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Atlanta Shoe Show – Atlanta, GA February 18-20 June 13-15 August 17-19 December 5-7

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Chicago Shoe Expo – Chicago, IL January 17-18 March 1-2

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Dallas Apparel and Accessories Market – Shoe Expo – Dallas, TX January 26-29 August 16-17

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Kentucky Shoe Show – Lexington, KY March 11-12 September 9-10

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Michigan Shoe Show – Livonia, MI February 26-27 August 26-27 Mid-Atlantic Shoe Show – Philadelphia, PA March 11-12 August 27-28 New England Shoe Expo – Manchester, NH February 26-28 September 9-11

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Northwest Shoe Show – Minneapolis, MN January 13-15 March 9-11 September 7-9

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NW Market Show – Tigard, OR March 3-5

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Southwest Shoe Expo – Dallas, TX March 22-25 October 15-16

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TRU Show – San Francisco, CA February 26-27

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ĆŤĆŤĆŤ ĆŤÄ&#x2018;ĆŤ ĆŤÄ&#x201A;Ä&#x20AC;Ä Ä&#x201A;ĆŤÄ&#x2018;ĆŤÄ¸Ä Ä&#x20AC;Ä&#x2039;Ä&#x20AC;Ä&#x20AC;

The

Boot Issue

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WINTER IS CALLING. GEAR UP.

CONQUER ANY CONDITION WITH CONFIDENCE. Wolverine Gauge – Velocity Series. The trails are harsh. The winds are fierce. The Wolverine Velocity Series boots gear you up for Mother Nature’s harshest conditions. Featuring a V-Frame exoskeleton designed for enhanced comfort, stability and durability, this is the relentless cold-weather boot built for frozen terrain.

FOP_COV2 COV2

www.wolverine.com

12/22/11 8:20:10 AM


SEE THE BØRN FALL 2012 COLLECTIONS AT OR | SALT PALACE CONVENTION CENTER, AND AT FFANY | NEW YORK SHOWROOM | 1441 BROADWAY | 14TH FLOOR | NEW YORK, NY

FOP_1 1 !""#$%&'( )&*+&', -./-01*22 /

12/21/11 10:22:22 AM /-3/43// /5.657- 89


march 14 -16, 2012 d端sseldorf, germany www.gds-online.com

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register online & t! get a free eTicke

12/21/11 10:22:30 AM


THE OUTDOORS IS CALLING

SEE THE NEW OUTDOOR COLLECTION FEATURING OUTDOOR RETAILER BOOTH 35197

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TECHNOLOGY

12/21/11 10:22:34 AM


2011 PLUS AWARDS EXCELLENCE IN DESIGN

Congratulations Nominees! RUNNING FBrooks FAsics FSaucony FNew Balance

RAIN BOOTS FHunter FChooka FBogs FSperry

WORK FWolverine FRocky FDansko FTimberland Pro

ATHLETIC LIFESTYLE FKeds FAdidas FConverse FVans

MEN’S DRESS FFlorsheim by Duckie Brown FCole Haan FJohn Varvatos FTo Boot New York

OUTDOOR FMerrell FSorel FTeva FSanuk

MEN’S COMFORT FEcco FClarks FCushe FRockport

WOMEN’S DRESS FTory Burch FL.A.M.B. FMichael Kors FMarc Jacobs

MEN’S STREET FWolverine 1,000 Mile FSperry FAbington FVintage

WOMEN’S COMFORT FDansko FEarthies FNaot FGentle Souls

CHILDREN’S FPrimigi FCrocs FSkechers FNative

WOMEN’S STREET FToms FJeffery Campbell FMinnetonka FJessica Simpson

BOOTS FFrye FUgg Australia FFiorentini + Baker FBorn

PRE-WALKERS FLivie & Luca FPediped FSee Kai Run FTrimfoot

WELLNESS FMBT FAlegria FFitFlop FAetrex

CORPORATE GOODWILL FDansko FKenneth Cole FNine West FNew Balance FTimberland BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE (Write-in only) ___________ BEST NEW LAUNCH (Write-in only) ___________ BRAND OF THE YEAR FToms FUgg Australia FVibram FiveFingers FNike COMPANY OF THE YEAR FVF Corporation FDeckers Outdoor FWolverine World Wide

WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED AT THE FFANY INDUSTRY COCKTAIL PARTY ON FEBRUARY 2.

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ALWAYS INNOVATIVE NOW OUTDOORSY

SEE THE NEW OUTDOOR COLLECTION AT OUTDOOR RETAILER BOOTH 35197

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JANUARY 2012

16 Encore Performance

Despite a warm fall, boot sales weathered the storm, setting the stage for another solid season. By Audrey Goodson

18 Q&A: Cougar

Steve Sedlbauer, president of Cougar Footwear, discusses his plan to build the brand into an upscale lifestyle staple. By Greg Dutter

Caroline Diaco Publisher Greg Dutter Editorial Director Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors

24 Trend Spotting

From tough biker and rugged western styles to comfy knits and rich shades of plum, the Fall’ ’12 boots preview offers an array of classic options. By Angela Velasquez

34 Rock Steady

Fashion meets function as outdoor brands up the style quotient and the category’s sales continue to climb. By Mary Avant

44 Umber Waves

A crop of leather styles embrace a timeless shade in men’s boots. By Angela Velasquez

46 Going Native

EDITORIAL Angela Velasquez Fashion Editor Audrey Goodson Mary Avant Lyndsay McGregor Associate Editors Michel Onofrio Style Director Laurie Guptill Production Manager Kathy Passero Editor at Large Tim Jones Senior Designer

Southwestern flair spices up fall boots. By Angela Velasquez

ADMINISTRATION

8 Publisher’s Note

Melanie Prescott Circulation Manager

10 Editor’s Note 12 This Just In 14 Scene & Heard 37 What’s Selling 56 Shoe Salon 62 Kids

This page, from left: Rebels short cowboy boot; Minnetonka bootie; knit boot with back lacing by Keds. On the cover: Vogue platform boot. Vintage dress by Jordache, vintage Wrangler hat. Photography by Cleo Sullivan. Styling by Michel Onofrio.

Model: Katya Lokshina/Fusion Model Management

63 Street 64 Last Word

Alexandra Marinacci Operations Manager

Julie Gibson 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@ 9Threads.com Circulation 21 Highland Circle Needham, MA 02494 Tel: (800) 964-5150 Fax: (781) 453-9389 circulation@9Threads.com

PA G E

46

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 #1 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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publisher’s note icing on the cake 7

Sweet Dreams Have you noticed them lately? They seem to be everywhere. Often you can smell one before you even see it. And many times you can spot one by the line of customers stretching outside the door. Can you guess what they are yet? I’m referring to the boutique cupcake craze. Shops have been rising up in malls, along main streets and on big city avenues across the country. In fact, just within striking distance of my Manhattan apartment, there are six cupcake boutiques, and the fast-growing Crumbs chain (16 outlets in New York City alone) recently opened up a franchise in the former home of an independent shoe store on the Upper West Side. Of course, I was initially saddened by the switch, as every retailer adds another bump when it comes to selling more of our industry’s great products. While mostly abstaining from the lure of these tasty shops, I got to thinking about what this phenomenon might signify on a macro level—specifically, how the cupcake craze could actually be a good sign for the shoe business. After all, a cupcake, at its core, is a want-based purchase. No one on earth really needs one, especially considering its nutritious attributes (nil) and the caloric bomb (500plus, in some instances!) it can set off. Similarly, the majority of Americans don’t necessarily need another pair of shoes. But history proves that women, in particular, want to buy new shoes—many pairs of them in all shapes, colors, styles and materials. It doesn’t take much of a leap to see how plenty of women view a shoe store as another sort of sweet shop, with the delicacies displayed attractively on store shelves. In addition, comfortable seating beckons and often customers are waited on hand and foot. What’s not to like? Beyond these similarities, perhaps the cupcake craze reflects a consumer desire to feel good again. After two-plus scary years of foregoing all sorts of discretionary purchases, buying cupcakes represents a backlash to such austerity. It’s one of the theories experts have floated as to why, despite a still shaky economy, consumers shopped with more gusto this past holiday season. It’s a simple case of “Enough, already! I’m going to treat myself to that damn cupcake.” I believe this sort of consumer sentiment bodes very well for the our industry. Shoes are also a relatively affordable indulgence—sans the calories. What’s more, a new pair of shoes can make you feel great and look terrific, and they last a whole lot longer than the fleeting sweet ecstasy of a cupcake. A new pair of shoes has got a cupcake beat, hands down! So here’s to a happy and prosperous New Year. May you reap the added benefits of consumers indulging in more want-driven purchases. After several long years of self-imposed fasting, may the shoe be on the other foot for a change. Caroline Diaco, Publisher

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S S E C C U S R O F S S E R D

Calais isticated than h p o s l, Carme ections o classic more dress coll . Grow t a fi o S ave o go endy m From tr ine Bristol, we h . More places t want fro s t r r in e o f m m e m o f t o and r cus sko c me Dan yles you ever. Sa ess with the st sin your bu they love. d n the bra

Contact your sales rep today! Dansko is a registered trademark of Dansko, LLC. Š 2011 Dansko, LLC.

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THIS JUST IN

John Medeiros Jr., 26 Profession: Makeup Artist Hometown: Brooklyn, NY, via Cape Cod, MA Coat by: Black Rivet Shoes by: Vans Where did you purchase the coat? I bought it at a sample sale in Midtown Manhattan when I worked in corporate fashion. What shoes go best with a military-inspired coat? Dr. Martens or Vans. What does wearing this coat say about you style-wise? I like militaryinspired coats because they’re classic, tough, masculine and sharp. This particular one is also a throwback to Judd Nelson’s “criminal” character in “The Breakfast Club.” What is the best feature about your coat? All the pockets and the length.

We Salute You

Military-inspired coats and jackets have been called into active duty to combat winter’s chill. By Melodie Jeng

12 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2012

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www.ara-shoes.net

I want fun. Not wet feet.

