Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2012 • February

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FFaNY | February 1 – 3 | Hilton NY | Room #1250 -1251 Platform | February 13 – 15 | Las Vegas Convention Center | Booth #61561 Atlanta | February 18 – 20 | Cobb Galleria Centre | Booth #1645 -1647, 1744 -1746 Kalsø Earth® Shoe (, Earth® Footwear ( and Earthies® ( are trademarks of Meynard Designs, Inc. licensed to Earth, Inc. (Waltham, MA). 781.893.7474. © 2012 Earth, Inc.

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Congratulations Nominees! RUNNING F Brooks F Asics F Saucony F New Balance

RAIN BOOTS F Hunter F Chooka F Bogs F Sperry

WORK F Wolverine F Rocky F Dansko F Timberland Pro

ATHLETIC LIFESTYLE F Keds F Adidas F Converse F Vans

MEN’S DRESS F Florsheim by Duckie Brown F Cole Haan F John Varvatos F To Boot New York

OUTDOOR F Merrell F Sorel F Teva F Sanuk

MEN’S COMFORT F Ecco F Clarks F Cushe F Rockport

WOMEN’S DRESS F Tory Burch F L.A.M.B. F Michael Kors F Marc Jacobs

MEN’S STREET F Wolverine 1,000 Mile F Sperry F Abington F Vintage

WOMEN’S COMFORT F Dansko F Earthies F Naot F Gentle Souls

CHILDREN’S F Primigi F Crocs F Skechers F Native

WOMEN’S STREET F Toms F Jeffery Campbell F Minnetonka F Jessica Simpson

BOOTS F Frye F Ugg Australia F Fiorentini + Baker F Born

PRE-WALKERS F Livie & Luca F Pediped F See Kai Run F Trimfoot

WELLNESS F MBT F Alegria F FitFlop F Aetrex

CORPORATE GOODWILL F Dansko F Kenneth Cole F Nine West F New Balance F Timberland BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE (Write-in only) ___________ BEST NEW LAUNCH (Write-in only) ___________ BRAND OF THE YEAR F Toms F Ugg Australia F Vibram FiveFingers F Nike COMPANY OF THE YEAR F VF Corporation F Deckers Outdoor F Wolverine World Wide


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See our new Fall 2012 Collection at FN Platform and The Atlanta Shoe Market

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See our new Fall 2012 Collection at FN Platform and The Atlanta Shoe Market

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F E B R U A R Y 201 2

18 Fine China?

Manufacturers struggle with production in the rapidly growing country—and begin to look elsewhere for sourcing. By Audrey Goodson

20 Q&A: Drydock Footwear

Bob Infantino, president of Drydock Footwear, makers of Aravon, Dunham and the new Cobb Hill, discusses his latest venture under the New Balance umbrella. By Greg Dutter

26 Trend Spotting

Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL

40 Thinking Outside the Box

Audrey Goodson Mary Avant Lyndsay McGregor Associate Editors

44 Hoop Dreams

Thanks to a ’90’s fashion revival and a fondness for the NBA’s glory days, the classic basketball silo is on a major rebound. By Mary Avant

48 Fresh Squeezed

A slice of orange adds zest to men’s styles. By Angela Velasquez

Timeless charm is buoyed by fall’s quirky details and color combos. By Angela Velasquez

12 Editor’s Note 14 This Just In 16 Scene & Heard 60 Shoe Salon 62 What’s Selling 64 Street 65 In the Details

Angela Velasquez Fashion Editor

Michel Onofrio Style Director Laurie Guptill Production Manager Kathy Passero Editor at Large Tim Jones Senior Designer

ADMINISTRATION Alexandra Marinacci Operations Manager

50 Pop Life


Greg Dutter Editorial Director

From classic plaid to plenty of glitter, Fall ’12 offers something to suit every style. By Angela Velasquez

Four retailers from beyond the footwear arena prove the secret to success in the digital era is going local. By Lyndsay McGregor


Caroline Diaco Publisher

On the cover: Chelsea Paris woven high-heeled loafer. Vintage YSL skirt worn as dress; American Apparel hat. This page: Mia Mary Jane with chunky heel. Photography by Frances Tulk-Hart. Styling by Michel Onofrio. Model: Zhenya/Women Direct Management.

66 Work 72 Last Word

Melanie Prescott Circulation Manager Mike Hoff Webmaster Theodore Hoffman Special Projects Director OFFICES Advertising/Editorial 36 Cooper Square, 4th fl. New York, NY 10003 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 editorialrequests@ Circulation 21 Highland Circle Needham, MA 02494 Tel: (800) 964-5150 Fax: (781) 453-9389 Corporate 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis Chairman Lee Zapis President Rich Bongorno CFO

FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) Vol. 23 issue #2 The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by 9Threads, 36 Cooper Square, 4th fl., New York, NY, 100037118. 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. ©2012 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Printed in the United States.

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editor’s note out of the closets 7

Stuff Happens IF THE POPULARITY of certain TV

ease this year. Call it a pent-up demand that’s champing at the bit.

shows is a strong indication of what

That’s exactly the sense Bob Infantino, CEO of the new Drydock

Americans are really interested in, then

Footwear and subject of this month’s Q&A (p. 20), has regarding

recent cable ratings say a whole lot about

overal consumer mood. The industry veteran and former head of

what the country is really into right now.

Clarks Companies N.A. says there’s a growing desire—and need—

It boils down to one word: stuff. Be it old

to freshen up wardrobes after several seasons of austerity. It’s just

stuff, forgotten stuff, antique stuff, junky

one of the many reasons why he believes the company’s re-launch

stuff, possibly valuable stuff, icky stuff,

of Aravon and Dunham, as well as the debut of Cobb Hill for Fall

some really big stuff and, ultimately, what

’12, is a case of perfect timing.

to do with all that stuff.

Of course, any shopping sprees will be largely tied to job creation:

Our country is awash in a sea of stuff. Why else would reality

More people making a paycheck equals more money available to

shows like American Pickers, Pawn Stars and Storage Wars

spend. The addition of 200,000 jobs in December, according to

consistently rank in the top 10, week after week? And let’s not

the Labor Department, and the unemployment rate dropping

forget the popular-yet-downright-disturbing Hoarders series on

to 8.5 percent—its lowest level since 2009—are optimistic signs.

A&E that takes the too-much-stuff epidemic to the grotesque.

Hope springs eternal in this regard. Not to mention the fact that

Americans have obviously accumulated enormous quantities

in an election year, the party in power will do everything possible

of goods and, it appears, are interested in watching how “experts”

to stimulate growth and hold onto the mantle. Personally, I’ll take

can assist with getting rid of it—preferably for some amount of

whatever economic stimulants we can get these days.

profit. As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s

Of course, money in a consumer’s pocket means little if there’s

treasure, which seems logical enough, particularly at a time of

nothing enticing on the market. One only need look to the

such economic hardship. Any ability to turn one’s trash into a

electronics industry to see how well some of its offerings continue

little extra cash could very well be the difference in keeping up

to attract hordes of shoppers. Granted, a lot of those nifty gizmos

with monthly expenses. So is it any surprise, living in the fallout of

take up scant space, but there is no debating that much of it is

the worst recession since the Great Depression, such thrift-based

super-cool stuff.

shows are popular? And like them or not, these shows are a far

I believe our industry is up to the challenge of being just as

cry from Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous or MTV Cribs—back in

enticing with the products we make. And a consumer looking to

America’s conspicuous “acquiring stuff” era.

update will respond well to some risk-taking. Now’s not the time

A mass purge could actually bode well for our industry. A

to play it so safe. Shoppers are not looking for the same ole, same

cleaned out-closet, for example, is just that—empty. As Americans

ole. People across America, for example, recently rioted in the

pare down and possibly earn a little spending money in the

streets while trying to pick up a pair of Nike’s new limted-edition

process, I’m confident they will seek to replenish. Isn’t that what

Air Jordan sneakers. While I’m not an advocate for lawlessness, it’s

a closet is for? Besides, it’s not like we will forgo shoes all together.

proof that great design, limited demand and clever marketing can

Moreover, once stuff has been discarded, it cleanses the closet as

capture a share of the consumers’ discretionary dollar. The reality

well as the mind. Personally, whenever I make a donation to the

is that offering anything less these days may result in a lot of our

local Salvation Army outpost, I return home with less baggage—

stuff never making it into closets to begin with.

literally and figuratively. I not only have a reason to shop for new items, but equally important, a place to put them. The past few years have been a real slog. Americans have been forced to make do with less, stretch what they have and, in many instances, simply do without. Such rationing, hopefully, begins to

Greg Dutter Editorial Director

12 • february 2012

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Neigh York Equestrian-themed boots are in full gallop on the streets of Manhattan this winter. By Dorothy Hong

14 february 2012

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¡+¢ scene and heard Skechers Unleashes ‘Super’ Dog Ad DURING SUPER BOWL XLVI this month—right before the first half ’s two-minute warning, to be exact—Skechers will debut its GOrun commercial, featuring a scrappy French bulldog named Mr. Quiggly and co-star Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and newly minted GOrun endorsee. Mr. Quiggly represents Skechers’ underdog image in the performance athletic footwear market—and how the brand now makes, in this particular instance, a performance running shoe that exceeds expectations and impresses athletes. Without spoiling it, let’s just say Mr. Quiggly is one fast bulldog. As for Cuban, the celebrity technology and sports mogul, he is a firm believer in GOrun: “I pride myself on identifying technological breakthroughs and I have felt the difference after standing on the court for hours at a time,” he states. “I even have our team’s trainers checking them out so we can benefit our players with this technological breakthrough.” Following three years of research working with elite runners, the lightweight Skechers GOrun minimal running shoe features mid-foot strike technology and a 4mm heel drop which brings the runner 66 percent closer to the ground than traditional running shoes for a natural barefoot experience. Plus, it’s ultra-lightweight at just 6.9 ounces (size 9 men’s) and 4.9 ounces (size 6 women’s). Leonard Armato, president of Skechers Fitness Group, says that while the shoe features serious technology, generating a few laughs is one of the most effective ways of advertising during the Super Bowl. “That audience appreciates humor,” he says. “While the ad will definitely put a smile on your face, it also highlights the technological benefits of GOrun and showcases the spirit of the brand, which is all about an underdog with the heart of a champion.” —Greg Dutter

