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12 Brought to You By... Athletic brands explore various ways to create product buzz beyond athlete endorsements. By Melissa Knific

14 Q&A: Dansko CEO Amanda Cabot looks back at the clog maker’s 20 years and details how it has become a leader in more than mere sales. By Greg Dutter


Caroline Diaco Publisher

Memory Motel

Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Creative Director EDITORIAL Leslie Shiers Managing Editor Melissa Knific Features Editor Angela Velasquez Associate Editor Christine Bove Editorial Intern

Simple lines, classic profiles and a hint of print create a clean canvas for springtime sneakers.

CREATIVE Trevett McCandliss Art Director

20 Stripped. Performance brands are going bare for Spring ’11 as consumers explore the natural running trend. By Leslie Shiers

8 Editor’s Note 10 This Just In

26 Durable Goods A look at the latest work boots on the market, heartily designed to get the job done.

24 Trend Spotting 38 Shoe Salon 40 Wellness 48 What’s Selling 52 Show Stoppers

CONTRIBUTORS Dorothy Hong Photojournalist Bahar Shahpar Stylist Jamie Wetherbe West Coast Editor Kathy Passero Editor at Large Paola Polidori European Editor ADVERTISING Jennifer Craig Advertising Director Rita O’Brien Account Executive Erwin Pearl Special Accounts Laurie Guptill Production Manager ADMINISTRATION Alexandra Marinacci Operations Manager Theodore Hoffman Special Projects Director Melanie Prescott Circulation Manager Julie Gibson Webmaster

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CONTACT INFO Sales/Editorial Offices 8 West 38th Street, Suite 201 New York, NY 10018 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 nyeditorial@ Circulation Office 21 Highland Circle Needham, MA 02494 Tel: (800) 964-5150 Fax: (781) 453-9389 circulation@

On the cover: Juicy Couture extended hi-top. This page: distressed sneaker by Frye. Photography by Glynis Selina Arban. Civic Duty and Tretorn sneakers

FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, 8 West 38th Street, Suite 201, New York, NY, 10018-0150. 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. ©2010 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Printed in the United States.

CORPORATE Symphony Publishing NY Corporate Headquarters 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis, Chairman Lee Zapis, President Rich Bongorno, CFO Sid Davis, Group Publisher





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editor’s note a w e l c o m e a d d ition 7

The Wellness Bonus THERE ARE OBVIOUS benefits associated with wearing wellness footwear—those styles that, for discussion’s sake, fall under the toning/shaping and barefoot categories. These include the strengthening of various foot and leg muscles, improved posture, pain relief, an incentive to become more active (and burn more calories) and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re doing your body good. Yes, in a time-starved, multitasking world where versatile products that deliver tangible benefits are a prerequisite to purchasing, wellness footwear surely delivers. On top of that, there’s potential cost savings for shoppers who are looking to get a workout in amid their daily routines instead of shelling out for pricey gym memberships. And there’s the fashion bonus: Many consumers enjoy being part of the popular tribe. But in addition to the attributes wellness footwear offers consumers, there’s a bottom-line bonus for our industry. Many of these shoes (by the likes of MBT, Skechers, Alegria and Vibram FiveFingers, to name a few) are selling like hotcakes. Even better, they generally go for $70 to $200-plus. Unlike the Crocs phenomenon, these offer margins retailers can sink their teeth into. And in a brutal recession, any shoes that are selling provide welcome relief. The burgeoning wellness movement is also allowing both comfort and ath-

letic dealers a new opportunity to cash in on an area in which product knowledge and hands-on fitting are key—and “lowest price” isn’t the leading factor. Wellness has the makings of a standalone category spanning an assortment of products addressing a wide range of needs. Look for an evolution of exciting, innovative store formats catering to educated, affluent consumers who view these products as a worthy investment. In short, the wellness movement goes way beyond shoppers seeking firmer glutes. But, hey, that’s a great place to start if you want to create noise in a body image–obsessed world. Thanks to the wellness buzz, shoes are once again a hot topic. The fact that millions of people are discussing how footwear can enhance their overall wellbeing has tremendous trickle-up benefits. And there’s another, perhaps surprising, bonus related to wellness footwear: I expect it will actually encourage women to wear their so-called “unhealthier” high heels on occasion. Not unlike conscientious dieters who indulge in a brownie every now and then as a reward, wellness shoes may help women justify a night out in killer stilettos. Wellness footwear is not an either/or proposition. Sure, there will be disciples who wear little else, but I predict millions more will add wellness shoes to their wardrobes just as they have added Uggs, which have inarguably transcended the fad stage to become a comfort staple. To the wellness category, I say, welcome to our footwear family. There’s always room for one more.