Gloria 43499-81

Shoe fashion that fits me. ara North America 路 12 W. 57th Street, suite 1001 路 New York, NY 10019 路 877.272.7463 FOP_13 13 !"!#$%%&'()*+#,-,.,,/0122 ,

12/21/11 10:23:47 AM ,-/,./,, ,3455


¡+¢ scene and heard Dirt Drivers Start your engines: Work and outdoor footwear brand Georgia Boot will host a national sweepstakes to coincide with its sponsorship of dirt racing teams Clint Bowyer Racing and Elite Racing this year. The contest ties to the launch of its new Diamond Trax collection, and consumers and retail associates will have the chance to win an all-expenses-paid VIP trip to one race at World of Outlaws, Lucas Oil Late Model and NASCAR Spring Cup. Dubbed “America’s Hardest Working Boot,” it’s only fitting that the label has linked itself to two teams known for their strength and resilience. Between the two, Georgia Boot will have a presence at 130 races and be the primary sponsor of 52. “We’ve attended several races over the past few years and the number of people wearing well-worn work boots is typically about 80 to 90 percent. That is no exaggeration,” says Jordan Gottke, marketing manager for the division of Rocky Brands. “Since we are a work boot company, it makes perfect sense for us to be at these venues.” Typically, on any given night at a dirt track, Gottke estimates there are about 7,000 fans. “We have an opportunity to reach these people at an extremely intimate level,” he adds. And Gottke knows that many racing fans are more likely to buy a product that sponsors their sport or driver. “We’re trying to get out in front of these fans and show them just how good our boots are,” he adds. “We hope that as they get more familiar with our brand, they will become more inclined to try on a pair and see just how good they feel.” —Lyndsay McGregor

Worldly Balance New Balance introduces a fresh model to its catalog for spring—the ML581, which hits shelves this month with a four-piece collection in neverbefore-seen colorways cooked up in collaboration with select sneaker boutiques around the globe. The four retailers included in the series are Bodega (Boston), 24 Kilates (Barcelona), Kasina (Seoul), and Mita (Tokyo), with each unique design influenced by the style and culture of the shops’ respective regions. Bodega was inspired by the bold and vibrant color palette of ’90s ski jackets; the colors used in 24 Kilates are reminiscent of the natural textures and surroundings found along the Spanish coast; Kasina pays homage to the simple elegance of Seoul’s fashion; and Mita embodies pristine, white symbols of Japanese culture. The stylish sneakers are made tough with an upper from the brand’s 574 runner, says Luis Navarro, product manager of New Balance Lifestyle. “We took a deep dive into what makes our outdoor trail product so reliable and dependable under the toughest conditions, and we pulled some of those features, like the rubberized toe, into our 581,” he notes. “We then added a booty construction to the upper, which gives the consumer a sock-like feel. Lastly, we added a trailinspired outsole with a lower profile height than our acclaimed MT580 or MT575, while still providing the cushioning and support needed to take on any urban weather conditions.” Priced at $110, the collaboration drops this month and will be available for a limited time at each of the respective four boutiques and Barneys New York. —L.M.

Belk Makover a Good Step When department store chain Belk surveyed shoppers prior to its overall redesign, it discovered two things: that 89 percent of its customers are women, and they all love shoes. At a time when retailers in general are looking for ways to reach a more targeted audience, information like this was invaluable. So when the Charlotte, NC-based company began its $70 million rebranding initiative and re-launched its e-commerce site, its shoe department received the biggest overhaul in store and online. “From the research, we found out that our customer goes to shoes first. She looks at the assortment, she thinks about buying women’s shoes first. That was a wake-up call,” says John Belk, the company’s COO. “Shoes are playing an increasingly important role at Belk,” agrees Dave Neri, EVP GMM. In addition to allocating more space in stores for shoe departments and remodeling many to reflect the chain’s motto of ‘Modern.Southern. Style.,’ Belk has expanded its roster of brands. The store is taking a decidedly more fashionable approach to its merchandise mix by adding brands like Steve Madden, BCBG, Jessica Simpson and Sperry. The company is also expanding its private label, New Directions, to include shoes, and adding Via Veroli, a topline with an Italian flair. Investing at a time when everyone else is cutting back has paid off: Neri reveals that www.belk.com is now the company’s largest selling door for shoes. —L.M.

14 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2012

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SPECIAL REPORT

Encore Performance

NANCY SINATRA’S INFAMOUS boots may have been made for walking, but were they made for walking on slick city streets during a blizzard, with plenty of style and comfort to spare? If not, today’s picky shoppers will most likely take a pass—demanding their boots look stylish as well as stand up to whatever Mother Nature dishes out. Wisely, boot manufacturers are not relying solely on the unpredictability of when—or even if—cold and snowy weather may hit to trigger boot sales, keeping customers happy by offering a combination of style and performance—including features like waterproofing and insulation. The proof is in the category’s continued strong sales: Despite fall’s uncooperatively pleasant weather east of the Mississippi River, boot sales increased by more than 10 percent from November 2010 to October 2011, says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, a consumer market research firm that tracks the footwear industry. And Cohen doesn’t see the category’s trajectory slowing anytime soon, predicting that the momentum will continue in 2012. “Boots have become more diverse,” he notes. “There are specialty boots for rain and others for snow—and even others for show.” Functionality is a key selling point, offers Rich Bellas, co-owner of Van Boven Shoes in Ann Arbor, MI. “The thing that I’ve noticed most about boots is that people love the feel, look and the comfort of classic Uggs, but they also want it to climb mountains and wade through streams,” he notes, adding, “People want soup to nuts in their shoes.” That’s why Jill Hathaway, owner of J Hathaway Shoe Boutique in Leawood, KS, says Aquatalia boots have been one of her bestsellers of late—despite the luxury price tag—since the brand’s waterproof boots hit the mark in terms of style, comfort and practicality. Aiming to capitalize on the growing number of customers seeking boots that seamlessly blend function and style, Rob Rask, managing director of Ara Shoes North America, says the brand plans to launch a collection that melds the best of its fashion and performance categories for next fall. “We’re mixing and matching the function of cold-weather hiking boots with fashionable, more pointy-toed, more feminine-heeled boots,” he says. It’s a combination that customers are willing to pay for, says Scott Starbuck,

owner of City Soles in Chicago. “They see more value in it,” he notes, adding that his shoppers frequently spend $300 or $400 on boots that offer a high level of quality and versatility. “They get more bang for their buck—not only in the leather and the materials, but they know they are going to get a lot more wear out of it.” And for budget-conscious consumers in a stillrecovering economy, value and versatility are big selling points. Sue Marfino, owner of Shoefly in Buffalo, NY, says that while she’s seen a slowdown in sales of weather-proof styles this fall (the snow capital of America had no snow on the ground the week before Christmas), her boot sales have continued apace—fueled largely by an emphasis on boots as a fashion item and a greater array of styles on the market. “It was kind of a weird season because it seemed like everything was appropriate, and it seemed like people wanted something they didn’t already have,” she observes. For Marfino, that meant a sharp upshoot in shoppers seeking ankle-length silhouettes, which she attributes in part to the style’s more affordable price tag. “It’s not as scary as buying a $200 riding boot,” she points out. Not to mention, ankle boots fit almost every woman with no problem, adds Hathaway. “People are seeing that the ankle boot is a better trend for them as far as wearability, because it makes every calf look feminine, no matter if you’re a size 2 or 22. It’s so beautiful and slimming,” she says, noting that sales of ankle boots have been outpacing her other styles by a margin of 2 to 1. The style, she adds, has also allowed her to expand her hosiery >57

Illustration by Nancy Campbell

Despite unseasonably warm weather that made sales more challenging, manufacturers are setting the stage for another blockbuster boot season next fall with added styles and features. By Audrey Goodson

16 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2012

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A NEW BREED

O&A

Led by the successful relaunch of the iconic Pillow Boot, Steve Sedlbauer, president of Cougar Footwear, discusses how the classic cold-weather boot company’s rebirth into a stylish, upscale lifestyle brand is heating up. By Greg Dutter

THE R EBR A NDING, R EPOSITIONING and rebir th of Cougar Footwear is a story of survival, perseverance and risk-taking, not to mention a little soul-searching mixed in for inspirational icing. The main character, Steven Sedlbauer, is a second-generation shoe executive who, early on in our tale, comes to terms with what he truly loves doing more than anything else: designing and selling shoes under the company name his family founded in 1948 in Burlington, Ontario. He is committed to keeping that dream alive, and the story that follows—of how he is doing just that— is both a lesson in business acumen and personal salvation. We pick up the tale in 1996 when Sedlbauer and his brother Ron, a former NHL star and 40-goal scorer one season with the Vancouver Canucks, take the plunge and buy the Cougar trademark out of bankruptcy. Their father, Walter, had passed away two years prior, around the same time as the Canadian-based manufacturing model was struggling with rising labor costs. At first the brothers decided to stick with the game plan they knew, finding a new Canadian manufacturing partner, which enabled the duo to keep the brand in the market—never missing a season, in fact. But

they soon came to realize that it was a losing battle. “It just wasn’t meant to be,” Sedlbauer says. “There were just too many limitations and we were running into the same labor cost issues as before.” It was during those difficult days that Sedlbauer did plenty of soulsearching. “I can remember sitting in my basement one night thinking about what I would do if I wasn’t in the shoe business. Nothing else really came up,” he confesses. “This is what I really wanted to do, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” Sedlbauer set upon a course to make that career affirmation a reality. He and his brother had already made the first step by acquiring the Cougar brand name, which owned decades of name recognition. Cougar also had a fashion ace in its catalog—the Pillow Boot, a winter style introduced in the ’70s that became all the rage when its trademark red tongue was worn flipped out. The brand, overall, had good bones, so Sedlbauer decided to go with the flow and move production to Asia and, at the same time, launch a private label business. “It required very little additional investment and allowed us to get at a whole other market with products that we designed and sourced,” he says of the latter decision. Business for Cougar soon became sustainable. Along the way, the company also developed a niche: “We were growing based on new designs we introduced each season,” says Sedlbauer, who doubles his duties as Cougar’s lead designer. “Our new products were bringing buyers into our showrooms—a case of, ‘Let’s go see Cougar because they’ve always got something new.’” It was an item-driven growth stream that eventually reached a saturation point. Along the way, the brand became less disciplined in terms of what styles would sell, which resulted in Cougar lacking a clear identity. To get to the next level, Sedlbauer knew Cougar had to become a brand first and foremost. “We needed to develop a retail distribution where stores represent the brand as opposed to a specific style,” he says. “It’s more about their overall assortment of Cougar and creating a brand presentation in the store.” That’s when our story—in 2009, to be exact—takes a dramatic turn as Sedlbauer opts for a full-on overhaul of Cougar into a lifestyle brand. “It started by creating a fresh new voice for Cougar,” Sedlbauer offers. To get that voice heard, Sedlbauer contacted the Blammo ad agency, which it had worked with 25 years earlier on its Pillow Boot campaign, for recommendations of smaller agencies, but the owner jumped at the chance to re-introduce the new Cougar. “They understood our situation in terms of driving the business by new styles and getting a new brand identity introduced,” Sedlbauer says. “They developed a new logo and messaging. They were quick to point us in the right direction and get us on that road to reconnecting with consumers.” A key component of this reconnection has involved the use of the web. It’s