Architectural Digest WHEN ALLEN EDMONDS CEO Paul Grangaard set about redesigning the retail stores for the classic men’s brand, he never imagined the architect he selected would not only revamp the company’s look, but also become a budding footwear designer. Grangaard tapped Minneapolisbased architect James Dayton—a protégé of the famed Frank Gehry—to redesign the brand’s new store in the city. With walls made of Wisconsin red birch and cork lampshades that bring to

mind the brand’s signature layer of cork between the inner and outer sole of its shoes, Graangard says the design “fit Allen Edmonds perfectly.” So it was only fitting when Dayton presented a sketch for a shoe, that the brand give the design a shot. Introduced last fall, the wing-tip dress boot became the company’s top-selling boot and the seventh-best selling style of the fall season, and Grangaard says he’s meeting with the designer again soon to see more sketches. It’s a footwear and retail design collaboration, Grangaard notes, that’s boosting sales across the board. “When we go into a new market with a retail store, we grow the interest in Allen Edmonds shoes. In Minneapolis we overperformed our estimates by 50 percent, but our top wholesale account was up 70 percent. We find that it’s very synergistic for us—it helps our wholesale customers there as well.” “It’s one of many things we’re doing today that just fits together well,” Grangaard adds. “The customer is king, but in order to make the king happy, the product is really important—and it just makes sense to present our product in the best way we can possibly do it.” —Audrey Goodson

Come Sail Away! SEBAGO SET OFF on its debut sponsorship of the Quantum Key West Race Week last month, furthering its existing partnership with the Quantum Sailing Team. “The Quantum Team is recognized globally as best in class, and to be the provider of its footwear and apparel has been an honor,” says Gary Malamet, group vice president and general manager of Sebago. Along those lines, Sebago launched its SPS Force 8 sailing shoe this spring, which was designed in conjunction with championship sailors. Technical features include quick-drying uppers, a footbed with drainage and shock absorption and Sebago’s exclusive Vibram outsole with exceptional grip. “As a premium American brand that celebrates a nautical lifestyle and rich marine history, competitive sailing has played an integral role in establishing Sebago as a leader in the boat shoe market,” Malamet says. “Participation in the most recognized regattas allows us to engage with our customers and communicate our brand message while listening to the needs of today’s sailors.” —G.D.

16 • february 2012

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Fine China? Battered by escalating costs and worker shortages, footwear manufacturers brace for a tough year ahead in the People’s Republic—and begin to look elsewhere for sourcing.

AS THE CHINESE New Year winds down, many manufacturers find themselves faced with the same annual anxiety: How many employees will return after the 15-day hiatus ends? But footwear factory owners could be forgiven for being particularly concerned this year. As a country with an estimated 200 million migrant workers, predicting how many will return to work in February is a perennial challenge. But a number of ills plaguing footwear factories in China, from worker shortages to rapidly rising material costs, means the manufacturing scene in 2012 may be more unpredictable—and expensive—than ever. “China is no longer the low-cost manufacturing platform that it once was,” says Erik Autor, vice president and international trade counsel at the National Retail Federation. “The economy is diversifying into less laborintensive industries, labor costs have gone up 40 percent in the last year and a half, the Chinese currency continues to appreciate, the cost of raw materials has increased and there’s volatility in fuel prices. All of these things are really driving up the cost of doing business in China.” In many ways, manufacturers in China have become a victim of their own success. As the country’s labor force increases, its workers have become more prosperous, developing their own desire for consumer goods—especially those with an American label. “Chinese shoppers like American brands, even if they are made in China, because they have cache and a reputation for quality,” Autor adds. Not to mention, as the economy grows, the Chinese government and foreign investors are increasingly encouraging manufacturers to switch to more profitable sectors, like aircraft, automobiles and technology, in the country’s prosperous coastal provinces like Guangdong—the world’s epicenter of footwear manufacturing. “That growth in the internal market means that if you are placing orders for export, it may be harder to find the production capacity in China that can meet the timetable for your orders,” Autor points out. It translates into a “cash-and-carry way of doing business,” says Tom

Romeo, CEO of Bearpaw. With a shrinking number of footwear factories, companies can no longer count on long terms to pay for goods and smaller orders often get pushed to the back of the line. “Now, more so than in the past, factories have higher minimums,” says James Matush, general manager for Restricted Footwear. “The more you buy, the more they move you up. Even if you pay first, they will move up the company that bought more material first.” This new normal leaves little room for error—“You’ve got one hiccup and you’re late,” Romeo notes—and makes it nearly impossible to reorder hot styles without a warehouse of materials at the ready. “It’s been very hard to find in-season reorders, particularly on seasonal items like boots,” notes Bill Combs, CEO of Bogs Footwear and owner of Burch’s shoe store in Eugene, OR. And stocking a large supply of materials is especially precarious with the skyrocketing cost of commodities like leather, cotton and sheepskin. Romeo reports that sheepskin has gone up by as much as 20 to 40 percent, while Matush estimates leather costs have increased 20 percent for Restricted. In addition, overall material costs have been exacerbated by new regulations that require harder-to-locate lead-free materials. It’s a perfect storm of problems that’s sent manufacturing costs spiraling in recent years—right at a time when cash-strapped shoppers are protesting every penny the price of goods are raised. “This year is the most I’ve ever seen consumers say, ‘No, I won’t pay that price. I’m not paying more,’” Romeo notes. It’s forced footwear manufacturers, Autor says, to absorb much of the increased costs. “Because of the precarious state of the economy, so far we’ve seen companies try to eat those excess costs or find other ways to cut back instead of passing them on to the consumer— because in this economy, raising prices will lead to a decrease in sales.” For some brands, that’s meant cutting costs by moving away from the southern coastal provinces, where workers’ wages have steadily >68

Photogpraph: istockphoto

By Audrey Goodson

18 • february 2012

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Bob Infantino, president of Drydock Footwear, makers of Aravon, Dunham and the new Cobb Hill, reveals how the company came into being and why it will be a comfort-based powerhouse right off the launch pad. By Greg Dutter

BOB INFANTINO WASN’T out of the footwear game for long. Even during the mandatory non-compete period upon leaving the Clarks Companies N.A.—after nearly two decades at the helm that saw sales top off at around $800 million annually—it’s not like Infantino’s mind took a complete vacation from the business. When you eat, sleep and drink shoes for more than 30 years, it never fully leaves the system, especially since Infantino had zero intention of retiring. “I never, for a moment, thought I would stop working,” he says. “I was just reassessing what I was going to do next and who I would do it with.” Enter Jim Davis, chairman of New Balance and fellow Boston-area resident. Over a casual cup of coffee, Infantino laid out a general idea of the company he wanted to start. Infantino was upfront: He wasn’t looking for a “job,” but he did want to start a new business—just not absolutely from scratch. “I wanted a strategic partner who had a lot of what I would need already built,” he says. “I wanted to do the part that I really liked, which is the whole front end of the business.” During the initial meeting, Infantino brought up New Balance’s budding brown shoe business—its Aravon and Dunham labels—as evidence that the company saw that segment as a potential avenue of growth. Infantino says those brands weren’t part of his proposal; it was Davis who suggested soon after that if he was going to back the launch of Cobb Hill, then why not have Infantino take over the management of those two as well. That brief meeting was pretty much all it took: “I said what I basically wanted to do in 20 minutes and Jim reached across the table, shook my hand and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that.’” It all falls under the corporate name Drydock Footwear, which references the location of the company’s soon-to-be swanky new headquarters. “We are located on the Boston seaport, right across from where they bring in big naval and cruise ships for dry dock,” Infanitno says. “It’s a quarter-mile long slip where they drain all the water out and work on the boats. It’s so cool to watch how they do that.” It also sounds like the perfect setting for what has demanded an allhands-on-deck effort to launch a business of this magnitude. Right from the get-go, everything about Drydock is bigger than your usual footwear start-up. It involves one new brand launched from scratch and two completely revamped brands (Aravon and Dunham underwent extensive makeovers, including new collections and overhauls of the brands’ marketing messages), for a total of approximately 20 new collections and 200 SKUs for this fall. “Most brands start out with two or three collections out of the gate, and a big, established company might do 10 collections in a season,” Infantino notes, adding that the breadth of the brands’ collections covers 20 • february 2012

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O&A just about any customer in the comfort space. Even with the logistical might that New Balance brings to the table, Infantino admits setting Drydock on its maiden voyage has required a 24/7 effort that, in the beginning months, consisted of just two full-timers: Himself and John Daher, the trusted line builder he brought over from Clarks. “We kept going to Europe to see what was trending and made several trips to China working with a team of contract designers,” Infantino says. “It was challenging and, at times, seemed overwhelming, but we’ve since culled it down to something reasonable.” The large size of the Drydock launch, Infantino says, is meant to show retailers the company is determined to be a meaningful player from the start. He won’t be satisfied landing a few items and seeing how it might go from there. Being “insignificant” in stores is what Infantino wants to avoid. “We want them to look like brands from day one,” he says. “We want the consumer to see them as great opportunities.” Infantino is banking on his successful track record, starting back at Rockport and throughout his Clarks career. It’s not cockiness, just proven results: “I know the shoes are going to be good and, if they are presented correctly, I think consumers will quickly develop an allegiance to these brands.” That’s the ultimate test because, as Infantino freely admits, his reputation may get him meetings with retailers, but the product has to do the talking. “Retailers don’t really give a damn about me, and the end consumer doesn’t know who I am. At the end of the day, the shoes are going to have to perform.” Infantino is confident they will do just that. And, he adds, it doesn’t hurt that the timing seems right to introduce some freshness into the marketplace. The slowly recovering economy presents an ideal opportunity, since many manufacturers have been taking few risks of late, not to mention the fact that retailers have been heavily invested in one brand for a while now. “You can only go so long on that strategy,” Infantino warns. “A lot of retailers are realizing that there’s a need for something new.” Nor does it hurt when retailers learn that Infantino and Davis are in cahoots on this new venture. As Infantino assures: Retailers will get a great partner who takes care of all

of their needs and understands what consumers want. It’s not like the two execs’ combined 70-plus years of proven results can be dismissed as a fluke. “When you put all of these aspects together, I’m confident that our brands will bring additional revenue to our retail partners.” Beyond all of the company’s structural attributes, there’s also what Drydock represents to Infantino on a personal level. It’s an inspiring story: A longtime industry veteran embarking

OFF THE CUFF What are you reading? Hitch-22 and Arguably, both by Christopher Hitchens. He was just a brilliant guy and had a great philosophy on how to live one’s life. What was the last movie you saw? Moneyball, which I liked a lot. What one word best describes you? Interested.

Fey. She’s one of the most creative thinkers and has a great sense of humor. She could also offer some insights into the female psyche of our customers. What is your idea of happiness? Being happy with what I have, including the people in my life, and accepting the fact that I don’t always have to be looking for more. Being content sometimes can save you a lot of angst in life.

