Footwear Plus | June 2021

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JUNE 2021 VOL 31 • ISSUE 5 • $10

SHOW TIME!

GLAM SLAM PLATINUM HITS FOR FALL

ROUNDUP OF IN-PERSON EVENTS FOR AUGUST

ON THE MENU QUODDY’S TASTY RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

MALE REVIEW NOW SHOWING OFFICE AND ON-THE-TOWN STYLES

THIS JUST IN HIGH TIMES IN L.A. & LONDON




JUNE 2021 F E AT U R E S 10 Recipe for Success Charlie Liberge, co-managing partner of Quoddy, on why the timing is spot-on for the premium comfort brand. By Greg Dutter 14 It’s Show Time—Again! The Atlanta Shoe Market, Outdoor Retailer, FFANY and Magic are all planning in-person events this August. Here’s what to expect. By Greg Dutter 22 Reigning Men Dress-to-impress styles suitable for the office and on the town. By Ann Loynd Burton 26 Hot Stuff Sparkly, shimmery and shiny... designers celebrate the silver lining. By Ann Loynd Burton

D E PA R T M E N T S 4 Editor’s Note 6 This Just In: Los Angeles 8 Scene & Heard 18 This Just In: London 20 Trend Spotting

Caroline Diaco President/Group Publisher Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors EDITORIAL Emily Beckman Associate Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Ann Loynd Burton Contributing Editor Melodie Jeng Marcy Swingle Momo Angela Contributing Photographers ADVERTISING/ PRODUCTION Jennifer Craig Associate Publisher Laurie Guptil Production Manager Kathy Wenzler Circulation Director Catherine Rosario Office Manager Mike Hoff Digital Director WAINSCOT MEDIA Carroll Dowden Chairman Mark Dowden President & CEO Steven J. Resnick Vice President & CFO

38 Shoe Salon 40 Last Shot

OFFICES ADVERTISING/EDITORIAL

Ron White classic pumps get a glam upgrade wrapped in metallic silver textile.

On cover: Chinese Laundry snake print platforms with sky-high block-heels tick all the Friday night boxes. PA G E

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Photography by Trevett McCandliss; model: Mary Crimmins/Supreme Model Mgmt.; hair and makeup: Shane Monden/ Next Artists; stylist: Nancy Campbell; fashion editor: Ann Loynd Burton.

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FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by Wainscot Media, One Maynard Drive, Park Ridge, NJ, 07656. The publishers of this magazine do not accept responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage paid at Mahwah, NJ, and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: $48 in the U.S. Rates outside the U.S. are available upon request. Single copy price: $10. 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. Wainscot Media will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. ©2008 by Wainscot Media. Printed in the United States.

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ED ITOR’S NOTE

Name That Tune

Let It Be demic has taught people to live in the moment because it can all be snatched MY WIFE OF 25 years this September is my best away. “America is ready to get back to being fancy,” she says. friend. She’s also my copy editor. She’s the one (hint, On that high note, maybe it’s time to venture into stores again to touch hint) who pares down run-on sentences, catches typos and try on the merchandise. Extended isolation has taught many of us and declutters whatever words of wisdom (another that we need the human touch. Personally, I could use a break from the hint) I write in each issue. Recently, she admonished steady stream of boxes cluttering our apartment. Worse, I feel like I’m me for resorting to too many rock music references. working eight days a week breaking all the boxes down for recycling, Last month’s column, “Faith No More”—which connot to mention the added time suck of shipping back returns. Beyond cluded with lyrics from a U2 song—was the point of that, shopping with all my senses is liberating. There’s only so much a no return for her, I guess. computer screen can reveal, and most customer reviews are about as Well, guilty as charged. Or, you might say, I fought the copy editor and reliable as Axl Rose hitting the stage on time. the copy editor (finally) won. But then I thought, why not dial up the Speaking of shows, another sign that the rock references to 11 this month. Why not industry is getting back in the saddle again is go out with a bang? Or as Neil Young sings, the return of in-person events this August. Our “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” So trade shows preview (p. 14) reveals why our let’s get this party started and see how many industry has Georgia on its mind with regard songs strike a chord while I sing the praises to The Atlanta Shoe Market; FFANY reports of our latest issue. it’s time to get back in the New York groove; Signs of reemergence from the pandemic Magic says viva, Las Vegas as it unveils its new are growing louder by the week. The drum format; and organizers of Outdoor Retailer beat of strong first quarter sales reports are seek a Rocky Mountain high of another kind encouraging, suggesting that many retailers by gathering again in Denver. are headed in the right direction. Granted, The beat goes on. This month’s Q&A (p. 10) the figures are in comparison to last year’s with Charlie Liberge, co-managing partner lockdown numbers, but in many instances of Quoddy, tells the story of how a fateful they exceeded expectations, and some broke phone call led to a new partnership dripping records. Maybe that stimulus cash is burning with rock star potential. The Quoddy playlist holes in consumers’ pockets. Money changes includes U.S. manufacturing (i.e. Born in everything, after all. the U.S.A.), a rich brand heritage, premium Maybe those who’ve been sporting athcraftsmanship and strong margins, to cite leisurewear 24-7 for the past year are also a few. In his 30-plus years in the business, itching to diversify their wardrobes. For those involving numerous executive stints on returning to offices in the coming months, both the retail and wholesale sides of the dressing for success (you gotta look sharp) aisle, Liberge has seen his share of brands might be a refreshing change of pace, or a come and go. Now, as one of the lead singmandate from the boss. On that note, be sure Long live rock: a collage of references culled together over ers for Quoddy, he explains why this is no to check out our men’s dress feature (p. 24); the years and featured in our 25th anniversary issue. one-hit wonder. it shows an array of office-appropriate and I could go on making rock references when night-on-the-town styles for fall. writing about fashion because there is endless crossover between the two Or maybe women just want to put on that party dress and killer heels industries. They’ve been dance partners ever since Elvis told listeners not and dance the night away. We oblige with our disco-inspired fashion feato step on his blue suede shoes. In addition, the long and winding roads ture, beginning on p. 26. It felt good curating a selection of snazzy heels from garage startup to superstardom—complete with excessive highs and that are completely pandemic-inappropriate! Along those lines, I sense a devastating lows, breakups and reunions—often mirror each other. So does pent-up demand in the country to party like it’s 1999—and dress the part. the combination of talent, drive and ego that can burst just like a super The desire to look fabulous doesn’t even require a party at this point, says nova or quickly fade away. For a fan like me, that means there’s never a Leslie Bessent, co-founder of Agnes Bethel and the subject—along with her dull moment. I, for one, hope the song remains the same. husband, Stephen—of our Designer Chat (p. 38). Bessent believes the panGreg Dutter

Editorial Director

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Introduces the 550 Classic Casual Dress Series

W H O W E A R E : We work at wooden benches with leather, needle, thread, and a few basic tools. We stitch, coax, and charm these humble materials into beautiful footwear. Our methods go back centuries, back to the native Passamaquoddy. Made to cradle your foot in comfort. Meant to last a lifetime because they can be renewed by the same hands that created them. Here, these skills have been passed down through generations. Here, we stubbornly resist trading human touch for industrial efficiency. Here, output is measured in dozens, not thousands. www.Quoddy.com • Contact: Charlie Liberge • Charlie@quoddy.com