Greg Dutter, Editorial Director


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Brought to You By... SHOPPERS WHO WALK into Jacksonville Running Company are likely to find Owen Shott bopping around from customer to customer, fully dressed in Mizuno garb. “We’ve really built a loyalty to the brand,” notes the Jacksonville, FL, store’s co-owner. “We’ve created a market where Mizuno is now found.” Shott was approached by a sales rep from the brand to wear-test the footwear and clothing, the idea being that as a hardcore runner, he would actually find use in the product and could share his opinions with shoppers. It’s all part of a grassroots plan by Mizuno to showcase its products on real people, hoping the exposure—and (fingers crossed) positive words—will win the brand fans. Rick Patterson, territory manager for Mizuno (covering Florida and South Georgia) has been with the brand for seven years. Initially, Mizuno’s sales accounted for less than 2 percent of specialty running. In a short period, the brand’s market share in the category rose to 11 percent. “The ambassador programs were a big part of how we grew,” he explains. “If you’ve got some big people [in the community] out there advocating for you and pulling the product out of the back room, you can grow pretty quickly.” In the past, an endorsement deal with a top athlete was the most common way to garner attention for a performance brand’s product. Nowadays, companies are increasingly rethinking their marketing approach, testing unconventional avenues to gain customer interest. “Brooks has taken an almost contrary point of view of marketing for the last eight years,” notes Dave Larson, the brand’s vice president of marketing. He believes today’s consumers have an overall distrust of “anything institutional” and says the brands that keep it real are the ones striking a chord. Brooks’ “Run Happy” campaign hopes to do just that. Recently, the company signed on as the footwear and apparel sponsor of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon, a 13-city race series that combines entertainment and running, with live bands positioned along every mile of the course and a post-event concert. Larson says the event perfectly aligns with the fun, celebratory voice of Brooks. “Some people look at running as a chore,” he adds. “We look at it as almost a party.” The brand is prominently featured at each event, with an area dedicated to gait analysis, and it also boasts a climate-controlled “V.I.P. Porta Potty” for all participants. The brand felt the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon was the ideal stage for attracting new consumers, as 40 percent of partici12 • july 2010

pating runners are competing for the first time. In a different tact, Brooks is also launching a gait analysis bus tour. Called the “Run Happy Cavalcade of Curiosities,” the blue-and-yellow doubledecker bus is meant to help lessen the intimidation factor of the high-tech shoes. “It’s this whole concept of ‘edu-tainment,’” Larson explains. “At the end of the day, [consumers] are getting expert advice on what shoes best meet their needs.” The bus even has its own website ( where consumers can keep track of its location and find out when it’s coming to a city near them. As a sponsor of the ING New York City Marathon, Asics America is also discovering alternative ways to market itself. “We are exploring how to bring more intimate one-on-one encounters with our brand,” says vice president of marketing Gary Slayton, explaining that the company secured a digital billboard in Times Square that allowed people to create a personal message via text that was broadcasted directly onto the sign during the event. Leone Rusher, marketing director of Shu’s Idaho Running Company in Boise, ID, says limited-edition styles—a driving force behind the sneaker boutique phenomenon—are a great way to generate buzz. “It creates an urgency,” she explains, adding that consumers are more likely to come into the store and check out the product for themselves. (Slayton says Asics has experimented with limited-edition running models and will likely do more in the future, as the special product contributed to additional interest in the brand.) Similarly, collaborations can be another way to make some noise. Etnies has gone this route, partnering with non-competitive brands in other categories, such as rising star Sean Malto’s skateboard brand. And >50


Athletic brands explore various ways to create product buzz. By Melissa Knific

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Approaching Dansko’s 20th anniversary, CEO Amanda Cabot reveals how the former little clog company has evolved into an industry favorite and a model of corporate excellence. By Greg Dutter

T’S BEEN NEARLY 20 years and all is right with the friendly, formerly little clog company Dansko. Actually, that’s quite an understatement: Dansko is in the midst of one of the best years in its history, recession be damned. Sales are on a record pace, the brand continues to expand into new categories, the company is thriving in its new state-of-the-art ecofriendly headquarters in West Grove, PA, and a growing number of retailers and consumers refer to Dansko as their “favorite”—not only in regards to its shoes and incredible service but also for its commitment to corporate good rather than greed. If that’s not enough wind in Dansko’s sails, the clog looks to be the leading silhouette going into Spring ’11, and one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the brand’s ability to capitalize on that trend. Good times, indeed. When asked to describe Dansko today, CEO Amanda Cabot uses the adjective “favorite” repeatedly. “[We are] our customers’ favorite shoes; our retailers’ favorite brand; our suppliers’ favorite customer; our employees’ favorite employer; and an industry leader, community supporter, responsible environmentalist, role model, mentor, inspiration and overall good corporate citizen. I think that about covers it,” she says. Biased, perhaps? Not when it is a sentiment often heard in many industry circles. It’s like when parents say to their children, “You should be more like so and so…” Well, when it comes to shoe companies, the model of excellence is more often than not Dansko. Perhaps it’s because Cabot and her husband Peter Kjellerup fell into the shoe business by accident. The couple was running a successful horsetraining business when they stumbled upon these “incredibly comfortable” Danish-made clogs and soon after started selling them as a side gig out of the back of their station wagon at equestrian events. Unfamiliar with ingrained industry practices (both good and bad), they set off on an entirely different course. “We didn’t know the ropes of the shoe industry, but I think that was one of our competitive advantages,” Cabot says. “We were seatof-the-pants, but our intentions were pure and our values solid.” That core business philosophy, according to Cabot, was simple: “If you’ve got something great to share, you share it. And if in the sharing you can reinvest in more to share, you do that, too. And the gift just keeps on giving.” She likens the approach to a “golden rule, pay-it-forward” type of thinking. “It was never about making a lot of money,” she says regarding their entry into the 14