18 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2012

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O&A a process that Sedlbauer notes has been quick, focused, quantifiable and affordable (especially compared to the national TV campaigns it ran in years past). “If you go back two years ago, we didn’t even have a website,” he says. “Our web traffic is up tenfold over last year.” Blammo created the Cougar site so consumers could learn about what products it made and then, through innovative contests, drove traffic to it. The first contest asked, “What would you do to win a free pair of Pillow Boots?” People from all over North America wrote back with a range of zany suggestions. Cougar then sent out a video crew to film the best ones and posted the results on its website and Facebook page. It was a tremendous success—Sedlbauer reports an estimated 30,000 visits to view the first video. “It involved a woman who said she was afraid of heights but said she would go ziplining,” he says. “She was scared to death but was a great sport, and she got a free pair of Pillow Boots.” Sedlbauer adds that the contests were produced in partnership with LiveDress.com, an online fashion magazine, which posted the videos on its site for added exposure. “Overall, it’s been a great tool and it has allowed us to be very focused,” Sedlbauer says. “The contests, in particular, exposed another group of consumers to Cougar—people who may never have heard of us before.” This brings us to the current chapter in the Cougar story about a company that is driving steadily toward a more upscale, brand-driven lifestyle image. But unlike most stories, Sedlbauer has no ending planned anytime soon: “We are still evolving to where we want to be,” he says. “In two years we expect to complete this transition to one that is also more of a year-round representation.” Sedlbauer adds, “We are heading in the right direction and I’m confident we will get there.” What is the biggest difference between the new and old Cougar? The new Cougar is much more focused and thought-through in terms of our target consumer and what the brand represents at retail. But it’s not a one-season changeover, because we can’t just walk away from our current customers, who make up a great deal of our volume. Also, we are still pioneering new distribution,

with many retailers testing us out, and that business doesn’t come overnight either. It’s a big undertaking and that’s why we believe it’s going to take another two years to really get the brand where we want it to be.

not about selling the most shoes as quickly as possible anymore; it’s about being true to the new strategy and making sure we don’t put our old thinking caps on and get overly concerned with units and volume. We’ve got to get to a new place and then the growth will come.

What’s been the biggest challenge the company has faced during this whole process? The hardest aspect has been that we are not going to grow our business a great deal until

Was there really an alternative? The alternative would have been to pare the product down and focus on a price-point business. Personally, that’s not a fun business to be in and it’s also very volatile, especially with the uncertainty of sourcing in China today. Actually, the whole issue of selling at higher price points What is your top New assistant who could read gives us latitude on where we manuYear’s resolution? To my mind. facture. It may not just be out of Italy, spend more time at home. where we produced the relaunch of our What is your motto? If Pillow Boot collection, and it may not be What are you reading? you stick with the herd, China going forward either. Cheap: The High Cost of you will end up the lamb Discount Culture by Ellen chop. What has been the biggest reaffirmaRuppel Shell. tion that repositioning was the right Who is your most course of action? What is your favorite coveted dinner guest? Despite the tough [warm and dry] fall movie of all time? My wife. we experienced in much of the U.S., we Anything with Samuel L. are still having respectable sell-through Jackson. What is your favorite at retail. The Pillow Boot, in particular, hometown memory? has been very successful. There’s been a What is inspiring you Christmas mornings lot of excitement around the relaunch. right now? Today’s street growing up in Burlington, I think almost every one of our retailfashions are inspirational Ontario, when one of my ers has re-upped for next fall. And we because it’s a mix of so parents would hold their will be expanding the line for Fall ’12, many different influences, hands over my eyes before including the launch of a men’s version, from designer to vintage. I could see the presents as well as a new construction in women’s It’s not the same as years under our tree. that’s a little younger and edgier. The ago, where an individual collection will also feature some new designer could have a Is there a perfect shoe? colors and materials. tremendous influence on The perfect shoe would overall trends. only come in black and What is it about the new Pillow Boot you could only order it that has clicked at retail? If you could hire anyone, from my showroom in The last is elongated and sleek, which is who would it be? A great Hawaii. very fashion-forward for a winter boot. The old model was a wedge, whereas this is a cup sole so the profile is lower to the ground. The gist is it’s a vintage we fully make this transition. You don’t come boot relaunched in a modern twist. I use the out with $200 boots and everybody just buys as analogy of the Austin Mini Cooper, where the many as they did of the less expensive boots we new version is very cool in that the design heriused to make. We’ve got to prove to our retailers tage is present but it’s not like they just made that it’s going to work. We’ve got to have some the old car again. Similarly, the iconic aspects of success, which leads to more success and our the Pillow boot—the red lining and tan leather business grows. So sticking to our guns and uppers—are there. I also believe the consumer getting through this patch has been the toughloves the quality and the fact that it’s made in est part. The challenge has been internal as Italy. Along those lines, we made the packaging well: getting everybody to remember that it’s special. It includes a gold leaf embossed on the

OFF THE CUFF

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box along with the Pillow Boot logo, which is separate from Cougar. And, unlike our regular packaging that comes in green plaid tissue, this comes in gold. The box also includes a Pillow Boot look book and, in the limitededition boxes, a certificate of authenticity.

Any more contests in the works? Not necessarily contests. We’re doing some brainstorming right now and haven’t nailed it down just yet, but we are certainly thinking outside of the box.

Any special make-ups in the works with regard to the Pillow Boot? Yes. When you get involved in the social media aspects of marketing, you find people are really into special make-ups. They want something that nobody else has. It’s like a game for them to try and find it, be the first to have it and then tell all of their friends about it.

In what ways has social media been more effective than, say, a TV campaign? I believe you get a much more focused audience. They are on your site or Facebook page because there’s an interest, as opposed to running a TV ad, where millions might see it but only a small segment may have a genuine interest and will follow up on the message. Social media is more targeted and measurable. Our objective was to drive traffic to our website to create awareness of our products, and we can measure that every week. Geographically, we know where they are coming from as well as if they are repeat visitors and how much time they are spending on our site. For example, there are a number of visitors that spend 30 seconds, and then there are plenty that are on for five minutes. I believe those people are actually looking closely at the product. We can also see how people are coming to us, whether it’s from LiveDress.com, from general searches or via Facebook. You get a lot of great information about where you are having market penetration and then can decide where to go nationally.

Could this repositioning process be as effective without the power of social media? That’s hard to imagine. Every day the segment of the population not into social media gets smaller. And younger people, in particular, are coming online at an increasingly earlier age. It’s been a great tool, and it has allowed us to be very focused. The contests, in particular, were pretty innovative and successful. We are definitely looking at some more innovative ways to keep that conversation going and growing through social media. For example? Well, the second contest we ran asked people to show us their tongue because, back in the day, the Pillow Boot was worn with the red tongue hanging out. People sent in pictures that they also were instructed to post on their Facebook pages, and every time you do that a message automatically goes out notifying all of your friends that you have changed your photo. That multiplies nicely. Friends were encouraged to then vote for the best picture, and the person who received the most votes each week won a pair of boots.

Are you selling direct to consumers off your site? No. One of our main objectives has been to drive traffic to our retailers. We have a dealer locator on our website and visitors can also write to us with any requests; we have a department dedicated to tracking down the particular style and size and finding a retailer near them that has it in stock. We have two people that essentially drop everything whenever one of these

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calls come in. Back in the fall we were getting five to 10 emails a day and as many calls. We inform the particular retailer that someone may be coming in, to please hold the boots and, if they don’t come in, to let us know so we can follow up with the consumer. We checked recently to see how well we were converting the requests into actual sales and are quite pleased with the results. And this is as much about creating brand awareness among retailers as it is with consumers. We want to show the demand for Cougar.

introducing a lot more leather boot styles. Specifically, we have a whole package of deer-tan leather boots, which is also a throwback to the ’70s when a similar version was made by a lot of Canadian manufacturers. It’s cow leather that feels soft and supple like deerskin. It’s a whole collection of boots that sits just below the Pillow Boot in terms of price. But they are waterproof, too. When you touch these boots, you just want to buy them. They have sold well this fall.

In general, how receptive have retailers been to the new Cougar? The new retailers are more open to the fresh approach because they don’t have as many preconceived notions about the brand. Either they didn’t carry it or haven’t in a long time. And for those few retailers that had a certain perception, once they see our new products, I think their perception changes pretty quickly. We’ve also got a group of retailers where, of their mid-priced offerings, we were toward their lower end before the re-positioning and now are moving toward the higher end. Most of those retailers are pretty happy to be making that shift. They are trying to get away from that lower end of the price spectrum because they simply can’t afford it. They don’t want to compete with the mass merchants.

Who exactly is Cougar’s target customer? Primarily, it’s women. Specifically, it’s mothers buying shoes for their children or husbands, as well as shoes for themselves. Our customer is fashionable in that she doesn’t want her winter boot to be a commodity look. She’s looking for fashion, but she’s also looking for value—that it will service her needs by offering warmth and water resistance. But it’s not just a winter boot that sits in a closet until they need to wear it. We are not selling to teens whose parents provide the purchasing dollars. It’s another reason why value is important. In addition, we tend to keep our customer until a ripe age, mainly because a 50- to 60-year-old woman is much more fashionable today than 20 years ago.