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THIS JUST IN

Heel, Yeah! We have lift off! L.A. women reach for the stars in sky-high heels. Photography by Tim Regas 6 footwearplusmagazine.com • june 2021


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SCENE & HEARD

Beck’s Shoes: Stores Wanted already there,” she says, noting that retaining existing employee talent WHILE A LOT of brick-and-mortar shoe retailers nationwide have been is a goal. “We’re doing our best to exceed their customers’ expectations paring down door counts or checking out entirely, the 102-year-old Beck’s and hopefully create new ones with our engagement, experience and Shoes, based in Campbell, CA, has been doing quite the opposite. Since product mix.” 2019, the specialty comfort and work chain has acquired five familyThe fifth-generation shoe execs are firm believers in the future viability owned businesses, totaling seven locations, and CEO Adam Beck and of sit-and-fit retailing—done the Beck’s COO Julia Beck-Gomez are on the hunt for Shoes way. For starters, Beck notes it can be more in the western U.S. a very lucrative business model. “Consumers The execs see it as a win-win strategy. For are in need of sit-and-fit retailers with an Beck’s, now totaling 17 locations and four amazing selection, an exceptional experimobile trucks, increasing its buying might is ence and human connection, especially critical to succeeding in today’s consolidated post-Covid,” he says, noting each location industry landscape, and for sellers this is features an average of 800-plus SKUs on a seamless and likely more profitable exit display with 20 percent of core inventory strategy than liquidation, as well as a way backed up two to four deep in core sizes for their businesses to live on (under the and colors. “We very much believe that 80 Beck’s Shoes banner) in their respective percent of your top line is created by 20 communities. percent of your inventory.” “Julia and I feel there are dozens of retailBeyond the retailing basics, the duo ers without a succession plan, and we intend firmly believes there is a place for pason helping any and all of them carry on their sionate independents in today’s landscape. amazing legacies through us,” Beck says. “The “I always compare grandmother’s recipe more successes we have with this strategy, I for chocolate chip cookies to business think the demand will grow as they see in us in general: It might take years, if not a some of the same passion they had.” lifetime, to get something right, but when To date, Beck’s has acquired Don’s Shoes in you do, you have something delicious,” Yuba, CA, Bill’s Shoes in Berkeley, CA, Santa Beck says. In fact, the cousins have been Rosa Shoes in Santa Rosa, CA, the 105-yearworking on this retail recipe for several old Johnson’s Shoes, a four-door chain in years now. “The way we buy and manage central California, and Hy Step in Medford, our inventory, our merchandising talents OR. “We are currently in talks with a half a and how we take care of our employees dozen retailers looking to have us carry on enables us to provide an amazing customer their legacy through Beck’s,” Beck says. “Not experience,” he says. “Our processes and all may be a fit, but we’re very upfront with efficiencies internally are also ready for them before wasting anyone’s time.” Fifth generation retailers Adam Beck and this type of expansion.” The prospective acquisitions have to check Julia Beck-Gomez are in acquisition mode. There is another motivating factor behind all the boxes, says Beck-Gomez. “They’ve got Beck’s Shoes’ acquisition efforts: namely, to be the right fit for us: family-owned, sitproviding for its growing family of employees. “A lot of our employees and-fit retailers that have put their heart and souls into these businesses started working for us before they had families of their own, and now and their communities,” she says. “That’s what we’re after: preserving they are married with kids,” Beck says. “Our motivation is to help prothis type of multi-generational retail that we’ve grown up with and love.” vide more opportunities for them and their families, and we’ll be just The exec adds that the acquisitions can serve as a much-needed shot in as passionate about any new location and the team that comes with it. the arm for these stores. “These people were tapering down and getting We’re excited to invite them into our culture and family.” ready to retire, whereas we bring in new energy and elevate what was

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SCENE & HEARD

Wolverine Worldwide Embracing AI LATE LAST YEAR, Wolverine Worldwide execs did a little sole searching, asking themselves if their stable of brands are designing what consumers really want, or is it more like guesswork? The consensus leaned toward the latter, and that’s why the team decided to up their odds on hitting on the right colors, materials and silhouettes from the get-go by turning to Heuritech, a Parisian company that uses AI to track fashion trends on Instagram (and soon TikTok). Little did the execs know how spot-on the AI-driven social prospecting would be right away. With support from Heuritech’s predictive analytics, Sperry designed a “windsurfer blue” Saltwater Duck Boot for Holiday 2020 based on consumer intelligence pulled from social media trends and influencers, as well as a period of customer voting. The result: 100-percent sell-through in 10 days and an increase of 70.69 percent in new consumers shopping with the brand. Not a bad ROI for introducing the style in a new colorway. “We see Hueritech as an important contributor to an emerging set of social listening tools in our digitally driven go-to-market toolbox,” says Barry McGeough, global vice president of Innovation for Wolverine Worldwide. “Like Stylumia, who uses POS data to predict inventory positioning and buy behavior, or Trendalytics, who scrapes the web millions of times to get consumer macro trend data, these tools and those that continue to emerge will help build the nimble consumercentric supply chains of our postSperry’s Saltwater Duck Boot in windsurfer pandemic marketplaces.” blue scored a 100-percent sell-through thanks The entire footwear process—from to AI-driven social prospecting. product development to purchasing—is evolving at a rapid pace at Wolverine Worldwide. And the use of AI and social listening tools will increasingly be a driving force behind that evolution. “These tools allow us to listen directly to the consumer, gaining better insights on intent, preferences and excitement,” McGeough explains. “These critical insights allow us to use AI-driven search to intelligently design products with greater statistical confidence.” As to whether certain brands in the portfolio might be better suited for AI feedback, McGeough says that before the pandemic the assumption was it would be trend-driven lifestyle brands. But, like with a lot of things since the dawn of Covid19, that sentiment has changed. “We’ve worked closely with Hueritech to create new search taxonomy that best serves all our brands, from work to outdoor to lifestyle, and intend for this to be of portfolio-wide tool,” he says. “As we look to best engage our consumers, developing a more rapid go-to-market cadence is vital to ensure we constantly surprise and delight them with fresh, innovative products.” Then there’s the substantial cost savings AI brings to the equation. McGeough says designing products with greater statistical confidence provides two significant financial benefits: dramatically improved sell-through and the ability to manage the long tail. “Going forward, what we don’t design may be as financially important as what we do design,” he says, adding that it helps the bottom line of retailers as well. “Building product consumers really want will be of tremendous benefit to our retail partners in terms of greater consumer engagement and conversion on their sites and in their stores as consumers get to the buy-now button more swiftly.”

Hari Mari Opens First Flagship IT MIGHT HAVE been a decade in the making, but Hari Mari, the Texas-based sandal brand that donates one percent of its sales to fight pediatric cancer, has always dreamed of opening a flagship. That dream just came true in Dallas’ Knox District, one of the city’s most vibrant nightlife and shopping areas. Each portion of the store, designed by MoWax Visual, highlights a different feature of the brand’s identity. The eastern wall pays homage to the definition of Hari, Indonesian for “of the sun,” with the western wall reflecting Mari, Latin for “of the sea,” with nods to travel, exploration and adventure throughout. The store will also serve as a gathering space for customers. The bar will serve complimentary ranch waters, bloody marys and local craft beer on tap. The second story will serve as the brand’s event space for parties, yoga classes and corporate gifting events. Founders Jeremy “We want a store where a and Lila Stewart cut the ribbon. customer can not only shop the entire collection but also hear our brand story, learn about our Flop Fighting Cancer initiative, our memory foam patented toe piece… the list goes on,” says Lila Stewart, co-founder of Hari Mari. “We’re putting our stamp here in Dallas, our hometown, to start and we’re looking to open an additional two to three locations in 2022 in the South and Southeast.” As for opening the store in the (hopefully) waning days of a pandemic, Stewart says the timing is ideal. “People are ready to get out and shop,” she says, noting the brand saw momentum during the pandemic. “We’re excited to expand not only at the retail level but also additional opportunities like apparel.”