shoe business. “It was about making something previously unavailable available and about creating possibilities and opportunities and improving the very quality of life, one step at a time.” This approach, one that Cabot also describes as “doing the r ight thing,” ha s grown Dansko from a quirky clog company into an anchoring comfort brand. For many consumers, it’s their everyday shoe because they are addicted to what Cabot describes as a unique, stable construction suitable for all-day wear. It’s no wonder, she says, why healthcare professionals, teachers and service industry workers are Amanda Cabot Dansko fanatics. And as the line has expanded beyond the clog silhouette, the commitment to comfort has always been the top priority. In addition to a signature product, what has made Dansko unlike many other shoe companies is its moral compass. No green gimmicks or one-off marketing ploys here—when Dansko sets its mind to a cause, it’s for the long haul. Simply tour the company’s sustainable headquarters, and you’ll see why it’s serving as a model of excellence for companies along the East Coast. While the green initiative could have ended there, Cabot is committed to making further strides. For example, one of her current concerns involves post-production. She cites Paul Hawken’s book “The Ecology of Commerce,” which asserts that manufacturers must take responsibility for not only manufacturing (think social justice, fair trade and reducing one’s carbon footprint) but also disposing of what they make at the end of its useful life. “We don’t have the R&D wherewithal at Dansko to tackle this ourselves, but we’re certainly eager to make use of every new technology that becomes available to make the footprint of our products even greener,” Cabot says. Just last month, the company flipped the switch on its 245-kilowatt solar panel system to supplement its wind-generated power. Utilizing ever

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O&A In addition to the big-picture initiatives, Cabot more sustainable components in its footwear is remains just as focused on what enables all of another big initiative. “We’ve always used recythat to occur: continuing to make stylish, comcled components whenever possible and sourced fortable shoes that sell through at retail. Along leathers from tanneries with the highest possisuch lines, she is excited about what’s on tap for ble ratings, but we’re working toward something Spring ’11. “We’re great at making sandals—clogs [post-consumer use] that’s truly revolutionary and otherwise—but were challenged by the need in our shoemaking,” she says. for a true warm-weather clog,” she says. Enter At a time when green initiatives have taken a backseat to cost concerns and consumer fatigue, it’s refreshing to see Cabot’s drive for what is arguably still the “right thing to do” in the long-term. “The financial meltfor a day, who would it down certainly hasn’t helped, but I’d What are you reading? be? I’m quite happy in my like to think that progress is being “The Places In Between,” by own shoes, but if I could do made on the sustainability front,” Rory Stewart. It’s about his Cabot offers. “Our colleagues in the 500-mile walk from Herat to anything for a day it would be rescue work. It’s tough, to Eco Working Group of the Outdoor Kabul in war-torn Afghanibe sure, but I can’t imagine Industry Association, for example, stan in 2002. It’s an incredanything more rewarding. are diligently pursuing higher stanible adventure, with a fromdards for footwear manufacturing the-ground-up perspective If you could hire anyone of and assembly, packaging, use, and you rarely get to hear. note, who would it be? My service and lifecycle assessment. dad [for his infinite wisdom], We’re also very [excited about] the What is the last movie you efforts of several of our footwear saw? “The Road” by Cormac but at 89, I don’t think he’d take the job. Runner-up is component makers—more and McCarthy. It’s not a movie Paul Hawken, author of “The more of them are looking upstream you watch for fun, but it’s Ecology of Commerce.” He’s as well as downstream.” important. “What if ” quesabsolutely brilliant, and Cabot’s ability to continually see tions often are. given that Dansko’s all about the bigger picture and her com“doing the right thing”— pany’s place in it is why Dansko is What are your three most socially, environmentally and much more than a shoe company. It frequented websites? commercially—his perspecreflects a way of living life—one that Google, Google and Google. tive would be tremendous. is healthy and sustainable as well as I use the Web mostly for profitable. “We’re all interconnectresearch and always start Who is the world’s most ed: suppliers, suppliers’ suppliers, there. And I check Dansko’s influential person in fashemployees, retailers, retailers’ emFacebook page daily. ion? Some say Lady Gaga ployees, neighbors, consumers and for her boundary-bending so on,” Cabot attests. This is why she Upon graduating high creativity, but I think editors is proud that Dansko is a founding school you were voted of magazines like InStyle member of B Corp, an organization most likely to… I’d have to should get a lot of credit for of more than 300 for-profit comsay “succeed.” I was pretty making fashion accessible. panies in more than 50 industries driven back then, and tack(Dansko is the only shoe company led just about anything I was What is your motto? Anyto date to qualify) that have passed interested in full-on. thing worth doing is worth rigorous social and environmental doing to excess. standards that measure corporate If you could be anyone good. “It’s like LEED certification on our new building—third-party validation of our business operations, a Sanibel, a new vulcanized construction with the pathway for us to connect our brand promises anatomical contours and unmistakable silhouto our practices—and get credit for it,” she exette of a Dansko, but lighter weight and offered plains. “As a B Corp, we expanded our corporate in linen-printed leathers, tropical floral canvas charter to legally recognize the interests of all and cool summer plaids. Based on the response of our stakeholders, not just our stockholders, so at the recent FFANY show, Cabot believes this we literally put our money where our mouth is collection may be the largest launch in Dansko’s when we say ‘all.’ It’s accountability in the broadhistory. And Cabot hints of even bigger things to est sense.”