What is the new price range at retail? We used to be more in the $80 to $120 and now it’s $140 to $200. This is more in line with the resurgence of independent retailers we have seen cropping up around the country. Consumers are looking for a point of difference as well as added service. And these retailers need to have a quality assortment that is different from everybody else’s. They are looking for new brands, specifically ones with a quality of distribution so they are not butting heads with some of the bigger chains. Along those lines, we are

In addition to changing fashion tastes, how else has this customer changed since your manufacturing-based days? The fashion component is definitely the most important. In addition, there are a lot of traditional design aspects to winter boots that have changed. We used to always sell a 9-inch boot better than a 6-inch one, which was considered too short for the snow. Now all of those weather-dictated rules are pretty much out the window, which has a lot to do with the changes in the weather. In addition, everybody now wants boots that are easy >61

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ACORN - 022 // Footwear Plus // Moxie Boot // 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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TREND SPOTTING

Fringe brings the wild to western-inspired boots. Clockwise from top: Mia tall boot; studded boot by Lovely People; Moon Boot by Tecnica; Ariat cowboy boot; men’s chukka by Minnetonka; Bernardo ankle bootie.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEAN POWELL

Jagged Edge

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Best Cellars Shades of wine ripen the autumn color palette. Clockwise from top left: Rockport wedge; Melissa rain boot; boat shoe-inspired boot by Ahnu; Gidigio leather pull-on boot.

2012 january â&#x20AC;˘ footwearplusmagazine.com 25

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TREND SPOTTING

Blue Ribbons

Equestrian boots with clean lines and chic hardware take first place. Clockwise from top: micro-wedge boot by Elaine Turner; Aetrex leather and sweater boot; rubber boot by Aigle; Ugg boot with heel hardware; boot with crest by Blondo; Le Chameau two-tone leather boot with buckles. 26 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;˘ january 2012

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OUR STYLISH 2012 COLLECTION AWAITS.

Come see our new collection for yourself. To find out more call 1 888 COUGAR-1 or visit us at cougarboots.com Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/cougarboots. Follow us on Twitter: @CougarBoots FFANY â&#x20AC;&#x201C; New York Hilton Hotel Room #1204

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TREND SPOTTING

Country Living A trove of studs and textures buck up western fashion.

Clockwise from top left: Gwyneth patent ankle boot; Dingo boot with appliqué; tall slouchy boot with studs by Cordani; Old Gringo studded ankle boot; cowboy boot by Durango; Spirit by Lucchese cut-out bootie. Center: short boot by Yellow Box.

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TREND SPOTTING

Nomadic Track Cozy up to traditional winter sweater prints.

Clockwise from top left: ankle boot by Izod; Khombu duck boot; Keds rubber boot; Cliffs by White Mountain wedge; buckle boot by Pazzo.

30 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;˘ january 2012

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Alesandra by Boutique 9

The industry’s best and most popular show. THE ATLANTA SHOE MARKET | FEBRUARY 18-20, 2012 COBB GALLERIA CENTRE & RENAISSANCE WAVERLY HOTEL atlantashoemarket.com

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TREND SPOTTING

Revved Up Biker boots take a fashionable turn with killer heels and hardware. Clockwise from left: Gwyneth convertible boot; slouchy boot by Spring Footwear; London Trash boot with metal heel; tall boot by Aquatalia; Calleen Cordero ankle boot; Vogue motocross-inspired boot with chunky heel. 32 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;˘ january 2012

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OUTDOOR PREVIEW : FALL ’12

ROCK

Despite tough economic obstacles, the outdoor category continues its consistent growth trajectory, delivering what consumers increasingly desire: versatile, minimal and fashionable shoes suitable for a rugged hike or a walk in the park. By Mary Avant

STEADY IF THERE’S ONE thing outdoor brands are bragging about of late, it’s their staying power. Despite a difficult economic environment, the outdoor market is robust all around: Category sales are up, the look is definitely in and, from a footwear-centric perspective, it is at the forefront of the minimalist revolution. Roll it all together and it appears it is all good in the great outdoors. “The expression that ‘outdoor weathers the economy’ is true,” says Tom Berry, vice president of sales, marketing and merchandising for Tecnica, adding there is little reason to fret over a slowdown. “The momentum we’ve seen will continue,” he predicts. “This segment has always done really well in terms of growth during tough economic times,” agrees Yahn Lebo, product line manager for Wolverine. “Consumers really appreciate that they can go to the outdoor segment and purchase shoes that are a little more timeless.” According to many top industry execs, the increasing popularity of the great outdoors itself is key to the category’s success at retail. People from all walks of life are spending more time outdoors because it serves as a relatively affordable vacation and an easy mental health getaway. Whether it’s going for a quick run on a local trail or a family hiking trip, consumers are rediscovering the benefits of simply being outside. “People understand now that the outdoors are something to be proud of and interested in,” says Craig Throne, vice president of global marketing for Merrell. In fact, outdoor activities and the lifestyle that follows have become the newest “it” trend. Specifically, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) reports retail sales of outdoor products for the nine-month fiscal period between February and October of 2011 rose 6.3 percent to $7.7 billion. In addition, OIA’s fifth annual Outdoor Recreation Participation study (involving an online survey of more than 40,000 Americans) reported that nearly 50 percent of all Americans ages six and older participated in outdoor recreation last year. That equates to almost 140 million people participating in 114 different outdoorrelated activities. Running, including trail running, ranked as the most popular activity with more than 50 million participants. “The outdoors have been becoming more acceptable over the last few years,” says Baffin President Paul Hubner. “People like to associate themselves with an outdoor attitude, and it’s attractive to a lot of people because it’s so accessible to go from the office to the outdoors.”

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To that end, Baffin is introducing the Mountain Rebel Series for men this fall—a hiker that can be sported everywhere from the Alaska Range to the city. “No longer is Baffin just Arctic-related,” Hubner says. “We have a broader range of products that can be worn in urban surroundings.”

FALL FAVES

Versatility rules the season.

READY FOR ANYTHING Whether it’s straight from the office to a weekend in the woods, consumers want a shoe that’s going to keep up with their on-the-go lifestyle and not hold them back or weigh them down. “You don’t have three pairs of shoes in your backpack. You have one and it has to work,” says Laura Young, head of women’s product design at Timberland. And if it doesn’t work, it’ll be left behind. “If the shoe doesn’t go with you, you’re not going to pull it out of the closet in the morning,” remarks Brian Moore, Timberland’s global vice president of men’s footwear. Along such lines, Timberland will introduce the après Camp Mock for fall. The shoe is made of collapsible nylon that is foldable to easily fit inside a backpack. “It’s like a sleeping bag for your feet,” Moore says. Consumers are also searching for an outdoor shoe that suits them in some unconventional adventures. “You have these creative, innovative, versatile, independent, slightly off-beat attitudes about athletics and sports and the footwear is mirroring that,” offers Brandan Hill, creative director for Chaco, a division of Wolverine World Wide. Some of the hot new activities include kayaking, backcountry camping, adventure racing and climbing, according to the OIA study. Such wild endeavors require shoes loaded with versatile performance features, be it warmth, waterproofing, traction or durability. Or, as Tecnica’s Berry aptly describes, shoes that are “SUVs for your feet.” At the same time, consumers are also looking for a shoe that is comfortable enough for a lazy day at home. And that’s as much about the need as it is the desire to look the part. “You see a lot of people who just want the outdoor look,” confirms Baffin’s Hubner.

FROM THE RUNWAY TO THE TRAIL With outdoor activities becoming increasingly popular with a broader slice of consumers, the category continues to evolve beyond its traditional earth-toned color palette and bulky silhouettes. Not afraid to push the fashion envelope, brands no longer shy away from embracing the latest colors and reinterpreting the modern silhouettes and stylish details found on the runway. It’s a natural progression, according to Wolverine’s Lebo: “Fashion brands are putting more comfort and functionality into products, and outdoor brands are bringing extra design and detail effort into their products,” he says. “The outdoor sector is taking a bolder move to fashion,” agrees Jacqueline van Dine, co-founder and brand manager of Ahnu, a division of Deckers Outdoor. “The outdoors have been brown for a long time, and it’s great to see the pops of color now.” Notes Brian Gothie, senior product manager for trail running and outdoor for New Balance: “Color has really been driving a lot of the decisions for the consumer. I think that will continue to trickle into outdoor.” In addition to color, several brands are bringing back heritage styles with a modern twist. Outsole maker Vibram USA reports several of its brand partners are going that route. “There’s a reinvention of authentic, vintage brands coming out with more fashionforward outdoor designs inspired by their heritage,” says Marketing Manager Georgia Shaw, adding that some of these heritage sole designs have been around for more than 50 years. “They’ve been used on some of the best hiking boots in the industry, and they’re being reinterpreted today in the fashion sphere.” Companies such as Sorel and Tecnica, which is re-launching its casual après boot for this fall, are taking this fashionable retro approach. “We’re tar-

TEVA: The Lift Collection (shoes named after famous ski lifts around the country) includes the Chair 5, a lightweight and easily packable men’s boot that fits closer to the foot, like a sneaker. With a removable insulation bootie that “feels like you’re wearing a sweater on your feet,” Product Manager Chris Hillyer says the shoe is like two products in one. The women’s Jordanelle, named for a ski lift at Utah’s Deer Valley, features an inner bootie covered in a lively plaid pattern. “Our challenge was to find something that was every bit as warm, but also had feminine details,” Hillyer explains.

WOLV ER INE: The Gauge, a hiker with 400 grams of insulation and TP toe cap technology, features a unique V-Frame construction—a TPU exoskeleton that provides abrasion resistance and durability. Also hitting shelves this fall is the Monsta, a men’s and women’s boot with a classic design and an aggressive winter outsole, as well as the Reyna, an easy onand-off tall boot with Wolverine’s customizable ICS gel inserts.

ECCO: The Biom Grip edges the brand’s way into the minimal hiking arena. The shoe features a low-profile, anatomic last and a liquid polyurethane-injected outsole to guarantee durability. The hiker is also made with super-soft yak leather and includes a 360-degree memory foam insole to ensure maximum comfort. On the women’s side, Ecco is introducing the Trace, a lifestyle-meets-outdoors boot with Gore-Tex and a wool lining, as well as bright pops of color on the outsole.