2021 june • footwearplusmagazine.com 9


Q&A BY GREG

DUTTER

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

C h a r l i e L i b e r g e , c o - m a n a g i n g p a r t n e r o f Q u o d d y, o n w h y t h e t i m i n g i s s p o t - o n f o r t h e p r e m i u m c o m f o r t b r a n d t o m a k e a n a m e f o r i t s e l f —7 4 y e a r s a f t e r i t w a s f o u n d e d .

CHARLIE LIBERGE HAS wanted to manage a brand like Quoddy for years. All the ingredients the industry veteran salivates over are in the brand’s recipe. Made in the U.S.A. component? Check. Premium-grade, comfort product (i.e. strong margins)? Check. Rich brand heritage? Check. Dedicated owners and employees? Check. A chance to tap into his decades of experience, from startups to market leaders across the retail, wholesale and components industries? Check. Significant growth potential? Check. Liberge didn’t realize an opportunity like Quoddy existed—until owners Kevin and Kirsten Shorey called his recently launched consulting company, Rise Global Partners, for help with their CEO search in the fall of 2019. Call it footwear fate. The more Liberge learned about Quoddy’s history and realized its potential, the more convinced he and his associate, Paul Healey, were that this was a dream management opportunity. So instead of offering headhunting services, Liberge presented the Shoreys with another idea. “I told them that I had a cheaper but potentially more profitable and fun option for all of us: Hire Rise Global Partners as day-to-day management and you’ll get Paul and me, two executives for the price of one,” Liberge says. The board and the Shoreys agreed and hired the duo in November of 2019. Liberge and Healey, his industry friend of 35 years, believed that with the right systems and leadership they could grow Quoddy’s core customer bases of Made in the U.S.A. and handsewn fans, and attract new demographics with an expanded product offering. But it would be no cake walk. The business had stagnated due largely to antiquated procedures. “Their systems were just horrendous,” Liberge says. “The processes and procedures were probably as old as the company was.” Fortunately, fixing that stuff is Liberge and Healey’s specialty. They know the ins and outs of the shoe biz. Countries, factories, constructions, contacts…they are hands-on industry insiders. Collectively, their resume includes management stints at Nike, Stride Rite, Bauer, Earth, Pentland and Jones & Vining. (Liberge was president of the components supplier for about four years before launching the consulting 10 footwearplusmagazine.com • june 2021


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Q&A business.) Beyond that, they loved Quoddy’s good bones and foresaw a bright future. “The product is absolutely phenomenal,” Liberge says. “The factory employees are so dedicated, and they are incredible craftsman.” Case in point: Not long into the new partnership, Liberge decided Quoddy should add a couple of styles he believed were missing from its line, including an oxford. Within days, the factory came back with a finished sample. “The shoe was beautiful,” he says. “They are capable of making anything but a vulcanized sneaker.” To date, Quoddy’s offerings now include rain boots as well as leather accessories such as belts, bags and wallets. Liberge has also made the most of his extensive sourcing contacts, and Quoddy now offers men’s and women’s sandals collections made in Vietnam. A few other collections are sourced in the Dominican Republic and Brazil. But, he adds, for customers partial to Made in the U.S.A., every style can be manufactured in Quoddy’s Lewiston, ME, factory by request. In addition to Quoddy’s strong potential, Liberge and Healey want to do right by the Shoreys. Since acquiring the brand’s name rights in 1997, the couple has worked tirelessly to make the relaunch a success. They began by making shoes in their barn to supply the Quoddy Wigwam, a nearby store that they purchased from Kevin’s grandfather. (The Shorey family has made shoes in Maine for more than 100 years.) In 2009 they made an investment leap, acquiring the former Cole Haan factory in Lewiston, and hiring a CEO to run day-to-day operations. Despite those efforts, the business struggled. By 2019, production had flatlined to about 5,000 pairs a year, the retail client roster numbered less than five and the factory employee count plummeted from 110 to 19. None of these problems stemmed from lack of commitment on the Shoreys’ part, Liberge stresses. “They’ve put their hearts and souls into this business; everything they own is invested in this company. But they’ve been so wrapped up in how messily their organization was being run that they got lost. They deserve better.” Liberge and Healey are confident that things will improve dramatically. The way they see it, the only direction for Quoddy is up. Targeted retail distribution alone presents tremendous growth potential. Expanding into new styles, categories and customer bases are additional growth opportunities. Then there are the improved efficiencies that will increase profits. For example, Quoddy had been shelling out $8,000 a pop for shoe dyes and now, thanks to Liberge and Healey’s contacts, pay $2,600. “They just didn’t know anybody else,” Liberge says. “Pretty much every day they tell us, ‘I wish you guys were here 10 years ago.’” Liberge and Healey are there now, and despite 2020 having laid waste to their initial game plan, Quoddy has navigated the pandemic well. 12 footwearplusmagazine.com • june 2021

OFF TH E C U FF rewarding, both financially and personally, and sometimes disappointment drove me to do better.

What are you streaming? The last movie was Nomadland and the last show was Burn Notice. In what way has the pandemic changed your life most? It’s given me a deeper understanding of relationships with family, friends, associates and others I meet daily. All these people uniquely touch my life in ways that I have missed during the pandemic. I have a better appreciation of those conversations and interactions. What did you want to be when you grew up? I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, like my mom and dad. I’ve chased that dream my entire life. At times it’s been very

Who is your most coveted dinner guest? Any member of my family. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? From my mom: Believe in what you do and who you are, and don’t ever let anyone tell you to be satisfied if deep inside you don’t feel fulfilled. What are you most proud of? Personally, it’s my two sons, who have grown to be incredible human beings. They are caring, loving, intelligent, successful and happy. Professionally, I’m most proud of the many individuals who I’ve had the privilege of hiring and managing and who’ve gone on to very successful careers in footwear and other industries.

For starters, when overseas factories shut down, Quoddy’s remained open. What’s more, its slipper and casual collections have been right in step with the new fashion normal. In fact, slipper sales spiked 60 percent in 2020 and the company reported the highest overall sales volume in its 24-year history. What’s more, sales are up 114 percent in the first quarter of this year. “It’s all kinds of styles,” Liberge reports, noting that women’s sales have risen 28 percent over the past 15 months. “We’re also doing limited-editions in select styles and colors; the reaction has been crazy.” Liberge believes Quoddy has actually benefitted from its lack of brick-and mortar distribution during the pandemic. Ever the entrepreneur, he is used to curve balls and saw the potential silver lining right away. “When the pandemic hit, the first thing I told our team was that we’re in a better position to maximize volume because we didn’t survive on stores being open,” he says. “We continued to fulfill orders for our catalog customers and DTC, and we delivered quicker than those who sourced overseas.” Liberge believes Quoddy is just getting started.

