, innovations and retail concepts that made each Plus Award-worthy. By Angela Velasquez, Lyndsay McGregor and Judy Leand

6 Editor’s Note 8 This Just In 12 Scene & Heard 56 Shoe Salon 58 Outdoor 60 E-beat 64 Last Word

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

FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, 36 Cooper Square, 4th fl., New York, NY, 10003-7118. The publishers of this magazine do not accept responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage is paid in New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: $48.00 in the U.S. Rates oustide the U.S. are available upon request. Single copy price: $10.00. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to FOOTWEAR PLUS, P.O. Box 8548, Lowell, MA 01853-8548. Publisher not responsible for unsolicited articles or photos. Any photographs, artwork, manuscripts, editorial samples or merchandise sent for editorial consideration are sent at the sole risk of the sender. Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. ©2008 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Printed in the United States.

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Shoes We hold these truths to be self-evident... Well, at least I do after 20 years. COLD AND snowy winter, and boots sell like hotcakes. A cold and clammy spring, like last year (I’m hoping for better this season), and sandal sales freeze. There are certain shoe truths that I’ve come to accept as law after covering this industry for 20 years. Take the weather, for example. Its inability to behave predictably just about every season I can recall begs the question: Is the weather ever normal? More to the point, should our industry continue to act surprised or dismayed when it doesn’t behave as expected? The famous quote, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” is spot on, especially when it comes to the shoe business. It’s too cold, snowy, rainy, hot, dry—pick an adjective, any adjective. Inclement weather is one of the leading excuses for missing a seasonal sales forecast. Why take blame when Mother Nature can be the scapegoat? You’d think that after a while one might expect the unexpected to be the norm. At the very least, it might be wise to hedge one’s bets by offering more design versatility and, on the retail side, more merchandise flexibility to adapt to the curve balls Mother Nature inevitably throws our way. Incidentally, that famous weather quote was actually coined by Charles Dudley Warner, a novelist and friend of Mark Twain. Twain got credit, though, because he repeated the witticism once during a lecture and, being more famous than Warner, the misattribution stuck. After being repeated often and long enough, people forgot who really invented it. Now when has that happened in our industry? This is the fashion business, after all. Rumors spread like wildfire, sometimes mushrooming into infernos of hype, misperception and fabrication. And therein lies another industry truth: “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” That bit of wisdom is usually attributed to another American icon, Benjamin Franklin, though some say it was Edgar Allan Poe. Who’d have thought one of our nation’s forefathers would turn out to be a fashion prophet more than 200 years later? When it comes to making the final call on what styles are in a line or on a store shelf, I say, “Go with your gut.” Don’t take a flyer on a rumored slam dunk, because, “If it’s too good to be true…” Well, you know the rest of that proverb. Still, having interviewed countless executives over the years in retail and wholesale, I know that those who exhibit the best track record in picking winners have years of experience working the floor in stores. There are

no finer examples than the two featured in this issue: Bob Infantino, president of Drydock Footwear, and Joe Moore, president and CEO of FFANY. Combined, the execs have nearly 100 years of industry experience, spanning retail, wholesale and trade shows. But both cut their teeth working the floors of independent shoe stores. Infantino worked at Altier in Rochester, NY. Moore worked at Trippets in Tulsa, OK. Both attribute their career success and longevity to that experience. “I learned everything I had to know about what people wanted in comfort footwear from being on the floor. It’s where I learned exactly why women bought shoes,” says Infantino, the subject of this month’s Q&A (p. 14). “It wasn’t so much about what they were buying as it was why they were buying. I learned those lessons by selling a pair at a time for 10 years, and I never forget them. That stuff never changes, and I’ve been using it my entire career.” Moore, the recipient of our Plus Award for Lifetime Achievement (p. 24), learned the secrets to success by working the floors at Trippets and Bullock’s department stores. It set him on a path that helped make Neiman Marcus a destination for salon footwear, leading Charles Jourdan into a $100 million retail/wholesale operation and making Saks Fifth Avenue’s Off 5th retail concept a $300 million operation. Moore did it by remaining close to the sales floor, where he interacted with consumers in real time rather than poring over spreadsheets and market studies. His recommendation to anyone looking to succeed as a buyer—at any level—today: Sell shoes. “You have to work at the fitting stool,” he says. “Learning what fits, what works, what doesn’t, what women want… There’s no way to learn that without literally being a shoe salesperson.” Last is what I call the Golden Shoe Rule: Women love shoes. No matter how much might go wrong, our industry collectively can’t go wrong in this regard. Footwear Plus has been covering this love affair for nearly a quartercentury. The proof is in our pages, in the countless success stories fueled by women’s willingness to shop for, try on, buy, collect, fawn over and obsess about shoes. It never ceases to amaze me. As a rule, I just leave that one alone and count our collective blessings.

Greg Dutter

Editorial Director

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One shoe. Two widths.

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Drama Queens

Street style stars put on a show in Paris with voluminous shapes and accessories worthy of a standing ovation. Photography by Melodie Jeng 8

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Waiting to Walk

Behind the scenes at Tess Giberson’s Fall ’14 runway show in New York. Photography by Melodie Jeng

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¡+¢ scene and heard Global Enterprise MINNETONKA IS PARTNERING with Me to We, a social enterprise that creates socially conscious products that benefit their international charity and educational partner, Free the Children, to create a collection of women’s moccasins featuring the beadwork of the Maasai Mamas in Kenya. For their craftsmanship, Minnetonka CEO David Miller says the Maasai Mamas will receive literacy training through Free the Children and a fair wage. “It’s exciting because it helps on so many different levels,” Miller says. “We help employ a lot of women and the business itself has a profitability built into it.” Minnetonka will also donate a portion of sales from each pair sold to the women and make a separate donation to Free the Children. Miller says Minnetonka is always looking to give back, but that this is the first social cause and action it has taken where it’s incorporated into the product. “We send the front pieces of the shoes to be beaded and then they are sent back to be assembled,” he explains, adding that the artisans were first sent a number of sample patterns to choose from. The initial collection includes a black suede moc with jewel tone beading and a dusty brown moc with teal, orange and red beads. Each style features a circular pattern, which Miller notes represents life in the Maasai culture. Miller hopes the moccasins take hold and that it’s not just a seasonal effort. So far, he reports retailers spanning independents to Nordstrom are getting behind the program and Minnetonka plans to support the line’s story with POP programs. “We want to grow the line in a slow, logical manner and sustain it rather than have a huge influx of orders and then go away,” Miller says. The moccasins wholesale for $24.50 and each pair is packaged with a unique number that consumers can track online to see how their purchase is making an impact. “It’s important for people who make the purchase to understand the community’s story and see that something real is attached to it,” says Miller.

Puppet Masters TO CELEBRATE THE this month’s release of The Muppets’ eighth film, Muppets Most Wanted, Kermit the Frog and his gangly group of furry friends play muse for Del Toro, the Miami-based men’s and women’s label that put the fashionable smoking slipper on the map. The collection, which is now available at Del Toro boutiques, its website and select retailers, including Colette in Paris, features a men’s Kermit-inspired green nappa chukka with a yellow fringe, a washed wool chukka boot reminiscent of Fozzie Bear’s curly coat, a bright red chukka emblazed with Animal’s face and women’s glittery slippers trimmed with pink grosgrain ribbon that captures Miss Piggy’s glam style. The styles retail for $360—not bad for a cast of characters rarely shown from the waist down. Known for collaborating with an eclectic range of fashion labels spanning Mighty Fine to Opening Ceremony, Del Toro was an easy match for The Muppets Studio, a division of Disney Consumer Products. The brand has already collaborated with Disney on a range of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck-inspired footwear. Del Toro General Council Christopher Dischino says a Finding Nemo collection is on tap for next year. “They give guidelines, but really let Matt [Matthew Chevallard, Del Toro CEO and creative director] have fun with it. The Muppets like to go big and do something creative,” Dischino explains, adding that the property is fully aware that its movies are as popular with adults as they are with kids. “The Muppets are one of those rare things that transcends age,” Dischino says.

Rubber Soles Fifty years ago The Beatles took America by storm after a performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and Vans honors that momentous occasion with a capsule collection. Taking a cue from the British band’s “Yellow Submarine” album and animated film (drawn by modern artist Heinz Edelmann), the collaboration features four classic Vans styles stamped with rainbowcolored illustrations. It’s the first time a footwear brand has ever been granted permission to use The Beatles’ album artwork. “We wanted to showcase the incredible imagery from ‘Yellow Submarine’ on the styles that could display the artwork best,” says Dabney Lee, director of Classics merchandising. To that end, cartoon portraits of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr emblazon the classic Sk8-Hi, while the other psychedelic shoes feature scenes from the film. The Classic SlipOns play off the movie’s Sea of Monsters, showing trippy marine life swimming in a pink ocean, the Era shoes depict the Fab Four hanging out in a yellow garden, and the Authentic is adorned with an all-over “All You Need is Love” print in purple, yellow and green. “The Beatles and Vans have the unique ability to connect with all types of consumers across various generations,” Lee says, adding that for that reason the shoes are available in both toddler and adult sizes. Retailing from $65 to $75, the collection hit select retailers this month.

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ISITORS TO THE home page of the Drydock Footwear website are greeted with a brief, breezy greeting. There’s no corporate bravado, no boasting about proprietary designs or breakthrough comfort systems, no number-laden claims of sales might and no garish logos. Instead, a subtle, concise introduction gets right to the heart of what makes Drydock Footwear unique in a crowded and homogenized comfort-casual landscape: a blend of newness and experience that spans Drydock’s portfolio, products, people and corporate philosophy. The homepage is an invitation wrapped in a greeting. It cleverly concludes with the question “Refreshing, huh?” and prompts readers to reach a similar conclusion: that something has been missing in the marketplace—and Drydock can fill the void. Retailers don’t need another comfort-casual shoe brand. They want something that is truly different. Something that presents new growth potential, rather than cannibalizing sales of existing brands. Something that addresses the specific needs of consumers when it comes to sizing, fit, comfort and style, but that also addresses behind-the-scenes needs such as customer service, marketing support and in-stock programs. Three years ago, Bob Infantino set out to launch something entirely

fresh. He had recently stepped down from The Clarks Companies N.A., where, under his 18 years at the helm, sales topped out at $780 million annually. He didn’t see the value in duplication. Moreover, this was Infantino’s opportunity to launch a business from scratch on his terms. It was a chance to draw upon his 40-plus years of experience and his extensive industry contacts to field an all-star team of executives in sales, marketing and design. Infantino’s first pick was John Daher—his good friend and co-worker

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O&A at Clarks for 12 years—as senior vice president of product development. “John and I see things similarly,” he says. They describe each other as line builders first and foremost. “He has a great eye for color and materials, and he can adapt to trends quickly.” Infantino’s second pick to join his new company was a big one: New Balance CEO Jim Davis and his company became the back engine that has enabled Drydock to hit the ground running faster than any traditional start-up could ever imagine. Infantino describes Drydock’s start to date as “spectacular”, particularly for the new Cobb Hill brand. “Cobb Hill has grown rapidly,” he confirms. “We’ve opened up almost every key independent in the country—all the excellent stores that I have come to know over the years. They gave us a chance, and our shoes have performed What are you reading? very well. Many have done 50 to 75 percent That Used to be Us by more business with us the following season, Thomas Friedman. I and some have even doubled their business recently finished Freedom with us.” The client list also includes an array by Jonathan Franzen. of leading department stores. Among them are Nordstrom, Belk, Von Maur, Hudson’s What inspires you Bay Company and the just opened Lord & most right now? The Taylor, as well as key e-commerce players metamorphosis of this like Zappos, ShoeBuy and OnlineShoes. new company, along with “It’s really come together,” Infantino says. my two 8-year-olds. I have “Zappos, for example, carries about 475 this whole newness theme brands. When we started, we were probagoing on in my life. bly number 475. Now Cobb Hill ranks in its Top 50 brands. That’s fast growth.” What sound do you Infantino fully expected a strong response love? The laughter of my to his Drydock concept. It’s not arrogance, two children. but conviction that he could succeed, particularly if he began by putting the right What is your least people in place. “This is an inspired group favorite word? Proactive. of people,” he says, noting that other Clarks It just sounds so entirely alums to join the team include Sue Dooley, made up. marketing director; Gene DeCristofaro, territory manager; Margie Glazer, commuWhat is your favorite nication and events manager; and, most recently, Joe Salzano, senior adviser. “When you have this kind of talent and know-how, plus this fantastic company in New Balance that is supporting everything we do—and would have required tons of money, people and expertise to do on our own—and also treats customers and employees the way we like to and makes great products at a great value... I think it was almost destined to succeed.” Infantino deems it the ideal blend of new and experienced. “We have the best of both worlds. The heritage of New Balance combined with offering something fresh and interesting for the market.” Nevertheless, Infantino is still humbled by the immediate and widespread acceptance Drydock has received. “It’s really gratifying to have so many people open their arms to us and give us a try based on a say-so,” he says. While the industry knew of Infantino, consumers didn’t. And no one had ever heard of Cobb Hill. The ace up Infantino’s sleeve was New Balance. Putting “Cobb Hill by New Balance” on all its product and packaging created a “huge” gateway into the marketplace, he says. “It’s the one thing that nobody else can say in the casual shoe business,” he says. “New Balance has a great reputation. They are known for selling sizes and widths, and they make products that consumers really like. It gave our product instant credibility.” Look at it this way, Infantino suggests, “If you were shopping for headphones and came across the Bob Infantino Headphone Company as opposed to the Bob Infantino

Headphone Company by Bose, which ones would you be more apt to buy?” Beyond the New Balance seal of approval, Infantino attributes a big portion of his success to the product itself. “It has so many wonderful details. It’s always on-trend. It has great value and features terrific materials—all those aspects that you really have to know how to do,” he explains. Couple that with the comfort systems that he and Daher are well-versed in incorporating into casual shoe designs plus access to the “candy store” that is New Balance’s array of comfort technologies—like RevLite and Fresh Foam—and you get a powerful blend of style and comfort. Reinforcing this is the fact that Drydock’s marketing capabilities, in-store and out, are much more extensive than a normal company its size, Infantino notes. The last piece of the puzzle is Drydock’s part of the day? Around commitment to partnering with its retail6:30 in the morning, ers. Of course, every company claims to be especially in the a genuine partner, but that’s often more summertime. fluff than substance. “I know it can sound hackneyed, but when you really believe in What is your current your heart that you do partner and make state of mind? Conpeople feel like they are a part of your comtentment. When I was pany, the results speak for themselves,” younger, I thought that Infantino says. Establishing that level of was the worst possible connection has required a formidable travel thing to feel. I used to say schedule for Infantino. His itinerary sounds contentment is for cows. like a refrain from the Johnny Cash song, But, as the years have I’ve Been Everywhere. Recent stops have gone by, it now feels good. included Kalamazoo, MI; Shenandoah, IA; I like where I am and and Bakersfield, CA. In addition to getting loving what I have. a priceless sense of the retail landscape, Infantino is having a blast. “In my last years Well, that’s not very at Clarks, it got so big that I didn’t get as Wall Street-esque of much of a chance to visit our customers, you. Actually, if I wanted especially the independent retailers,” he says. more of anything it “Now it’s my No. 1 priority. That’s the real would be time. I’m just shoe business, by the way. That’s where you happy to be where I am find out what’s really going on.” Infantino in life. believes that because he lived it, getting his start working on the floor at Altier Shoes in his hometown of Rochester, NY. He finds these in-store visits anything but a chore. “I do it because I love it,” he says. “The visits have been truly inspiring.” That sums up Infantino’s approach to Drydock Footwear and to the industry as whole: It’s a labor of love. And that’s a refreshing story.