NEW BA L A NCE: The Minimus AMP 1010 is a non-traditional trail runner, according to Bryan Gothie, senior product manager. It’s an in-between shoe for runners who want a lighter shoe but aren’t prepared to dive full monty into the minimal movement. Sporting a Vibram outsole for a lightweight feel, the shoe features a Revlight midsole compound and comes in bright pops of color like electric yellow and neon orange.

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OUTDOOR PREVI EW : FALL ’12 geting what most women are looking for: to look beautiful while being warm and dry,” Tecnica’s Berry offers.

MINIMALISM IS BIG The outdoor category’s other big look for fall is a no-brainer: minimalism. “It’s hard to even call this a category anymore, as it is truly a movement that is affecting how everyone approaches product design in all categories,” says Sue-Harvey Brown, marketing manager for Patagonia. Even brands known for their more substantial constructions, like Baffin and Chaco, are turning to minimalism in some shape or form. “Consumers are more aware of their feet because of the barefoot push,” says Chaco’s Hill. “You’ll see a lot of brands dealing with that awareness, from performance to casual. That’s where we’re focusing our attention.” Chaco’s new collection of “skinny footwear”—a more visually lightweight, yet still durable, line—intends to satisfy the consumer’s demand for a simpler, everyday shoe. Notably, Hill says its men’s “Holt” style channels a Chuck Taylor-esque vibe, complete with a suede and synthetic canvas and rich color blocking for a street-savvy and outdoorfriendly silhouette. Minimalist category leader Vibram FiveFingers is offering greater cold-weather versatility with the debut of its Lontra model. The brand’s first ever winter-inspired runner features two layers—a microfleece bottom that offers breathable warmth and a top polyester laminate—with all seams sealed for maximum water-resistance. Similarly,

Merrell Barefoot’s Fall ’12 collection is about added functionality. The Tempo, a women’s water-repellant shoe, comes with a glove to protect the shoe’s exterior, and the crossover men’s Pulse Glove features more protection in the upper for improved cross-training and gym use. For VivoBarefoot, the focus is on even greater minimalism: The Aqua and Lucy Lite styles both feature Vivo’s thinnest sole to date—3 mm—and are reverse-engineered to sport a lighter, faster, more breathable mesh upper and maximum protection for gym and road running. The brand’s Neo Trail model features an off-road outsole that’s water resistant and includes multi-directional lugs for superior traction in extreme environments. “We’re seeing more consumers that are just curious about minimal shoes or taking preventative measures by trying out barefoot footwear,” says Michelle Hinsvark, U.S. marketing manager. “As we’ve been working diligently to create a range of products for different performance activities, there are more consumers willing to take a chance with a new type of footwear.” The continued push for minimal not only means a lighter-weight approach to shoes, but it also means cutting down the design to only what’s necessary across all outdoor categories. “I hear time and time again, don’t overbuild the product. And that’s how we’ve taken the approach to the outdoor market,” says Lebo of Wolverine. “We are making products that have what you need and no extra bells and whistles hanging off the side.” •

TIMBER L A ND: The Greylock is a classic leather hiker that features a TimberDry bootie for water resistance and an anti-fatigue insole to return energy to the foot. For women seeking an extreme-weather boot, Timberland debuts the Menden, a snow boot that’s lightweight and Polartechlined. It features “zoned protection,” meaning the tongue has more Primaloft insulation (600 grams) than the sides (400 grams), since more heat escapes from the top of the foot.

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BA FFIN: The Boston boot comes in ultra-lightweight nylon that’s both practical and fashionable with feminine details like a faux fur cuff. The boot includes an Ice Paw grip outsole and insulation to withstand cold as low as 20 degrees below zero.

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o u td o o r specialty GREAT OUTDOOR PROVISION CO. Raleigh, NC

With seven stores that average around 10,000 square feet in size, Great Outdoor Provision Co. has plenty of space to carry all of the products its customers desire, whether that’s a kayak or a pair of sturdy hiking boots. The chain turns 40 this year, and they’ll be celebrating in a fashion that best describes the company: Fun. “We’ve always believed if we’re not having fun, then we’re not doing it right,” says Travis Zarins, vice president of merchandising. “If a customer’s preparing for a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail or simply day hiking at a local park, we help them have fun on their journey.”

w h at ’s s e l l i n g

THE ALPINE SHOP St. Louis, MO

Founded in 1973, this mom and pop outdoor supplier has grown to three stores, all owned and operated by Holly and Lisa Hollenbeck, carrying everything from ski and snowboard equipment to bike and kayak goods. But no matter what their activity of choice, the store’s management, staff and customers are united by their passion for the great outdoors. “We all love to do things outside,” says Angie Bono, senior boot fitter and assistant footwear buyer. “You can call anyone you work with and say, ‘Do you want to go for a hike?’ It’s just really nice to share that with co-workers and customers.”

Top-selling brands and styles: Day hikers and casual styles are always strong for our shops. Merrell has been been a consistent top-performing brand, and Toms shoes, Ugg boots, OluKai sandals, Vibram FiveFingers and Brooks running shoes have all been strong in our market.

Top-selling brands: Merrell, Keen, Sorel, The North Face, Ugg and Vibram FiveFingers are all doing well.

What was the best-selling brand in 2011? Merrell. We carry lifestyle, technical and barefoot styles from them, and all have performed well this year.

What were the most popular colors this fall? The red, hawk and buff colors by Sorel have been doing really well. We did the sparkle Uggs and those sold out pretty quickly, too.

What were the most popular colors this fall? Brown still leads the way in men’s, but we’re seeing some nice movement in gray and black as well. We’ve seen women gravitate toward bright, bold colors, and reds have been particularly strong. Best new footwear brand added to the mix this year: We’ve added Oboz footwear to our technical selection and Stem footwear to our barefoot selection. Both have performed very well. Best-selling accessories in 2011: Smartwool socks were far and away our best-selling accessory; they make a great product. Superfeet insoles have also been strong. What is your fastest-growing customer segment? Although we reach a very broad customer base, young adults have been the fastest-growing segment. Brands like Toms and Vibram have introduced new customers to our shop. What was the biggest surprise—good or bad— related to your business last year? The fact that our footwear sales have remained very strong this past year was a bit of a surprise. It’s nice to have customers that continue to appreciate the service and quality product we offer. In what ways has your customer changed as a result of the economy? Our customer doesn’t mind purchasing a high-quality product that will last. They see the long-term value in good footwear.

Keen

What was the best-selling style in 2011? All of the Bailey Button products from Ugg have been really popular.

Best new footwear brand added to the mix this year: We didn’t really add to it, but we made a bigger commitment to Salomon. They’re very supportive of us, and we do well with their cycling and trail running series.

Ugg

Sorel

What are you looking to add more of in your footwear selection this year? We’re going to bump up our Sorel and winter boot offerings in general. We’ll probably do a little bit more with Keen—their winter footwear has been doing really well for us. Best-selling accessories in 2011: Hands down Superfeet and Smartwool socks. We do pretty much the entire Superfeet line, including all of the custom products available.

Toms

What was the biggest surprise—good or bad— related to your business last year? Our minimalist running shoes were selling spectacularly in 2010, but it’s kind of fading a bit now. The people who are buying them are the ones who are truly committed to the movement. In what ways has your customer changed as a result of the economy? They’re definitely spending less and trying to be thriftier. What is your top New Year’s resolution for your store? We want to drive each one of our brands to work with us to make everything as profitable as possible. —Mary Avant

Vibram

january 2012 • footwearplusmagazine.com 37

FW_01_Whats_Selling_01.indd 37

12/21/11 10:08 AM


Fall 2012 OUTDOOR PREVIEW

Rocky VivoBarefoot

Ahnu

Classic Rock

A RETURN TO TRIED-ANDTRUE SILHOUETTES MAKE THE HIKER A MUST-HAVE.

Timberland

Patagonia

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEAN POWELL

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12/22/11 2:41 PM


Fierce Furs

Ara

COUTURE MEETS COLD-WEATHER BOOTS, OFFERING WARMTH AND STYLE.

Bearpaw

Sorel

Wolverine

fw_01_12_outdoor_fashion_03.indd 39

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Fall 2012

Deft Punk

OUTDOOR PREVIEW

SNEAKER-LIKE BOOTS LEND STREET CRED TO NATURE LOVERS.

Ecco

Teva

Chaco

40 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2012

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Timberland

Teva

Salomon Saucony

Kamik

Columbia

Merrell

New Balance

Tecnica

Funky Feet PSYCHEDELIC HUES AND TRIPPY PRINTS ADD A DOSE OF FUN.

fw_01_12_outdoor_fashion_03.indd 41

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Fall 2012 OUTDOOR PREVIEW Wolverine

Baffin

Ahnu

Ecco

Tecnica

Breaking the Ice

WINTER-READY BOOTS MAKE A STATEMENT IN SHADES OF ICY GRAY.

fw_01_12_outdoor_fashion_03.indd 42

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Moody Blues HUES OF BLUE DRENCH THE SEASON’S HOTTEST TRAIL RUNNERS.

New Balance

Keen

Vibram FiveFingers

VivoBarefoot

january 2012 • footwearplusmagazine.com 43

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A consummate wardrobe staple for men of all ages, boots in rich shades of brown are refreshed for fall with an eclectic mix of textures and fine details. By Angela Velasquez

Umber Waves

Ugg

44 footwearplusmagazine.com â&#x20AC;˘ january 2012

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Helm Florsheim by Duckie Brown Durango

Blackstone

Rockport

GoLite

Evos Bespoken

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46

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY CLEO SULLIVAN STYLING BY MICHEL ONOFRIO This page: heeled boot by Calleen Cordero. Opposite page: Ralph Lauren shirt; vintage Wrangler leather hat.