What is your motto? You are only as good as your word. Respect is earned and not part of any title you have or are given. What is inspiring you right now? At this point in my career, I truly enjoy helping others to achieve their entrepreneurial goals by providing learned experiences, utilizing professional relationships and business acumen. My deep passion, loyalty and drive is triggered by those who I have learned from, worked with and mentored. What is your favorite hometown memory? My Italian mother was one of nine children whose family owned seven of 10 houses on our street in Lynn, MA. Every day, I, my six brothers and sisters and more than 20 cousins enjoyed the world in which we lived.

The brand has all the ingredients to become a “very profitable” business, he says. And while it may never be the biggest on the block, its unique formula presents potential for retail partners who are seeking strong margins and at-once capabilities as well as those who cater to a clientele with a hankering for well-crafted products that can be made in the U.S.A. “Quoddy could become a $10- to $20-million business,” Liberge says, adding that the company is forecasting “at least 50 percent sales growth” for 2021. It’s a potential everybody-wins scenario: The Shoreys’ dream for Quoddy is finally realized, and Liberge and Healey have their dream management job. A cherry on top for Liberge: Of all the stops in his long and winding career, Quoddy just might be the most gratifying. “We can do things with this brand that I’ve wanted to do for years, but I’ve never been able to,” he says. “I’m just blown away by how enormous this opportunity is.” Why might co-managing Quoddy just be your dream job? First, it presents a lot of growth potential. Second,


Q&A the product we make is incredible. Our factory workers have worked for all kinds of companies, including Bass, Dexter and Cole Haan. Over the years, Quoddy has also made shoes for Ugg, L.L. Bean and others. That level of quality and craftmanship, plus their ability to make shoes almost instantly…that’s just so exciting to me. Quoddy also presents the most gratification potential, personally. For example, I’ve been a huge U.S. manufacturing supporter going on 15 years, but I could just never get anybody to agree. It was always the costs are so high, the costs are so high… Well, you know what, the costs are higher, but if you present it in the right light, the costs have little to do with how profitable that type of business can be. It’s about the right margins and not necessarily the most volume. Retailers can sell 10 pairs of our shoes per week and make more margin than selling 100 pairs of lots of other brands.

It’s as simple and plain as can be, but we sell it until the cows come home. People love it. We have phenomenal slippers, as well, and ours are priced $169 and $199, not $49. Our customers appreciate the fine craftmanship.

So you see enormous opportunity, personal gratification, you’re raring to go and then 2020 comes along. I’ve faced many curve balls over the years, but nothing like this. That said, what has happened in the retail sector shouldn’t have been a total surprise. The trend of contraction over the past 10 years has simply been expedited by the pandemic. The drive to the bottom by retailers and wholesalers who lost their way resulted in an inability to compete when the online marketplace grew 100fold basically overnight. Consumers have always loved a wide selection, ease of shopping and value pricing, but there are those who aren’t driven solely by That can be the difference in them price. They seek quality products and staying in business. genuine service, and stores that offer For sure! I also think there are a lot of Team Quoddy: Owners Kevin and Kirsten Shorey both have survived and, in some cases, consumers, especially those between and co-managing partner Paul Healey. thrived over the past year. This has been 20 and 45 years old, who are looking a cleansing that I believe will lead to for smaller, higher-quality brands. They higher quality of products, better service, greater partnerships between want to discover them, and frankly there are not enough of them right now. retailers and wholesalers and, as a result, a much higher level of consumer And retailers need them. I feel bad for all these retailers who’ve been in satisfaction and loyalty. business for years and have had to just walk away because they can’t afford to do business anymore. The way the industry is structured with the large Is this part of the so-called new normal? minimums, high turn rates and having to compete on price with every Tom, I don’t refer to these times as the new normal. I see it as the time for the Dick and Harry…it’s killing them. It’s why we’re not about futures. If you buy cream to rise to the top. Brand differentiation goes far beyond adding new 36 pairs up front, then you can just fill, fill and fill. But you can also change products, many of which look like everyone’s new products. This is a time it. If you don’t like brown, buy black. That ability to carry lower inventories where product manufacturing, especially Made in the U.S.A., rises to the while at the same time have higher margins presents enormous potential, top. High quality and standing behind that quality as well as over-the-top especially for independents. That’s what’s going to make them more profitable customer service also rises to the top. That’s why our thought process has as well as build customer loyalty. remained the same throughout the pandemic: provide consumers with the highest quality products, incredible service and continual freshness while Who is the Quoddy consumer? combining marketing strategies which expand the brand’s reach across If you’d asked me two years ago if there’s a consumer who is absolutely set on the globe. It sounds simple but our entire organization must be totally only buying made in the U.S.A., I’d have said it’s a small number. But there focused on ensuring their responsibilities live up to this strategy every day. are plenty of people who love that type of product and have closets full of it. There’s also a much bigger demographic that absolutely loves handsewn Will life ever go back to normal, or have consumers forever changed products. I discovered this fact recently, which just might be the craziest story the way they work, shop, buy, recreate, etc.? in my shoe career. Our “Canoe” handsewn moccasin is a big seller for us, and I believe the pandemic has been an awakening for consumers. And while recently we made a woman’s mule out of the same construction for Sundance they may forever change how they work, shop, buy, recreate, etc., the most catalog and our website. Well, not long after a guy from a handsewn products important change is in their personal values, which spreads across everything forum on Reddit sent me an email suggesting we make the shoe in a men’s they do. Going forward, I see a much more educated consumer who seeks version. I was curious enough, so I asked our factory to make a sample and maximum quality, high levels of service, loyalty programs and open and they had it on my desk the next day. I then emailed a photo of it to the guy honest communication. Consumers have a new meaning for value-priced. on Reddit and said, ‘Here’s the deal: If you can get 25 guys in your forum to For brands and retailers, it means they need to step up to the plate. New buy this mule, we’ll give you a pair for free.’ Mind you, the shoes are priced at products and low prices aren’t going to be the only keys to success. Quality $300. Two days later, I had 52 orders! Is that insane or what? and integrity also matter. Will a product hold up over time? Our brands and retailers good citizens? Consumers want to support those whose values Have you since hired him as a sales rep? align with theirs. Well, I do reach out to him every once in a while, asking what the word is among their group and what they are looking for. Quoddy aims to be one such brand. I think that the word is spreading that we are. When we started, we had about What does that say about classic handsewn styles and that category’s 13,000 loyal customers—ones who probably own six or seven pairs. Today, overall potential? we have 27,000. Plus, the reviews are just crazy good: ‘The most comfortable For starters, that they never go completely out of style. Just look at the shoes I’ve ever worn.” And, as part of our values mission to be a sustainable boat shoe. That construction is a perennial best-seller. Along those lines, brand, we refurbish our shoes. We charge $129 to recraft, and they are >39 our men’s “Blucher,” a full moccasin construction, is our best-selling shoe. 2021 june • footwearplusmagazine.com 13


T R A D E S H O W P R E V I E W : T H E AT L A N TA S H O E M A R K E T

because we are getting more retailers from across the country. The West Coast is realizing that everybody is under one roof here, and we have all the brands.