Drydock is doing well, you are working with a handpicked team of friends and you are spending time visiting great stores around the country. What’s not to love? Oh my God, I love it all, especially visiting these small stores. And the smaller the town, the better. I feel like Charles Kuralt (CBS’s “On The Road” correspondent). I recently visited Reyers (in Sharon, PA) and (owner) Mark Jubelirer took me by the elbow and walked me through his hall of fame and backroom operations. I was drinking it all in. I love hearing about that stuff. I also love learning about what makes people tick, and there’s nothing like letting these store owners talk about their businesses and telling you what they love about them. Seeing it firsthand trumps any spreadsheet report. Definitely. When I visited Reyers, earlier that day I had been at Lucky Shoes

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O&A (in Akron, OH), which is another great independent retailer. In between those two locations there’s pretty much nothing, but then there’s this massive shoe store. (At 36,000 square feet, Reyers bills itself as “the world’s largest shoe store.”) It does millions of dollars a year in sales. And the Jubelirer family absolutely loves the shoe business. I also met one of their salespeople who has worked there for years and makes pickled peppers. Well, she sent me a jar and they were delicious. It made my trip extra special. After visiting Takken’s in San Luis Obispo, CA, I drove three hours to Bakersfield to meet with Rosco Rolnick of Guarantee Shoe Center and, along the way, I saw hundreds of miles of almond and pistachio trees and learned that the region also supplies 70 percent of the world’s carrots. I’ve known Rosco for years but had never made it to his store. He’s a third-generation retailer and his daughter is now working with him. Rosco’s a terrific guy and does a lot of work in philanthropy. And he’s got a big store that does a great business. It was a great visit, and all it took was a relatively short drive. I learned what products of mine might work best for his clientele. I was also the first brand to present in his just-refinished basement showroom. He was so proud to show it to me. What’s more fun than doing all this? I’m not doing this anymore because I need a “job.” I love the idea of being in these places, spending time with storeowners and talking to their customers. Then I come back to our offices in Boston and strategize with John and the rest of our team on how we can try and meet all of their respective needs. That’s a big reason we’ve been successful, because everyone in our company is thinking this way. What’s your response to those who say the independent retailer is a dying breed? There will always be good independents. And there are still a lot of very good ones left and some new guys coming along. Some of my favorites include the Astobiza brothers at Sole Desire. They are opening stores (currently 13 locations in California) as fast as they can, and they are selling a ton of shoes. They are on the floor and working closely with their brands all the time. They have a feel for the business and I believe they are going to be incredibly successful. They are not going to get killed by the Internet. They create theater in their stores. I believe they love the business the same way I did. I get so inspired standing alongside these young kids who are just killing it. I’d love to be around another 50 years and see where they take this business. About how many stores have you visited in the past year and have you hit all 50 states? I’ve visited more than 100 and will probably visit another 100 stores this year. But I haven’t been to some of the giant square states [laughs]. Most recently, I’ve been to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Michigan, California, Iowa and Maine. There are some terrific stores out there, ones whose overall capacity amazed me. Karavel Shoes in Austin, TX, for example, has a tremendous shoe repair component as well as a great assortment of European brands. And I had no idea how big Houser Shoes’ stores really are (in South Carolina primarily). And Tops for Shoes in Asheville, NC, is another big, beautiful store I recently visited. I just love getting out there and learning about these businesses. I also love being in the selling mode because I really believe in what we are doing. It doesn’t even feel like I’m selling. It’s just showing who we are and how we can help their businesses. Sounds to me like the makings of a reality TV show: “Shoe Store Travels with Bob.” Maybe you’re onto something. I most recently went to Los Angeles and stopped into J. Stephens, the shops along Abbot Kinney Boulevard and

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Nordstrom’s new store in The Grove, which is fabulous. The next day I went to San Francisco and shopped Hayes Street, where Gimme Shoes has a store. That area always has trends you would never find if you didn’t snoop around. John and I never stop looking. Recently, we were in Quebec City and Montreal and went through all these great shops, which is like shopping in Europe. We also travel to Europe often, where we usually shop Cologne, Munich, Paris, Barcelona—a great shoe city—and, depending on the season, Amsterdam or Rome. Occasionally, we’ll put Brussels on our itinerary. There’s something about actually walking into these stores that you can’t see online or in a report, right? Absolutely. Speaking with merchants about what’s working and why, looking at details, touching the leathers—you can’t do that online. And we always find something new. If you shop the Hong Kong market, you’ll see things you never knew existed. It’s constantly changing. It’s changed during the span of this phone conversation. Unless you are physically out there looking, you just won’t see or understand or accumulate the knowledge you need to comprehend what’s really going on in the market. It’s a constant journey.


Based on your extensive travels, how would you assess the general mindset of consumers right now? It’s decent, definitely stronger than it was a few years ago. Back then, they weren’t concerned about what shoes they were going to buy, they were worried about their 401Ks, the price of their house and whether they would keep their jobs. A lot of those fears have been allayed. People are breathing a little easier. While they are not buying with wild abandon, they are feeling better about their investments. I also think that they are looking to be inspired. If they find something they like, they are making the purchases. Along those lines, who is the Cobb Hill consumer? The customer is anywhere from age 25 and up. It’s really not about targeting a specific age. My mother, for example, has a few pairs, but she is not the same 93-year-old as someone who was that age 20 years ago. And there are a lot of 50- and 60-year-old women dressing exactly the same as they did in their 30s and 40s. We design for someone who is looking for something special. So there are little touches, be they ornamentations or stitch details, to make the shoes interesting. But the shapes and the way they fit and feel are pretty universal. Cobb Hill also comes in three widths. Aravon, by contrast, offers more orthopedic applications, like removable footbeds, and is available in five widths. Between those two, we cover consumers every which way. As one of our employees succinctly said, “The Cobb Hill customer wants comfort. The Aravon customer needs it.” How is Dunham doing? It’s good, steady growth. It’s our men’s brand, basically, and we’ve added a lot of new product lines. I think it can become a strong brand. We are trying lots of new concepts and finding our way into that market. We have a lot of shoes that are constant re-orders. It’s a nice steady business, and we keep adding to it. For example, we’ve incorporated the RevLite technology into some styles and it has done nicely. Offering the feel of a running shoe disguised as a casual is working well. We are also offering a lot of waterproof boots—the kinds of styles you’d expect a good men’s brand to offer. But it takes longer to grow a men’s business than a women’s casual business.

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Are men still embracing their inner fashionista, be it by wearing bright colors or edgier styles? Maybe not all the really bright colors, but I think the male consumer has changed in America. It’s been happening in Europe for a long time, but the male consumer here is wearing a lot of things he would have never >62

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Award Worthy The 15th Annual Plus Awards ceremony, held at the New York Hilton and co-sponsored by FFANY, recognized design and retail excellence for 2013. Lifetime Achievement

Company of the Year

Brand of the Year

Women’s Comfort

Customer Service, Online

Customer Service

Sit & Fits

Joe Moore President and CEO FFANY

Blake Krueger Chairman and CEO Wolverine Worldwide

Craig Reingold President Sperry Top-Sider

Gary Champion President Earth Brands

Steve Hill, VP Merchandising, Zappos, presented by Bob Mullaney, President, Rockport

Amanda Cabot CEO Dansko

Gary Weiner Owner Saxon Shoes

Athletic Lifestyle

Cowboy Boots

Children’s, Running

Men’s Collection, Slippers

Rick Blackshaw President Keds

Amber Vanwy Sales and Marketing Manager, Durango

Rick Graham VP of Sales Skechers

Kristen Scaravaglione Spokesperson Ugg Australia

Made in U.S.A.

National Chain

James Rowley Scott Meden, EVP GMM, Nordstrom and General Manager Presenter Gary Champion, Vintage Shoe Company President, Earth Brands



Work Boots

Tom Stolz Presenter Marty Rose of All Black Eastern Sales Manager with Owner Elena Brennan and Merrell Manager Aubrey Costello of Bus Stop

Ted Gedra Group President Wolverine

Best Collaboration


Men’s Comfort


Tracy Moore, Designer, Dr. Martens and Agyness Deyn, Designer

Michael Petry Creative Director

Jason Boie Men’s Designer Rockport

Dana Schwister and Erika Vala, Co-Owners Shoe Market, and presenter Billy Carrington, CEO, Consolidated Shoe Co.

The Frye Company

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Here’stotoaaman man with with heart Here’s heartand andsole. sole.

We salute Joe Moore for his distinguished career in the footwear industry, and for his contributions to “FFANY Shoes on Sale” to benefit breast cancer research and education. ©2014 QVC, QVC, and theQQRibbon Ribbon Logo Logo are service marks of ER Inc. Inc. ©2014 QVC, Inc.Inc. QVC, Q, Q, and the areregistered registered service marks of Marks, ER Marks, Photo by by Justin Justin Coit Photo Coit FOP_Mar2014.indd 21 PRT3925_FN_JoeMoore_Ad.indd 1

2/24/14 2/19/14 1:00 3:36PM PM


Party On!


A little snow and ice didn’t stop the estimated 400 footwear industry professionals on hand from celebrating the 15th annual Plus Awards winners.

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What’s Moore

Joe Moore, president and CEO of FFANY, reflects on a career chock-full of industry firsts and colorful tales, spanning more than 50 years in retail, wholesale and tradeshow management. By Greg Dutter


icture this: On a moment’s notice, you’ve flown halfway around the world to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to meet with a member of the royal family (Prince Al-Waleed) who wants to discuss a major business deal. It’s your first time visiting the kingdom and your first time meeting a prince. >>>

After landing, you are whisked to his grandiose offices. Prince Al-Waleed is seated at a huge, high desk. Hanging on the wall behind him are more than a dozen large screens keeping tabs on the financial markets and news from around the world. There’s also a massive world map filled with flag pins, too numerous to count, marking the locations of the prince’s many companies. Seated to his left and right—a little lower—is a small army of assistants, toiling away to keep him up to speed on his vast array of business dealings. You are sitting in what feels like a pit, about to present an offer to one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen. Are you nervous? Joe Moore, who found himself in this very setting while representing Saks Fifth Avenue’s international development division, is not afraid to admit that he was. “I was in Japan negotiating a deal for a full-line store when I got the call from corporate saying the prince wanted to open a store,” Moore recalls. Before hopping on a plane, Moore bought a book on Saudi etiquette and did as much research as he could to learn about Prince Al-Waleed. (He is renowned for bailing out Citicorp in 1991 when the bank was in dire straits with an initial investment of $550 million. He has also made large investments in Apple, News Corp., Motorola and AOL, and his real estate holdings include major hotels around the world.) “At the time, he owned a bunch of big companies, but I learned that he’d had his share of failures,” Moore says, adding that the

prince had bought Planet Hollywood shortly before their meeting. “I thought if he can pay what he paid for that, then he can pay at least that much to open a Saks Fifth Avenue store.” Moore went to the meeting with a substantial figure in mind for the right to negotiate further. “So there I am, down in the hole looking up at the prince, and I tell him the amount,” Moore says. “His response: ‘You must know I’m a very wealthy man. But you also must know I’m not a stupid man. I’m not going to pay that.’” Rather than leave empty-handed, Moore thought on his feet and presented an alternative. For the same figure, the prince could receive the rights to open five stores in the Middle East. “I thought it could work out very well for both sides,” Moore says. After more negotiating, he and the prince had a deal in principle. He made a few more flights to Riyadh to iron out the details, but then Saks was sold and the new owners froze all international development deals. In a testament to Moore’s business acumen and people skills, he traveled to Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to personally pull out of the deals he had initiated. “I wasn’t going to just send them each a telegram,” Moore says. “I had to tell them in person.” This is just one of countless true tales Moore has of working on the grand stage of retail fashion in a long and fascinating career. His bio includes stints at an A-list of fashion industry legends, including Bullock’s, Neiman Marcus, Charles Jourdan, Saks Fifth Avenue and, while there, helping launch Giorgio

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Armani’s Armani Exchange stores. As a lead buyer at Neiman Marcus early in his career, Moore helped introduce such iconic designers as Salvatore Ferragamo and Charles Jourdan to American consumers as well as countless other salon labels. Moore was at the forefront of salon retailing and a tastemaker for millions of women who grew to love the designers and the shoes he selected each season. The designers became beloved household names, and Moore was the one responsible for creating the love affairs. Moore began perfecting his salon buying craft at Bullock’s department store in Los Angeles before jumping to Neiman Marcus. From there, he crossed into wholesale as president and CEO of Charles Jourdan’s U.S. operations, growing the business over 19 years to $100 million annually. After returning to retail at Saks, his claim to fame was taking its Off 5th concept from an embryo to a $300 million powerhouse. Last, as a founding member and head of the Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY) for the past 15 years, Moore not only united the industry from a tradeshow perspective, he brought another nascent idea—FFANY Shoes On Sale, the charitable initiative devoted to the fight against breast cancer—to fruition. Moore has overseen the expansion of QVC Presents FFANY Shoes On Sale into an industry-wide effort that, to date, has raised $45 million. Moore has left an indelible mark on every one of his career stops. Yet despite tremendous professional success, he has remained humble. He is quick to credit his co-workers for their role in each of his successes. And he never forgot his roots (small-town Indiana), his upbringing (it’s where he developed his strong work ethic) or his first part-time job (at a small clothing store called Squire Shop). Little did he know that it would set the wheels in motion on a long career in the fashion world.