16 • july 2010

come. “Stay tuned. We have some great things that are currently under wraps but scheduled to launch before year-end,” she teases. Twenty years ago, did you ever envision that you would be running an enormously successful shoe company? I’ll answer your question in three parts: No. 1. “Running?” Absolutely. My husband and I are hard-wired entrepreneurs. Neither of us has had much experience working for anyone but ourselves, so it’s in our blood to “run” things. No. 2. “Enormously successful?” Well, I can’t speak to the “enormous” part, but successful, yes. Whatever it is, we do what we’re pretty good at and work hard every day to be better. No. 3. “Shoe company?” Not in a million years. Before Dansko, shoes were a fairly low priority for me—I considered them gear, mostly. But once we happened upon the makings of the world’s most comfortable shoes, developing them to their fullest potential was inevitable. When did you first start to notice that this might have the makings of a footwear career? We knew we were on to something great and unique from the very beginning. Everyone we “shared” our shoes with told us so. But we already had careers as professional horse trainers, so it took us a few years to transition out of that business into this. When did Dansko cease being that “little clog company”? Back in the late ’90s, we engineered a non-clog collection called Golden Gate, which replicated the ride of our original clog with a fresh, more contemporary silhouette and construction. I think that was the moment that I really got the concept of brand DNA, of what makes a Dansko a Dansko. Not only did we have the market’s permission to expand beyond clogs (Golden Gate alone sold more than 2 million pairs), but we knew what we needed to do. What were your biggest challenges back then? In contrast, what are some of them today? Controlling growth was always one of our biggest challenges. Keeping our promises to retailers, consumers, employees and suppliers was paramount. If we didn’t manage our inventory, production, logistics and distribution properly,

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we would fail the very folks who counted on us. We face the same issues today. But now we know more than we knew then. The bar is higher and our standards more exacting, because our decisions— right and wrong—affect so many more people. In many ways, I feel more pressure now. What are some of the biggest changes in the industry compared to when you started? Internet retailing, Far East sourcing and the rise of the green movement are all game-changers and all are double-edged swords as well. Regarding the Internet, consumers now have far greater access to far more information about the products they buy, so more than ever, they’re exercising their right to make intelligent choices. On the down side, Internet retailing can generate focus on price as the purchase driver rather than service or a more fully developed brand story. Regarding the Far East, one can certainly argue that offshore sourcing has helped to keep prices in check and allowed for the entire industry to grow, but there are definite drawbacks. Buying from any offshore resource not only increases our trade deficit, it contributes to the already increasing carbon footprint of the industry. Even more problematic, in my opinion, is the growing loss of technical expertise here in the States. Lastly, although I have nothing negative to say about the industry’s efforts to produce, assemble, package and deliver more sustainability [something that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about], it’s become more and more difficult for consumers to tell “green” companies apart from really good “green-washers.” What aspects have largely stayed the same? I’m certainly no expert on this subject, but I don’t think I’ve seen any truly revolutionary developments in shoemaking since we started in this business. I’m not sure why this is, but given how much has changed in other industries, it does surprise me. I’d love to be part of something truly revolutionary. If you could push rewind, is there anything you would have done differently? There are many things we could have done better, no doubt about it, but I get a little spooked at the thought of “pushing rewind.” Let’s face it, everything we’ve done thus far—mistakes included—has shaped us into who we are today. I’d hate to wake up one day and find myself living someone else’s life! Did you envision this year as being one of the best—if not the best—year in the company’s history? We were pretty well positioned coming into the economic crisis of 2008-09, so our focus was on helping retailers ride out the storm— understanding their needs; what would and wouldn’t help their cash flow; investing in what we knew would be fast-moving, core product for at-once order fills; and shortening turnaround time. If we could help our retailers’ businesses stay healthy, we’d be fine. In the background, we were bringing in new talent and strengthening capabilities, especially in the product area. Once the economic dust settled, we were ready to forge ahead. What has been the most important factor in your current success, and why might Dansko be recession-proof? It’s got to start with product, of course. We’re not in the occasion shoe business, and fortunately for us, a very large percentage of our consumers work in industries that have not been as severely impacted by the economy—such as health care, food service and education. For a great many of these folks, we’re their everyday shoes

and, true to our mission, their favorite shoes. How have Dansko’s customers’ shopping habits and product needs evolved through the years? All consumers today, not just ours, have many more shopping options than before, and many more brands are accessible to consumers who might not have had access or information about them before. But precisely because of information overload, there’s no substitute for good, old-fashioned, personalized fitting-stool service— especially with new products. In terms of product needs, consumers have become more thoughtful about the things they spend money on. Shoes are less occasion, impulse or accessory buys than they’ve been in the past, which is, of course, great for Dansko. What is your target customer’s primary concern when it comes to buying shoes? At the end of the day, both figuratively and literally, comfort would be the obvious answer. But I think style is what attracts our customer first. Our shoes have to be fashionable, first and foremost, and versatile—especially in this economy, where decisions about spending are more carefully weighed. Comfort is a given. If comfort is a given, how do you define “wellness” footwear? Wellness footwear, as marketed these days, seems to be more like “gear;” something you wear in order to accomplish something else, like better muscle tone or posture. Of course, Dansko is all about “feeling well,” but we’ve never positioned our footwear as gear or exercise equipment. In fact, the very premise of [some of this new] product—instability—is counter to what we do. Absolutely, we believe in rocker bottoms—this is one of the core attributes of clogs, after all—but we need to provide stability as well, especially for people whose jobs or lifestyles involve long hours of standing or walking. The last thing we want to do is create instability unnaturally. Does this wellness movement have long-running macro implications or might this be just another fad diet? Good question. At the moment, wellness appears to be led more by trend followers than by trendsetters, so I think I’d put my money on the fad diet horse for now. As Dr. Andrew Weil said recently, “Footwear that challenges stability to simulate a workout isn’t a replacement for exercise itself.” I’d have to agree with that. Where does Dansko fit into the wellness equation? Dansko has always been about wellness, if you measure wellness by how you feel at the end of the day. Have your shoes made your day easier or harder, your attitude better or worse? Someone once said that life is what happens when you’re not dealing with uncomfortable shoes, or something to that effect. Dansko’s product mandatories are proper foot function and all-day support. In my mind, that’s where wellness begins. How important is it for a brand to try and make that “bigger picture” connection with consumers today? I think it’s huge. Not everyone considers where their clothing, cosmetics, food and drinks come from, but I certainly do, and I think that more and more people are starting to as well. At the very least, irresponsible ethics and business practices are a distinct and often irreversible reason not to buy. Or worse, never to buy. What’s your take on the economic recovery? Any “green shoots,” as they may have been prematurely labeled? >46