47

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“A VERY GREAT VISION IS NEEDED, AND THE MAN WHO HAS IT MUST FOLLOW IT AS THE EAGLE SEEKS THE DEEPEST BLUE OF THE SKY.” CRAZY HORSE

This page: Pazzo buckle boot. Opposite page: Vintage Sergio Valente overalls. 48

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49

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This page: vintage Sasson overalls. Opposite page: studded boot by Spring Step. 50

fw_01_fashion_final.indd 50

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!"#$%&'()&' *+&',)+#&'-#$(' .)#/',011,)' *20,3#)&4 -$#'12)'2)+#15'$-' 12)',011,)'*20,3#)&' +#)'67#)8 12)#)-$#)4'12)' "#)+1'560#01'(+/' 52$%'1$'12)( (+&/'120&"5'%20*2' $,3)#'6)$6,)'(05589 :,+*;'),;

51

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TREAT THE EARTH WELL. IT WAS NOT GIVEN TO YOU BY YOUR PARENTS, IT WAS LOANED TO YOU BY YOUR CHILDREN. INDIAN PROVERB This page: short boot by Sendra. Opposite page: vintage Calvin Klein halter top, vintage YSL skirt.

53

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.â&#x20AC;? Crow f oot

54

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This page: vintage Lee mechanic overalls. Opposite page: Morenatom buckle boot. Fashion Editor: Angela Velasquez Makeup: Shawnelle Prestidge/Ray Brown Hair: Chuck Amos/Jump Management Model: Katya Lokshina/Fusion Model Management 55

fw_01_fashion_final.indd 55

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Wood Stock

After seasons of burnin’ rubber, designers go against the grain with wood-sole boots.

D E S I G N E R C H AT : JOSHUA BINGAMAN

Which footwear designers do you admire the most? Jil Sander, especially her women’s collection.

Clockwise from top left: Swedish Hasbeens ankle boot; lace-up boot by Cape Clogs; Dansko boot with studs; fringe boot by SoftWalk.

E D I T O R’ S PI CKS

I’m blown away by Wells Stellberger’s Heutchy line for men. He’s just started to pick up some press in the last quarter, but my hat goes off to that guy. He’s doing some amazing things. Who is the best-dressed man? Robert Downey Jr. always has a perfect head-to-toe look, no matter if he’s dressed up or wearing a T-shirt and jeans. He can balance a classic suit with a pair of sneakers and make it look good. Do you have plans to expand Helm into other categories? We offered belts and bags in our first two seasons and we’re offering some for spring. There’s also going to be a limitededition Helm scent. I’ve been working on it for the last 18 months. At first I thought I wanted to work with heavier scents, like leather and chocolate, but it’s evolved into a clean and classic year-round scent with a bit of citrus.

Which shoes in your closet are getting the most wear right now? My favorite Helm shoes are the Ray Ray and tall Samuel boot, which is my son’s name. To be honest, I have a ton of shoes, but I always go back to my blackon-black Frye engineer boots. My father wore them when he was in college. Where would you like to see Helm in five years? I hope the brand continues to grow, but I don’t want to take over the world. I want to work with retailers that truly love the business and their products. What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t designing shoes? I used to be in the music business and sometimes think I’d like to revisit that. And I love to write and compile literature. Writing is an art, just like shoemaking.

EDITOR’S PICKS PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEAN POWELL

WHAT DO YOU get when you mix coffee beans and men’s footwear designs? How about entrepreneur extraordinaire Joshua Bingaman, owner of Progress Coffee, a popular Austin, TX, hangout for the caffeinated crowd, and founder and designer of Helm, a men’s line of finely crafted leather shoes and boots. Bingaman splits his time between the two ventures, but admits serving up mouthwatering shoe designs is his primary love. His mother’s “Imelda Marcos syndrome” spurred his own fixation with shoes at an early age—boots in particular—but it wasn’t until Bingaman and his brother opened the trendy Subterranean Shoe Room in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2001 (since closed after the brothers relocated to Austin in 2003), that he first thought about designing his own collection. “I wanted a line of shoes that incorporated all of the attributes of my favorite shoes: lightweight, trendy, a good price point and a look that could skew dressy but be influenced by great hiker styles,” he explains. To do so, Bingaman calls upon the talent of artisans from across the world. He brews up designs in Austin, the shoes are handmade in Turkey, using leathers from Holland and Australia, and the soles are crafted in Italy and France. Previous seasons included oxfords, accessories and shoes sized down for women, but by zeroing in on men’s boots for Fall ’12 Bingaman sees the Helm brand coming into its own. “We’re releasing a redux of our most popular tall boots, tweaking them a bit with fun textures, new shades of brown and black, and adding denim straps and inlays,” he says. “Fall will be a rebirth of the originals.” —Angela Velasquez

56 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2012

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%" #"&# '$ #& &"'(''((  ((''((!!'$''%& '(

Illustration by Nancy Campbell

continued from 16 and socks selection, since the boots pair so well with legwear. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a good look for everybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and everybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s already got the classic equestrian boot,â&#x20AC;? she says. Yet, even traditional knee-high styles kept ringing the register this year, says John Heron, general manager for Born, a division of H.H. Brown. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sales of classic riding boots with unique leather details were as good as theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve ever been,â&#x20AC;? he says. Despite fears that the long shelf life of timeless styles would keep customers from picking up another pair this year, Heron notes â&#x20AC;&#x153;just the normal, old causal flat boot was awesome for us.â&#x20AC;? Cohen at the NPD Group attributes this to the year-round fashion status boots have acquired. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Styles have become longer-lasting, which creates replenishment,â&#x20AC;? he notes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Think of the shearling boots that get worn by younger wearers almost year-round. That means more replenishment to replace their worn ones.â&#x20AC;? The only exception to the anything-goes theory for boots, it seems, are the thigh-high and dressy styles that blew out in previous seasons. Marfino, for example, says she simply chose to forego selling boots with high heels this season after running into delivery problems. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t had a lot of people ask for them,â&#x20AC;? she points out, adding, â&#x20AC;&#x153;There definitely has not been a demand.â&#x20AC;? James Matush, general manager at Resricted, notes the company cut a lot of its dress styles from the line for Fall â&#x20AC;&#x2122;12. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still going to offer a heeled boot because thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a base out there for it; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just not as prevalent as it was before.â&#x20AC;? For now, casual boots and styling look to be king. Bellas of Van Boven Shoes says his college-aged shoppers from the nearby University of Michigan love any shoe silhouette, from sneakers to clogs to boots, so long as itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lined in shearling. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Anytime people can take that real soft, casual, indoor feel outside, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to do,â&#x20AC;? he notes, pointing to the ongoing success of Ugg. While sales of classic Uggs have slowed at the store, the brand has â&#x20AC;&#x153;come out with so many models that fill that void,â&#x20AC;? Bellas notes. The seasonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relatively strong boot sales even weathered the gloomy economyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a trend that should bode well for exhibitors at the recent FFANY show that offered a cornucopia of eclectic boot styles, from classic equestrian and western looks to tough combat hikers and motocross-inspired quilting. Manufacturers seem to be hedging their bets that the boot market will continue on its sales run. Be them short, tall, rugged or fashionable styles, consumers will continue to pick up something new boot-wise next year. As for an overarching theme for Fall â&#x20AC;&#x2122;12, â&#x20AC;&#x153;itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be cowboys and Indians,â&#x20AC;? predicts Lovely People President Kenny Robinson, who notes that the brand has several fringe-style boots and a turquoise cowboy boot in store for the upcoming season. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you study the boot business throughout the last 30 years, when cowboy boots are hot, Indian, fringe and moccasins follow it.â&#x20AC;? Next yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relaxed, Southwestern-flavored vibe all goes back, says Starbuck, to a customer desire for casual comfort. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think paramount across the board, comfort is important,â&#x20AC;? he points out. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not a dowdy, walking-store type of comfort, but the idea that it should be built into every shoe nowadays.â&#x20AC;? John Heron at Born agrees, but adds a caveat. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got to deliver the value, the comfort and the fit all at the same time, but if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the style, you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get to that next level,â&#x20AC;? he notes. After all, discerning shoppers want boots made for walkingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and being seenâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and â&#x20AC;&#x153;having good-looking compelling product is where it starts,â&#x20AC;? Heron notes. Of course, a little cooperation from Mother Nature would be icing on the boot categoryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cake. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The past two seasons [with record snowfalls along the heavily populated East Coast] brought fabulous boots sales,â&#x20AC;? confirms Araâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rask. To that end, he remains ever-hopeful that the cold will inevitably kick in: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We still think the cold is going to come, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in good shape to get it to people when it does,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;˘

FP_01_12_specialReport_01.indd 57

TwoTen Scholarships Funded solely by the footwear industry, TwoTen Footwear Foundation is committed to strengthening the shoe community with financial relief, scholarships, counseling support and information and referral services to shoepeople in need. After more than 70 years, TwoTen still provides a safety net for individuals and families throughout our industry who are facing great challenges. TwoTen continues to mirror the current pace of the footwear industry it serves, with nimble and compassionate responsiveness to calls for help. â&#x2013;  Since 1969, TwoTen has awarded $16 million to 7,000 students from the footwear industry â&#x2013;  Annually, 450 students attend college with support from Two Ten Scholarships â&#x2013;  Scholarships are available to footwear employees or their dependents â&#x2013;  Scholarships are renewable for up to four years of study â&#x2013;  Applicants or their parents must have 2 yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; employment in the footwear industry (1,000 hours over 2 years) â&#x2013;  Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen â&#x2013;  Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited two- or four-year college, university, vocationaltechnical school or nursing school â&#x2013;  Applicants are evaluated on financial need, academic performance and personal promise

The online application will be available on November 29 Web: http://twoten.org/what-we-do/scholarships.aspx Email: contactus@applyists.com Phone: (855) 670-ISTS

12/22/11 2:40 PM


SHOWCASE FALL ’ 1 2

Fashion meets function in this easy-to-walk-in wedge sole and waterproof suede bootie with leather detailing, soft faux fur collar and inside zipper that screams city-chic. Visit Cougar at FFANY and Platform.

www.cougarboots.com

Since its creation, Yaleet (distributor of Naot Footwear) has been guided by two basic principles: offering solutions and promising trust. Our superbly crafted products demonstrate our response to the compelling need for healthy, comfortable and fashionable footwear. At the same time, our unfailing commitment to integrity makes quality customer service our very highest priority.