The strategy taught Moore one of the secrets to successful retailing: studying consumer behavior patterns and reacting in advance to capitalize on them. Whether it was a farmer in need of a new pair of boots or, later, knowing that transplanted New Yorkers shopping his Neiman Marcus salon in Miami would buy suede, Moore made a career of keeping close tabs on the wants and needs of his target audience. The best way to do that, he discovered early, was to be on the selling floor as much as possible. “I tell any buyer today that they have to work on the fitting stool to truly learn this business,” he says. “You find where shoes gap, which heels are too wide, why not everybody can wear a high heel, etc. There’s no other way to learn that.” Moore has stayed close to the selling floor ever since, no matter how far up the corporate ladder he climbed. “I’ve always just thought it was part of the job,” he says. “Because, boy, do you learn what to buy after selling shoes to customers day after day.”

A Career Decision

If it hadn’t been for Squire Shop owner Byron Franklin (who later moved to Tulsa, OK, to open a children’s shoe store called Trippets Shoes), Moore’s career might never have unfolded the way it did. The story goes: Franklin sent Moore a high school graduation gift (a string bow tie) along with an offer to work at Trippets. In exchange, he would pay Moore’s tuition at Tulsa University. While attending business school, Moore began the most difficult job in shoe retailing: fitting children’s feet—and trying to please mothers in the process. “You can never really win there,” he says. During this period, Moore learned another valuable life lesson from his boss: Good grades mean little compared to learning how to navigate student politics and working with the public in a retail setting. Moore joined a fraternity and student government, and his people skills improved daily. His Learning to Lose big break came unexpectedly during a summer vacation. Moore took time You might say Moore, a four-sport letterman during high school and a selfoff from Trippets to visit his girlfriend in California. Needing a summer job, described “lousy” student, was destined for a career in fashion retail. His high he walked into the children’s shoe department of a nearby Bullock’s departschool yearbook prophetically noted that he was most likely to become presment store. As fate would have it, the children’s buyer was on vacation. So ident of L.S. Ayres, the big department store in Indianapolis (circa 1950). By Moore went to the women’s department. While waiting to meet the buyer, his senior year, Moore had moved on from Squire Shop to work part-time he noticed a young girl holding a shoe in her hand, at Grahams department store in Pendleton, IN. “I waiting for a salesperson. Moore decided to pitch wore a little better clothes than most of the other in. He took the shoe to the backroom and “found kids. I learned all about the business,” Moore says, the oldest Shoe Dog” and asked for it in a 6.5 B. explaining the basis for the yearbook recognition. It fit beautifully. Sold. The floor manager saw the “We sold men’s, women’s and children’s—Buster entire transaction and hired the 19-year-old Moore Brown shoes to Lee jeans to Van Heusen shirts.” on the spot. It was Moore’s first step into women’s In addition to learning fashion and retail basics, fashion footwear, where a combination of innate Moore got a valuable life lesson as a teen: how to talent and love of the product began to blossom. deal with losing. The lesson came when he was cap“Many of the salesman had been there for years tain of his high school basketball team—a team that, and I received a lot of TLC from them,” he says. “I during Moore’s senior year, failed to win a single learned a ton, like going to lunch at 10:30 a.m., game. The starting players had been suspended for when the floor was quiet before the noon rush.” bad behavior, leaving Moore and a ragtag bunch of One of the perks of working at Bullock’s was getfill-ins to compete in the fiercely competitive world ting to wait on movie stars. Some of the shoes he of Indiana high school basketball. “We became the sold appeared in their movies. He became actress joke of the county and, eventually, the entire state,” Kim Novak’s favorite shoe salesman. “I waited on he says. “They wanted to chase us out of town. So her during four of her movies [including Picnic and I experienced what failure was very early in life.” It’s a lesson that has served Moore well throughVertigo],” he says, crediting their relationship to a In a footwear career that spans more than 50 out his career in a business where failure can be a little reverse psychology. “The first time I waited years, Joe Moore has had plenty to smile about. regular occurrence. Learning how to adjust, adapt on her, I asked her what her name was and how to and not let it get to you have proven the keys to his spell it. We bonded because I was pretending not long-term success. to fall all over her.” It was an example of Moore’s At about the same time, Moore experienced his first major retail success. people skills that would serve especially well as he climbed the fashion world The night before the first big snow of the season, Moore and his coworkers at ranks, where egos can rival any Hollywood starlet’s. Grahams lined up all the work boots they had in inventory in a row so farmMoore had every intention of returning to Trippets to finish school, but he ers could do quick try-ons. The idea behind the strategy was that most farmwound up staying at Bullock’s for the well-paying job and the woman who ers hadn’t worn their old boots since the previous winter and, after sitting all became his first wife. He worked at Bullock’s for five years, eventually becomsummer at the back door, the soles had rotted out. Like clockwork, Moore ing a buyer at a new store in Santa Ana, CA. In 1958, Moore made another says, the farmers poured into the store that first snowy morning. “We sold 90 career mark when he created a separate area for casuals. “I believed the catpercent of our boots for the season that day,” he says. egory would have more importance separate from dress,” he explains. “I >41 march 2014 • 25

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THE PLUS AWARDS Recognizing Excellence in Design and Retail for 2013

WOLVERINE WORLDWIDE HAS captured its third straight Plus Award in the prestigious Company of the Year category. For the fourth consecutive year the corporation achieved record financial results, with fiscal 2013 revenues hitting $2.69 billion, up 5.6 percent from 2012. All three of its branded operating groups (Lifestyle, Performance and Heritage) played a part in the increase, with the most significant contributions coming from the Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Keds and Merrell brands. Chairman and CEO Blake Krueger “When you look across our company, which includes 16 brands and multiple distribution channels, we have something for every one of our retailers across America,” remarks Blake Krueger, chairman and CEO. “Our fanatical focus on product innovation is delivering exciting products to our consumers, and we continue to tell compelling marketing stories each season—all while our talented and motivated teams deliver revenue growth and increased profitability across the portfolio.” He adds, “It really comes down to people and being able to provide great customer service for our retail partners, especially in these volatile times.” For a little perspective of how far Wolverine Worldwide has come, in 1994 the company had just three brands and a presence in 60 countries. Today, it makes 100 million units of footwear annually, and its brands are sold in approximately 200 countries and territories. “Over the years, we’ve learned to add to our portfolio, manage our brands and keep them distinct,” Krueger says. “It’s a complicated business model, but fundamentally we’re a company that depends on communication.” He also points out that Saucony, Sperry Top-Sider, Keds and Stride Rite, which the company acquired from Collective Brands in October 2012, are now “fully integrated and were all put on a single SAP system in less than a year, which is a significant accomplishment that few companies in our industry have been able to pull off.” Despite a still sluggish retail sector, Krueger notes that Merrell delivered excellent results, Wolverine is still the top work boot brand in the U.S. and Keds had a standout year with double-digit growth. Globally, Wolverine Worldwide now has more than 20 new international distribution contracts for Sperry, Saucony and Keds. Regionally, Krueger believes that Europe is back on track, and Latin America and Asia Pacific will continue to post double-digit gains and become increasingly important for the company’s future growth. “Our 2013 sales beat our plan, but we spent a lot of calories in taking our new brands global,” he remarks. For fiscal 2014, the company is forecasting top line growth of 3 to 6 percent and is looking at international markets to be a bigger contributor for all brands. “Right now, our four new brands account for less than 10 percent of our collective sales outside the U.S.,” Krueger says, noting that prior to their acquisition 60 percent of all sales were international. “We’re now working to replicate that success globally with the new brands while staying relevant to U.S. consumers.” —Judy Leand




IN 2013, IT was smooth sailing for Sperry Top-Sider. Back in 1935, the brand introduced the world’s first boat shoe, and today it is tackling new markets and broadening its reach in existing ones by blending performance technologies with modern aesthetics. The introduction of a larger assortment of lightweight styles, together with simplified constructions, richer details and athletic influences, is resonating in domestic and foreign markets alike. In fact, consumer and retailer acceptance of the brand’s extension into the casual lifestyle space continues to be a significant growth driver. “We’re communicating on our vision to become a global performance and lifestyle brand,” says Craig Reingold, president of Sperry Top-Sider. “Through both product and marketing, we want to emotionally connect with a lifestyle that consumers want to be a part of. Our innovation and design is more about understanding the consumer and creating an emotional product that they love to see.” He adds, “The brand has a real generational appeal—consumers from ages 6 to 60 and beyond love Sperry’s authenticity and what the brand stands for.” Empirical proof of this can be found in the company’s 2013 sales, which increased by double-digits from 2012. The focus of the 2013 line was to blend the brand’s distinctive DNA with new colors and materials that would resonate with the market. As Reingold notes, “Boat shoes really clicked because we kept them fresh. Also, the extension beyond boat into casuals such as sandals, boots and women’s flats really worked well for us.” He adds that thanks to a cold fourth quarter weather-wise, “Boots and wet-weather product sold through, and I wish we had more!” Specifically, the Sea Kite Sport Moc was a hit in the performance category, while the Drifter Espadrille and Boat Oxford helped buoy the American Originals collection. Enduring styles such as the Sea Fish thong sandal and Chelton bootie also figured into the equation, and the premium Gold Cup collection stood out in both the performance and casual categories. The main objective was to provide core sailing consumers with something to wear casually, while also developing active performance and sport looks for the growing lifestyle audience. Sperry also made a concerted effort to tie the performance and casual lines together aesthetically at retail. To complement its footwear business, Sperry launched apparel and an accessories line that includes watches, sunglasses, socks, hats, gloves, scarves and sea bags. The company is also on course to expand its selection of multi-seasonal styles and to further grow the women’s segment. “We see a big opportunity to extend beyond our core sailing and water sports markets to become a global lifestyle brand,” Reingold says. —J.L.



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©2014 Vans, Inc

vnsFOP_Mar2014.indd footwear plus ad v2.indd 39 1

VA N S . C O M

2/21/14 5:53 2:12 PM


« Gary Weiner, owner



SAXON SHOES FOUNDED IN 1953, Saxon Shoes is a family-owned business that has grown to become the largest full-service footwear store in its home state of Virginia. Carrying more than 200 brands for men, women and children, and boasting an experienced sales staff, the retailer is all about customer service. “Our focus is to exceed expectations. We want to ‘wow’ our customers, whether with pleasant conversations, making product suggestions, offering a great selection, or providing expert fit and measurement,” says Gary Weiner, president and CEO. “Our staff and selection drives our business and customer satisfaction.” This customer-centric approach continues to pay off in a big way. Saxon currently operates two locations: a 26,000-square-foot outlet in Richmond


HOW DOES A pillar of Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week connect with the everyday woman? “We’re always trying to fill the holes that our customers encounter in their wardrobes—whether it’s a heel you can walk the city in or a sneaker that’s not just for the gym,” says Principal Designer and Co-Chairman Michael Kors. The New York-based designer makes it sound easy, but he brings more than 30 years of experience designing classic American fashion, handbags and footwear to his work—not to mention a charming and likeable disposition that has won women over and become part of the brand’s identity. Kors’ designs have experienced a revival of sorts in the past year. The company opened 98 additional stores and concessions in 2013, totaling 395 locations. And despite sagging holiday sales nationwide and a government shutdown, the brand still came out on top, reporting a 59 percent revenue increase to $1 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2014, up from $636.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2013. Driving sales for Kors by Michael Kors was a variety of heels. “Everyone loves a sexy ‘wear-me-out’ heel,” Kors says, noting that single-sole silhouettes, cutout gladiators and caged booties were favorites in 2013. “Just buying them is an instant pick-me-up,” he adds. In the summer, the brand followed up a popular cork collection with studs and metal pieces on heels. “I was also obsessed with Lucite heels for a little while. I love how they make a woman look like she’s floating,” Kors explains. Going forward, the designer plans to stay focused on “designing and producing the shoes that customers reach for every day.” However, he never rests on his laurels. He’s eager to bring new shapes to the market. For instance, unexpected highlights of the 2013 collections included a range of fashion sneakers with zipper embellishments, Michael Kors, designer animal prints, embossed croc and woven materials that celebrated Kors’ sportswear roots. “We were also really making the move towards chunkier, gutsier sandals and menswear-inspired shapes like oxfords,” he states. For Kors, taking chances is part of the fun. “I think anytime you do more menswear-inspired shoes, there’s a little bit of a risk. The true fashion people will love it, but then there’s everyone else. Luckily, everyone has really jumped on the borrowedfrom-the-boys trend.” —Angela Velasquez

and a 19,000-square-foot store in Fredericksburg. “Customers love our consistency and the types of merchandise we carry,” Weiner notes. “We’re proud of our ability to get product when our customers want it. Unlike the Internet, they can touch the shoes, try them on, buy now and wear now.” Moreover, Saxon’s signature comfort-fit technique ensures that every child is expertly measured, and the fit is then double-checked before a sale is completed. The staff also offers to measure every customer’s foot to ensure the proper length and width, and can accommodate customers that use personal orthotics. Saxon, which began as a children’s orthopedic footwear specialist, is now in its 61st year of business. “Today, we do more business on a typical Saturday before lunch than my parents [Saxon’s founders] did during their entire first year in business,” says Weiner. “For most companies, 2013 was a trying, tough year due to tremendous government issues and low consumer confidence. Everyone was very promotional. But what really set us apart was our customer service.” Looking ahead, Weiner is “reservedly optimistic” about this spring following a long, cold winter. “There is some pentup demand,” he says. “Anytime we have a decent weather day, we have strong sales—45 degrees and some sun would be ideal.” —J.L.