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stripped. The performance running category goes bare. By Leslie Shiers

20 • july 2010

Barefoot running. Natural mo-

tion. Biomechanics. The buzz has been building for the past few years, and it seems the performance athletic world is about to explode with what some confidently say will establish an entirely new category of running product. Some runners may have initially balked at the Nike Free technology and laughed at Vibram’s silly-looking FiveFingers shoe “glove,” but there’s no denying that products like these have lit a fire under the industry. Call it a cumulative effect of the growing preference for a natural lifestyle, positive results from a wealth of scientific studies and the huge following of “Born to Run,” the new runners’ bible by Christopher McDougall: Buyers will see a marked shift from overly engineered, tricked-out running shoes to more minimalistic design as performance brands unveil their Spring ’11 introductions. Tony Post, CEO of Vibram USA, is excited to see other brands hopping on the natural running bandwagon. “It shows that something we’ve been talking about for a long time has gained some credibility,” he notes. David Helter, general sales manager for Ecco USA’s performance division, notes that the impact this concept is having on the industry has been one of the most noticeable in his 20 years in the athletic business. Where the language once centered on terms like “motion control” and “stability,” the pendulum has swung back, he says. And it’s not just a fad. Like toning, “This is a trend that has become a category,” Helter asserts. Consumers are calling for it. A spurt of articles about barefoot running have definitely perked up ears. New Balance designer Chris Wawrousek notes runners have been talking “form” for years (he cites the 2005 tome “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer as an early thought-provoker) and says many are realizing that tweaking their body positioning from the ground up can have physical benefits. That starts with what elements go (or don’t go) into a shoe. “People used to think of pronationcontrol mechanisms as something they needed to run successfully,” Wawrousek says, noting now the thought is, “Maybe I don’t need that.” Danny Abshire, co-founder and CEO of Newton Running, a brand built around the natural running approach, believes the predominance of tech-heavy shoes brainwashed people to think overbuilt product is necessary. As a result of those shoes, “Everyone’s using way too much power to run,” he says, noting pared-down alternatives like Newton’s allow the body to do what it was naturally designed to do. While execs and designers are quick to note that “barefoot running” is an obvious misnomer when used by any shoe manufacturer, the thought is that footwear that allows a runner’s feet to work as if he or she weren’t wearing shoes at all will result in greater efficiency. Often, this means engineering product to encourage a midfoot strike rather than a heel-first landing. This shift produces a change in head-to-toe form, activating different muscles. Both ultrarunners and casual enthusiasts alike

are experimenting with this approach, which in addition to strengthening those otherwise underor unused muscles can provide a greater range of motion, better body alignment and more. According to Brooks designer Rich Zartman, new insight on biomechanics and a slew of new, innovative products should continue to build momentum. “We’ve been answering to the opposite end of the spectrum—that ‘more is more’ idea. It was like a thermonuclear war where [running brands] kept building where they didn’t need to.” The move toward minimalism marks a correction of the industry, he notes, which is now taking an even closer look at runners’ real needs.

Saucony’s ProGrid Kinvara offers a next-tonothing feel.


Mainstream brands don’t deny the natural running category’s potential, and that’s evident in their spring lines. Yet execs note they won’t forgo the more traditional shoes that have sold well to date. “I think the biggest part of our business will still be our everyday trainers that a lot of runners have had success with over the years,” notes Patrick O’Malley, Saucony’s SVP of global product. “But I do think this is more than a flash in the pan. I think this is a silo, if you will, that is going to find its place within the running community.” Saucony has already dipped a toe into the waters with the lightweight ProGrid Kinvara, which hits stores this month and is built to encourage a midfoot strike. The company is following up with two additions built on the same last for spring: The Mirage offers a bit more guidance than the original neutral runner, while the Peregrine delivers an offroad version. These shoes “are not going to become our whole line, but we’re big believers [in minimalism],” O’Malley says. “A lot of [our staff ] have been running in the Kinvara for the last few months, and there are people who thought they’d never get out of a beefier shoe who are feeling the benefits—more strength in their lower body and so forth. So this is not just an opportunity to sell some new shoes; it’s also something we see as having a real benefit for runners.” “We’ve definitely seen people exploring footwear that is much lighter, lower in profile and less structured,” says Jim Monahan, VP of footwear for Asics America. “That’s why you’re seeing a decline in really stable, motion-control shoes.” While Asics won’t turn away from its successful running-shoe recipe, Monahan says new entries like the GEL-Speedstar 5 embody the new minimalism. “We’ll continue to engineer shoes in a lot of different ways,” he notes. New Balance is preparing to unjuly 2010 • 21