www.naot.com

Aetrex styles range from fashionable heels with extraordinary support to colorful stretch Berries Boots with advanced waterproofing technology to insulate and keep feet warm and dry, all crafted with care to meet the highest standards in design. Check out our broad selection at Outdoor Retailer and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

www.aetrex.com

Dansko continues to deliver comfortable classics, expanding our core and adding three new collections for fall: Geneva, a contemporary collection with a soft dual-density footbed and versatile styling options; Calais, a luxe casual-dress collection featuring flexible construction and a thick, shock-absorbing footbed; and Sofia, a 2.5-inch heel that captures the comfort and spirit of Rio in two new distinct looks.

www.dansko.com

Since Wolverine introduced

For Fall/Winter ’12, Ara

DuraShocks 20 years ago,

updates its Gore-Tex range by

more than 25 million pairs

adding color and patterns to

have been sold around

stretch material uppers and

the world. The Foster

expands its ankle boots with

DuraShocks for Fall ’12

new constructions that mix

is an updated take on the

function and style for a fresh

boot’s classic design: A

take on outdoor footwear.

lightweight PU DuraShocks

www.ara-shoes.com

outsole, a traditional full-grain unlined leather upper, a Goodyear Welt and direct-attach construction all make for a durable and comfortable work boot.

www.wolverine.com

fw_01_guidetrev.indd 58

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exciting Fall ’12 collection! Beautiful fabrics, unique designs and spicy colors are integrated with the highest-quality leathers to create stunning footwear. Pictured: A one-of-a-kind “Tapestry” boot, from the Picante Collection, combines woven fabric over soft, luxurious leather.

www.springfootwear.com

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Bearpaw is redefining casual footwear and focusing on creating comfortable and stylish shoes for women, men and children, and carving out a niche area by providing consumers with comfort and sensibility to set it apart.

SHOWCASE FALL ’ 1 2

Everyone is talking about Spring Step’s

www.bearpawshoes.com

Earth is a modern collection of dress casual footwear, grounded in the ideals of promoting a healthy lifestyle while offering an expansive assortment of trendright styles that deliver Chooka introduces its new line of lightweight neoprene footwear in colorful prints and feminine silhouettes. Comfort is not lost with these minimalist skimmers. Instead, flexibility is maintained while adding a spark to your look. With Chooka, fashion meets function.

www.chookaboot.com

remarkably against their value. Earth believes that a commitment to wellness is no more complicated than stepping into the right pair of stylish and comfortable shoes.

www.earthfootwear.com

Acorn’s commitment to comfort is at the forefront of each collection, while new

Something rather unexpected

designs incorporate the

happened when wellness and

latest lifestyle influences,

fashion came together: A whole new

consumer input and, as

kind of women’s footwear was born.

always, the very best quality.

Every style in the Earthies collection

From the original Slipper

is thoughtfully designed to deliver

Sock to technologically

high style without compromising

advanced indoor/outdoor

comfort. Cupped heels, graduated

foowear, Acorn now offers

arch support and cradled footbeds

consumers an expansive and

are all part of the healthy promise.

varied collection of indoor and outdoor footwear

www.earthiesusa.com

appropriate for all seasons.

www.acorn.com 59

fw_01_guidetrev.indd 59

12/23/11 8:24 AM


SHOWCASE FALL ’ 1 2

Alegria has become a place where happiness meets wellness, focusing on affordable fashion-

Your junior fire chief is sure to be seen with the new Western Chief Kids’

forward styling to enhance your

illuminated raincoat and

mood. Our unique patented

reflective rain boots. LED

rocker outsole and footbed

lights are embedded in

delivers full-body benefits by

the front and back of the

minimizing stress on muscles, joints and backs for all day energy.

www.alegriashoes.com

coat paired with reflective elements on the boot. Western Chief Kids wearers will have a big smile as they safely walk about town. You will too.

www.westernchief.com

Welcome to the season of “Nature’s Symphony” from Børn Handcrafted Footwear. The Fall ’12 looks are richly styled and artistically detailed using impeccable leathers in natural colors inspired by the earth’s forest palette. From elegant, sensible flats, to a stunning collection of boots in every height, Børn delivers a season its devoted consumer will truly celebrate.

www.bornshoes.com Inspired by the famous Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy, after which the brand is named, Rialto represents a combination of architectural beauty and innovative design. A division of White Mountain Footwear, look for value, design, quality and fashion in every pair of Rialto shoes.

www.whitemt.com Primigi’s Fall ’12 line from infant to tweens now features Gore-Tex, an extensive gold standard waterproof collection styled for all winter occasions and activities. Stop by and see us at Outdoor Retailer, ENK Children’s Club, KSA, FN Platform and The Children���s Great Event.

www.primigi.it

Blossom Footwear has built a successful lifestyle brand, “De Blossom Collection,” consisting of multiple high-fashion styles for women. From trendy street looks to dressy styles, the collection includes platforms, wedges, sandals, special occasion evening shoes, flats, boots and many more. The glamour and sensuality of today’s fashion trends inspires us. Visit us at WSA, Footstep, SMOTA, Dallas Market and Metropolitan Shoe Market.

www.blossomfootwear.com

fw_01_guidetrev.indd 60

12/23/11 8:25 AM


continued from 23

Clarks takes its heritage of authenticity and innovation into the outdoors with a new collection for active, casual men and women. Made with the premium materials and durable craftsmanship that’s been the symbol of Clarks for 185 years, the collection brings uncompromised comfort, protection and style to the outdoors.

www.clarks.com

Fly Flot’s long history of superior flexibility, softness and quality merges with state-of-the-art technology and innovative fashion to achieve perfection in comfort footwear. Fly Flot’s “Four Points of Comfort” provide increasing

on and off. They don’t want to bend over to tie laces. Any lace-up option often now includes a zipper running up the side and the laces are just an ornament. How have the changes in climate affected your business? It has led to increased success with more fashionable product that is not as chunky in appearance as a traditional winter boot. Consumers will buy those more fashionable silhouettes because they can wear it regardless of whether it’s cold and snowy. But they have the comfort of knowing that if the weather turns, they will be prepared. Having said that, when you are in a seasonal business you have to run it in a way you can thrive with or without the weather. We don’t necessarily need to have a long, cold winter in order to have success as much as we need an early snow. That drives regular-priced sales in the early season and then retailers fill-in. But you’ve got to look at that as the bonus and be able to run your business purely on placing orders in the preseason. Fortunately, we have had some good repeats on our lighter styles, so it hasn’t been all doom and gloom this past fall. Is this one of the factors behind Cougar’s new spring collection? First, it’s just good to have a year-round business—it’s better for the cash flow and keeping the brand more visible in the marketplace. This is our first spring line we’ve done in four years. With the re-introduction of our deer-tan leather boots collection, we believe this material will carry well in select styles, which includes a sneaker, a sandal, a moccasin and a rain shoe. The collection retails between $100 to $140. We are going to deliver about a dozen styles, and we’ve just got to let the product speak for itself.

comfort: The longer you own them, the more they adjust to the way you walk, the way you stand and the way you live.

www.flyflotshoes.com

Originally designed 40 years ago by Danish yoga instructor Anne Kalso, the Kalso Earth Shoe was founded on the principles of everyday, whole body wellness. Featuring a 3.7 degree negative heel based on yoga’s Mountain pose, the shoe’s design mimics walking barefoot in the sand by naturally positioning the body over the frame, and its construction is said to relieve joint stress, distribute weight evenly and improve posture.

www.kalsoearthshoes.com

fw_01_guidetrev.indd 61

What is your No. 1 priority for this year? I don’t have sales projections that involve a great deal of growth just yet. Rather, there are specific retailers that we want to get onboard and others we want to add to their current assortment of Cougar. We are measuring our success more in terms of quality of accounts as well as making sure the ones we do have are fully serviced and satisfied. Along those lines, I’m confident that most of the retailers who added us to their mix this year will grow their Cougar business next season. What do you love most about your job? I love working with the product. I’m really drawn to that aspect, where every day is a new day. I see an idea and get inspired, and then I’m off trying to design the next big shoe. The influences and inspirations come from all over. Right now, there’s such a strong mix of vintage and retro stylings going on. It’s basically coming out of the library in the form of old magazines and catalogs. In fact, I’ve got a stack of mail order catalogs from the ’70s that I often go to for inspiration of late. Our deertan leather collection is a perfect example of this vintage trend. It’s a throwback to our Canadian heritage, and the product just has a great hand-feel and transcends tremendous value. Who knows? It just might be the next big shoe. What’s the most exciting aspect about going to work at the new Cougar? There’s just a newness about the company that’s fun. Specifically, from a product development standpoint, it’s more enjoyable and a little easier because we can do more. As we move into higher price points and work more with leathers, there’s more latitude in terms of getting creative. And we can afford to put more into the product. It’s just more enjoyable all around. I guess you could say that I love the smell of leather (laughs). •

12/23/11 8:25 AM


ATHLETIC COMFORT WORK KIDS OUTDOOR STREET

Mini-Me’s Sorel’s Fall ’12 collection has kids looking just like mom and dad. WHETHER THEY’RE HITTING the ski slopes, making snow angels in the backyard or just heading to the local playground, children are free to cut capers in Sorel’s Fall ’12 collection. The brand, known for its traditional men’s and women’s snow boots, has been prominent in the kids’ market since the turn of the century. But this fall, Sorel will be adding another player to its kids’ lineup: lifestyle boots that are equipped for both a day at the neighborhood park and a weekend in the great outdoors. “Our 2012 youth line is all about protection for your toes, function and stylish looks for girls and boys,” says Erin Sander, product line manager for Sorel. The big four for Fall ’12 include the Tofino, a girls’ boot with a water-resistant upper featuring a faux fur cuff; the Chipahko Felt, a relaxed, deconstructed girls’ look that’s “like a little blanket for your feet;” the Tivoli, an old favorite in the kids’ collection that offers a shearling liner and pops of colors like purple and orange; and the boys’ Cheyenne Lace, a waterproof “barn-boot look” that comes with loads of insulation for little feet. These key styles—which retail from $50 to $110 and range in size from toddler 4 to youth 7—are mini-versions of Sorel’s already-popular adult boots. “Little girls, and even boys, really want to dress like their mom or dad or big sister,” Sander explains, and Sorel’s youth line lets them do just that, all while being kid-friendly, fit-appropriate and on-trend for children. “We’ve heard feedback from retailers and consumers that these four styles are so cute,” Sander says. “The styling works really well to take down to kids.” Also adopted from the adult line are Sorel’s premium materials, something Sander says is unique in the industry. The brand uses many of the same high-quality leathers, suedes and hardware in the kids’ line, but adapts the materials to a child’s foot and fashion-sense. As for continuing the mini-me trend, Sander sees no reason to stop at just four styles. “We’re going to continue to focus on this for future seasons,” she says. “It’s just fun to see what can be taken down to kids in a premium, lifestyle way, while still offering Sorel’s great protection.” —Mary Avant