What was it like not running a shoe company—at least for a little while? I was really only off for about six months, which gave me time to study the whole business, look at all kinds of opportunities and reflect on what I wanted to do next, as I had a bunch of offers. I was basically doing an evaluation of the next move in my life. I never wanted to stop working, that’s for sure. And certainly, when I talked with Jim Davis, it was pretty clear he was the guy I wanted to work with. So no time to even improve your golf game? My break was during the winter, so unfortunately I made no improvements there. But I did get to spend some time with my family in Florida. If you do something like this for as many years as I have, you’re just in it. I never stopped looking and I was always in stores. What did you miss most? I missed working with the team. I love being in the tussle and working with people I really like. I missed the hell out of that.

So what is it about Jim Davis, in particular, that you like? Without being a total sycophant, Jim is What is inspiring you just a remarkable human being. From right now? All of what’s a business point of view, he has built going on with the launch What is your idea of New Balance almost identically to the of Drydock Footwear— misery? Being unhappy way I built Clarks: With great product, the people involved, the with what you have high value, an abundance of sizes and excitement it’s generating (laughs). Seriously, it’s widths, and by treating retailers as well and the opportunity it losing creative control of a as you possibly can. He has integrity and presents are all extremely situation. really understands the value of partnerinspiring. ing with good retailers. There is not a What is your motto? single person who has a bad thing to say If you could hire anyone, Time is the ultimate about him, and he’s been in this business who would it be? Tina currency. for 40-plus years. He just always does the right thing and is a man of his word. If he wasn’t in the business and was my neighbor, he would be my favorite neighon a new chapter under his terms and with the bor. You would never know he is the head of a $1 corporate backing most would drool over. Infanbillion-plus company. tino admits to feeling reborn by the entire process. And while he’s juggling a chaotic schedule, What do you like about New Balance as the it doesn’t feel like work. “I hate to admit this, but corporate parent? I never turn off my phone now,” he confides. “If Everything. It starts with all the autonomy New I wake up in the middle of the night, I check my Balance provides to start brands. It has the email. I’m interested all of the time to see what’s backroom—the IT, HR, logistics, finance, ordergoing on.” Infantino adds, “When it’s like this, entry, etc.—all in place. Not to mention, New you never really work a day in your life.” Balance has the reputation for being the best in

22 • february 2012

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the business in all of these aspects. And at my point in life, building all of those systems from scratch was way more than I was interested in doing. Is being able to start a brand from scratch a dream come true? Yes. I wanted to start Cobb Hill from a piece of white paper. But to have Aravon and Dunham to help get things started has been a real bonus. I wouldn’t say Aravon and Dunham are starting from complete scratch. With Aravon, we’ve kept two collections that performed well and added six new ones. The new collections feature New Balance’s proprietary N-ergy comfort system in the forefoot area. What did Aravon represent before its makeover? It was sold mostly to retailers that wanted to take out the footbeds for orthopedic inserts. We are keeping that part of the business, which goes up to five widths and sizes up to a women’s 13, while the new collections will go to three widths. Overall, we are making the design more contemporary and tailored, and we are going after that customer at the $110 to $140 price range instead of the $300 price range of our competitors. I believe Aravon will hit a real niche at that price point. And, during my career, I’ve been making a lot of shoes priced under $100, so the added ceiling to make product at $130 allows me to put a lot of luxury and comfort into these shoes. What’s new regarding Dunham? Dunham has a great brand heritage that dates back to the 1880s. And it has delivered some classic styles (the Waffle Stomper, for one) into the market. In addition, Dunham offers more sizes and widths (D to 6E and up to size 20) than any other brand in the world. We started out by tak-

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ing one of its logos from the late ’60s and featured it as our main one. It is beautiful. We will introduce four new collections aimed at a younger customer. It’s just great street product. We’ve also done some unique looks—one of which is a play on New Balances’s Minimus barefoot construction. I think it’s the most interesting street collection that I’ve ever done. Dunham’s price range will be from $90 to $150, with a waterproof group at the high end of the spectrum. Overall, I believe it’s a very highvalue brand. We’ve also taken back the license for Dunham Work and will be producing that line as well. Which takes us to Cobb Hill. How would you describe that brand? Cobb Hill [named after a park in Infantino’s hometown of Rochester, NY] is a younger, more contemporary brand for women. It represents the new shapes. John and I weren’t tied to a specific brand anymore. We could take the time to design the right shapes. We worked really hard on the lasts and heels. All of the bottoms were tweaked several times until we hit upon a design that was fashionable but still commercial. Cobb Hill is going to be a major brand so we have to be commercial, but I think we’ve done it in a way that offers more style. To that end, we focused heavily on the materials. We saw what was going on in Europe with vintage leathers. In prior seasons, it was all about embellishments—beads and all kinds of jewelry. Cobb Hill uses vintage materials as the embellishment. There are lots of nice touches, like ruching and burnishing. The shoes tell a nice story; they are comfortable and have a terrific feel. Our focus groups reveal a broad acceptance—some styles are appealing to women in their 20s and it goes up to those in their 50s. To use an overused expression, Cobb Hill is a lifestyle brand. It is priced from $80 to $120, and some boot styles go up to around $200.

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What prevents these from being just metoo brands? Basically, we took all three brands and designed what they were going to look like inside and out. It’s been a 360-degree approach so that they hold together as unique brands. We put them side-by-side to make sure they each will have a distinctive place in the market. That’s involved serious white paper work. We are already working on some interesting things for Spring ’12 and, going forward, we will introduce some big concepts like we did with Clarks’ Unstructured collection. The next big idea will come when it comes. I just haven’t sat down to figure out what that will be just yet.

“There are a lot of items getting tired out there—ones with a lot of open-to-buy dollars tied to them.”

Throughout this launch process, what has been the biggest surprise? A nice surprise has been how excited the people at all levels of New Balance have been, making this a kind of cause célebre for them. Many of its people have worked extremely hard in getting this off the ground. I think it speaks highly of Jim Davis. They have such allegiance to wanting to make this work. Well, it instills life into two of its brands and brings on a potential huge new one. What’s not to like? And let’s not forget that this is a worldwide launch. I recently spent a week

in Turkey at the New Balance international sales meeting and met with all of the agents. The first year will be in the U.S. and Canada, but after that a lot countries in Europe and Asia will be carrying these brands.

I sense a growing hunger for something new—from retailers and consumers. Do you agree? There are a lot of items getting tired out there—ones with a lot of open-to-buy dollars tied to them. They still might be big businesses, but they are not going to be chewing up the open-to-buy dollars that they have been. The fact is that since the recession, manufacturers have been playing it safe and, as a result, consumers have been seeing a lot of the same ol’. Coming out of the recession now, I believe consumers are looking for something new and may have a little more money to spend. If they have a job now, they feel more secure that they are going to have one tomorrow. And they want to update their wardrobes. Look at the popularity of leather riding boots this season. Women wanted something special. I think there is some great business coming around the corner because people are going to treat themselves a little bit more. Could you have done this launch two years ago? Well, I’m sure glad this opportunity presented itself now (laughs). It >67

ACORN - 025 // Footwear Plus: February // Comfort To Go Women // 1/2 Page Horz with Bleed: Trim area 7.75 x 5 Bleed area: 8.25 x 5.5 Live area: 1/4 in on all sides // cmyk

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The traditional fall print crisscrosses a mix of casual styles. Clockwise from top: Patagonia slip-on sneaker; Chooka rain boot; sneaker by Gotta Flurt; Sebago boot; sneaker with quilted detail by Keds.


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Golden Delicious

Designers muster up a selection of rich yellow hues. Clockwise from top: Etienne Aigner woven moccasin; Pelle Moda stiletto; fringe boot by Minnetonka; Mia flat; Ahnu rain boot.

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Something About Mary The classic design weighs in for fall with sturdy heels and solid colors.

Clockwise from top: button-embellished style by Blossom; Gidigio knotted-strap Mary Jane; Earthies ruffle-embellished Mary Jane; short heel with chain detail by Gabor; black Mary Jane by Dansko; red Mary Jane by Blondo; gray high heel by Rockport. 28 • february 2012

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Twisted Sister

Braided details weave in an artisan touch. Clockwise from top: Nicole black pull-on boot; Paul Green buckle boot; studded boot by Pazzo; brown pull-on boot by Cordani; Cliffs by White Mountain cuffed boot with rope harness.

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Good Cents Banking on a contemporary take in men’s with the classic penny loafer.

From top: Ted Baker leather penny loafer; suede loafer by Sebago; Bed Stü slip-on with covered-chain detail; Billy Reid distressed penny loafer.

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Spark Notes Generous amounts of glitter turn shoes into stars. Clockwise from top: Pelle Moda cap toe hi-top; stiletto by Klub Nico; Gotta Flurt hi-top sneaker; Ted Baker peep-toe stiletto; Bernardo loafer.

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Navy Exchange Dark shades of blue deepen the neutral pool. Clockwise from top: lace-up rain boot by Le Chameau; Swedish Hasbeen wood sole boot; pull-on boot by Gidigio; Gwyneth ankle boot with straps; Gabor tall boot; Ecco nylon boot; duck boot by Khombu.

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Bronze Rage The rich metallic adds luster to the fall palette. Top to bottom: Dansko clog; men’s lace-up by Palladium; Pelle Moda jeweled sandal; wedge by Hush Puppies.

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Linked In

A gang of chain embellishments lock in a chic look. Clockwise from top left: pony hair flat by Vogue; tall boot by Rockport; Bernardo ankle boot; Klub Nico stiletto; boot by Bearpaw.

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Thinking Four successful retailers—a bike shop, a cupcake boutique, a coffee house and an art store—offer universal insights on how they are thriving in the borderless, digital retail age by thinking locally. By Lyndsay McGregor


hat can a footwear retailer learn from a tasty cupcake boutique in Colorado or a snazzy bike shop in Connecticut? How about from a trendy coffee shop in Texas or a boutique art store in Indiana? The short answer: A whole lot. Just because these retailers aren’t kneedeep in stocking sizes and widths or adept at the fine art of sit-and-fit service, doesn’t mean they can’t offer plenty of insights on how to build a strong brand name and loyal customer following in the age of online retailing and big box category killers. They face many of the same struggles, have met plenty of similar challenges and, most importantly, have developed their own unique strategies to survive and thrive in today’s increasingly cutthroat retail landscape. Let’s face it: Retail is retail, no matter if you’re hawking shoes, bikes, sweet treats or pretty much anything else consumers want and need. And retailing in an era of flash sale sites, group-buying deals and online behemoths like Amazon is never easy, no matter your wares. But even as more consumers go online, the value of face-to-face contact at

a brick-and-mortar store can never be underestimated. In the virtual world of online retailing, it is the one aspect that can’t be replicated— just yet. That’s why many consumers are returning to their neighborhood stores, seeking a one-on-one connection with their community that can’t be found in an anonymous online transaction. Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates Inc., a national retail consulting and investment banking firm headquartered in New York, believes this desire for local goods plays perfectly to the strength of smaller, urban stores. “Independents are in a perfect position to capitalize,” he offers. Davidowitz uses “My Macy’s” as an example of how even big-name retailers are starting to think smaller, customizing each store’s merchandise according to their respective area. “The giant footprint just isn’t working anymore,” he says. “You are starting to see these mega-changes, but they are exactly where the strength of the independents has always been.” The following retailers have heeded these lessons and learned that a commitment to their community—rather than trying to chase business thousands of miles beyond their physical storefronts—is often the most effective means to growing a business. For these savvy shopkeepers, developing strong local ties within their respective neighborhoods made them a shoe-in for success—sans the shoes. >

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1/18/12 12:48 PM

Art project workshops take place every weekend at rTrail.