Brooks’ Ravenna 2

Asics’ GEL-Speedstar 5

veil a new minimalist collection to buyers in August. “These aren’t our first ‘minimal’ shoes, but this will be the most vocal [entry],” Wawrousek hints, noting the fresh approach to design has opened new doors for designers. “I don’t think it invalidates the work we’ve done in the past, [but] the fact that people will consider something like FiveFingers as a footwear choice completely changes the spectrum for us.” Over at Ecco, Helter notes the success of the brand’s natural motion BIOM running shoe means the design will be brought to other categories—including cross-training and golf—for Spring ’11. And Brooks is continuing to build up its “guidance” category, which rests between support and cushioning and comprises sleek styles like the Ravenna 2 that won’t overly control the foot. Meanwhile, brands that have centered on natural motion from the onset continue to expand their ideas. Vibram FiveFingers is busy enough just trying to keep up with demand (Post says Vibram has been forced to put a moratorium on new accounts in 2010.) But the brand is simultaneously expanding three key areas for spring: core running, women’s fitness and kids’ styles. In addition, Vibram plans to share its barefoot running expertise with other companies, starting with a collaboration with Merrell (see page 40). Merrell’s general manager, Jim Zwiers, believes the co-created collection perfectly falls under the umbrella of wellness that has emerged as one of the industry’s hottest segments. And this is just the beginning, Post notes: “I don’t know if I’d call barefoot a revolution, but it’s clearly a big idea that will have a broad influence on the fitness, athletic and wellness markets.” Abshire of Newton Running is excited about barefoot running’s future, but he says buyers have been slow to pick up on this burgeoning segment: “Retailers [hear about] so many technologies and promises. In the end, they stick with what sells and what people complain least about.” Helter of Ecco agrees, noting that running specialty stores have been so entrenched in the distinct categories of stability, comfort, etc., that it’s difficult for them to embrace a new concept. Still, Abshire believes that running naturally—when done correctly—can truly prevent injuries, which should prove a strong selling point. SMART TRANSITIONS

Studies suggest natural running is smart running, but manufacturers stress that these shoes are not meant for all runners, and anyone transitioning into

them should do so slowly and carefully. “If a runner already has a [mid- or forefoot strike], it can be a pretty smooth transition,” says Bill McInnis, Reebok’s head of advanced innovation. However, these products will dramatically change most runners’ gait, and thus injuries from misuse are a concern. Runners shouldn’t suddenly toss out their tech-heavy stability sneakers or ultracushioned shoes in favor of a barefoot-esque style, says Wawrousek, who notes New Balance’s goal is to teach them how to wisely make the switch. Similarly, Helter says Ecco puts a training schedule in each BIOM shoebox, noting it may take several weeks before the wearer can run in the shoes full-time. Some believe barefoot shoes may be best used as a complement to more traditional footwear; runners might switch between the two to target a variety of muscles. “Running is a repetitive motion that after a while can beat up the body,” O’Malley explains. “Shoes with different geometries and engineering, used in rotation, should strengthen the body and work muscles differently. That should be a positive thing for most runners.” Likewise, Post is quick to note FiveFingers isn’t the only shoe a consumer will ever need. “There are plenty of occasions where you need the protection or traction that you don’t get in FiveFingers,” he says. “But if you’re always in shoes and boots, you may lose range of motion… So our philosophy is you need both.” NEW OPPORTUNITY

Heavily posted, thickly cushioned or barrier-free: “What’s clear is that there is no one best solution for everyone,” says McInnis. But the excitement over barefoot styles is encouraging designers and developers to try new things. Before, O’Malley explains, “the industry was kind of stuck in a certain way of how shoes had to be made.” From similar constructions to typical gray medial posts, running product tended to look the same regardless of season or company. “Now, consumers and retailers are open to thinking that things may be done differently,” O’Malley continues. “That’s liberating for us as a brand.” And consumers’ warm reception to novel products is allowing brands to freshen up in other ways. Monahan says that Asics, for example, is taking more license with cosmetic applications. Meanwhile, McInnis notes consumers today are more open to trying products like Reebok’s ZigTech shoes, which look very different from what they’re used to seeing on store shelves. “The industry had been on cruise control for a few years,” admits Zartman. “This is a great kick in the pants to all of us to innovate and move forward, to work hard from a design and biomechanical standpoint.” Whether natural running will earn a dedicated section on the shoe wall for the long-term is yet to be determined, but suffice it to say that the shift toward a more natural run isn’t going anywhere soon. “We’re just beginning to see the industry’s response to ‘Born to Run,’” Wawrousek notes. “It will be interesting to see whether an anti-trend spawns out of that. I wouldn’t be surprised.” •


Like Buttah

This fresh, smooth colorway is heavy on the cool factor for spring. Clockwise from top left: True Religion canvas hi-top; trainer by Civic Duty; Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe; J75 by Jump buckle hi-top. Center: Reebok lo-cut. 24



See more at

September 10-12, 2010 D端sseldorf Germany D端sseldorf,

Timberland Pro


CAT Footwear


John Deere

Justin Boots

Red Wing





DURABLE GOODS Heavy-duty boots fit for a day’s work



Dirty Laundry floral lace-up; Keds gingham sneaker.


30 Shot on location at the Memory Motel in Montauk, NY. Styling by Nicole Frady; hair by Ava Shen; makeup by Shirin Khosravi. Fashion editor: Angela Velasquez

This page: PF Flyers canvas lace-up. Opposite: laceless sneakers by Native Shoes.


From left: Sorel duck boot-inspired hi-tops; plaid sneakers by Vans; New Balance canvas hi-top.




This page: tan sneaker by PF Flyers; blue nautical-themed shoe by Keep; white hi-tops by Simple. Opposite page, from top: Juicy Couture tall hi-top; Camper sneakers; white hi-tops by Simple.


This page: Fila madras sneaker; tan and orange Puma sneaker. Opposite page: purple lo-tops by TOMS Shoes. Thanks to the following companies for lending clothing for this shoot: Betsey Johnson, What Goes Around Comes Around, Wrangler, Cheap Monday, Kill City, Ben Sherman and Acne.