PEACHY KEEN The Atlanta Shoe Market, Aug. 14-16, is looking swee t: housed under one roof and expected to be sold out. THE BUZZ SURROUNDING The Atlanta Shoe Market (TASM) is reverberating louder by the week. A bi-annual must-stop on the industry calendar for decades and known as a “writing show,” TASM has increasingly been garnering national show status. That reputation received a big boost following TASM’s head start on resuming in-person events last February, reports Laura O’Brien, show director. “We are definitely seeing retailers from both coasts registering as the show has become nationally recognized,” O’Brien says. “It’s the buzz: ‘You need to go to Atlanta.’ And everybody who said that they weren’t going to go back to a show until 2022…Guess what, they’re all coming here in August.” While O’Brien surely didn’t need any restoring of faith in the importance of in-person events, she received a shot in the arm following TASM’s successful February staging. “Everyone was just so happy to be back,” she says. “They were thrilled to be doing business face-to-face again.” O’Brien adds that having one show already under her belt amid an ongoing pandemic is hugely beneficial in planning the August edition at the Cobb Galleria Centre. TASM has the safety protocols down pat, as well as the confidence of attendees. “Because our show was successful in February, people feel comfortable coming here. That has definitely helped,” she says. “From the moment they walk in the door, other than the masks and temperature checks possibly, everything will be completely business as usual.” Here, O’Brien gives the 411 on the upcoming show and why she expects buyers will be writing big orders in Atlanta this August. Dare we say will this be a “normal” TASM? Normal in terms of exhibitor attendance, yes. The retail attendance will also be a lot higher than in February

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In addition to being housed under one roof, what other factors are contributing to TASM’s success? I’ve been organizing this show now for 39 years. I know what my guests want and need. Meanwhile, other shows have changed ownership and formats. TASM is what it’s always been: affordable, easy to get to, under one roof. We know the shoe business, and we know what the industry wants and needs in a trade show. Our attendees aren’t looking for hoopla anymore. Our show is like WSA back when it was in Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas. We’re a good-ole shoe show. Companies are restructuring, they don’t have the money to lay out for the big booths anymore. Remember, our parent company, Southeastern Shoe Travelers, is a non-profit. Our job is to make the show as affordable as possible so everyone gets a big return on their investment. We’re also a non-union event, and that’s huge for our exhibitors. If it ain’t broke…Yes. We’re a show focused on shoes, period. We’ve built Atlanta as a great writing show. You come here to do business. We have consistency with our staff and the industry knows us well. Plus, we treat our members like family. We’ve been building this show for years. It works and it’s easy. Any safety protocols that attendees should know about? We watch on a daily basis what Georgia and the CDC are stating in terms of guidelines. Personally, I believe we’ll still be wearing masks. But that could change. Regardless, we’ll definitely be following whatever is required, and our air purifiers—the same as found in hospitals—are all in place. What about seminars or parties? I’d like nothing better than to have a great big party. Now, we can’t do our regular casino night because of touching dice and chips, but I’m looking into holding a party in the adjacent tent to the centre. That camaraderie between retailers and exhibitors is so important. At the very least, we’ll do an opening night cocktail reception in the trade show hall. Also, NSRA will be doing a seminar in the morning of the second day. We’re also just a short walk to The Battery Atlanta, an outdoor mall with 56 restaurants and shops. It’s gorgeous—a great place to go to lunch and dinner. Any virtual format coinciding with the in-person event? No. I think people are done with the virtual aspect with regards to lots of things. We’re Zoomed out. We are tired of webinars, too. We just want to get back to business. We want face-to-face interaction. Also, I’m not getting any requests for it. Not one. I just don’t think it’s necessary for us to invest in a virtual component. Besides, if brands want that, they’re going to set up their own studio. Why is face-to-face interaction necessary, from a shoe industry perspective? It’s the nature of the beast. Buyers need to touch and feel the product. Shoes can’t be bought as effectively over Zoom. It’s also that relationship with your salesperson—speaking with them face-to-face is just so important, and I don’t think that is ever going to go away. And now that the industry will be meeting face-to face in Atlanta, are you expecting a lot of order writing? Yes! Lots of retailers are low on inventory and they have the dollars to spend. I think the retailers that have gotten through this crisis have done well and are ready to buy!


T R A D E S H O W P R E V I E W : O U T D O O R R E TA I L E R

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH O u t d o o r R e t a i l e r i n D e n v e r, C O , A u g . 1 0 -1 2 , i s o p e n f o r b u s i n e s s a s u s u a l — a s w e l l a s v i r t u a l l y. EMERALD, ORGANIZERS, OF Outdoor Retailer, realize the industry isn’t out of the woods yet when it comes to the pandemic, and that’s why there will be an in-person event at the Colorado Convention Center as well as a virtual, year-round component to the show. Call it a welcome back and recovery show, says Marisa Nicholson, senior vice president and show director. “We see this August show as the first opportunity for our industry to reconvene and work together to move forward from the impacts of the pandemic,” Nicholson says, noting that businesses are at different places of recovery with some brands and retailers still navigating travel restrictions and supply chain challenges. “This summer’s show may not be what it ‘normally’ is, and that’s okay,” she says. “This is a time for those ready to gather again, to have meaningful meetings and to support each other. This is a time of recovery as we continue to move through the pandemic and open up.” Here, Nicholson discuss what’s new and noteworthy at the upcoming show, and why the industry is primed for growth as millions of consumers have discovered/rediscovered the benefits of outdoor recreation amid the pandemic. How is attendance looking? We have an incredible list of buyers, brands (including Lowa, Dansko, Cougar Shoes, Propét, Jambu, Lamo, Sperry and Spyder Footwear) and media anxious to get back to in-person at OR. There’s so much value in dynamic conversations when you get when together, in addition to being able to touch, test and compare products. For those that are ready, this summer’s show is a step to get back on track and build new or rebuild relationships, and we’re here to help everyone figure out the best way to approach this year. Dare we say, will this be a “normal” Outdoor Retailer show? A lot of attendees are looking at the show as a reunion and a time to celebrate our community. This is a pivotal time for our industry as we’ve all witnessed incredible growth in outdoor participation, which has resulted new consumer behaviors and preferences. More people are trail running, cycling, hiking, birdwatching, fishing, etc. than ever. Many discovered the outdoors for the first time over the past year and they’re continuing to get out in nature. The show is a valuable opportunity to find the brands and new products to connect with these consumers, to diversify store offerings and to discover the intersection of outdoor and lifestyle trends. We’re in a position to embrace this growing consumer base. We do that successfully through the relationships we build.

Any seminars or parties planned? Education for this show will be a mix of online and in-person. The webinar pre-show education kicks off in July with sessions to prepare attendees before they hit the show floor, which will include consumer data analysis from NPD Group, a trend forecast from WGSN and more. At the show, education moves to a larger area to allow for social distancing, and we’re planning hybrid viewing. Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) will again lead the Industry Breakfast, and The Conservation Alliance and Camber Outdoors will also open show days with insight and resources. We’ll be utilizing the outdoor lot adjacent to the Colorado Convention Center for additional activity and networking. On the second night of the show, that space will host a watch party for the 11th annual Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards. What health safety protocols will be in place? The health, safety and wellbeing of all attending and involved in the show remains our top priority. Our current guidelines are available at OutdoorRetailer.com, which include enhanced cleaning measures. All plans will be updated in accordance with the latest recommendations from health officials and the local government and communicated to the community. How will the Digital Market complement the in-person event? Outdoor Retailer Digital Market powered by Elastic Suite takes relationships beyond the show floor and gives exhibitors, reps and retailers new technology to manage the wholesale purchasing process all year. At the show, you see new lines up close, have productive meetings with your reps and discover great merchandising ideas and other inspiration for your store. Digital Market is the next step: brands present their curated collections and buyers can log on at any time to order, reorder and manage inventory. Digital Market is an efficient place to continue the buyer-seller relationship, and it’s an affordable option for brands of all sizes to digitize catalogs. In what ways has the new normal changed OR going forward? Over the past year, we’ve leaned on technology to stay connected in our work and social lives. Some of this new functionality will continue to benefit us. But we’ve also missed human connection. Studies show the brain processes information more efficiently in the presence of others, which we see in real time at Outdoor Retailer. There’s going to be new balance in the way we work, and the combination of our in-person events and Digital Market can help everyone connect all year, in multiple ways, allowing them to find the mix that best helps them.