ART PROJECT rTrail Collective Edge, Valparaiso, IN FOR BRENDA MAGNETTI Erickson, could be successful if I was the only store founder of rTrail Collective Edge in on the street. Everything pulled together Valparaiso, IN, old-fashioned word-ofmakes the town vibrant—we’re all part of mouth is still one of the most underrated that.” means of promotion. “The only reason But the karma—and customers—that I’m still in business is because other come from supporting nearby businesses businesses refer me,” she says of her isn’t the only way Erickson pays it forward store, an artists’ hub that offers Midwest to her advantage. Her mix of locally craftsmen a place to teach, exhibit and sourced goods and made-in-the-U.S.A. sell original works. To that end, Erickson merchandise has been a powerful lure at always returns the favor and believes rTrail. “The No. 1 comment I hear is: ‘It such good karma comes full circle. “I is so refreshing to walk into your store always try to find a way to refer another and see that everything isn’t made in business and I think that’s China,’” Erickson offers. a really important idea for “[Customers] are very shoe stores,” she recommends, excited to support local adding that retailers need artists, but I think they’re not be shy in establishing even more excited that bonds with fellow merchants. handmade, locally sourced “Stores need to work together products are as valuable, in order to be successful, and if not more valuable, than we really do work together.” mass-produced ones from Brenda Erickson Erickson adds, “It’s not like I overseas.”

NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE Progress Coffee Shop, Austin, TX IT WAS THAT same feeling of community spirit that inspired Joshua Bingaman to open Progress Coffee Shop in Austin, TX, a few years back. “For me it’s all about people,” he says. “What I’ve learned through operating the café is the rewards of direct marketing.” Specifically, Bingaman advises that rather than just casting a big net in Progress the hope of reeling regularly hosts in a few fish, you concerts and first find out where events that benefit local the fish are—who charities. your direct market is—and target them. “Then you know you’re going to catch more fish,” he says. In a further effort to appease this local Joshua Bingaman clientele once they’re in his grasp, Bingaman serves a locally sourced menu of organic foods and, of course, Austin-roasted coffee of the fair trade variety. Also on the menu: Local musicians, art exhibitions and a wealth of creative beings Austin is famous for. Bingaman, it should be noted, is a master of creating unique retail experiences pitched perfectly to the

local market. His previous retail venture was the Subterranean Shoe Room, a boutique that doubled as an art gallery in San Francisco’s Mission District. In addition, his current side business is designer of men’s boot brand, Helm. His advice to footwear retailers is simple: “Slow down. Get more involved in what’s right in front of you. Stop trying to be huge. Play small. Stay local. Put your heart into it instead of your brain.” In fact, if Bingaman could re-create his Mission District retail venture, he would have concentrated less on the global picture and more on who and what was around him. “I had a superdense home base that didn’t even know I was there,” he admits. Along those lines, Bingaman recently had his Helm staff embark on a meet-the-neighbors mission, going door-to-door in Austin with gift cards, inviting people to stop by the showroom and check out the latest collection. The result of focusing on the immediate community: “In the last four months, sales in our showroom have been three times those on our website,” he says.

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Zane’s Cycles is one of the largest bicycle stores in the nation.

Zane’s Cycles, Branford, CT WHILE FEW BICYCLES are made in Connecticut (if any) and many are sourced overseas, Chris Zane of Zane’s Cycles in Branford, CT, focuses on developing a friendly neighborhood bond to build sales and customer loyalty. Zane calls his approach “the science of creating lifetime customers.” Specifically, he says, “You need to have a relationship with your customers and understand them in order to have a successful store.” And Zane should know, because since setting up shop as a junior in high school more than 30 years ago, he has built Zane’s Cycles into one of the largest and most successful bicycle stores in the nation. Key aspects of that are Zane’s lifetime service guarantee and $1 rule—as in there’s no charge for any parts that cost a buck or less. “It’s easier Chris Zane to reach into a drawer, toss a couple pieces to a customer and send them on their way. We’re not always looking to ring the register,” he says. While this approach isn’t rocket science, Zane believes the reason his competitors—and most retailers in general—don’t adopt it is the fear of losing money. But as he has learned over time, “People are reasonable and don’t take advantage because they want the business to succeed so they can keep going there.” To keep customers coming back, Zane says you have to sell what your target buyer really needs. “If you figure out what your customer needs, they’ll buy the things they want to buy,” he says. “That’s what the core of

our organization is. All these programs we’ve implemented over the years have been customer-based rather than revenue-based.” Zane adds, “A lot of retailers don’t get this. They don’t understand the psychology of why a customer would have a relationship with a retailer.” When it comes to the shoe business, Zane stresses that retailers need to look at the lifetime value of the customer as opposed to single transactions, whether that means offering to repair a damaged heel for free or accepting a faulty pair of shoes without a receipt. “If each customer has the potential to drive profit to your business, you will certainly do extraordinary things to keep him or her in touch with your >71

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Hoop Dreams Driven by apparel trends, a ’90s revival and a love for the NBA’s starry past, the classic hi-top basketball silo is experiencing a major rebound.

By Mary Avant

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anatics by the thousands swarmed city streets across America, breaking down police barricades, brawling with each other and those with opposing views, including law enforcement. The riots made headlines around the world. Policemen, in full riot gear, finally had to resort to the use of pepper spray and make mass arrests to quell the angry mobs. Was this one of the recent Occupy Wall Street protests? Or was this ignited by the release of Nike’s new, limited-edition Air Jordan Retro Concord ($180 SRP) during the holidays? If you answered yes to each of these questions, then you hit nothing but net—twice. But it’s not just sneakerheads who are scrambling to get their hands on coveted Nike basketball sneakers. Everyone from Jersey Shore’s Pauly D to supermodel Heidi Klum—along with a beefy front court of A-list musicians and athletes—are rocking the classic hi-top basketball silhouette of late, confirming what sneaker companies and retailers have quickly realized: The basketball shoe is back, and in a big way. “Everything’s a cycle in footwear, and I think that’s the case with this particular silhouette coming back into prominence,” notes Tara McRae, vice president of strategic planning and brand management for Puma North America, a brand whose Clyde Frazier shoe paved the way for the first round of sneaker hysteria a few decades ago. “Consumers are always looking for what’s new, what’s next, what’s cutting edge. It’s just that constant search for something fresh.” Ro Coit, co-owner of Detroit-based sneaker boutique Burn Rubber, agrees that hoop shoes are on the rebound, adding the silhouette looked great the first time around. “With the structure and the build of the shoe, the classic styles were good on the basketball court and they looked good when you stepped off the court.”

Old School

This go ’round, nostalgia appears to be a leading force behind the basketball silo’s revival. Unlike the past, where it was all about the bells and whistles—be it a pump, gel, air or whatever—to make you run faster and jump higher, now it’s more about the general look. Perhaps months of drama during the recent NBA lockout caused many fans to reminisce fondly of the league’s glory days in the late ’80s and ’90s—the days of Magic, Bird, Jordan and Pippen and the epic battles between the Lakers and Celtics. Let’s face it, as good as they may

be, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies don’t set hearts pounding. “It’s the allure of the retro days and the glamour days of the NBA,” explains Dr. Barry Katz, CEO and founder of Ektio, a sprain-preventing performance basketball shoe brand, regarding the category’s resurgence at retail. “The consumer is going back to the glory days of the NBA when [Michael] Jordan was playing, and that’s when essentially all of the players were wearing hi-tops.” In fact, on a macro-fashion level, everything ’90s is in—whether it’s printed bomber jackets or laidback sportswear. A big part of this trend is basketball-related, notes Todd Krinsky, marketing director of the global classics division for Reebok. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of how these sneakers can complement and enhance their ’90s-infused style— specifically, slimmer-fitting denim and pants. “Kids have a whole system of wearing tongues out and jeans in,” Krinsky declares. Consumers are also moving away from a uniform mentality, embracing instead their individuality in terms of footwear, explains Hayden Biener, head footwear designer for HUF, a California-based footwear boutique and clothing brand that has collaborated with Nike and Adidas. “Everything has been so plain for so long— your basic slip-ons and desert boot shoes,” he says. “Individuality—having shoes that no one else has—was a big part of this sneakerhead thing going on in the ’90s.” That’s why the current pool of shoppers can be largely broken into two groups, explains Poe Hwang, managing editor at Freshness, an online magazine for men’s fashion and footwear. The first is the diehards— those who have been lifelong basketball fans and are bona-fide sneakerheads. The second group consists of a younger crowd that probably has no clue what it means to “Be like Mike,” but for whom fashion and cultural interests draw them to the silo today. Meld the two together and it’s a big pie, one that brands are stuffing with an extensive selection of styles. “There are so many sophisticated looks out there this time that you’re getting a bigger cross section of people wearing these shoes— even girls,” Reebok’s Krinksy notes.

Swizz Beatz wearing Reebok’s relaunched Kamikaze.

One on One Memory by Fila.

Pump it Up?