Shoe Salon

Designer Chat: Wells Stellberger

38 • july 2010

Clockwise from top left: Chocolate Blu ballet flat with bow; engineer boot by Franco Sarto; Marc Joseph New York pump; Contessa by Italian Shoemakers mule; Clockwise from top left: women’s boot Zelcer; with buckle by platform Sperry Top-Sider; True Religion hi-top; cut-out bootie by Sergio hidden pump by Schutz. Clae chukka; Vans boat/sneaker hybrid; ladies’ boot by Sebago.

E D I T O R’ S P I C K S

says of Heutchy’s customer. “Something that, with age, becomes better.” Who is the Heutchy man? Our guy is independent. His style is an extension of his personality. He knows what he looks good in and buys pieces knowing he’ll wear them for a long time. Who do you admire in the shoe world? I always enjoy the theatrical element of women’s [designers] such as Givenchy, YSL and Balenciaga. It is about the pure art of shoes and a world where imagination rules. In the men’s world, I tend to be drawn to lines and designers that are more pragmatic

Star Board

The boat shoe inspires a new wave of casuals. and wearable. I really like Pierre Hardy for his playful use of color in design; Margiela for the always-inspiring twist of design; and Nike for constantly pushing new materials and construction techniques. What will we never see in your line? A shoe that extends three inches past the tip of the foot and ends in a point. What is your motto? True beauty is in simplicity. What might people be surprised to learn about you? I love any meal that includes sausage and dark chocolate. —Melissa Knific


FOR AS LONG as he can remember, Wells Stellberger has been obsessed with shoes. “I realized that I was always looking for something that was difficult to find,” he says, noting that the footwear he came across was either overdesigned or too simple. Finding the middle ground—shoes that “possessed tasteful details in an understated way” and would-be wardrobe staples—Stellberger launched his own men’s collection, Heutchy, for Spring ’10. Pronounced “hi-chi” (and named in honor of his grandfather, whom Stellberger was unable to meet before he passed), the line takes classic silhouettes and reinterprets them to work in today’s context. Stellberger says the Brooklyn, NY-based brand offers men the quality of designer shoes at more reasonable price points (the line retails between $250 and $450). “I hope we can offer shoes that reach an audience of men who care about beautiful materials, good construction and quality, and pragmatic design,” he adds. For Spring ’11, the designer was inspired by photographer Joseph Sterling’s images taken between 1959 and 1964. “They’re all about a youthful generation coming into their own,” he notes, explaining that discovery and rebellion was mixed with classic elements of dress. “That made for an interesting tension in Sterling’s photos that I tried to capture.” Six styles are available for spring, ranging from slip-ons to desert boots to sneakers. To create a more modern aesthetic in the final product, Stellberger incorporates fine-hair English suede, woven printed canvas and translucent rubber soles to the familiar designs. “He wants something simple, subtle and attractive,” the designer

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Sole Mates

Vibram partners with Merrell for an exclusive ‘barefoot’ collection. PERHAPS IT WAS only a matter of time before Vibram—primarily an outsole supplier and maker of the groundbreaking and increasingly popular FiveFingers barefoot running brand—began linking up with its select footwear partners for exclusive collaborations. Merrell marks the first such marriage, and the two companies will target the outdoor market with the launch of Merrell Barefoot for Spring ’11, a debut collection featuring six minimalist styles for men and women. As Merrell’s general manager Jim Zwiers sees it, the two brands have been long-time partners in creating some of the outdoor market’s topselling shoes and this team effort further melds their respective design expertise to create a barefoot collection that appeals to a broader audience. “We are always in discussions about outsole technologies and the way our programs can work together, and this is a natural outgrowth from our relationship,” Zwiers says, adding that the tremendous dialogue Vibram has created around barefoot technology makes the partnership that much more attractive. “Merrell has always brought performance to the marketplace but with a versatility and a style message that lets it have much broader appeal, and our aim is to build on what Vibram is creating for a Merrell audience that’s potentially a little different and will apply barefoot shoes in ways that meet [consumers’] needs.” Tony Post, CEO of Vibram USA, believes this partnership, among others (Vibram is also developing a barefoot running collection with a leading athletic brand), will expand the company’s influence and leadership position in the category of minimalist footwear. “We know that the category presents a very big opportunity, and there40 • july 2010

fore we have chosen to work with a select group of leading brands in a few different categories to introduce ‘minimalist footwear technology,’” Post says, adding that Merrell Barefoot shoes are clearly different from Vibram FiveFingers. The difference starts with Merrell foregoing FiveFingers’ glove-like toe design for what Zwiers describes as an “actual shoe.” Other differences include a narrower last, a little added cushioning in the forefoot area, padding in the tongue and heel, Merrell’s proprietary Omni-Fit lacing system on most styles, and lightweight upper materials, which Zwiers describes as a “mix of synthetics and leathers and textures that offer great performance but also a lot of curb appeal.” Zwiers notes the differences are largely cosmetic and wearers still get the full barefoot experience, which studies have shown can strengthen foot and lower leg muscles, offer greater agility and range of motion, improve posture, relieve back pain and encourage a forefoot strike when running, ultimately resulting in a more efficient and safer running form. Beyond the broader design appeal, Zwiers believes barefoot shoes present a natural crossover into the outdoor market. Many outdoor activities, he says, involve strengthening—hiking, for example, is often done on uneven terrain that forces the body to work and flex. “Merrell Barefoot is designed to enhance those feelings and increase sensitivity to the ground,” he explains. Then there’s the fashion aspect: Zwiers cites the success of past low-profile Merrell styles and expects the new collection will have a similar lifestyle appeal. “Whether they are being worn to yoga class, being packed in a suitcase for a quick workout on a business trip or for more intense sports, we