2021 june • footwearplusmagazine.com 15


T R A D E S H O W P R E V I E W : F FA N Y

BACK IN THE NEW YORK GROOVE S h o w r o o m s s t a r t y o u r e n g i n e s : F FA N Y M a r k e t We e k i n N e w Yo r k , A u g . 2 - 6 , i s a g o . PERHAPS THE SUREST sign the country is emerging from the pandemic was the recent announcement by the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), organizers of FFANY, that the show would return this summer as an in-person event in New York, once the epicenter of the outbreak. In an open letter to the industry, FDRA reported “seeing and hearing” a pent-up desire from retailers and wholesalers to “close computer screens and see shoes in person again.” Amen to that! “We are receiving widespread support and confirmation that showrooms will be open and brands will be coming to show in hotels and other temporary spaces,” confirms John Heron, marketplace strategic advisor for FDRA and show organizer, noting the list includes Caleres, Steve Madden, Vince Camuto, HH Brown, Deer Stags and Wolverine Worldwide, among many others. “We also recently conducted a survey of 24 national retailers—with multiple stores and significant buying capacity—and the majority of the responses said that they are likely sending buyers to New York in August.” Heron adds, “We also think that as we get closer to August, momentum will build around the country and New York specifically, and we’ll see more energy trend to the August FFANY Market Week.” Heron says there will not be a formal virtual component to the show, but it’s anticipated members will continue to conduct virtual line presentations. Along those lines, FDRA is working on a FFANY Digital Directory of Brands that will serve as a central space for members to post information about their showroom status, location, links to digital selling tools and brand information. The plan is to launch it early this month. Here, Heron give the lowdown on what’s up for the upcoming August Market Week in the Big Apple.

general sentiment and willingness for people to attend. We’re also working on potentially organizing smaller gatherings to bring together sections of the industry, if there isn’t the ability to have a larger event.

Will this be a “normal” FFANY Market Week? I don’t think anything will be “normal” right away, as so much has changed in our industry and in New York. Companies have closed their showrooms or moved locations, and there have also been significant employee changes in the past year. That said, there will be some semblance of normality in the process of in-person reviewing and merchandising of footwear lines in corporate showrooms!

Why is New York still an important meeting place for the industry? New York and FFANY is where the industry’s significant business happens and important seasonal line debuts occur. We think that August will be a continuation of that tradition, and December will see the industry return to New York in an even more substantial way. In addition, the biggest advantage FFANY has over other shows is that so many of the meetings occur in the showrooms of our members. The capacity to showcase the vision that designers and development teams have created for their brands is inherently more robust and complete when done in a space that is created for that purpose.

Any special events or parties planned? We have been contemplating having a traditional industry cocktail party at an outdoor venue near Bryant Park. We’re waiting to confirm plans until we have a better gauge as to the

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Any special safety protocols being implemented? New York is continually updating guidance and procedures for lifting restrictions. I’m sure all showrooms will follow government mandated rules for indoor masks, elevator protocols and capacity guidelines. Having been forced into a year-long hiatus following the merger with FDRA, what have you been focused on in terms of reintroducing FFANY Market Weeks? At this stage, we’re simply just pleased that there is such a strong desire and consensus to return for FFANY Market Week in August. In future years, our planning will focus on the frequency and timing of future market weeks that serve in the best interests of the footwear community. It will take some time to come to consensus on any potential changes that best serve the industry as it emerges. In what ways has the so-called new normal changed how you envision the show going forward? It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The last year accelerated the development of and reliance on virtual tools to sell, develop lines and conduct business in general. That said, the trust that had been developed through years of relationship-building and in-person collaboration allowed for the virtual tools to be successful to the extent that they were for so many. Thus, we think coordinated market weeks are a vital component to the long-term welfare and success of the industry. The frequency and timing may need to be considered, but the need to collectively gather will continue to be a cornerstone of the industry.


TRADE SHOW PREVIEW: MAGIC

VEGAS, BABY! A new format awaits attendees of M a g i c i n L a s Ve g a s , A u g . 9 - 1 1 .

INFORMA, OPERATORS OF THE MAGIC SHOW, used the pandemicinduced hiatus on in-person events to introduce a number of changes to its once again in-person event at the Las Vegas Convention Center—starting with dropping the Micam Americas name and the standalone footwear segment that went with it. Instead, footwear will be incorporated within its Magic, Project and Coterie shows. The changes reflect a market-led and customer-focused approach to evolving how the collective of shows serve the industry moving forward, explains Jordan Rudow, vice president of Events for Magic. “While we’re still offering the same comprehensive selection of footwear categories for women, men and children, our merchandising strategy will focus on achieving two key objectives: providing a more streamlined shopping experience for our buyers and creating more opportunities for our brands to meet target retailers,” Rudow says. “Footwear and accessories will now be merchandised alongside apparel within each of our hero brands—Magic, Project and Coterie—all three of which will be more aligned than ever to serve specific market segments and price points.” Rudow is confidant the new “complete look” approach in featuring multiple product categories merchandised alongside each other will support buyers in how they prefer to shop, while also better supporting exhibitors in reaching a larger segment of retailers. From a footwear perspective, that means trenddriven and young contemporary categories, at price points ranging from value to mass market, will be housed in Magic. Project is where men’s and women’s contemporary categories will be found, with price points ranging from midmarket to premium. Coterie is where elevated women’s contemporary collections will be displayed, with price points from premium to affordable luxury. Sourcing at Magic features footwear manufacturers and suppliers providing volume-production and private label services. “We’re extremely excited to unveil our updated merchandising strategy at our August events,” she says. Here, Rudow reveals why Vegas is a solid bet for Magic attendees. How’s attendance looking? With a little over a month after our announcement for the return of in-person events in Las Vegas, we’re already over pacing in

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both brands and registration. To date, we have thousands of registered retailers and hundreds of brands signed on across apparel, footwear and accessories. Some notable footwear brands that retailers can expect to see include A.S. 98, Blowfish Malibu, Floafers, J/Slides, Kenneth Cole, Matisse Footwear, Miz Mooz and Yellow Box, to just name a few. On the retailer side, we have buyers registered from Aldo’s, American Rag, Boot Barn, DTLR, Rue 21, Free People, Coppel, Dillard’s, Foot Solutions, Halls, Hibbett Sports, Shiekh Shoes, Von Maur and Zappos. As the list of brands and retailers grows, we’re also receiving a lot of positive and excited feedback for a return to Las Vegas to reconnect and do business in-person—a testament to how much the live experience was missed.