Little Explorers Palladium: The new kids’ boot on the block. ICONIC BOOT BRAND Palladium knows that grown-ups shouldn’t get to have all the fun. Based on the success of a small range of kids’ canvas boots introduced last year, the brand is launching a scaled-down version of its full adult collection available beginning Fall ’12. Like the originals, which were first made in 1947 for the French Foreign Legion, the miniature styles feature a thick, sturdy rubber sole that can handle whatever mischief kids get into. Unlike the originals, Palladium has added some updates, like more luxurious materials and revamped silhouettes. Even with these changes, the shoes are as hardwearing as ever and made to handle the rough and tumble life of kids, says Barney Waters, vice president of marketing for the brand, based in Westlake Village, CA. “Palladium has a background in proven functionality and we’ve got a modern reputation for being relevant and stylish: Style and function go together,” Waters says. “Our boot has the classic Palladium outsole with the rubber tab that lends itself perfectly to kids, and with a rubber toe bumper and sole, it’s absolutely ideal.” The Blanc Collection, a sporty spin on the brand’s classic silhouette, has colorful uppers and a white outsole. Shoelaces can be tricky things for little fingers to manage, so a double-zipper entry on the waterproof Pampa Gusset boot makes life easier for all. The Pilot Collection, inspired by aviator bomber jackets, is lined with shearling and features antique cracked leather uppers. The Baggy hi-top has a fold-over plaid lining, and for added warmth, the leather version is lined with wool from toe to heel. The kids’ collection is backed by a full-fledged promotional campaign, including mini-versions of the brand’s signature ‘rubble bin’ displays, containing real concrete rubble, to showcase the collection in stores. “I think it was just a natural evolution of the growth of the brand,” says Waters. “Once your adult line starts to take hold, the next thing is to start expanding, and kids is the next place to go, especially if you have a toe bumper and a tough rubber bottom: It’s durable, it lasts.” And if that’s not enough, an affordable price point is another reason Waters expects the boots to become a firm favorite of parents’ pockets: Styles start at just $35 for suggested retail and come in infant size 0 to kids’ size 7. —Lyndsay McGregor

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ATHLETIC

Tatted Up

COMFORT OUTDOOR

Reality TV star and ink artist Kat Von D launches an eponymous footwear collection. WHILE HER NAME may have made headlines most recently for her on-again, off-again relationship with Jesse James (Sandra Bullock’s infamous reality TV star ex-husband), devotees of the TLC Show LA Ink know that Kat Von D’s true claim to fame lies in her impressive abilities as one of the world’s best-known tattoo artists. So when the opportunity arose to create a clothing and footwear line, the ink impresario felt it would be a natural next step. Just as Von D has been tattooing since an early age, “I’ve been into altering my clothes since I was an early teen because my mom taught me how to sew,” she explains. That’s part of the reason, Von D notes, that she decided not to license her name, but to actively participate in the design process for her collection. “I hate even considering myself a celebrity, because to me, I’m not,” she adds. “I’m a tatooer; I’m an artist first and foremost.” Not to mention, Von D adds, consumers have caught on to the fact that many celebrities nowadays are willing to slap their name on any product that might be profitable. “They’re just oversaturated with everything from ping pong paddles to clothing lines. I refuse to do that.” But while Von D is personally obsessed with platform shoes dating from the ’40s to the ’70s, she knew that her footwear collection would need to appeal to a more mainstream audience. Inspired by the frigid winter temperatures during her European book-signing tour last year, Von D says with a laugh that she “understood the importance of a quality boot after that trip.” Launching for Fall ’12, the Kat Von D Los Angeles footwear collection will include an array of classic sheepskin boots in shades of black, gray and red, decked out in rhinestones, studs and fringe. “I just wanted to make something that still had some sort of style but is still practical and actually functional,” Von D explains. While the down-to-earth Von D shies away from comparing herself to other designers, she admits that her biggest influences tend to be the rocker chic creations of Thomas Wylde and Rick Owens. “They have a lot of clean lines and simple, straightforward, and—I hate to use this word—but edgy and outside-the-box designs.” To maintain that balance in her own line, Von D says she likes to create items that would appeal to her mother’s more conservative tastes as well as her own outthere style, like the line’s Camilla boots, available in a sophisticated black and a bold crimson red, which Von D admits: “They do take guts to wear, but they’re also fun.” —Audrey Goodson

KIDS STREET WORK

Dreamweavers The duo behind Sendra introduces a new fair-trade brand using traditional Guatemalan fabric. HUSBAND AND WIFE team Lorenzo Castellon and Jamie Laweda, the president and design director behind boot brand Sendra, were vacationing in Guatemala when a friend guided them down a dusty, isolated road to a village where families had been hand-looming colorful textiles for generations. The timing seemed propitious: The couple had been looking to branch into creating more causal moccasins, flats and boat shoes, and what better way than with fabrics inspired by Guatemala’s indigenous designs? So Castellon and Laweda reached out to friends who owned a nearby factory that had been creating shoes and sandals for the local market. The friends had previously owned a moccasin factory in Spain during the ’80s, but moved to Guatemala City when most of the industry shifted to China. Out of the partnership, the pair is launching 2568, a new line of men’s and women’s casual footwear inspired by Guatemala’s rich history of textile creation, dating back to the 1500s when the locals were given looms by the Spanish. “We’re using their native arts and typical production as inspiration,” Laweda explains. After scouring Guatemalan markets for pattern ideas, the pair commissions nearby weaving studios to create the footwear’s distinctive, multi-colored fabric, made from 100 percent hand-dyed and spun local cotton. The shoes’ leathers, Laweda says, are sourced from within the country or from the United States, thanks to tradefriendly agreements that make importing the material very affordable. In addition, Laweda notes that Guatemala produces “really amazing rubber product.” It all adds up, she says, to high-quality footwear at an affordable retail price point ($50 to $200) for the collection’s array of ballerina flats, moccasins, boat shoes, wedges and boots. Each shoe box, Laweda adds, will contain a friendship bracelet made from the brightly-woven fabric—bracelets that were a big hit at the recent FFANY show. “People were taking two or three to give to their kids,” she says with a laugh. As for the footwear, Laweda says, “I don’t know what we expected, but we got a great reception at FFANY. Ninety-nine percent of the customers who viewed the line wrote orders—and not just on one shoe, but on a combination of styles and colors.” —A.G.

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LAST WORD

SLACKERS WANTED

Walk the Line The latest sport craze for adrenaline junkies is not for the faint of heart—or the poorly shod. IF YOU FIND backflips and yoga intimidating under normal circumstances, imagine performing these feats on a one-inch-wide line strung 100 feet above a rocky ravine. For Andy Lewis, arguably the world’s best “slackliner,” that’s nothing. Try adding fire. Or doing it naked. Nicknamed SkAndy—short for “sketchy Andy”—Lewis’s death-defying antics, captured on YouTube for all to see, are just one reason the sport of slacklining is gaining devotees across the globe. What began in Yosemite National Park in the ’70s when climbers would string up lines in the parking lot to practice balance and build core strength before tackling the rocks, slacklining has now grown to an international sport, with a pro team, national championships and even a World Cup. At the competitions, contestants face off by performing “tricks,” from jumps to spins to double backflips, but even the less gymnastically inclined are using the lines to practice balance, meditation and yoga. And thanks to commercialization of the sport—the pro team is sponsored by Gibbon, a company that makes most of the lines its adherents use—slacklining is quickly grabbing the attention of footwear companies looking to capitalize on a new crop of active consumers. “We’ve seen double-digit growth in the category,” says Brett Cardamone, vice president of marketing and art director for Five Ten, whose Line King biking and BMX shoe is particularly popular with the pros. “The biggest growth is in the climbing gym and

school venues, since it’s very easy for a rec center to set up a highline close to the ground. It is one of the most ideal urban sports—especially tricklining. We’ve seen a big jump in female trickliners.” Josh Greenwood, a member of the Gibbon pro team living in Brooklyn, NY, likes to wear Five Ten or Adidas styles when he strings his line up to practice in nearby Prospect Park, although he has friends who prefer Converse and Vibram FiveFingers. “A good rule of thumb is a nice sturdy shoe that has a flat sole to it, because if you have too much arch in the shoe it’s really difficult to walk on the line,” he notes. Greg Thomsen, managing director of Adidas Outdoor USA, says a lot of slackliners are using the brand’s water and climbing shoes, like the Speed Boat and Solo, since the soles provide a “sticky” grip that’s perfect for perching on a narrow line. Although the brand has no plans to release a slackliningspecific shoe at the moment, the company does plan to market the shoes to slackliners in its advertising and has already distributed pairs at competitions. Not to mention, the brand strung up a 20-foot slackline in its office. “We require people to walk on it when they come in,” Thomsen adds with a laugh. This spring, Five Ten is launching the first slackline-specific shoe, the Andy Lewis Signature Line King, a collaboration with the infamous trickliner that includes a firm heel to prevent injuries and a reinforced heel counter for increased stability. “Probably my favorite feature on the Andy Lewis Signature Model is the stash pocket in the tongue, per Andy’s specs,” Cardamone says. “We can only assume it is for his car key or milk money.” —Audrey Goodson

This spring, outdoor brand Five Ten introduces the Andy Lewis Signature Line King, a collaboration with the gravity-defying slacklining champion (left). 64 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2012

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FOP_COV3 COV3

12/22/11 4:31:27 PM


don’t forget to take them off!

www.aetrex.com

12/21/11 10:22:17 AM

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Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2012 • January