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MERRELL CONTINUES TO cement its reputation as an innovator of outdoor performance footwear that blends trail blazing technologies with vibrant, youthful style, and 2013 proved to be another banner year for the brand. Although core programs remained in high demand and helped boost corporate sales, the standout grouping was the M-Connect Series, Merrell’s largest concept to date. The shoes—built on different platforms based on end-use—are lightweight, agile and designed to enhance ground connection. “Each product in the M-Connect Series is informed by the way the body naturally moves, and encourages a closer connection to the trail,” says Martin Dean, Merrell’s vice president of product creation. A particular highlight within M-Connect was the men’s Proterra Sport low-profile hiking shoe that was designed with Stratafuse, a new technology used in the upper that provides a glove-like fit for lightweight durability and natural movement. For women, a popular choice was the Bare Access zero drop running shoe that offered a barefoot feel by letting the foot land flat, while also incorporating more toe-to-heel cushioning. “A leading design trend for the season was a product’s relation to the body and ability to function effortlessly with the consumer. From Google Glass to body-mapped com-



pression gear, consumers want intuitive products that fit naturally into the rhythms of their lives,” explains Dean. “With this inspiration, the M-Connect series of shoes was built to become second-nature to the consumer’s experience on the trail.” Through minimal, flexible and lightweight designs, Dean says Merrell provides consumers a purpose to unplug, get outside and connect with each other and the outdoors. “Future designs will draw even more inspiration from the outdoors and the motivation that nature gives back to outdoor enthusiasts everywhere,” he adds. At retail, M-Connect exemplified the convergence of outdoor and athletic design influences that still dominate the marketplace, and allowed retailers and consumers to see an entire collection of performance shoes that had a singular design concept. “Each product in the series was developed with the right level of cushioning, stability and flexibility, allowing for a more connected fit and feel. Together, the collection speaks to the benefit of getting outside and performing in the outdoors,” says Dean. He adds that going forward hiking and trail running will continue to be a large focus for the brand. “We are committed to innovating and elevating Merrell creative product to lead the way through fresh solutions that attract a younger generation to the outdoors,” Dean says. —J.L.




2013 WAS A big year for The Frye Company. Not only did the oldest continuously operating footwear company in the U.S. turn 150, it also launched a limited-edition collection of boots for men and women that riffed on Jasper Johns’ famous “Flag” painting. The Discovery Channel aired a one-hour documentary shot inside the company’s Wynne, AR, factory. And Rizzoli Publications released a coffee table book of the brand’s most famous fans. Despite the hype, the company’s core values are the same today as they were in 1863. “The quality and craftsmanship is what resonates with consumers. The expectations are very high when people buy product from us, and the product always lives up to expectations because it’s well manufactured,” says Creative Director Michael Petry. Frye’s history is sewn into every stitch of its shoes and Petry attributes the company’s longevity to its classic yet current designs. A veteran of Prada and Polo Ralph Lauren, Petry takes care not to let the brand devolve into novelty trends. “We are inspired by all things American, whether it’s Hudson River Valley painters, American ingenuity or industrial design,” he explains. Frye’s iconic Campus, Harness and Engineer boots remain pillars of the lineup, with minor tweaks to update them from the era when John Lennon and Jackie Kennedy wore them. This year Frye plans to continue its long tradition of using master artisans and high-quality American and Italian hides to make the best boots possible. “So long as you stay true to your core values and the things that got you to the 150-year point, the outlook is always bright,” Petry says. —Lyndsay McGregor

Scott Meden, EVP, GMM

THREE IS A magic number for luxury retailer Nordstrom. Its third-quarter sales rose 3 percent to almost $3 billion. It plans to open three new fullscale stores in 2014. And it’s taken home the Plus Award recognizing Excellence in Retail in the National Chain category for the third year in a row. Scott Meden, executive vice president and GMM, says it all comes down to offering customers a great experience. “We try to keep our focus on the customer and serve them in the way they want,” he explains. “We try to stay in step with the customer by offering compelling product that’s relevant and fashionable.” Despite a difficult economy, the Seattlebased department store chain has performed well by expanding its online presence, by catering to cost-conscious consumers through its Rack division and by investing in such new markets as Manhattan and Canada. (The company currently has 117 full-line stores spread across 35 states and plans to open the first of six Canadian locations in 2014.) “Last year in shoes, boots and short booties were a hit with customers,” Meden says, noting that Ugg sales in particular remained strong. “Each year our goal is to improve the customer experience. We aim for perfection, but service is an imperfect science, so we continue to renew that goal,” he says. “Speed, convenience, e-commerce and personalization are becoming more important to how the customer views good service. We continue to be guided by the needs of our customers and do our best to respond.” —L.M.

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» Tony Hsieh, CEO






WHEN IT COMES to service, Dansko is always ready to go the extra distance. The company, which became 100 percent employee-owned in 2012, operates a 200,000-square-foot distribution center located near its corporate offices in West Grove, PA. Within those walls are a number of technologies and systems that help the customer service team respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of its clientele. The brand’s ultimate objective isn’t just to supply product, but to become a true retail partner. “Our retail partnerships are of the COO Mimi Curry highest importance,” says COO Mimi Curry. “Every touch point in the operational process is designed to meet the needs of customers, from product ordering and speed of fulfillment to thorough and timely interactions with the customer service team.” she adds, “We may not be the only brand our retailers partner with, but we aim to be their favorite.” The company credits its LEED Gold certified distribution center, which opened in November 2012, with revolutionizing the business. “It has upped the ante for us by providing a better quality of life for staff and better efficiency of operations to improve customer satisfaction, while minimizing our environmental footprint,” Curry explains. “A comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning system, semi-customized by our IT team, streamlines inventory and order processes, getting the product out the door more quickly. Kiva, a state-of-theart mobile robotics system, complements our staff by storing and bringing goods to workstations, thereby reducing the amount of walking required by order pullers. An innovative Warehouse Control conveyor and sorting system reduces the physical handling of goods by staff as well.” As an added benefit, the facility uses renewable solar and wind energy for its electric power. Since opening the distribution center, Dansko has reduced order turnaround time from between five and seven business days to one to two business days, allowing the company to quickly and accurately ship some of the highest volumes in its history. “The distribution center works to fulfill Dansko’s pursuit of the ‘triple bottom line,’ which values People, Planet and Profit,” Curry says. “It is our goal to Kiva, the robot be everyone’s favorite footwear brand— from our consumers to our vendors to our retail partners,” Curry says. Thus, customer service spans all touch points, from a consumer’s first interaction with the brand back to the orders from retailers. “That also involves sales associate training and a strong retail support program, including generous co-op marketing and a best-in-class in-store display program,” Curry notes. “We believe cultivating relationships with our retailers results in shared success.” —J.L.

WHAT MAKES ONLINE shoppers feel comfortable enough to pay for a product without even trying it on? They need to know the product will arrive intact, undamaged and true to the description. They need a reliable return policy—free, preferably. And, finally, they need helpful customer support in case things don’t go according to plan. That winning combination has earned Zappos the Plus Award for Excellence in Online Retail three years in a row. And now the Amazon-owned subsidiary has added a Plus Award for Customer Service to its list of accolades. The Zappos recipe for success includes a massive assortment of brands, a 100-percent-satisfaction-guaranteed return policy and free shipping both ways. But when it comes to service, the secret ingredient is simple: answering the telephone. Instead of staffing its call centers with third-party reps based overseas and reading from a script, Zappos uses its own employees. And they’re available to answer customer questions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—no matter what it takes. In fact, in 2012 a service rep spent 10 hours talking on the phone with a client who ended up buying one pair of Ugg boots. Another time an employee actually went to a rival store to get a specific pair of shoes for a woman staying at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas when Zappos ran out of stock. The company goes above and beyond to “deliver happiness,” and its wholesale partners agree. “The team at Zappos lives up to all the rave we read about its culture and practices,” says Sperry Top-Sider’s Senior Marketing Manager Dave Mesicek. “Everyone at Zappos creates fun and a little weirdness, which makes working together a fantastic experience,” he adds. Kitty Bolinger, executive vice president of sales at Dansko, echoes this sentiment. “Zappos has a huge wealth of industry talent in one place working to develop and manage all aspects of its business,” she says, adding that the company’s unique corporate culture keeps employees motivated and engaged, the effects of which are obvious in its stellar customer service. “Zappos has configured its entire organization around customer service and continues to exceed expectations,” says Marcio Coura, president of Havaianas U.S.A. According to Mesicek, that’s the main reason consumers continue to buy from Zappos. “They truly do ‘wow’ with every transaction and with their broad selection—and that goes a long way in our hyper-competitive market.” —L.M.



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Brown Shoe congratulateS

Joe Moore

on receIVIng the Footwear PluS lIFetIMe achIeVeMent awarD thank you For your tIreleSS work on BehalF oF the entIre Shoe InDuStry


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HUNTER HUNTER BOOT HAS good reason to sing in the rain. The British brand received the nod for design excellence in Rain Boots for the second time in three years. What’s more, with a fortified management team and a fashion week presence for its new clothing line, the 158-year-old company is forecast to take the international market by storm. Known for its sturdy, nononsense wellies and beloved by festivalgoers, fashionistas and the British royal family alike (it carries two royal warrants), Hunter combines heritage with trendy design. “The team understands how to continuously update the product, which continues to make it a status product,” states Danny Wasserman, co-owner of Tip Top Shoes and Tip Top Kids in New York.

Take 2013’s iteration of the Balmoral range, for example. The collection epitomizes Hunter’s fashion-meets-function approach to practical footwear. The men’s Bamboo Carbon Boot, a traditional knee-high, features charcoal fleece lining that absorbs odor, wicks away moisture and regulates temperature. Meanwhile, the Lady Neoprene marries classic brand details with a warm Neoprene lining, cushioned insoles and a multi-directional tread. “The look and quality is what sets Hunter apart from other rain boot brands,” notes Joe Gradia, co-owner of Hawley Lane Shoes in Norwalk, CT, adding that his store gets a number of calls regarding the line on a daily basis. But the winds are changing and 2014 spells major brand overhaul. While the company is firmly rooted in the countryside, its appetite for expansion and growth is undeniable. A slew of high-profile recruits last year included Alasdhair Willis as creative director; Niall Sloane, former senior womenswear designer at Burberry, as global design director; and Fabrizio Stroppa, previously of Mulberry, as commercial and sales director. Hunter Original, the company’s first foray into clothing, recently debuted with a runway presentation at London Fashion Week, and the brand will open its first brick-and-mortar store in London in July, with plans for others in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai. —L.M.

WOLVERINE HAS WON the Plus Award for Design Excellence in Work Boots 14 times in the past 15 years, an unprecedented feat. These stellar results underscore the brand’s ongoing commitment to combining innovative technologies with modern aesthetics to serve the exacting needs of the work market. In fact, Wolverine Brand President Todd Yates notes that in 2013, Wolverine’s work boot sales logged a single-digit increase, helping to boost the brand’s market share, despite the fact that the overall work boot market declined. “We launched some new technologies, updated existing ones and brought the styling up-to-date,” Yates says. “This combination of technology and materials resonated with consumers. You can launch the greatest technology in the world, but if the boot doesn’t look good, consumers won’t respond.” Design initiatives last year included the introduction of EPX anti-fatigue technology that brings comfort closer to the foot, refinement of its patented ICS (Individual Comfort System) adjustable comfort innovation and the addition of cushioning and energy return to its time-tested skid-resistant DuraShocks platform. Roger Huard, vice president of product development, explains that because comfort and protection are so critical in this category, the brand designs boots from the inside out. “We want to bring comfort closer to the foot, and our approach is to build the boot around that. In addition, we talk with consumers, refine the designs and do a lot of field testing,” he says. Standout models in 2013 included the Mansard, a lightweight boot for roofers featuring an ergonomic toe cap that reduces wear on the upper when the user is doing work that requires a lot of kneeling. And the Tarmac, which offers a reflective midsole to improve the safety of those who work in low-light conditions. Yates notes that the Tarmac was a sleeper hit at retail. A third style, the Axel, incorporates Wolverine’s ICS technology that allows wearers to customize the comfort by adjusting a gel disc in the boot’s heel to one of four settings. “Our inspiration is to make the fundamentals better by looking in areas where we can do something different with flexibility, comfort and weight,” Yates explains. “We’re trying to make work boots as comfortable as sneakers, so we’ll keep pushing the envelope.” —J.L.



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From sculpted heels and wedges to low profile flats and boots, there’s a Dansko for everyone. Crafted in rich leathers and nubucks, every style delivers the Dansko all-day comfort and support your customers love. So, stock up on our full line of flats, heels, wedges, boots and of course clogs, all new for fall ’14.

Thank yo u to our ret a il e rs and Footwea r Plus for honoring with the 2 us 013 Plus Award for Excell ence in Custome r Service .

Dansko, Dansko and the Wing Design, and the Wing Design are all trademarks of Dansko, LLC. © 2013 Dansko, LLC.1.800.326.7564.