In addition to the new format, anything new and noteworthy? Carrying forward from previous years and what has drawn thousands of brands and buyers to our keystone events in Las Vegas, planning is well underway to present a full slate of unique on-site activations and memorable photo-op moments, trend displays highlighting new brands, exclusive networking opportunities and a wide array of educational content featuring fresh industry voices along with returning speakers from Create & Cultivate, WGSN, The McCord List and Highsnobiety, to name a few. We’re also excited to be bringing back Cash & Carry on the last day of our three-day event, which is a great opportunity for retailers to shop samples from the show floor. Any safety protocols that attendees need to be assured of ? All Informa events will be guided by Informa AllSecure, a detailed set of measures developed with industry associations, event organizers and venues, along with input from health, government and local authorities in order to provide the highest levels of hygiene, safety and cleanliness. Cornerstone to our event execution and planning, guests can rest assured we will have continuous sanitization and cleaning throughout the course of the event, with a focus on high-touch areas, thoughtful event layouts to allow for recommended social distancing as well as hand washing facilities and sanitization stations available throughout the event space. What can attendees do at Magic that they can’t necessarily do at other shows? It’s where three premier fashion trade events—Magic, Project and Sourcing at Magic—come together to create North America’s most comprehensive marketplace with unparalleled opportunity for brands and buyers. With a wide variety of categories and market segments available, the comprehensive offerings make this an extremely efficient, one-stop-shop for the fashion industry. Brands can access and meet the largest audience of international and domestic retail buyers, media and industry thought leaders as well as head over to Sourcing at Magic if they are looking to explore new possibilities for materials or updating their supply chain. Similarly, retail buyers can access three events in one location—shopping trend and young contemporary brands at Magic, contemporary men’s and women’s brands at Project and private label at Sourcing at Magic. Unlike any other U.S.-based event, our three events together, in the epicenter of entertainment, gives brands and buyers access to the entire fashion wholesale ecosystem.

6/4/21 4:17 PM


THIS JUST IN

chunky town Reemerging from lockdown, Londoners pump up the volume. Photography by Nicole Gomes

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IN GREAT DETAIL

Delve into the finer touches of bows, embroidery and lace. 1. Norie Shoes 2. Badgley Mischka 3. Luichiny 4. Bella Belle 5. Something Bleu

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PH OTO G RAP H Y BY TR E V ET T M CC AN D L I SS

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PH OTO G RA PH Y BY TR E V ET T MCC AN DL I SS

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NO BACKSIES Chic summer staples suitable for poolside or party time. 1. J. Reneé 2. 42 Gold 3. Recc 4. Ron White

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GOOD WORK D AY L O O K S

Johnston & Murphy

Return to the OFFICE in STYLE this fall. By Ann Loynd Burton

Naot

Ecco

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P H OTO G R A P H Y BY T R E V E T T M CC A N D L I SS

Rockport

Allen Edmonds

Testosterone

Florsheim

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▼ NIGHT LOOKS

IN THE EVENING

Bruno Magli

Donatello

When you GOTTA look SHARP, sleek is the NEW BLACK. By Ann Loynd Burton

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Geox

P H OTO G R A P H Y BY T R E V E T T M CC A N D L I SS

Donald Pliner

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Featuring the Total Motion comfort system, the Gracie Heel by Rockport is a dancing shoe you can actually dance in, while a square-cut topline and pointed toe add style points.


Pumps by Julieta get a disco spin with a “metalico” finish on 3.5-inch heels. Opposite page: ’70s-inspired strappy leather platform sandals by Hey Lady with a hint of sparkle.

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From top: Pump with textured canvas upper for a multifaceted glimmer by Ron White. Mules by Musier Paris feature a sculptural sparkling upper with a smooth seam trim. Opposite page: Naked Feet mirrored platform slide works from cocktail hour to brunch the next morning. 30


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From top: Azura gunmetal ankle boot with asymmetrical shaft, exposed zipper and block heel is right on target. J. Reneé bejeweled slingback shimmers like a disco ball.

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Prismatic silver pumps with gem embellishments by Badgley Mischka. Opposite page: Butter high-shine leather boots are a little bit country and a little bit disco.

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On model: mules by Norie Shoes combine silver pebble leather with rose elastic. Seychelles western bootie sports a pewter distressed suede for equal parts grunge and glam.

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Strappy sandal by Naot features Silver Threads leather and clear rhinestones for just the right amount of sparkle. Fashion editor: Ann Loynd Burton; model: Mary Crimmins/Supreme Model Mgmt.; hair and makeup: Shane Monden/Next Artists.

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EDITOR’S PICKS

D E S I G N E R C H AT

STEPHEN AND LESLIE BESSENT

AGNES BETHEL

A STRONG MARRIAGE is based on love, mutual respect and, in the case of Stephen “Justice” and Leslie Bessent, a $20 wager that led to their designer shoe label, Agnes Bethel. The story goes: Back in the late aughts, Leslie, about to purchase what her husband deemed unflattering flats, challenged him to design a better shoe. Always an artist but with no formal footwear training, Justice sketched what would become the brand’s debut (in 2016) “Origin” hybrid pump with cutouts in key pressure areas. “I call these my marathon shoes because I can wear them anywhere with anything,” Leslie says. Justice’s design muse is his wife, and Agnes Bethel is named after his mother, a clothing designer who dreamed of launching her own label. “I design shoes that I want to see Leslie in,” Justice affirms, noting his wife runs the business side of the operation. “She’s the backbone of our company—without her efforts, no one would know Agnes Bethel.” The label has been making a name for itself through its signature aesthetic that Leslie describes as “simplistic sexy sophistication.” She adds, “Our silhouettes are always elegant, sleek and memorable.” Justice leans toward a naked, medial view that shows off some heel and the inside arch of the foot. Beyond that, he goes with his gut. “My design tenets are to just trust my creative flow because it will make sense in the end,” he says. The unconventional process is part of Agnes Bethel’s early mantra to be “rebels of luxury footwear.” From day one, the couple swore that they’d follow their own rules and style instincts. “Being the rebels of luxury footwear means to be non-conforming,” Leslie explains, citing the current square trend toe as an example. “We don’t have any in our current or future collections. We’re encouraging our clients to just live authentically.” For this fall, that translates to “neutrals with some pops of chocolates and blush nudes as complementary colors,” Justice says. It also includes two brand firsts: a men’s loafer and a women’s flat. “We want to give our clients options,” Leslie says, adding the label will introduce its first handbag (designed by her) this fall. The suggested retail price range for the collection, made in Italy, ranges from $445 to $1,095. 38 footwearplusmagazine.com • june 2021

Donatello

Sylth Virago

L OAFER RADNESS Get a whiff of these snazzy hits on the classic silhouette.