If it’s a jump ball between technology and style, most industry experts say the latter continues to have the upper hand. Like back in the day, the shoes will rarely ever set foot on a court, so the old 80-20 rule between fashion and intended-end use still applies. Besides, Burn Rubber’s Coit says, “There are a lot of shoes that are great on the court, but they’re not wearable with jeans and in your everyday life.” This tendency to focus on a look that goes with any

Puma GV


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“It’s a new day and brands have to make these shoes relevant without today’s players doing phenomenal things.� —Ro Coit, co-owner, Burn Rubber



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outfit has allowed lifestyle brands to cash in on the growing hi-top craze, as well. Even luxury labels like Lanvin, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Giuseppe Zanotti and Christian Louboutin are throwing Converseesque shoes into their assortments. “There are a lot of ancillary brands that are creating basketballinspired shoes,� Krinksy says. “On the fashion side, it works.� Color—whether its bold blood red or eye-catching neon green—is another major factor in today’s market. “The idea of color From top: Athletic Propulsion Labs Concept has really been big,� says 2 sneaker; Ektio Post Up shoe. Jon Epstein, president of Fila, known for its FX-100 and the Grant Hill hoops shoes. “That’s given the shoe a new look, and it’s energized the market.� Not only is color significant, it can be the deciding feature for many buyers, declares Adam Goldston, co-creator of Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL), a brand whose basketball sneakers’ Load ’N Launch technology claims to increase vertical leap. But just because fashion is on top of consumers’ wish lists doesn’t mean performance should be benched entirely. “The performance athletes still care very much about not only the style and who’s wearing the shoe, but also about how the performance component is going to make them a better player,� Ektio’s Katz notes. That’s why many sneaker brands, including Fila and Puma, are incorporating shoes with slimmer and lighter silhouettes. “Lightweight is a major trend that continues to resonate with consumers, and we’ve applied that to some of our basketball-inspired styles,� explains Puma’s McRae, noting that Fall ’12 will see more vulcanized outsoles inspired by its iconic GV shoe. This fall, APL will highlight the Concept 2, the second edition of its technology-packed shoe, with features that give players the ability to add up to 3.5 inches to their vertical jump. (The brand’s Concept 1 was >71

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48 • february 2012

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Hush Puppies




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Del Toro loafers. American Apparel hoodie; American Apparel socks throughout.


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Old-school charm and a mash of color lend a quirky twist to classic fall silhouettes. Styling by Michel Onofrio

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This page: Ted Baker cut-out oxford. Opposite page: Jean Paul Gaultier turtleneck; vintage YSL skirt. 52

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This page: Jil Sander hoodie; Michael Kors shorts.


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This page: Gwyneth bootie; J Shoes pump with patchwork heel; Rockport heeled loafer; Tsubo drawstring bootie. 55

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This page: Fergie wedge. Opposite page: Vintage YSL blazer; Alessandro Dell’Acqua floral shorts.


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This page: Chelsea Paris woven high-heeled loafer (center). Jil Sander jacket; Sylvia Heisel skirt. Opposite page: Gidigio mustard loafer.

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Fashion Editor: Angela Velasquez Makeup: Munemi Imai/See Management Hair: Yoichi Tomizawa/See Management Model: Zhenya/Women Direct Management 59

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Clockwise from top left: open toe ankle boot with bows by Rialto; London Trash spike heel; Pazzo lace-up bootie



What is your first shoe memory? Papay: I was in eighth grade and my mom took me back-to-school shopping at Bloomingdale’s. I found a pair of olive green canvas combat boots with a pointed toe. They were killer! I wore them with ivory wigwam socks, a tiered khaki mini skirt and a fisherman sweater. I have a photo. I wish I still had the boots. Palomo: Having been born into a shoemaking family, the smells of leather hides and freshly made shoes are nostalgic. I remember running around the factories in El Salvador, picking up scraps of leather and pretending to be one of the workers on the assembly line, or in my father’s office using his pens and scrap paper to sketch. Which is your favorite shoe in the collection? Papay: The Fréda Be monk style loafer with an ankle strap. I love the espresso/snow leopard combo. They’re playful and sophisticated all at once and really make an outfit. Palomo: I

Lace Makers Fall dress styles are laced with peeks of satin and head-turning heels.

would say the Fréda Play, our version of a jodhpur boot. It is the perfect height to tuck your jeans into. Who is the best-dressed woman of the moment? Papay: Keira Knightly never looks like she tries too hard and her choices are always interesting—a little boho, a little glam. She looks feminine, but never too girly. Palomo: Kate Beckinsale’s everyday style is clean, sophisticated and effortless. She’s edgy but classic and has the perfect balance of androgyny and femininity. Which footwear trend have you seen enough of? Papay: Spikes and studs. They look painful and dangerous! Palomo: I could do without sky-high platform heels—anything over six inches is hazardous. Maybe it’s because I’m 5’9” and have naturally shunned them, but I can’t imagine how women can walk without hanging on to something, or someone.


MEET FRÉDA SALVADOR, a fictional character designers Megan Papay (far left) and Cristina Nelson Palomo crafted as the inspiration behind their new line of “statement” flats and boots. “We felt strongly about creating a muse for the line that embodies strength, individuality, confidence and power,” Papay says. The resulting 10-piece collection for this fall, which retails from $350 to $625, is one with European and Latin American flair featuring a generous amount of quality leathers, pony hair, rich colors and convertible features, including a monk shoe with a removable ankle strap and a riding boot with a snap-off shaft. “Our silhouettes are tailored but very feminine at the same time,” Palomo notes. Despite their mutual obsession with Frida Kahlo—a moniker that served as the inspiration for their collection’s name—the designers come from very different backgrounds and have their own personal styles. Papay, the bohemian of the pair, worked as a stylist for Calvin Klein and now lives in a California suburb. Palomo is from one of Central America’s largest shoemaking families, lives in the heart of San Francisco and favors more urban and androgynous looks. “Our personal lives are so different. We spend our free time doing different things, so to bring these differences to one design studio is pretty insightful,” Palomo explains. Differences aside, Papay says it’s uncanny how many styles and concepts they each present that are similar. “This is when we move forward with an idea. And if there is something one of us feels strongly about, then we talk it through because the dichotomy of our individual styles is so important,” she explains. “It allows for our collection to be well-rounded.” —Angela Velasquez 60 • february 2012

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w h a t ’ s s e l li n g

r ed stat e vs. blu e stat e


Lisa for Donald J Pliner

Lubbock, TX

Beatrix Ong

Since opening its doors in 2007, Edon Manor has been the place to go in downtown Manhattan for fresh-from-the-runway finds and effortlessly cool British staples. Designed to resemble a style-savvy library, shelves are stuffed with an array of fashion-forward shoes, bags and sunglasses handpicked by owner Davinia Wang. With upscale labels like Alexander Wang, Givenchy, Chloé and Mechante of London, the shop’s overall aesthetic brings a distinctly English mood of charm, tradition and eccentricity to New York. Not surprisingly, her community of shoppers leans blue when it comes to party affiliation: “Our customer tends to be from the neighborhood or is European,” Wang says.”

What are your front-running brands this season? Tory Burch, Lisa for Donald J Pliner and Mephisto.

What are your front-running brands and styles this season? Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang and Azzedine Alaia.

What is your dark horse brand for 2012? Alberto Fermani from Italy. No one else in Lubbock carries the brand. What are your top-selling accessories? Tory Burch handbags and small leather goods have sold very well. Longchamp, particularly the Pliage, and several of its leather handbags have done well.

Calvin Klein Collection

Have there been any brands, trends or colors that have plummeted in the polls? Animal prints didn’t do as well as we had expected. Is there anything you’re nervous about this season? Pink handbags have never sold well and there are a lot of them around for Spring ’12. What do you feel is the biggest issue of this current presidential campaign? To get the economy back on track.

Alberto Fermani

New York, NY

For more than 60 years, Malouf’s has sourced quality merchandise from around the world for its customers residing deep in the heart of Texas. Once only catering to men, the store expanded its merchandise mix in the ’80s to include women’s fashion, and customers now range from high school students to older clientele. Stocking everything from Texas staples like Old Gringo to popular picks like Cole Haan, Mephisto, Ugg and Tory Burch, women’s shoe buyer Kelly Wimberly notes that riding boots are a perennial favorite among all ages. As for the political leanings of Malouf’s clientele, Wimberly says red is the primary color but, personally, she isn’t sold on the current crop of Republican hopefuls: “There’s nobody standing out for me.”

Best new candidate added to your store’s mix in the past year? Lisa for Donald J Pliner. Mephisto


Is your business better off than it was four years ago? I think the recession has declined a little bit from 2008, but we’ve stayed on trend. We’re probably up about 3 to 4 percent this year. Would a change in leadership be better or worse for Malouf’s? I think it would be better. The Democrats focus more on big government and taxes, and the Republicans are more into business, which helps the economy and opens up jobs.

Best new candidate added to your store’s mix in the past year? Balenciaga. What is your dark horse brand for 2012? We have a brand called Beatrix Ong from London, which isn’t carried anywhere else in New York. We love how quiet and classic her styles are. It has quickly become one of the most popular brands we carry. What are your top-selling accessories? Proenza Schouler PS1 bags, Balenciaga eyewear and Alaia clutches. What are your conservative customer’s favorite shoe brands? I think that they would tend to go with the classic styles that are practical yet elegant. Brands like Calvin Klein Collection and Chloé suit them the most, although certain collections from Balenciaga and Proenza Schouler have also offered many classic and timeless pieces. What are the liberal’s favorite shoe brands? Isabel Marant and Alexander Wang. These brands tend to have more casual, everyday styles with trendy and fashionable details. Have there been any brands, trends or colors that have plummeted in the polls? This season we had some Giambattista Valli velvet pumps that were not as successful as we had expected. A red velvet pump was something we thought was such a luxurious and sophisticated shoe, yet the response was not as positive as we had hoped. —Lyndsay McGregor

62 • february 2012

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Get to Germany!

TT Travel Inc. offers convenient hotel and travel arrangements. For details, call (866) 674-3476, fax (212) 674-3477 or e-mail More information is available at www. For additional show information, go to

GDS parties on with an after-show bash at The Attic.

GDS Top 10

Need a reason beyond seeing thousands of shoe styles—some of which could boost your bottom line next fall—to hop the pond to Germany? How about an exhibitor list unlike any in the States, a head start on the latest trends from Europe and the appeal of Düsseldorf itself, to name but a few. For those counting, here are 10 solid reasons to attend GDS this March.


The SHOW. “Inspiration to Go” is the GDS theme for its March edition. As the central meeting place for decision-makers from all over the world, GDS will display trends for the Fall/Winter ’12 season via booths, seminars, award ceremonies and fashion shows. Packaged together, it provides visitors with inspiring information in a fast, compact and to-the-point format.


The BRANDS. Clarks, G-Star, Farrutx, Bruno Premi, Palladium and Geox are just a few of the household names that will present at GDS. In addition, visitors will be able to draw from the inspiration of many newcomers, such as Jo Ghost, Kenzo, Paul & Joe/Berthier and Santoni Club/Vestitus in the exclusive White Cubes section of the show. Also, Ducanero (Upper Style section) and Benson Shoes and Via Roma (Superior section) will make their GDS debuts. The DESIGNERS. For the first time, fashion designer Michael Michalsky will present a collection at GDS. A host of designers like Miguel Vieira, who celebrated his debut at the September edition, will also be on hand.