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EARTHIES TODAY EARTHIES FITS so effortlessly into women’s wardrobes and onto store shelves that it’s easy to forget that when the line debuted in 2011, its objective was to bring a new approach to the comfort business. “We were creating our own

space by offering a product that would deliver a higher degree of sophistication to the consumer than what was available in traditional comfort footwear,” recalls Angelo Romero, executive vice president and chief product designer. Flash forward to 2013 and the brand that made a mark by blending on-trend silhouettes with an exclusive contoured footbed (recently revamped to feature a more flexible forepart) is now ready to implement more novel designs into its collections. The shift in design approach grew out of feedback from Earthies’ retail partners, Romero notes. This past year the brand visited with retailers across the country to gather information and identify opportunities. And Romero says retailers didn’t hold back. “They were excited to communicate what they felt was right and where we could improve,” he explains. With that feedback, the company rolled up its sleeves and went to work. Traditional ballerinas expanded into new

toe shapes. Low, wearable heels were developed for sandals and transitional styles, and materials and soles were streamlined. And by working more closely than ever to market, the Earthies product development team was able to tap into the demand for trendy pumps in summer colors and fall loafers and oxfords. “I believe the consumer looks to our product because they no longer have to compromise,” Romero says. “They don’t have to choose between feeling good and looking good.” The market responded enthusiastically to Earthies’ collections, and in some cases the brand has been hard-pressed to meet reorder demand for bestsellers, Romero says. In-demand styles included the Bindi flat with lace-like cutouts, Casella peep-toe wedge and the Bello multi-strap flat sandal. “The sourcing team had to be very creative attending those reorders,” Romero says. “But those are good problems to have. It shows that our strategy is correct and that there is a lot of potential with the brand.” —A.V.


SHOE MARKET CLUNKY CLODHOPPERS FROM brands like Birkenstock might be enjoying a renaissance on the runway, but at geek-chic Shoe Market in Brooklyn, NY, it’s business as usual. You will never find stilettos here. Instead, owners Dana Schwister and Erika Vala pride themselves on offering styles that are as functional as they are comfortable, and top sellers include clogs from Swedish Hasbeens, Sven and Dansko. But it’s an unwavering commitment to customer service that’s kept the register ringing since the 500-squarefoot boutique opened its doors in 2007. “In the shoe business, every bit of personal attention counts,” Vala says. “We try our best to help our customers get their needs met, even when this means special-ordering shoes or suggesting other options.” One step the retailer took last year to step up service was to revamp its existing in-store return policy (store credit within 10 days of purchase) to include a 24-hour cash-back policy. “That way customers can bring the shoes home and try them on, sleep on it and bring them back the next day for a full refund if they change their mind,” she says, noting that she believes this new policy will calm customers when they are debating a purchase. “We all know how it feels to be on the fence and to want to take our shoes home and try them with some of our own clothes before we commit.” And while last year’s overall sales were a little slower than in 2012, and 2014 has yet to show any major movement, the men’s side of the business is up. Vala deems this encouraging. “I like to think positive and blame the biting cold weather,” she says. “We should see a big pickup when spring hits New York City. We all look forward to that.” —L.M.


COLE HAAN COLE HAAN BEGAN 2013 on a new foot when the company was acquired in February by Apax Partners, a global private equity firm, from Nike Inc. And the nearly century-old brand hasn’t missed a step since. Keenly aware of men becoming increasingly sophisticated and educated in their buying power, TJ Papp, senior director of men’s footwear merchandising, says Cole Haan set out to make collections that combined the brand’s history of classic design and craftsmanship with a modern edge. “Our value proposition is the elegant collision of tradition and modernity pulled through the filter of engineering and innovation. We are laser focused on providing the best price/value relationship in all our footwear, at every price point,” Papp explains. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that bestsellers were styles

that married beautifully crafted details on silhouettes including wingtips, penny loafers and slip-ons with the flexibility, lightweight and comfort for which Cole Haan has become famous. The brand’s iconic driving moccasin program led the way with buttery soft suede in seasonal colors like cobalt and aqua, while the Great Jones saddle shoe blended traditional design with sporty pops of color. On the more adventurous fashion end, Cole Haan introduced brogues and lace-up boots in camouflage prints, sleek wingtips in deep hues of green, navy and oxblood and neutral chukka boots topped off with color-contrasting soles. Boots—both constructed and deconstructed—were highlights, too, becoming investment pieces in men’s wardrobes. The year also marked the return of the classic plain-toe oxford, which was a fresh alternative to the previous season’s obsession with over-the-top, colorful brogues. It was also a reminder of Cole Haan’s timeless aesthetic. With that foundation of cool classics and signature investments, Papp sees the brand carrying on its tradition of well-crafted stylish footwear. “Cole Haan will continue to become famous for the shoes people live in and can’t live without,” he says. We have a long history of innovation and we’re at our best when we push boundaries in the footwear industry.” —A.V.

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BUS STOP THE SHOES SOLD at Bus Stop—spanning 80%20 wedge boots drenched in floral prints to lacquered styles from Melissa—are far from basic. Nonetheless, Elena Brennan, owner of the Philadelphia-based boutique, says much of the store’s success is owed to a stripped down, “back-to-basics” buying and selling approach. “We make sure we are madly in love with every piece in the shop; that every item is comfortable and walkable and that we continually strive to bring the unusual and the fresh,” she explains. In the store’s seventh year, Brennan says she has stuck with this simple formula and refuses to just “buy what sells” because it works. “We buy what we are excited about, and that shows in our interactions wi­­th our customers,” she offers. Voted “Best Shoes” by Philadelphia Magazine and recommended in The New York Times feature, “36 Hours in Philadelphia,” Brennan keeps the 1,100 square-foot shop warm with a gallery-like atmosphere to showcase each shoe and tell the story behind them. “We like a clean and simple, but also personalized and intimate environment for our customers,” she says, adding that the good vibe fits with her city. “Philly is a very happy town with lots of happy people,” Brennan says, believing that friendly camaraderie keeps customers coming back for more. Bus Stop customers span art lovers, international travelers, a steady stream of New Yorkers and, of late, an increasing number of men thanks to an expanded selection this past year. To meet their electic tastes, Brennan’s roster of boutique labels includes a mix of international designers like Esska from her native United Kingdom, Spanish brand P. Monjo and the American collaboration

Wolverine 1000 Mile by Samantha Pleet. She often shops curated shows like Capsule and Liberty. “Sometimes designers find me, or a customer or other designer will suggest a brand,” she says. “That’s the thing I like about the shoe industry: everyone likes one another and helps one another.” That feeling of brotherly love extends to the store’s locale, located on the historic Fabric Row, which is chock-full of emerging boutiques and independent designers. Throughout the year, retailers in the nabe collaborate on events like holiday strolls and shopping parties to generate sales as well as promote new businesses in the area. Brennan carries on a conversation with customers by encouraging them to Instagram their purchases and shopping experience with the #busstopboutique hashtag and runs promotions through social media. “When I post something new on Facebook or Instagram people will reach out to me to see if it is in stock,” Brennan says. “If a woman sees a shoe that she wants, she’s not going to forget about it until it is hers.” —A.V.




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I N 2 01 3 , VA N S s u r f footwear rode a wave of popularity in the men’s, women’s and kids’ categories. Besides utilizing new dying and washing techniques, including an ombré dye process, the VF Corp.-owned brand focused on staying true to its Southern California roots by mixing heritage looks with fresh, modern styling. Interesting collaborations with both artisans and athletes also played a strong role in generating excitement among consumers and retailers. “When we started working on the 2013 collections, we spent some time in the Basque Country. The European surf scene was a source of inspiration, with its mix of a casual beach attitude with European sophistication,” says Lindsay White, designer. “Another key inspiration for the collections was the surf traveler/ bohemian lifestyle. There were some interesting vintage pieces we found that inspired our use of woven stripe materials and handcrafted-looking details. And, as always, we found inspiration in our brand’s history, looking to vintage Vans prints and old U.S.A.-made styles.” On the product front, White notes that the Mohikan moccasin, which ended up spawning two additional styles, “was an instant winner with our surf ladies,” offering a beachy, bohemian lifestyle vibe. For men, the Nexpa



sandal collection was a standout. “Not only is it super comfortable, but the entire bottom unit also features Plus Foam technology with an innovative closed-loop process, which is fully recyclable and creates no waste,” she notes. “It’s something that is pretty new in the footwear world and we were excited to introduce it to our consumer.” The Krochet Kids collection—a collaboration with the non-profit Krochet Kids International organization that teaches sewing and weaving skills to women in impoverished countries and provides jobs—was a highlight. “Krochet Kids recently started a program in Peru. The hand-loom knit fabrics are beautiful,” says White. “We were lucky enough to get to work with some of these Peruvian ladies to create a three-style collection for 2013.” Overall, White attributes Vans’ success in the surf category to the brand’s rich heritage and Off The Wall spirit that gets translated to the footwear. “The product stands out,” she says. “By utilizing 48 years of heritage we can tell real stories that mean something to our consumers and retailers.” —J.L.


SKECHERS USING ITS MEN’S and women’s lines for inspiration, Skechers raised the bar for its children’s collections in 2013. “We started realizing success on the right of the size scale,” shares Skechers President Michael Greenberg. “We are offering an increasing number of styles with technical features and benefits mirroring our adult lines—and the child and parent are responding favorably.” The results speak for themselves: Strong demand for the expanded kids’ collection helped drive double-digit increases in net sales in the brand’s domestic wholesale business in Q3. What’s more, the SoCal-based company received the nod for Design Excellence in the kids’ category for the second time. From mini-me versions of popular performance product to kid-friendly

styles like light-up Twinkle Toes and Bella Ballerinas with sparkly “spinning” sneakers, the word that best sums up Skechers’ 2013 kids’ collections is variety. “We offer so many options for so many different needs,” Greenberg notes, adding that the brand always keeps the end user in mind. “Skechers does not view its children’s business as an afterthought. It’s an opportunity to capture consumers at an early age and hold onto them throughout their lifetime.” Color is equally important, and a kaleidoscope of bright, vibrant hues helped move merchandise last year. What does the future hold? There’s more innovation ahead, Greenberg promises. “We want to create products so irresistible to consumers that they feel an immediate need to purchase.” —L.M.


SKECHERS GOrun IT’S NOT EASY to break into a category dominated by such heavy hitters as Nike, Adidas and New Balance. But Skechers is doing just that. In 2013, the brand launched both GOrun 3, featuring a new four-way stretch upper material, and GOMeb Speed, a signature line for Skechers endorser and Olympic marathoner Meb Keflezighi. So far so good. Demand for the brand’s running collection helped spur a 20 percent growth in net sales during last year’s third quarter. “2013 really was a breakout year for us in the Skechers Performance Division,” says Rick Higgins, vice president of merchandising and marketing. “As a new division, we don’t have a history that forces us to do things a certain way. We can try new things and see what runners think. “The year kicked off with our second GOrun TV ad during the Super Bowl and that set the tone for the remainder of the year,” he adds. Grassroots efforts were also key. For instance, Skechers participated in 12 Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons last year and acted as the key footwear and apparel sponsor for the Houston Marathon. How has a brand best known for its accessibly priced footwear managed to develop performancebased products that appeal to retailers and runners alike? The answer is simple: comfort. “The shoes need to feel like they’re an extension of you,” says Higgins. “We believe the shoe should be doing less rather than more. That informs our design and material choices as well as the outsoles. In today’s market we are seeing the benefits of using newer processes that enable us to create lighter-weight footwear, and the consumer has gravitated to it.” Looking ahead, the brand will ramp up marketing this year with a new digital campaign in partnership with Google and several TV spots with Keflezighi, who recently re-signed with Skechers through 2016. Higgins is pleased to have such a solid starting block. “With several new product innovations and marketing campaigns, we’re encouraged to build on our growth,” he says. —L.M.

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DURANGO DURANGO, A DIVISION of Rocky Brands, kicked things up a notch in 2013: Sales jumped 40 percent over 2012, and the brand took home the Plus Award for Design Excellence in Cowboy Boots. But rest assured, Durango is no mere flash in the pan. With classic Americana and equestrian-inspired styles stomping down the Fall ’14 runways, Rocky Brands CEO David Sharp is confident Durango will continue its climb this year. “The brand has great style details, and it also has a great deal of comfort built in, which sets the boots apart during the buying process,” he says, taking care to mention that Durango also offers great value in a market in which prices are all over the map. Several styles stood out for the brand last year, including some designed especially for the members and alumni of the National FFA Organization (also known as Future Farmers of America), and a hot pink Lady Rebel benefitting the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Patient Assistance, which supports breast cancer patients. “Those really hit home with consumers,” Sharp says. Meanwhile, the Crush collection, which amplifies Durango’s country roots with its elaborate embroidery and metallic embellishments, continued to perform well at retail. Sharp says he’s encouraged by the acceptance of the fashion-driven City collection by customers outside the cowboy boot market. “We really examined trends in the Western market and trends in fashion and tried to marry the two to come up with collections that were not only desirable, but conveyed Durango brand DNA,” he says. For 2014, expect further growth from Durango in its women’s collections, as the brand’s emergence from a Western staple into a lifestyle label continues. “In a nutshell, our teams will not only dive deep into industry data, but will also go and work in a store or on a jobsite and hold consumer focus groups to really glean information on what is needed and desired within their market,” Sharp concludes. —L.M.