Agnes Bethel’s “Dorothy” pump also remains a staple. A blend of leopard print and black patent with a red ankle collar, it’s the shoe that Justice says every woman should have in her closet. “The silhouette is sleek and very feminine,” he says, noting the design was inspired by actress Dorothy Dandridge, the first African-American woman nominated for an Academy Award. “It functions as a great evening shoe with a little black dress, an office look with a nice pant suit or with jeans and a white blouse.” Who is the Agnes Bethel woman? Leslie: She’s delicate but not frail. She lives life to the fullest and authentically. She’s adventurous. She knows her power in grace and has a sexy confidence that can stop traffic. She doesn’t want to look like everyone else. She’s looking for a brand that extenuates her natural beauty. She’s looking for exclusivity and craftsmanship. Have women had enough of athleisure and lounge wear? Leslie: Haven’t we all? People are ready to live again. I envision women will start dressing up for everything. I even see gowns and heels for a quick trip to Trader Joe’s! This pandemic has shown

us that anything can happen at any given time, and there may never be a right time to wear your nice party dress and gorgeous shoes. We need to live in the moment. So buy those shoes, take that trip and get dressed up. We’re ready to get back to being fancy! Who are some designers you admire? Justice: My all-time favorite and one of my biggest influences is Alexander McQueen. He was a creative genius. Leslie: My favorite is Roy Halston. His designs were simplistic, elegant and always luxurious. No one could drape a piece of fabric the way he did. What’s the best piece of design advice you’ve ever received? Justice: You cannot please everyone and sometimes people won’t understand your vision, but if that happens just ignore them and do what is in you. Is there a perfect shoe? Leslie: Whatever shoe makes a woman feel her most confident, sexy, authentic self is the perfect shoe. What do you love most about designing shoes? Justice: I love the freedom of designing and creating what I want, when I want. I also love making my mother’s dreams a reality.

E D I TO R ’ S P I C K S P H OTO G R A P H Y BY N A N C Y C A M P B E L L

Ron White


SCENE & HEARD continued from page 13 as good as new. When we run a sale for $99, we generate $15,000 to $20,000 that first day! People see refurbishing as a value-priced savings and good for the environment. Can your U.S. factory meet the growing demand? We currently have 23 employees and are preparing to expand our workforce by launching Quoddy University in 2022, where we’ll work with area towns to train young people in footwear manufacturing. We’ll train them in multiple crafts, and while maybe two out of 10 will make it a career, our goal is to expand our U.S. factory base in Lewiston to meet our growing demand. And we think we can do it. We’ll also continue to make some product in the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Vietnam. Our new manufacturing and components partners will enable us to introduce new products and categories while maintaining our high standards of quality and on-time service. We’ve already expanded the selection significantly, including rain boots, sandals and accessories like bags, wallets and belts, which I believe is another reason more people are discovering the brand. And for Fall ’21, we’ll introduce a new women’s boot line as well as a specialty collection of men’s oxfords, chukkas and boots. Where do you envision Quoddy in five years? Our goal is to build Quoddy into a global entity by maximizing the combination of our U.S.A. production and international manufacturing to deliver consumers a brand in which they can believe in, communicate with and create a long-term relationship. We’re off to a good start with our current European distributor who has been doing well and we have interest from distributors in Canada, UAE, Asia, Australia and beyond. We’ve also been doing targeted digital marketing campaigns to 50,000 consumers every other month. We hit certain demographics five to seven times and then move on to the next one. It’s gone very well, especially with millions of people having been at home and spending more time online. How will your DTC and your partner retail channels coexist peacefully? First off, DTC will always be an important channel for Quoddy. But I think the channels can coexist peacefully if your DTC isn’t solely about increasing profit margins. The DTC business has to also drive consumers to your retail partners. How is that done, exactly? By maintaining high levels of brand integrity, enforcing a strong MAP policy and, most importantly, creating unique programs for our retail partners. For example, our “Made

in Maine” manufacturing capabilities enable us to drive unique products to select retailers at lower quantities and higher margins. We also have a program where customers can come into a store and design their own pair. They can choose from a selection of leathers, buckles, straps and eyelets to personalize their shoes. The styles sell for $400 and the response—and the margins—have been great. We’re also redoing our website, that we hope to launch by the end of the year, where retailers can sell other items they carry beyond shoes. It will give our customers a bigger selection to shop and it’s also our way of helping our partners potentially obtain more sales. Along those lines, we’ll also do three trunk shows a year for each of our retail partners. Is it fair to say that any pre-pandemic playbooks are no longer applicable? Pretty much. It’s about doing things differently, because I believe smart retailers are looking at this new landscape as an opportunity to reinvent themselves. They realize it can’t be a race to the bottom anymore because Amazon has basically won that race. Instead, I think they’re seeking to do business with brands that offer uniqueness in product, high margins and more at-once opportunities and are less about futures. They also seek brands who provide product knowledge throughsales training and trunk shows, and DTC sites that help drive traffic to stores. With larger brands like Nike and Crocs of late paring down their retail rosters, does that present opportunities for smaller brands? It’s a huge opportunity for smaller brands. In general, I think it’s good to be a small brand right now, and it’s great to be a small brand that makes product in the U.S. Look at the success of Oak Street Bootmakers, for example. We see growth opportunities within long-standing, highservice stores that span footwear, haberdasheries, boutiques and online dealers, as well as with a limited number of premium department stores. Our current partners include Huckberry, Filson, Sundance, Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, Mr. Porter and Matches. We’ve opened nine new accounts already this year, including J.W. Hulme based in the Midwest and J. Peterman, which used to carry Quoddy years ago and have come back in the fold. What do you love most about your job? The ever-changing environment that creates new challenges every day, which forces you to keep relevant, always look for new ways to differentiate your business far beyond product and never be satisfied with what you have learned but always be intrigued by what you can still learn. •

Street meets outdoor: Stadium Goods and Chaco team up.

New Slide Rules LONG THE PURVEYOR of hip sneakers and streetwear, Stadium Goods is taking a walk on the wild side with its first-ever Chaco collab series. The iconic outdoor sport sandal brand’s Chillos Slides, in “Blackout” and “Whiteout” versions (SRP: $85), are equally at home chilling at a campsite or on a stroll through concrete canyons. “Ostensibly, it’s an unlikely pairing but sometimes unpredictable unions can give amazing results,” says Greig Bennett, vice president of Brand Creative and lead designer for Stadium Goods. “By coming together, we’re exposing each other’s audiences to something they may not be hip to and, in essence, being a cultural bridge. We’re very excited to bring such a dope product to our customers.” The monochromatic styles feature tonal Stadium Goods branding on the Z/ straps for a rugged but clean aesthetic, while the adjustable cinch strap ensures an optimal fit. The lightweight slides also feature the brand’s contoured Luvseat arch support footbed, high-abrasion EVA outsoles and an EVA foam midsole that allows them to float—in case it’s man overboard on the kayak or poolside. The slides are available at Stadium Goods’ New York and Chicago locations, its website and on Farfetch. “We are excited to introduce our brand to a new audience and think that Stadium Goods is the perfect partner for this,” states Lyndi Bell, brand marketing manager for Chaco, a division of Wolverine Worldwide. “Our collaboration is just getting started and we are looking forward to the things ahead.”

2021 june • footwearplusmagazine.com 39


LA S T SH OT

Shaping Up

Sylth Virago

Chinese Laundry

Lafayette 148

L’Artiste

The Art of the Heel 40 footwearplusmagazine.com • june 2021

Spiked, beveled, rounded, blocked…the shapes of heels to come this fall add structural intrigue and allure, not to mention end on a good note.

P H OTO G R A P H Y BY T R E V E T T M CC A N D L I SS

Bella Belle


SALES@WASHINGTONSHOE.COM | 253.234.3000 SHOPCHOOKA.COM | @SHOPCHOOKA


Featur ing Aetr ex or thotic suppor t and me mor y foam cushioning for supe r ior comfor t