The NUMBERS. The most recent edition of GDS saw 850 exhibitors from 40 countries showcasing their latest collections to 24,000 trade visitors from 77 countries. The layout included 11 themes, spanning from urban and high fashion to kids and wellness. In addition, there were 440 exhibitors at the adjacent Global Shoes, the leading trade show for sourcing. One in every three buyers stated that seeking new suppliers was their main focus, and 25 percent were especially interested in new products to broaden their existing ranges. The CATWALK. A total of four fashion shows will present the latest looks in the various product categories. GDS will open with the Upper Style Show, “The New New Look,” on the show’s first day, focusing on its creative fashion components alongside the latest footwear trends. Another highlight will be the debut staging of the Wellness Show, “Identity.”


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The SPECIAL EVENTS. In addition to fashion shows, seminars and trend lectures round out the program of events, allowing visitors to discuss developments in each category and prepare buys. On the seminar agenda is “High Heels: Sexy, Stylish but Nice,” as well as a talk about the Internet as an effective marketing tool.


The CIRCUS CHIKKI MIKKI. Take a trip to the big top in the “Design Attack” area of GDS, where visitors will find stylish collections from innovative newcomers. This edition’s theme is “Chikki Mikki,” the big fashion circus. Be it labels, designers or attractions, visitors can look forward to lifestyle products in a real circus atmosphere.



The PARTY. After the show winds down on Friday evening, one of Düsseldorf’s top clubs, The Attic, invites visitors to its rooftop, located in the city’s chic shopping mile on the Königsallee. The club’s cool beats and a stylish ambience are ideal for a get-together after a long day working the show floor.


The EUROPEAN SCENE. From Italian design and English craftsmanship to German quality, Europe is the center of quality shoe-making and the GDS show is its international marketplace. Moreover, many visitors from other locales have similar international flair to match.


The FASHION CITY. In Düsseldorf, fashion is in the air. Approximately 800 fashion showrooms, seven fashion and beauty trade shows and 1,400 fashion retailers make this city a fashion metropolis. The centerpiece is Germany’s most celebrated shopping mile, the Königsallee, where flashy designer stores rub shoulders with large shopping malls like Sevens, home to the specialist shoe store, Tott & Co. Other fashion hotspots like Jades and Punch & Judy offer incredible displays. For dining and drinks, Bar am Kaiserteich and the Bistro Victorian, as well as Trinkhalle and Alte Metzgerei in the trendy Flingern neighborhood, are worth a visit. Fashion hotspots in this area include Butik and Dear Sirs.

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The Gravis Blend A mix of skate, street and outdoor design creates a unique and enticing collection. WHEN YOUR BRAND is founded by snowboard legend Jake Burton, cold-weather shoes should be your bread and butter. And while the outdoors are still a part of Gravis’ design DNA, the company’s move to the West Coast from Vermont a few years back threw it full-speed into the skate realm. Today, Gravis creates laidback looks that encompass elements from skate, street and the outdoors. The versatile brand—also known for its bags and luggage—has become popular for playing both sides of the footwear game: performance and lifestyle. “We’re hard to define, and I think that’s one of the things that makes us interesting,” explains Kelly Kituka, design director. “We have the ability to do a lot of different things with our product because we’re not pigeon-holed. We’re in that middle zone of action sports and lifestyle shoes.” This flexibility makes Gravis popular in everything from mainstream lifestyle and sporting goods stores in Japan to action sports boutiques in Europe to hardcore skate shops in the U.S. Gravis comes alive in its Fall ’12 collection, which retails from $50 to $135. “You’ll see more variety in color, material, styles and silhouettes,” Kituka states. It’s led by the Quarters, a vulcanized chukka construction—and a key style in both the lifestyle and skate collections—that features a full-grain leather upper and is available in colors like wine red and dove gray. On the skate side, Gravis collaborated with skateboard brand Alien Workshop to produce the Quarters in scratch-off leather, causing the black leather to change to metallic silver as it gets worn through from use. For Gravis’ Expedition line, the brand is incorporating mountaineering-inspired looks, including the use of wool textiles, sherpa linings and waterproof suede. The brand is also continuing its foray into the higher-end market with the expansion of the premium Cordway Collective collection, starting at $100 suggested retail. Kituka points out that quality—above all else—is what Gravis is known for. “We put a lot into making sure that whatever we introduce to the marketplace will hold up,” he says. “We use the best techniques and materials and try not to just pump out shoes that will fall apart in six months.” —Mary Avant

Shear Ambition Koolaburra adjusts its pricing and introduces a waterproof collection to tempt customers. PROVING WHAT GOES around comes around, sheepskin boot brand Koolaburra hopes its latest pricing strategy will hit a sweet spot it can call home. Back in 2009 when the brand was looking to stand out in the crowded sheepskin boot market, Koolaburra stepped up its style quotient by adding a range of high-fashion silhouettes like wedges and heels and eye-catching embellishments like buckles, fringe and studs. By all measures, the effort was a success: The brand quickly became a celebrity favorite and even snagged coveted shelf space at upscale boutiques like Kitson and Madison’s. But with added fashion came added price. With a retail range from $250 to $500, the brand found it had priced itself out of the possibility of wider distribution. “We had a distribution strategy that focused on fashion-forward boutiques, but we didn’t offer a price range that was really accessible for the better footwear outlets,” explains CEO Jeff Rawlings. That’s why the brand has big plans for Fall ’12, including the introduction of more than 20 styles that retail for less than $250. Rawlings expects styles like the Brinley ($200 SRP), a hiker-style shearling boot with leather tassled laces and sweater trim, and the Emilee ($185 SRP), a classic ankle boot with a slouchy shearling cuff, to be big sellers for the brand’s new accounts. Koolaburra’s biggest news for fall, Rawlings says, is a waterproof classic collection, which he believes will serve as an entry point for the brand’s new footwear channel strategy. The collection’s range of classic shearling and faux-shearling boots feature a waterproof suede or PU-coated leather upper that prevents staining, as well as a waterproof barrier and molded rubber welt to prevent water absorption between the seams. “The chief complaint we get with our product is that if you wear sheepskin boots in the rain or snow, you probably only have one wear,” explains Kenneth Loo, the brand’s director of marketing. “We wanted to establish a product that would have more longevity.” —Audrey Goodson

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Between the Buttons Buttons reflect the charm of vintage styling, but these boots boast modern-day side zippers. By Angela Velasquez


Earthies platform heel bootie; Naot ankle boot; tall boot by Merrell.

2012 february • 65

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Happy Feet Dansko expands its men’s offering with a fresh take on a classic.

Shocking News Wolverine marks a milestone as its DuraShocks technology celebrates 20 years of punching the clock. WOLVERINE WILL FÊTE the 20th anniversary of its DuraShocks series with a new boot for Fall ’12. Pairing the brains and brawn of the original with recent technological advances, the brand continues its relentless commitment to making comfortable work and outdoor footwear. DuraShocks came into being based on Michigan State University Biomechanics research that showed how shock waves sent up the leg when weight is exerted on the heel and ball of the foot lead to fatigue. To combat this, Wolverine designed a patented outsole with two compression pads in the forefront and heel to absorb the shock and return the energy of each footstep. Since their inception 20 years ago, more than 25 million pairs of DuraShocks have been sold around the world. “If you go back to when the DuraShocks collection was first introduced, the premise was that a lot of people in the work industry were used to working in hard, board-y, uncomfortable footwear and it took a long time to break them into something they wanted to wear,” says John Estes, vice president of sales for Wolverine, a division of Wolverine World Wide. “In the ’90s, everyone had grown up in athletic footwear—wearing tennis shoes to school and such—so we wanted to come out with something that was easy to put on, more comfortable and more along the lines of an athletic shoe.” Dubbed “The World’s Most Comfortable Boots,” Wolverine even added a 30-day comfort guarantee, something that still applies today. “People look to us since we’ve come out with this shoe to be a leader in technology,” Estes says. “We haven’t just rested on Wolverine Durashocks. Every year or two, we come out with something new and more exciting.” While aesthetically the latest version is basically the same, with a fullgrain leather upper and a classic rubber lug design, the newly added combination of a Goodyear Welt and direct-attached construction—aided by an injected-molded TPU midsole that conforms to the foot over time—form a strong bond for increased flexibility and durability. The Foster is available in a six-inch, eight-inch and Wellington styles with an optional steel toe, and retails from $116 to $136. The brand will also mark the anniversary with a national contest: Launching this fall, the grand prize winner of the Wolverine Ultimate Big Game Party Sweepstakes will receive a trip for two to the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, along with a tailgate prize package. Additional details will be released later this year. —Lyndsay McGregor

WITH THE FALL ’12 launch of its Tacoma, a low-profile clog for men, Dansko aims to appeal to a more urban work force. And while it’s sure to be a hit with the usual comfort crowd, Creative Director Ann Dittrich expects it to round out the men’s assortment, as it’s polished enough for the office and comfortable enough for everyday wear. “We go back to our architecture when we start a new collection. We look at what’s been working for us in the past,” she reveals. The jumping-off point for the Tacoma was ’09’s Walden, a modern update to the classic clog style. Featuring a removable triple-density EVA insole that molds to better support the foot, reinforced by a tuckboard with a riveted metal shank, the Tacoma’s nonslip rubber bottom makes it an ideal shoe for occupations where floors may get slick, such as in restaurants and hospitals. To that end, a wipeable leather upper with Dansko’s twin gore comfort construction complete the style. It’s little wonder that healthcare professionals, teachers, service industry workers and others who spend the majority of their day in motion and on their feet are Dansko fanatics, Dittrich declares. “We find that they wear our shoes on the job and off the job—our customer is very loyal. Comfort is important to them,” she says, noting it’s a sentiment echoed throughout the collection. “The staple clog is our core business and all other men’s styles were built around that,” she adds, referring to the Walden and last year’s Presidio. “The Tacoma is the fourth piece of the pie.” Dansko’s core stapled collection continued to lead sales last year and Dittrich expects the Tacoma will help the West Grove, PA-based brand continue on its growth trajectory. Available in black box leather or oiled nubuck in black or brown, the Tacoma will retail for $120. —L.M.

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continued from page 25 definitely would not have been a good time when people were clinging to life rafts. But, with regard to our industry’s relatively affordable price points, if you can deliver interesting product, it’s always a pretty good time. It’s not like selling homes or cars. It’s something that makes you feel good. Even in the bad times, you can still do pretty well. Being able to hire people must feel good, right? Yes, I’m doing my part in that regard. My first hire was John Daher. We had worked together for nine years at Clarks. He’s just an astute product developer. He lives in shoes stores and always has. He grew up in retail and understands it so well. Overall, I have hired about 30 people.