IT DOESN’T TAKE a rocket scientist to figure out what today’s Keds girl is all about: She clearly lives a positive life and loves all things cute and colorful. Just look at last year’s offerings. Filled with adorable kicks in look-at-me hues and prints, not to mention collaborations with Kate Spade New York and Taylor Swift, the 2013 collections hit high notes with the brand’s target audience of 13- to 24-yearold women. And 2014 is shaping up to build on last year’s success. “Retailers, consumers and editors all responded exceptionally well to the launch of our Taylor Swift partnership, and we were fortunate to see that translate into strong sales,” says Stephanie Brocoum, vice president of marketing, noting that the response to the revamped Champion sneaker in particular blew the company away. “Surrounded by our fresh new color palette and our fun take on prints, the classic Champion resonated even more with girls than we could have imagined.” The collaboration with Swift has been critical to the 98-year-old brand’s recent success. Keds tapped the songstress for a multi-year partnership back in 2012, which kicked off with a special-edition pair of red Champion lace-ups in honor of her “Red” album release, and that has since evolved into a larger lineup. But it’s not just about the shoes: The singer’s latest campaign for Keds delivers a strong social message to the brand’s young female target audience. Titled “Million Brave Acts,” it’s focused on inspiring bravery and selfconfidence in girls around the country. It all ties back to Keds’ newly founded Brave Life Project, which has partnered with the Girls Leadership Institute to offer

educational and leadership programs for young women. As Brocoum puts it: “Taylor is a style icon and role model for her fans, and she perfectly captures the optimistic, empowered spirit of Keds.” —L.M.

» Taylor Swift

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ROCKPORT FOR THE SECOND consecutive year, Rockport has come out on top in the Men’s Comfort category. The primary reason, according to Bob Mullaney, president of Rockport Americas, is that the brand continues to excel and is now more commercially viable. “We are designing around how we can make our consumers’ lives better,” he says. “Every day has to start with how we can help our customers do more and live better, and our approach is to make shoes that perform better in peoples’ everyday lives.” He adds, “We’re no longer searching for what we need to do; now we have to execute against our plans.” In 2013, Rockport brought its comfort

technology into the walking category via the TruWalkZero collection that features lightweight construction, softness and flexibility. The brand also added to its RocSports Lite line that boasts lightweight, athletic constructions as well as flexible and durable outsoles. The company claims that RocSports Lite models weigh less than average running shoes. Both assortments incorporate Adiprene by Adidas heel cushioning technology. Rockport’s Essential Details waterproof men’s dress shoes also experienced resounding success in key accounts last year, which prompted the brand to expand the line for 2014. Mullaney notes that from 2012 to 2013, Rockport had strong double-digit growth and he expects the momentum to continue. “We posted our second straight year of growth and the brand is strong and stable,” he reports. “We’re now focusing more on the U.S. consumer and have delivered more viable concepts while keeping the promise of comfort and technology.” Specifically, Rockport has broadened its last size and has added roomier toe boxes and beefier bottoms to better coincide with U.S. consumer demands. “[These design changes] are resonating in the U.S. and also work in the broader market by creating commercial options on a global scale,” Mullaney explains. Looking ahead, he reveals that Rockport will tap into its rugged casual heritage and “soon be back embracing the outdoor classification.” —J.L.


DR. MARTENS X AGYNESS DEYN DR. MARTENS DIDN’T have to look far for a collaboration partner who could put a modern spin on its archive of legendary footwear. Part of the new class of supermodels, British model Agyness Deyn became the face of Dr. Martens in 2012, starring in the brand’s advertising campaigns. It was a natural fit for the rebellious heritage brand and model turned fashion icon known for her free spirited, androgynous look. Deyn, who broke onto the fashion scene in 2007 sharing the cover of American Vogue with the likes of Coco Rocha, Chanel Iman and Jessica Stam, retired from the runway in 2012 and soon delved into design, asking Dr. Martens if she could collaborate on some clothes and shoes. The result is a long-standing collaboration that has reached consumers beyond the brand’s core of young rockers and punkers yet is still undoubtedly British. Touching on Anglocentric themes, ranging from mod houndstooth and herringbone patterns to whimsical teapot motifs, the collab-

oration is a true mash-up of Deyn influences and Dr. Martens’ style hallmarks, and spans footwear, handbags and women’s apparel. In 2013, Deyn mixed things up by bringing 16-year-old British model, Grace Booth, into the scene as her muse and star of the fall campaign. She also looked to Tokyo’s colorful Harajuku subculture for inspiration. Highlights blended Dr. Martens’ signature leather-welted constructions with classic desert boot silhouettes, two-tone lace up shoes and two-tone Mary Jane heeled sandals accented with oversized bows and textured patterns. —A.V.


VINTAGE SHOE COMPANY AT A TIME in which a growing number of footwear brands are taking steps to usher in a new era of domestic manufacturing, the Vintage Shoe Company already boasts a 125-year American shoemaking heritage. The brand, which bases its designs on original 19th and early 20th century styles from parent company H.H. Brown Shoe Company, handcrafts all of its products domestically. In 2013, the footwear hit a chord with retailers and consumers who responded to the line’s authentic look and feel, high-end materials, rich finishes, and quality construction and workmanship. Despite a difficult economy, price-sensitive shoppers proved that they were willing to invest in Americanmade products, provided they were well-made and of high quality. “The Walk-Over Vintage Collection is a celebration of patterns we’ve been making in our Walk-Over factory in [Martinsburg], Pennsylvania, for well over 100 years,” says Tom McClaskie, president and creative director of H.H. Brown’s Born Group. “The Vintage Collection is innovative in its use of materials and finishes that bring a contemporary point of view to archival styles that have stood the test of time. Seasonally, we develop new styles and also present our core styles in leathers that are on-trend for the season. Pastel suedes and beautiful deconstructed penny loafers were a few highlights from the 2013 collections.” McClaskie cites a variety of factors that helped to differentiate the brand from its competitors in 2013. “The use of mixed media, for instance, combined rich suede with leather and brought life to the timeless styles,” he says, noting that the ability in general to offer truly vintage-looking shoes that are, in actuality, brand new as a strong selling point. “We burnish and tumble our boots to break them in while in production, which achieves not only a beautiful look, but provides the wearer with that perfect worn-in feeling that is unique to our brand,” McClaskie offers. To this end, the brand introduced an all-weather Vibram outsole and new suede colors, such as sage green and distressed cork, into the collection. Highlights in the line included the Atlas boot, the Derek chukka and the Judson oxford. “Having a brand that is made in the U.S.A. is certainly a selling point for our men’s footwear collections,” McClaskie says. “It’s something that both retailers and consumers look for in terms of quality and overall brand experience.” —J.L.

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FOR A BRAND that has carved a niche in women’s fashion footwear (and handbags, accessories, men’s, children’s…) by pinpointing up-and-coming silhouettes, embellishments and materials with almost clairvoyant precision, and even more impressively, getting them onto store shelves while the look is piping hot, 2013 was uniquely familiar territory for Steve Madden. Founded in 1990 during the height of grunge fashion, Creative Director Steve Madden says the brand revisited the era with many of the edgy, rock-infused, tough girl styles it began with. “We are known at Steve Madden for our combat boots. Our customers know that we do them well with excellent attention to detail and they have come to expect that from us. So we deliver,” he says, adding, “There was a ’90s feel to the collections that we love.” The bestselling cap-toe combats were refreshed in dark olive green, denim blue and distressed whites and creams and left fuss-free. After seasons of studs and hardware, Madden says consumers were drawn to “good, solid, high quality leathers.” Simple single-sole pumps updated in vivid colors spanning cobalt blue to golden yellow, two-piece flats, menswear-inspired oxfords and gladiator sandals added an au courant fashion pop to collections. “High platform pumps continued to be very strong for us, too, which was a nice surprise,” Madden adds. And a nine-style collection in collaboration with The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni made an impression with the fashion week crowd when the style blogger donned the peep toe booties, Lucite sandals and cuffed single-sole stilettos to shows. The brand also tapped the exuberant and daring styling of singer Keyshia Cole for a collaboration of gold gladiator stilettos, leopard print platforms and multi-color printed pumps. With fiscal year 2013 net sales reported at $1.314 billion, a 7.1 percent increase from 2012, and wholesale net sales increasing 6.6 percent to $1.104 billion from the year before, Steve Madden looks to keep this momentum going with new collaborations including a second edition with Cole and a new partnership with Peace Love Shea blogger Shea Marie. And if this year’s grunge revival taught Madden anything it’s to never give up on an oldie but goodie. As Madden puts it, “We’ll rework and update really successful styles that people love.” —A.V.

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its French photographer Guy Bourdin with bought some fun slippers that the store had enhancing the label’s appeal. “He was a key never carried before. They did well.” So well, player,” Moore says. “We were working on the in fact, that Bullock’s Chairman Walter Candy crest of fashion, and his work was fantastic.” came into the store one day to acknowledge “I loved every minute of it,” Moore says of his work. the Jourdan chapter of his career. He enjoyed Moore moved on to run a Bullock’s shoe building a business from scratch and being salon in Pasadena, where he also divided the involved in all facets. While he didn’t actually casual and dress selections. He soon began design shoes, Moore says to build a reputation his team was allowed as a noteworthy salon to interpret for the spebuyer, introducing cuscific tastes and needs of tomers to such labels the American market. as Amalfi, Erica Shoes “Our lines were simple, and Customcraft by but the materials were Schwartz & Benjamin. to die for,” he says. A He became the first key part of their sucBullock’s buyer to travel cess, Moore believes, to Europe to put together was to abandon the a private label colleccompany’s “gorgeous” tion for all stores. It was Empire State building a big responsibility for offices to move into a man in his early 20s, the basement of the and not one he really Moore and President Bill Clinton, honorary Charles Jourdan store wanted. “It seemed like chairman of the first FFANY Shoes on Sale. in Midtown to be closer a curse because buyers to the sales floor. “I bought individually for always go back to the their stores,” he says. product: How can I help if I’m not with the Nonetheless, he put together a woven shoe customer?” Moore says. program, which performed well. But when Roland Jourdan left the comNot long after, Neiman Marcus recruited pany, the product began to suffer. Subsequent Moore. After a marathon eight-hour interowners treated the shoes like a commodity, view one Sunday with co-founder Stanley and Moore knew the end was near. “We lived Marcus, Moore came aboard as a salon buyer off of our laurels for a few years,” he says. “But for a group of its stores. “I had a ball,” he says. without product in the fashion business, you “That’s when I first put in Ferragamo shoes.” might as well shoot yourself.” He resigned after When the retailer opened its first out-of-state receiving an offer from Saks Fifth Avenue. location (in Belle Harbor, FL), Moore made waves one season with his everything-in-suede merchandising decision. “Everybody thought Off and Running I was out of my mind, but I knew these cusPhil Miller, then chairman of Saks, hired tomers were mostly transplanted northernMoore in 1989 as a consultant to work on speers and the plush material would sell.” The cial projects. His first task: create a business Belle Harbor store was so busy that it actuplan to open freestanding Saks Fifth Avenue ally closed briefly during business hours so shoe stores. After ample research, Moore’s armored cars could cart the cash out. “The team made their presentation to the board. shoe department was a big hit,” Moore adds. But when asked if he would green light this project, Moore’s response was blunt: No. “The timing was bad, the shoe business was a disasWalk on the Wholesale Side ter, Saks’ business overall was lousy and the Moore’s salons were so successful that big economy stunk,” Moore says. They deferred job offers started coming his way. He finally to his opinion, then hired him to oversee the accepted an offer from Charles Jourdan to launch of Armani Exchange within Saks and manage the label’s retail and wholesale busiBloomingdale’s stores. “They were fantastic,” ness in the U.S. It turned into a wonderful he says. “And then we opened free-stand19-year relationship. “We built a beautiful ing stores across the country, and they were business together. The product was fantasgreat.” When Armani bought out Saks, the tic,” Moore says. “I could spend a week talkendeavor ended. ing about all the great things we did while at Charles Jourdan.” His memories of those Moore’s next special project turned out to years include a cast of colorful characters and be his biggest success story: turning Saks’ two globetrotting with the fashion elite. So long as outlet stores into a $300 million chain. At Charles Jourdan’s son Roland was involved, the time, there was no real vision of what the the business—topping out at 50 branded concept could become. Moore and his team stores—flourished, Moore says. He also credworked their retail magic and, within >63

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Gender Blender


Oxfords get a toe-tapping remake with shine and prints. 1. Restricted 2. Jon Josef 3. Poetic Licence



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Mane Event


Fringe details tie up loose ends.

1. Restricted 2. Manitobah 3. Klub Nico 4. Got Soul

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Cutting Shears


Shearling lining and cuffs present a sleeker winter look. 1. Gabor 2. Blondo 3. Ahnu 4. Birkenstock 5. Dirty Laundry 6. Vogue 7. Volatile Kicks








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ATLANTA • MIAMI • ALL REGIONAL SHOWS Fall 2014 - OPEN-STOCK 46 SIZES & 4 WIDTHS 1-800-970-8482 FOP_Mar2014.indd 45 FW_Plus Ad Must 2.indd 1

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Kork-Ease oxford, Burberry trench coat, Southpaw Vintage pants, blouse by Equipment, H&M scarf.

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From left: Born kiltie loafer, tweed loafer by Bella Vita, Naot oxford, tassel loafer by Earth. Opposite: Southpaw Vintage blouse, blazer by Blk Dnm.

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Born kiltie loafer, Kim Johnson Collection blouse, Zara tie, pants by H&M.

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Clockwise, from top: Rockport burnished chukka, Gerry Weber oxford, Cliffs by White Mountain slip-on, brogue by Lotus.