Welted Wonder Keen redefines durability with heavy duty construction boot. KNOWN FOR ITS hybrid outdoor performance products and a signature bump-toe design, Keen is venturing further into the work category under its Utility label for Fall ’12, looking to redefine durability in a work boot with the introduction of a patent-pending welt construction in its Wenatchee boot. “Like all the products we design, we try to identify needs and problems our customers have in the field, and we look to our footwear to solve that problem or fill that need,” says Mark Cohen, field service rep for Keen. Traditional welted products can separate from the forefoot after repeated bending and flexing of the foot, thus wearing the welt stitch and pulling away from the shoe’s upper. Wenatchee’s welt construction is one continuous piece, protecting stitching and offering unbroken support. “The front portion of a work boot normally takes a ton of pounding and abuse, and typically the welt goes 360 degrees in the product,” Cohen explains. “With the Keen welt, it goes all the way around but dives underneath the toe. This allows for a seamless transition between the toecap and outsole, which makes for a much more durable and better bond.” Though the new welt design differs from Keen’s traditional products, the Wenatchee retains the comfort and performance features the brand is known for, Cohen maintains. Made with a waterproof nubuck leather upper and membrane, the boot offers breathable protection from the elements, while a contour heel lock, oil- and slip-resistant non-marking rubber outsole and asymmetrical steel toes add to the boot’s protection and functionality. “Different professions, like someone framing a house or working on a road crew, put different stresses on the product,” he says, and for that reason various workers have put each style to the test well in advance of the shoe hitting shelves. The Wenatchee will retail from $190 (plain toe) to $200 (steel toe). “These guys are on their feet up to 12 hours per day and footwear is just as important as a hammer or tool,” Cohen says. “You have to look at your footwear that way, and we do.” —L.M.

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Are you picking an all-star team? Definitely. They are great people. I often said that I make my living in the shoe business, but my life is about team building. My goal is to make Drydock a place where people really want to come to work, a place where people get the involvement that they want out of their jobs and the commission they deserve. I want people to do the jobs that I hired them for. Everyone needs room to breathe. I’ve also hired salespeople that have never sold before. They were tech reps that are young and possess great enthusiasm. I believe they have all the makings to be spectacular salespeople, but I wanted to train them. Overall, the team is the most important aspect. We are not looking for stars; we are looking for people that play well with others. How has your job changed from your previous one? I’m in the details now. I’ve always been, basically, a line builder, merchandiser and marketer. Along those lines, my second big hire was Sue Dooley as director of marketing. She worked for me years ago at Clarks and most recently worked at Airstream, which is a very cool brand. What advantages does being involved in the details provide? Without sounding arrogant, I want these brands to reflect what our team and I have learned over the years. There is a great deal of ownership in them for me. So being in the details has given me the opportunity to really live and feel it, and make decisions with John and Susan on how these brands will come across. I enjoy being involved in the creative side of this business. When you are running a really big business, as much as you might like to do the creative aspects, you just keep getting pushed up. The launch of Drydock sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Yes. To do it all from a white piece of paper and then to be able to take it into new directions by filling in slots with interesting product lines—you don’t often get to do that. Well, a launch of this magnitude won’t come from a 30-year-old. No. You would be so small and probably using your own money that most likely you wouldn’t get to second base. Oftentimes, there are people with good ideas but they don’t have the wherewithal to get the products made. Making this number of prototypes is a very expensive endeavor. A huge business like New Balance allows us to be more adventurous and try some new things. Think about what a retailer gets from us when we enter the room: Product from people who have been developing some of the best products in America for decades. And they are connecting with two people who have never let them down before. On top of that, they are getting the engine of New Balance to make it happen—the financial security of knowing the product will be made in the best factories and will be delivered on time. Beyond that, as a retailer, if you have one great brand, don’t you want two? Especially if it’s unique and it has as many good items as your other strong brand. What’s the harm in adding another brand— >70

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SPECIAL REPORT continued from page 18 increased and will likely double within the next five years. “Some of our factories have moved from the coastline to further inland,” confirms Avi Ben-Zikry, co-founder of Spring Footwear, makers of Spring Step and Fly Flot. Matt Dragos, president of Rialto, says the brand started to move out of the Guangdong province about three years ago. “We are now producing footwear in several provinces in China and continue to look at new locations where we can establish the same strong partnerships,” he says, noting the majority of the brand’s product is now made outside of Guangdong province. Gary Champion, president of Earth, says the company has already moved some of its factories further north, with plans to move more in the future, and Romeo says Bearpaw is also looking to shift its remaining southern factories northward. Yet Autor at the NRF remains skeptical that the move inland will solve what woes the industry. “The problem is that it increases your transportation costs and you’re going to have a more difficult time getting the skilled workforce,” he says, adding that it often becomes cheaper at that point to simply pull up the stakes and manufacture in another country. And that’s, in fact, what some footwear brands are starting to do, says Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA). He reports that the number of pairs coming into the U.S. from China decreased from 2010 to 2011, while the number of pairs coming from Vietnam and Indonesia increased by more than 21 and 24 percent, respectively. “What we’re seeing is companies looking for countries that they may have sourced from before,” Priest says. Vietnam, he adds, may become a particularly popular manufacturing spot, pending the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a free-trade agreement between the U.S. and nine —Matt Priest, Pacific-rim nations that would eliminate import duties on footwear. In fact, in response to the shifting manufacturing scene, the FDRA is now offering educational clinics this year for manufacturers based in Indonesia and Vietnam. “We are educating factories that aren’t used to making footwear for the U.S. market on what the requirements are regulatory-wise and social compliance-wise, as well as about the expectation of customers here,” Priest explains. “We can’t control a lot of the cost variables, but we can make the transition easier for factories that aren’t used to working with U.S. customers.” Making that transition, leaders say, is one of the toughest—and most expensive—parts of producing in another country. “We’re going to start some production this fall in Cambodia,” notes Combs at Bogs. “We think it takes approximately six months for a factory to get up and running, so we’ll have them start small with the simplest shoes that are easiest to make.” That was the same tack German-brand Ara took when it opened factories in Ethiopia a year ago, says Tobias Zimmerer, CEO of Ara Shoes AG. Now its factories, located just outside of Addis Ababa, are producing 600 pairs of shoes a day from Ara’s regular collection. Zimmerer cites Ethiopia’s low labor costs and tanneries that produce “really good quality leather” as two of the country’s primary benefits. “We invested a lot of money in training people, and that is the biggest part when you start in a country like Ethiopia—they don’t have a lot of experience in shoe production. At the moment it has its challenges, but for the long-term, we think it will really be beneficial.”

Jordie Saliman, an international footwear business consultant, seconds Ethiopia’s potential as the next footwear and apparel manufacturing hotspot. “The average worker in Ethiopia makes $50 a month, while the average worker in China makes $350,” he notes, adding that the country enjoys duty-free shipping to the U.S. and is home to the largest cattle herd in Africa. “The World Bank and Asian markets are investing heavily—buying tanneries, building factories and building four-lane highways,” he adds, noting that there are 75 footwear factories in the pipeline for Ethiopia in the next five years. Yet even with countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Ethiopia poised to take a bigger piece of the world’s footwear manufacturing, an overwhelming portion of the pie still remains in China, which from October 2010 to October 2011 supplied the U.S. with almost 86 percent of its shoes, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. “The labor force is in China, and it’s still relatively inexpensive to make the shoes there,” Champion points out, adding, “I don’t see any big chunks going to any other countries, because they simply aren’t prepared to handle that shift.” And Romeo at Bearpaw notes that moving is often more trouble than it’s worth. “A lot of our materials are sheepskin and wool, which come from far north in China. If we move, we may save money on labor, but we just raised our logistic costs,” he notes. “And even if the other countries have the factories, do they have the tanneries to dye our sheepskin? That’s where it becomes difficult.” For Champion, the solution has simply been to base its operations—500 employees strong—in China. “That’s where we have our own tannery, development office, planners and quality control team. We’ve always had a strong base over there to watch over our president, FDRA business,” he says. Dragos at Rialto notes that maintaining those strong ties are key to keeping costs low. “Our biggest strength is our partnerships and relationships, both with our factories and with our customers,” he notes. “We’ve tried to minimize our pricing increases by stricter negotiations and by trying to meet all of the factory requirements. Factories trust us in China; we have an impeccable reputation of paying bills, and that partnership has helped us.” But even for companies like Rialto that are committed to staying in China for the short-term, Dragos notes that the ability to maneuver amidst crisis is crucial. “A two-ton truck driving down the road 60 or 70 miles an hour is hard to turn,” he points out. “We’re very lean and we keep it very entrepreneurial so we can adapt very quickly to the changing times. We know things aren’t going to be the same four or five years from now.” Saliman believes that means now is the time to start lining up sourcing alternatives. “People have to position themselves, build those relationships and get started,” he says. “You have to get in these countries now, because three years from now you won’t be able to get in.” In the meantime, as escalating costs out of China continue to ward off a price-conscious consumer, industry leaders agree that brands must be on-target style-wise and honest with their customers about price increases and shipping delays. “Communication is key. You must constantly stay in tune with them and tell them what’s going on,” Romeo maintains. “You have to be more relevant and more important to your customer than ever.” •

“What we’re seeing is companies looking for countries that they may have sourced from before.”

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Cocktail Party & Casino Night Sunday, February 19, 2012 | 6-9:30 pm COBB ENERGY PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE Round-trip shuttle service (two-minute ride) is available to and from the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Pick up and drop off at the East Parking Lot of the Cobb Galleria Centre. Featuring “Party On The Moon” Complimentary to all attendees Elaborate buffet & one complimentary drink per person Featuring Party On The Moon

Sunday, February 19, 2012 Breakfast 7:30 am Seminar from 8:00 - 9:00 am Renaissance Waverly Hotel Chancellor Room Presented by Ellen Campuzano $10 per person and the $10 will be refunded the day of the seminar. Space is limited, so please register early. Make checks payable to: Southeastern Shoe Travelers. Registration Deadline: January 13, 2012.

HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS Renaissance Waverly Hotel – $134 Please refer to The Atlanta Shoe Market. 888.391.8724 Embassy Suites Galleria – $109 single, $129 double. 770.984.9300 Atlanta Marriott Hotel NW – $95 single/double. 800.228.9290 Sheraton Suites – $98 single/double. 770.995.3900

AIRFARE SPECIAL RATE We have arranged a 10% discount on the lowest available AirTran Airways one-way fare. In order to receive this special rate, you must book your reservation by calling the EventSavers Desk at 866.683.8368. Please refer to: Event Code AMS12. Please call from 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday thru Friday.