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Rockport boot, Kim Johnson Collection blouse, Zara tie and vest, pants by H&M. Opposite, clockwise from top: Mixed media oxford by Spring Step, Kork-Ease oxford, Ecco smoking slipper. Fashion editor: Angela Velasquez; stylist: Kim Johnson; hair and makeup: Kristin Hilton/The Wall Group; model: Monica Valtin/APM Models. 54

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Smooth Merlot Designers tempt tastes with the wine-colored hue. D E S I G N E R C H AT : Camilla Elphick

The Sweet Life says she plans to continue creating shoes with a twist, adding, “I hope the collection brings feminine, show-stopping and iconic shoes. After all, a great pair of shoes can lift your mood.” —Angela Velasquez What is your favorite sweet treat? Champagne truffles are my favorite. Which designers do you admire? I love Miu Miu, Charlotte Olympia, Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophia Webster. They have all tapped into something that makes fashion fun and they create pieces so mesmerizing—like works of art. What shoe are you wearing the most of late? My Oreo flats. They go with everything, even blue jeans. Today, I have teamed them with a cute pink mohair skirt, a gray angora sweater and black tights. Is there anything else you want to design? Handbags and accessories. I also have an idea to design pet collars, leashes and accessories. Pets can be fashionable, too. Which celebrity would you love to see wearing your designs? Diane Kruger. She’s so elegant and refined, and is always wearing something cute. She can pull off any look, so I’d love to see what she would wear with a pair of my shoes. What is your favorite store? Jeffrey in New York. They have a fantastically curated selection of womenswear, shoes and makeup. They only have the best of the best, which makes it so much easier to shop. Who is your style icon? I have quite a few, but I do love Olivia Palermo. She puts together complicated outfits so effortlessly and is not scared to clash prints and colors. What is your motto? Wear what you want and do what you want, but always make sure you have fabulous shoes on. You’ll be surprised how much people notice your shoes!

Marchez Vous




DESIGNER CAMILLA ELPHICK has always had a taste for fanciful footwear. “When I was little I used to try on my mother’s high heels. I thought I was so grown up,” the London College of Fashion graduate recalls. Today the luxury designer, who got her fashion footing working at the likes of Donna Karan, Burberry, Charlotte Olympia and Topshop, blends childhood delights with stilettos, peep-toes, pumps and more that are poised to become the eye candy of high-end boutiques around the world. Following the eccentric footsteps of fellow Brits (and shoe idols) Sophia Webster and Nicholas Kirkwood, Elphick’s debut collection coined, “So Bad, It’s Good,” carries on the tradition of quirky British design. The five-piece collection, inspired by artist Ken Christensen’s pop art take on treats, spans luxurious satin uppers sweetened with peppermint candy and frosted donut prints to patent leathers in sorbet hues to an Oreo-inspired flat finessed with a heel that could be mistaken as an edible sandwich cookie. Her peep-toe pump decked out with a heel resembling a Pez dispenser has become a social media sensation. It’s all icing on the cake to Elphick, who often uses Pinterest to store images that inspire her. “My design inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere—a gallery visit, a headline in a magazine, something I’ve seen when I’m out and about,” she says. Retail prices start at $500 and go upwards to $1,000 for select pieces. Personally bored with black boots, don’t expect to see basics from Elphick any time soon. The designer


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Over 100 footwear companies will come together to give back. Will yours? As volunteers during the month of April, 2014 we will paint, prepare meals, read to children and clear land. We will help seniors, fix playgrounds, and sort canned food. But most of all, we will unite an industry to make a difference where it’s needed the very most. How? It’s called Footwear Cares®. To sign up, e-mail Maureen Lederhos at or visit to learn more.

Amazon Fashion is a trademark of, Inc. or its affiliates.

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Fashion Meets Function

Outdoor casual boots combine craftsmanship, comfort and weather protection.

WHEN IT COMES to the latest outdoor casual boots for Fall ’14, the buzzwords are “youthful,” “stylish,” “multi-seasonal” and “functional.” These descriptors translate into a broad range of product offerings suitable in an equally wide range of settings. Significant style elements include the increased use of natural materials, such as wool and felt, quilted uppers that provide lightweight warmth, and woven treatments that add richness and enhance textural appeal.

Additionally, many traditional boot brands are accenting their longevity and authenticity in the market via heritage products that combine triedand-true silhouettes with modern design details and improved performance benefits. Herewith is a look at what’s happening in the category for the upcoming season that, thanks to repeated visits this winter from the Polar Vortex, has cleaned out boot inventories for most retailers. —Judy Leand



Felt, a natural material that, for decades, has been a mainstay feature in utilitarian winter boots (particularly in pac boot liners) looks to be gaining popularity for fall. It offers durability, insulation and protection against the elements, and is easy to clean. It is also breathable, warm and stylish. Ecco, Adidas Outdoor, Zdar and Tecnica Moon Boot each offer their casual spin on felt this season. Ecco’s Sochi felt model, part of its new Trace winter boot series for women, offers a full-grain leather and felt upper with a rear zipper closure, natural thermal insulation and water-resistance. The four models in the collection Ecco provide a warm-lined inlay sole and additional insulation for enhanced comfort. “Modern women want to strike the perfect balance between style, comfort and weather-resistance once winter sets in, and the Trace series helps accomplish that,” says Zuzanna Asztemborska, Ecco’s head of product. Adidas Crafted from Italian felt and fully insulated with PrimaLoft, Adidas Outdoor’s Felt Boot for men is ideal for après ski use. The grippy Traxion outsole is modeled on the tread pattern of a Sno-Cat. Zdar’s Bavarian wool boots are a contemporary reinterpretation of the classic, Russian handmade felt shoes called Valenki. The boots feature 8-mm lambswool felt uppers, leather-lined Poron footbeds and sticky rubber outsoles Tecnica for traction. For Fall ’14, Zdar Moon Boot will also introduce thinner and lighter compressed felt styles that are cooler, more breathable and better suited to temperate climates.

Not only warm, cozy and texturally interesting, quilted uppers are also lightweight and often easy to pack, making them a good choice for travel. The material’s growing popularity in winter footwear is a natural progression from its widespread appeal in outerwear. (Think puffer jackets and down sweaters.) For example, Columbia’s waterproof Minx Shorty boot features a lightweight quilted upper, an Omni-Heat Reflective lining and a toasty 200g of insulation, making it suitable in fall and winter. “We call the Minx collection ‘jackets for your feet,’” says Todd Lewis, global brand director for footwear. “The textiles, quilting and design echo the popularity of puffy jackets, all while providing style and performance. Consumers are looking for this versatility.” Pakems, as its name implies, offers a range of easy-to-pack footwear for outdoor enthusiasts who want something comfy to wear pre- and post-activity. Each pair, which comes in a handy tote bag, features water-resistant, quilted ripstop fabric uppers, EVA midsoles and rubber outsoles for traction. The line comprises Sorel an insulated hi-top style for winter and a lo-cut model for warmer months. Both versions provide a precise fit with one-pull lacing and are available in full sizes and a range of colors. For Fall ’14, the company will introduce a children’s collection. Pakems Founder Julie Adams notes that the comfort and convenience factors are also appealing to travelers and older consumers. Rich textural details are the focus this fall for Sorel. An example is the women’s Columbia Tivoli Twist boot that combines a neutralcolored quilted upper, a berry-hued outsole and a spiral lacing system with waterproof and insulated performance technologies. “In women’s, the use of leathers and mixed materials—especially wovens and quilting—is important,” says Kimberly Barta, senior global brand director. Pakems

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HOT FOR HERITAGE Timberland’s wheat boot and Baffin’s winter pac boot have been around for decades and, like classic styles from several other heritage outdoor brands, they have received Fall ’14 face-lifts. While staying true to the DNA of these iconic designs, these styles are infused with fit and comfort upgrades, appealing to older consumers and Millennials alike. Part of Timberland’s “Best Then, Better Now” marketing campaign, the boots features premium leathers, crafted details and updated comfort technologies. “We’re seeing a continuation of authentic looks, with brand and heritage playing a large role,” notes Jennifer DiBello, senior merchandising manager. “That boot is trending younger and more suburban,” she adds. Similarly, Timberland’s Earthkeepers Heritage Rugged LTD Bomber boot has been re-imagined for colder weather. It includes a fleece-lined collar and shearling lining made from 30 percent recycled PET for warmth, a premium leather upper from a silver-rated tannery, a waterproof membrane and an eco-friendly Green Rubber outsole.


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Vibram FiveFingers looks to expand beyond its minimalist running roots.


Taking a literal approach, Baffin is reintroducing its Heritage boot, which is based on the original mold from 1997. Fully assembled at the company’s Canadian headquarters, the limited-edition boot boasts leathers sourced from Quebec and natural beaver trim from the West Coast. It comes packaged in a special wood box.

DYED IN THE WOOL As winter footwear makers add more multi-seasonal models to their casual collections, many are turning to lightweight materials, such as wools, knits and woven textiles, that offer tactile and visual points of difference that appeal to consumers seeking an artisan aesthetic. For example, Woolrich’s debut collection features genuine wool linings. Many styles also feature a Felt-Flex midsole made of a unique wool blend that’s flexible, supportive, conforms to the foot over time, provides insulation and resists water absorption. Other brands embracing woven and knit patterns and textiles include Sorel, Ugg Australia, Zdar, Hi-Tec (uses bold woven stripes in its Thomas Boot) and Salewa (offers a pop of tweed on the heel of its women’s Rosengarten GTX boot). Additionally, Timberland, Danner and Clarks have

The Road Ahead

created footwear groupings that use wool, and Dr. Martens continues its collection in partnership with Pendleton Woolen Mills, an American family owned business for more than 150 years.




WHEN ONE CONSIDERS the many running brands that invested heavily in the barefoot running boom, one might venture to guess that, in the wake of the category’s rapid sales decline, most wish they hadn’t. But don’t count Vibram FiveFingers—the brand at the epicenter of the movement—among those. Vibram remains a firm believer in the concept and, going forward, plans to expand the premise into new categories by introducing innovative concepts and technologies. “Running is still a big part of our business, but minimal isn’t growing as a category,” confirms Mike Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Vibram USA. “Therefore, we’ve updated our traditional offerings by adding technical tweaks, and we’re looking for new opportunities.” These include the women’s fitness and yoga markets. “Women’s is a significant opportunity,” Gionfriddo says, adding the effort will include an ambassador program featuring instructors and athletes. “We also see opportunities in trekking, casual, water sports and golf.” The Furoshiki model (right), for example, is a sleek shoe inspired by the namesake Japanese wrapping cloth (used traditionally to transport clothes and gifts). “It’s predominantly a women’s casual shoe,” says Gionfriddo, noting it will make its debut this fall or for Spring ’15. “We’ll experiment in select markets. How we go forward depends on how consumers use it.” Another casual style debuting this fall is the CVT Hemp, a slip-on that features a sustainable hemp upper and a pushdown heel for conversion to a mule. The men’s model includes a hand-stitched strap overlay while the women’s version features subtle embroidery. Both have stretch gussets for fit and a Vibram Vi-Lite EVA sole with Vibram XS Trek rubber pods in high-wear areas for durability. And the V-Classic golf series (top) features an outsole designed to enhance ground feel, which helps improve the user’s balance, posture and swing mechanics. To help Vibram FiveFingers’ product evolution, the company has created two separate business units: finished goods (including FiveFingers) and components. Both are serviced by the same marketing and administrative groups to ensure cohesiveness. The ultimate goal, Gionfriddo says, is a broader range of product results in a wider retail distribution (including boutiques and department stores) that will make the brand a household name. “Our mission is to continue to update and innovate to keep up with consumer demand,” he says. —J.L.

2/24/14 4:29 PM


New Money Before jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon, retailers need to understand how the digital currency works. AFTER EXISTING FOR years in the shadows of cyberspace, bitcoin is slowly but surely digging its way into the real world as the buzzed-about currency becomes a preferred method of payment for business owners both online and off. But first thing’s first: What is it? Originally developed in 2008, bitcoin is what’s known as a crypto-currency. It’s both a decentralized currency and a payment system that exists entirely online, allowing users to exchange money anonymously. To put it plainly, it’s an electronic version of cash. “Using bitcoin, it’s possible to send money like an e-mail—to anyone, anytime, anywhere—without going through a bank or government or corporation,” says Stephanie Wargo, vice president of marketing for BitPay, a digital currency payment processor., for one, is reaping the benefits of opening itself to the new form of money. Since announcing its acceptance of bitcoin on Jan. 9, the discount e-tailer has received nearly 3,000 orders in bitcoin, worth a total of more than $600,000. Electronics retailer TigerDirect experienced similar results when it began accepting the digital currency on Jan. 23, reportedly processing more than $500,000 in bitcoin payments within three days. Even small business owners are getting in on the action: City Wine Cellar in New York accepts the virtual currency for online orders and plans to add a bitcoin-enabled POS system soon. Third-party payment processors like BitPay and Coinbase allow individuals to buy and sell bitcoin with a U.S. bank account and allow merchants to accept the digital currency as payment. And it only takes up to 24 hours to convert bitcoins to dollars as opposed to the standard 48 to 72 hours that credit card processing can take. Another upside is that retailers can process bitcoin with a minimal fee of just 1 percent compared with up to 3.5 percent that some credit cards charge. Wargo adds, “The ability for merchants to accept bitcoins makes these transactions irreversible (which means no chargebacks) and for the buyer the risk of fraud and identity theft is eliminated.” But that doesn’t mean the currency should be blindly embraced. How much one bitcoin is worth in dollars is determined by the market. (At press time that was somewhere around $622, but last December it peaked at more than $1,000.) Several significant risks need to be addressed before bitcoin can become a regular and reliable method for consumer transactions. “Retailers should make sure they understand how bitcoin works before accepting it,” advises Ryan Straus, a bitcoin expert and financial services attorney at Seattle-based law firm Riddell Williams, noting, “If they choose to accept bitcoin directly, they should be comfortable with extreme price fluctuations. If they decide to accept it indirectly [through sites such as BitPay and Coinbase] they should do due diligence on the third party.” —Lyndsay McGregor


Nina Charles Aberrant Sole

likes of Julian Hakes’ sole-less Mojito—a style that Aberrant Sole was one of the first U.S. retailers to pick up—that Charles says epitomizes everything her store stands for. “It’s unique, bold, definitely makes a statement and is something you’ve never seen before in the footwear industry.” —L.M. Who is the typical Aberrant Sole customer? She doesn’t necessarily follow all the fashion rules and seeks to stand out from the rest. THE NAME SAYS it all: Aberrant Sole doesn’t try to be all things to all people. Born out of owner and lead buyer Nina Charles’ quest to cater to (aberrant) shoppers seeking footwear that sets them apart from the pack, this year-old e-shoetique is a haven for edgy designers. “I see my site as a clean white canvas in which the shoes appear as works of art,” says the former Citigroup analyst, who left a career in finance because she couldn’t stand to be confined to a cubicle. It’s that same out-ofthe-box mentality that inspires Aberrant Sole’s offerings. “We seek fresh brands; ones that are not quite established and still new on the scene,” she says. Carefully curated in a relatively small selection spanning Irregular Choice and Miista to Elly Clay and United Nude, the e-tailer’s prices range from as low as $60 to upwards of $600. “Although we tend not to allow the trends to define what assortments we choose there are still some that we are incorporating into our selection,” Charles shares. So while the site will stock a trendy sandal or two from Chinese Laundry, it’s the

What are Aberrant Sole’s key silhouettes for Fall ’14? Overthe-knee boots, open toe booties and interesting heel designs. What about colors? Brights, soft tones and neutrals. What’s the best new brand added to your store’s mix in the past year? Julian Hakes. What we love most about the brand is that the design team listens to the customers and continuously strives to make improvements on the concept. What do you look for in a brand? Our buying philosophy is simple: Search for shoes that deviate from the ordinary. What are you keeping an eye out for as you head into the tradeshow season? Seasonless assortments. Any trends you are tired of ? There isn’t really a particular trend I am tired of seeing. That’s the beauty of the industry, watching trends come and go and then come back again in a new form or with an interesting twist.