CAR RENTAL To reserve a vehicle, contact Hertz at 800.654.2240 and refer to code CV #022Q5172


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FITZ RIDE Non-stop private car service between Renaissance Waverly Hotel/ Cobb Galleria Centre & Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport Must call for reservations; No time restrictions For reservations: By phone; 770-880-1757 / 888-348-9743, Ext. 709 By e-mail: Private car or SUV - $65 one way; Round Trip - $120 A & M LIMO & GALLERIA DIRECT Non-stop van service between the Renaissance Waverly Hotel/ Cobb Galleria Centre and the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Service from the airport every half hour from 7 am to 11 pm Service to airport every hour from 6 am to 6 pm $30* one way (advance reservations only); $50* round trip (advance reservations only). For Reservations: By phone: 770-955-4565 (Mon.-Fri, 8 am to 8 pm); By email: Online: *Prices subject to change

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continued from page 67 one offering sizes and widths that fit and look great? Retailers don’t get that kind of opportunity very often. How do you define comfort? It’s not just some open-cell foam footbed. It’s putting a lot of features together to create a whole system—one that allows freedom of movement for people on their feet a lot. For example, when you get off a plane and have to walk half a mile, you don’t want to be uncomfortable doing that. You also want to wear the same pair at work and then to dinner. For me, comfort is about being able to live a comfortable life in the clothes you wear. Yet it’s common to see women suffering for their footwear fashion. Those shoes may look good on the outside, but they are less expensive and poorly made. When you make legitimate comfort shoes, the price of poker goes way up. The lasts, insoles, outsoles—these systems are expensive and you need to have experienced people that understand how to engineer such product. There aren’t many companies that understand that process. That’s why I think that brand loyalty comes from wearing a truly comfortable product. You really make a lifelong friend if you put a product on someone’s foot and they say, “Wow, I can’t live without this, and it’s all I ever want to wear again.” When you find a shoe that allows you to be who you want to be on your feet all day, that’s life-changing. In a nutshell, you just described why legions of runners have been so loyal to New Balance. Exactly. Jim has always made sizes and widths and nobody else did that. And that’s another definition of comfort: Shoes fitting correctly. You can make the most comfortable shoe in the world, but if you don’t make it in

widths and someone has to buy a size up in an effort to get a little more room, they will lose all of the comfort in that construction. The fit and the comfort system have to work together to create a serious comfort shoe. And it has to look good. How did the first Drydock sales meeting go? It reminded me a lot of the early days for me—getting a great group of people together to go over great product. The excitement in the room was palpable. I got a barrage of emails in the following days about how excited everyone was. It was right back to blocking and tackling for me. Do you feel reborn in a way? Rejuvenated? Well, I never felt like I got old (laughs). But, yes, it has been a rejuvenating experience. That’s a good word for it. Actually it’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It put me out of my comfort zone. I started thinking about how to create again. What do you love most about your job now? What I love the most is the sense of creativity again—looking at everything fresh and building this team. I’m asked all sorts of questions now. I can concentrate on sales, marketing and product development again. Before, I had to be on a board and I had to worry more about things like how big the warehouse was, shipping concerns and financial matters. I had to be more of an “executive.” Of course, I have to know what’s going on in my business, but I have all of those people in place taking care of those matters. Do you consider yourself lucky? Very. I feel like this is a whole new lease on life. •

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continued from page 46 continued from page 43 business,” he says. “For us, I look from cradle to grave. We figure that every customer that walks through the door is a potential investment.”

HUMAN TOUCH Happy Cakes Bakeshop, Denver, CO THE BENEFITS OF going local may be the new black in terms of strategy, but that’s not to say that retailers should snub the online world completely. In fact, Happy Cakes Bakeshop in Denver began as an online operation and became so popular that a storefront quickly followed. Laura Reynolds (center), one of the gourmet cupcake business’ three partners, says, “Building a real relationship with customers in person equals a larger opportunity for new business—foot traffic in our neighborhood is great and we get lots of new customers making spontaneous purchases.” Reynolds notes that social media sites can open a lot of doors for traditional retailers, as well. “People love being part of our Facebook community and interacting with the brand,” she says. “You can offer them something of value. People are looking for that now in their purchases. They want to feel like they mean something; and that their business matters to the proprietors.” Reynolds adds, “I hate to say the ‘deal thing,’ but people are so into that now. Special rewards or deals for your customers can help foster loyalty.” As an example, she points to the deals Happy Cakes offers through its Facebook page and monthly newsletter. “We’ve also done six cupcakes for the price of three through Groupon and LivingSocial, and our existing customer base loves to get them,” she says. It’s that out-of-the-box mentality, Reynolds notes, which can lead to success, even for traditional stores. And while retailers big and small are facing many of the same challenges, the basic rules of originality, imagination and ingenuity still apply. In today’s retail arena, there are two clear ways to win: Excel within your store archetype or take a radical path by observing other retail formats and Delicious applying somedisplays of whatat HapCakes workspy well for have themsomething to your to tempt every tastebud. business. As Reynolds from Happy Cakes puts it: “It’s easier to keep customers than bring in new ones. But if Delicious displays at Happy you can keep your current Cakes have something to customers while bringing tempt every tastebud. in new ones, your business will absolutely succeed.” •

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actually banned by the NBA.) Meanwhile, Fila will follow on the heels of its successful natural-motion Skeletoes shoe with the lightweight, fused upper One on One Memory shoe for the “younger, fashionforward athlete that’s interested in game improvement and speed,” Epstein says. For Ektio, the fall collection will show off its patented ankle-stabilizing basketball shoes with a new stitchless, molded upper and enhanced inner-core technology to boost the wearer’s performance.

Gimme the Beat

The multimillion dollar athletic endorsement days of Air Jordan, The Answer (Allen Iverson), Shaq and Grandmama (Larry Johnson) may be long gone. Today’s heroes are more apt to be hip hop stars like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz and Nas—celebrities who have the greatest influence on a new generation of young adults. They’re not one dimensional—where an injury can instantly take them out of the spotlight—or possibly forced into retirement before the tender age of 30. Moreover, they’re not held up to the same role model standards as athletes. In fact, it might very well be a good thing, promotionally speaking, if they are (a little) bad. Swizz Beatz’ collaboration with Reebok, for example, helped re-launch the brand’s classic Kamikaze shoe, spiced up with a much slimmer and flashier design, with hues like neon green, pink and purple. West designs a series of Air Yeezy sneakers in collaboration with Nike, and Freshness’ Hwang even credits the rapper with setting the formfitting denim and hi-top sneakers trend. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve realized that music culture influences fashion more than athletics does,” confirms Reebok’s Krinksy, adding that hip hop’s dominance is a good thing for hoops shoes. “Basketball silhouettes are synonymous with hip hop culture.” Another reason for the shrinking importance placed on athlete hero shoes is that no one may ever match the icon status for which Jordan set the bar. As good as NBA stars Lebron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Paul may be, until they duplicate Jordan’s near-nightly highlight reel performances, as well as bring home six world championships, it all pales in comparison. “It was what Jordan did on the court in that shoe that made it so big,” Burn Rubber’s Coit says. “Lebron isn’t doing what Michael Jordan was doing, but it’s a new day and brands have to find a way to make the shoes relevant without players doing these phenomenal things.” However, athletes’ influence hasn’t evaporated entirely. Sneaker brands continue to rely on a new crop of endorsements each season. Under Armour, which jumped into the basketball market in 2010, recently signed LA Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan to a multiyear partnership, where he’ll join the ranks of other Under Armour up-andcoming stars like Brandon Jennings, Greivis Vasquez, Derrick Williams and Kemba Walker. “To a lot of consumers, athletic endorsements are still important,” declares Katz, whose Ektio line relies on former stars like the NY Knicks’ John Starks and Hall of Famer Rick Barry for endorsements. “It adds a certain degree of validity to a product.” No matter the approach—whether it’s breakthrough designs and signing the next heir-apparent to Jordan or reissuing classic styles from back in the day—brands are expecting to prosper from the category’s resurgence this year. “It’s going to be a growing part of our business,” Fila’s Epstein predicts, noting that basketball shoes will account for almost 20 percent of its total business. To that end, Finish Line already reported a 35 percent increase in third quarter sales, buoyed by consumer demand for basketball gear. In addition, many sneaker boutiques are projecting an upswing, too. Coit notes that although Nike’s Air Jordans are always a hit in the store, he’s seen an uptick in sales for several other sneaker brands, such as Adidas and Reebok, as well. “Basketball shoes have been doing great so far,” APL’s Goldston agrees, “and that will continue to be the trend.” •

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Hot Wheels Motorized skates put a new spin on getting from point A to B. FIRST CAME ROLLER skates, then came the Segway and then Heelys—the wheeled sneakers known currently as the scourge of mall security guards across the globe. Now, in modern man’s never-ending quest to do away with that pesky chore called walking, comes SpinKiX— motorized skates that promise to whiz wearers to their destination at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour. Scheduled to roll out next month, the battery-powered skates are controlled by a hand-held remote and can carry up to 180 pounds in weight. They can be strapped onto almost any pair of sneakers or flats, but don’t plan on making any long commutes: The battery lasts for only about three miles. That’s why SpinKiX creator and designer Peter Treadway surmises the ideal environment for his invention would be a college campus. “Kids have been rolling around on the wheeled shoes for a while now, and they’re starting to grow

up—and this is an opportunity to grow with them,” he explains. Treadway developed the wheeled wonders at the design consultancy firm where he works in Los Angeles. “It really started making sense here because I was trying to use the public transportation system, and it’s really spread out. There wasn’t anything solving the problem of how to get from your house to the train station,” he notes. The hardest part of designing the skates was striking a balance between form and function, says Treadway, who has been working on the prototype for five years. “The early versions were kind of clunky and looked very industrial. Along the way, I’ve had to build a few prototypes that really convey the idea as well as the functionality.” The final product seems to have hit the mark: Treadway posted an appeal for money to manufacture the skates on project-funding website Kickstarter and met his $25,000 goal

within five days. “Getting there on a shoestring budget—no pun intended—was really hard to do,” he notes. Currently, he’s raised more than $58,000, and with additional orders rolling in from overseas distributors, he anticipates making far more than his original 1,000 pair estimate. The ultimate success of Treadway’s design is up to consumers, but with a $649 price tag, the skates probably won’t pick up mass appeal. Not to mention, safety concerns could prevent less adventurous shoppers from strapping on a pair. To compensate, Treadway notes that he scaled back the skates’ top speed. “We had some versions that went faster, but interestingly enough, we’ve kind of had to engineer it down for safety reasons.” He also added stoppers— which speed demons will be happy to learn are removable. But Treadway cautions: “You’re going to have to compensate for irregularities on the road.” —Audrey Goodson

72 • february 2012

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don’t forget to take them off!

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