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scene and heard


Keepin’ it Real DONNA KARAN MAY have recently sent an assortment of non-models down the DKNY runway during New York Fashion Week, but it’s something Rack Room Shoes does every year. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the 400-plus door national chain’s Models Wanted contest, and to celebrate the occasion it’s bringing back a cast of customers-turnedmodels from previous campaigns. “It started out as a way to offer a unique opportunity to our loyal customers, but it was received so well—and we’ve made such wonderful connections with the families—that it has become part of our company culture,” says Jan Mauldin, director of corporate marketing for the Charlotte, NC-based retailer and the campaign’s creator. Rack Room Shoes reached out to the alumni last year through e-mails and social media posts and invited them to enter its anniversary contest for a chance to be re-selected. Fans on the store’s Facebook page then voted for the families they’d like to see featured in store POP, advertising inserts and on its website. “We loved learning how their lives have changed since we’ve seen them last and can’t wait to catch up with all family members while on set,” Mauldin says. She’s confident the real-people campaign, along with wordof-mouth promotion through social media, will continue to cement relationships with customers and, in turn, move merchandise. “Our audience sees that we’re placing an emphasis on the most important part of our business—our loyal fans,” Mauldin says.

Cake Boss Designer Donald Pliner and his wife Lisa celebrated the 25th anniversary of their company at the recent FN Platform show in Las Vegas. Leslie Gallin, president of footwear for the show’s organizers, Advanstar Global, presented the couple with a cake to celebrate the milestone.

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O&A continued from page 19 tried before. You see a lot of guys wearing color-soled wingtips and jodhpur boots. In general, there’s more acceptance of fashion now in the men’s world. They are feeling a little bit of freedom from having to wear the same things all the time. It’s refreshing and offers an opportunity for a brand like Dunham to take some market share. Helping us in this regard is the fact that Dunham is a heritage brand with strong roots in America. It also has huge offerings in sizes and widths. Some styles go up to size 20 and 6E. We can break into retailers with these unique sizes and, once they start selling, they often back-fill into our normal size ranges. You mentioned the word “refreshing.” That stood out to me as the key adjective in describing the whole Drydock concept on the home page of your website. What exactly makes the company refreshing? It starts with the extraordinary group of people here. I have had the opportunity to pick an all-star team. Fortunately, very good people wanted to work here. We have all this talent and passion, and we’ve been able to avoid getting egos involved. People like the company and each other. So that’s a really refreshing point of view from inside our company. If people actually believe in our ideals and believe in one another, then everything that comes out of the business—whether it’s marketing, product, sales or how we treat customers and retailers— turns out to be refreshing.

In addition to delivering on the basics, might there be anything else going on in the market that is making retailers receptive to Drydock’s portfolio? Part of our acceptance has to do with retailers having a really engaged partner that understands the American market specifically. To that end, there’s a lot of market share open for a brand offering a new, good idea. We have been taking a lot of market share because retailers are looking for alternatives and freshness. Last year, in particular, was a phenomenal year for Cobb Hill. We experienced great growth and received great feedback. Almost every single retailer we approached gave us a test and, as soon as it worked, they jumped in with both feet because they saw it as something fresh. Now plenty of other brands claim they offer freshness, but what’s the rest of their story? Are their shoes of high value? Do they carry sizes and widths? Do they offer an in-stock program? Do they have marketing assets? Do they have a big company behind them that will actually deliver on time? Will their shoes fit? Will there be an implicit partnership where, if there’s an issue, the company will do everything it can to ensure the retailer will not lose money? Do they know and trust the people who run the business? Is their distribution clean or will they have to compete with every ad in the newspaper at some ridiculous price? Do they have a bunch of their own retail stores that retailers have to compete against? When all of this is available in one package, who would you buy from?

“A company our size has so much market share to potentially grab right now. It’s like hunting wildebeest.”

It sounds similar to the culture you created at Clarks. Yes. The one thing I’m trying to do here that I did there is create a culture in which anyone in the shoe business would love to work. John and I want people to feel good about being here. If we can do that and grow the brands to around $300 to $400 million, that’ll be a nice-sized company. We are creating the culture along the way. For example, every Friday we cook breakfast for all employees in our kitchen, which overlooks Boston Harbor. We do that to create a sense of family. If I can have that be what my life is about in the last part of my career, then that’ll be enough for me. Easier said than done, correct? Yes. Your motivation has to be pure. I’ve always believed that if you pay employees what they’re worth, then the rest of what makes them happy comes basically for free—listening, making sure they’re involved and giving meaningful recognition for their performance. When you make them feel like they truly matter in your company, their sense of loyalty and their work ethic go through the roof. Really, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But it has to be inherent, in your soul, bone deep. Selfishly, I also like to be around happy people. If I’m going to hang around here all day, I might as well enjoy my time by working alongside people who are happy to be here.

How much harder might it have been getting Drydock off to such a fast start without the New Balance seal of approval, especially in what has been a difficult economy? It definitely would have been tougher to get immediate acceptance with some of the big retailers. But I honestly think a good idea will always be accepted. I don’t think the good ideas are necessarily weeded out in a weak economy. Obviously, in a robust economy a mediocre idea might be able to make it. But a good idea should make it in any economy.

Claiming to offer the basics still represents a strong sales pitch. At least, to me, it does. That’s because not everyone really does or can. A company our size has so much market share to potentially grab right now. It’s like hunting wildebeest, as big companies can become vulnerable due to their own success. Small companies, like ours, who are watching every trend and connecting with retailers and consumers, can turn on a dime. That kind of flexibility is priceless.

Is there a point where Drydock might reach a size where its ability to be agile no longer applies? Whenever a business has started to become too big, I’ve always broken it into segments that are able to think like smaller companies. Make each team of designers, merchandisers and marketers experts at their respective target audiences. It works if you focus on the consumer first. You can continue to drive innovation and design by treating your overall company like a bunch of small companies. It’s really a mindset. And it helps to be an independent business, in this regard. You are not driven so much by numbers like public companies are. Sometimes their numbers can be pretty good, but if the expectations were even higher, that still hurts them. We’re able to create our own expectations and keep the growth manageable and sustainable. We can also take greater risks. Where do you see Drydock in five years? Rather than talk about it in numerical terms, our plan is to build the brands in a way that consumers keep asking for our products. And rather than having to discover them, they are going to know where the brands are. The initial plan was to look like established brands with great POP immediately and to work closely with retailers. To a large degree, we’ve accomplished that. Over the next three to five years, it will be about building around them by making our products on trend and holding up their value. If we can keep doing that and preserve our culture as a company, I think we will become one of the bigger comfort businesses in the country. So, no visions of retiring any time soon? I have a lot of time left to work at this. Besides, I’ve got two little kids at home. I’m not leaving to sit on a beach somewhere. I’ve got to hang around here and take them to music lessons and stuff. •

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continued from page 41 12 months, sales of Off 5th zoomed to $100 million. “We started buying our own merchandise in addition to the clearance goods from Saks stores,” Moore says. Three years in and a dozen or more new stores later, Off 5th sales skyrocketed to $300 million. A short time later, Saks asked Moore to head international development—the job that led to his memorable meeting with Prince Al-Waleed. Soon after, Saks was sold. Knowing his days there were numbered, Moore took an exit package. That’s when FFANY called looking for a new chairman to replace founding Chairman Dick Jacobson.


• MARCH 2014 • $10 VOL. 24 • ISSUE 3

Man’s World

Masculine Accents Add Attitude to Women’s Casuals

The FFANY Years Moore saw an opportunity to take FFANY to the next level, by having the organization work for its members instead of the reverse. “I worked hard to give back to the industry, through education programs and Shoes on Sale,” he says. “We’ve done a pretty good job in those areas.” That might be an understatement, given that Shoes on Sale, now in its 20th year, has contributed $45 million to breast cancer research. Moore notes that those funds, which act as seed money for researchers, has led to government funding that brings the total to more than $200 million. “Our board members have been blown away by the research being done thanks to our donations,” he says. Once again, Moore is quick to credit others. Shoes on Sale was the brainchild of Jacobson and Nine West co-founder Jerome Fisher and his daughter Jodi, who later succumbed to the disease. Moore has built upon their original concept, starting by selling tickets to the annual event to cover costs so that all money raised from the sale itself could go to fight breast cancer. Later he introduced the Pink Benefactor level, where sponsorships start at $500,000. Nine West jumped on board and Brown Shoe and Vince Camuto followed. Moore believes there’s still plenty of room for others. “I’m proud of how far we’ve taken Shoes on Sale,” he says. “But we’ve only scratched the surface. We have a very small percentage of the shoe industry that donates shoes.” Other recent initiatives Moore is proud to have launched at FFANY include a partnership with the Ars Sutoria footwear design school in Italy, which has expanded into a workshop with courses stateside four times a year. Those in New York and Boston have repeatedly sold out, he reports. An online course was introduced in January and more courses will be added in the future. “I believe this effort will have long-term benefits for the industry—showing young people what it’s like to make shoes,” he says. Moore envisions more samples being made in America and people who learn these skills possibly moving to other countries to work in shoemaking. In addition, he says the courses are a great training tool for retailers. He envisions every major retailer having their sales staff take these courses in the years to come. Moore is also proud of the launch this January of FFANY 365, a 24-7 virtual online tradeshow. It’s by no means a replacement for FFANY’s four annual shows, but it’s a way to continue the conversation, Moore says. “This will strengthen the industry, bringing buyers and sellers all over the world together online,” he says. Moore’s last two career moves give back to the industry and will continue to do so in the decades to come. That’s what he has been doing ever since he entered this business. Giving his customers what they wanted and needed. For Moore, it was a labor of love and he has enjoyed the ride. “The shoe business has been good to me and I’m grateful to it,” he says. Moore has come a long way from that first part-time gig at the Squire Shop. Few, if any, have his breadth of industry experience and perspective. He was at the flashpoint for much of what gets taken for granted today, blazing his own trail. As Moore prepares to retire later this year and pass the FFANY reins to former Brown Shoe Chairman and CEO Ron Fromm, he is looking forward to the change of scenery, but he confesses he’ll miss “everything” about this business. “The shoe industry has been my life, second only to my wife, Georgia, and my five children,” Moore says. “But I’m looking forward to getting to know my family better and giving back to them for supporting me through this very fun and wonderful career.” •

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2/25/14 2:07 PM


big ideas

But Can You Walk in Them? Sculpor Bruce Gray and his six-foot-stiletto

Bruce Gray defies conventional sculpture processes with his oversized stilettos made entirely of metal. By Brittany Leitner WHAT’S SIX FEET tall, weighs 300 pounds and costs $25,000? If you answered a giant stiletto made of steel by renowned sculptor Bruce Gray, you are correct. The Los Angeles-based sculptor has made a name for himself crafting wall art, furniture and, perhaps most notably, enormous stilettos made of stainless steel and aluminum. The pieces are part of Gray’s series of oversized sculptures, which ranges from 18 to 300 pounds and includes a wedge of Swiss cheese as well as painted insects. Such larger-than-life creations are known as fetish pieces in the art world—works that evoke a dramatic sense of beauty from the artist’s perspective. Why women’s shoes? “They’re interesting shapes to begin with. They’re very curvy, flowing and complex, yet simple enough to stand on their own as a beautiful sculpture,” Gray explains. He’s also intrigued by the power heels have to enhance a woman’s overall look. “High heels add style, attitude and sex appeal to any outfit, or no outfit at all,” he says. “That combination of the beautiful shape and sex appeal of the stiletto makes it a great subject for sculptures.” And it all gets magnified when it’s giant-sized. Gray loves the challenges shoes offer a sculptor. “When you’re working in metal, you have to fabricate every inch of the piece and the subtle curves that go together to form the top and back of heel. It’s complex,” he says. Gray’s stiletto sculptures have appeared on TV’s “Charmed,” the movie Raise Your Voice, in magazines and in books, including “Best of America: Sculpture Artists & Artisans.” Several pieces are currently for sale, including his multi-shoe wall sculpture ($1,500) and a six-foot-tall, red strappy heel ($25,000). When commissioned work comes in, as it often does, Gray’s homages to fashion footwear get put on the backburner. Right now, for example, he’s working on a family of robots for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA. “There are so many things I want to build that I’ll probably never be able to do them all in one lifetime,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll start working in the morning and, before I know it, it’s 2:00 a.m. and I never ate breakfast, lunch or dinner. It just comes down to prioritizing.” Among the labors of love he dreams of designing in his free time are a five-foot-tall rubber band and a giant closed-toe pump made of steel and wood. If it were up to us, Gray’s shoe sculptures would always be his top priority.

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Fashion Inspires Us Value Drives Us


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