think we’ll be surprised by the range of use,” he notes. Another big attraction, Zwiers adds, is the lightness of these shoes, despite the addition of full uppers. The lightest of the women’s styles weighs less than 5 ounces per shoe—about half the weight of a typical running shoe. The men’s version comes in under 7 ounces. Clark Matis, a 29-year design veteran of Merrell who designed the Jungle Moc and Chameleon series, is bullish on Merrell Barefoot’s potential. Based on initial retailer response, he says the new collection looks to be quite significant. In fact, Matis notes some key retailers don’t even want to wait until Spring ’11 to get their hands on the first batch. “The REIs and EMSs of the world are clamoring for this,” he reports. “And if REI wants it, you know everyone else within our distribution channel is going to want it.” Matis adds, “Everybody is looking for the next big thing,” noting some simple math is part of the equation. “Retailers would rather sell a $100 product rather than a $50 one.” (FiveFingers’ least expensive style retails for $88.) According to Zwiers, retail distribution will remain consistent within Merrell’s current assortment, which will overlap with some existing FiveFingers accounts. “We absolutely designed this collection to coexist with FiveFingers. We think that there is an importance to telling that barefoot/minimalist message to make the tribe even bigger.” He says the line—which will retail for $90 to $120—is tailor-made for many of the company’s existing outdoor, running and footwear specialty store accounts and Merrell believes its influencer accounts will lead the charge. Zwiers sees this as just Trail the beginning for Merrell Glove Barefoot. A more flushedout line is on tap for Spring ’12, including what he describes as some “amazing” water programs—a natural extension of this concept. “This debut collection is a good foundation for retailers to build off of, and down the road, consumers will have more places to go with Merrell Barefoot as they get more familiar with it and see the expanded offerings.” —Greg Dutter

True Mindset

New Balance makes toning a 360˚ affair. NEW BALANCE BUILDS its toning product assortment with the launch of TrueBalance, part of the brand’s wellness initiative to assist active women in their everyday activities and alleviate their time-management woes. Sarah Kopriva, senior product manager for New Balance Wellness, feels the time is right for the brand to make a bold splash with consumers. “New Balance has a heritage in the walking industry for 25 years,” she says. “It’s about making wellness a mindset, not a category.” The goal is to “help women reframe the way they think of exercise [so they] see it more as an indulgence,” Kopriva explains. The TrueBalance collection offers just that with a patent-pending balance board featuring a soft, flexible sole unit with a spring system and rounded shape. This technology creates an unstable platform, requiring the wearer to work to maintain their natural balance and in turn toning muscles and burning calories. TrueBalance reportedly works in a 360-degree motion to expand muscle reach,

One for the Ladies

Aetrex Xpress melds performance and looks. COMFORT BRAND AETREX is keying in on what women want—especially in terms of footwear meant to move. This summer, the brand introduces Xspress Fitness Runners, developed to meet the requirements of the XX set both in and out of the gym, eliminating the need to choose between performance and style. To create the Xspress product, Aetrex gathered an experienced group of female designers and fitness trainers to help determine what should go into the ultimate fitness shoe for running and walking. “It was tough for us [men] to use self-control and stay out of the room, but we did a pretty good job of staying away,” CEO Larry Schwartz jokes. As it turned out, the female perspective sparked an all-new approach to product conception and development. “Women want to feel good on their feet, they want the shoe to be light, but they also want it to look good,” Schwartz says. “I think the fashion

whereas other toning products—including New Balance’s own Rock&Tone collection—typically focus on a front-to-back rolling motion. Testing has shown this approach can spark up to a 29-percent increase in muscle activation and up to a 10-percent increase in calorie burning over conventional walking shoes. Wear tests—including electromyography, kinematic, kinetic and physiologic tests in the New Balance Sports Research Lab—have substantiated these claims. Consumers also took part in blindfolded testing and a six-week trial to ensure the shoes had long-term benefits. The collection boasts a high comfort factor but a lower profile silhouette than most competitors’ shoes, which creates a sleeker look. “We were finding that people didn’t want to sacrifice style to get the benefits they desired,” says Kopriva. “We’re packaging a toning system as a hidden beauty secret.” New Balance is launching TrueBalance this month with two styles. The 1100 is the premium version with more balance technology and upgraded materials, like suede, to make it more lightweight for all-day wear. This “progressive athletic” shoe will retail for $110 at high-end department and specialty retailers and comes in gray/lime, black/purple, gray/blue and white/ pink. The 850 is made with synthetic materials and mesh to create a more athletic-looking shoe. At $90, New Balance is placing this style—which comes in white/gray/pink, black/gray/pink, silver/blue and white/tan/charcoal combinations—in department stores. More colorways will be added early next year. The company will also introduce the 1105 ($130)—a premium leather, casual dress shoe option for this fall and extend the product line with a men’s version of the 850. Kopriva notes buyers are clamoring for early samples and are liking how the shoes can be worn for different occasions. New Balance will incorporate the TrueBalance technology into its Aravon brand as well, with casual silhouettes like Mary Janes and a style with a Z-strap closure. Extending the technology to everyday styles just makes sense, Kopriva says, noting, “Women want these benefits in every aspect of their lives.” —Christine Bove

element is something that’s often missing in this type of footwear. It’s about the little things you can do so women won’t want to take these off their feet when they leave the gym.” Step one was designing a last specifically meant for a woman’s foot and stripping away the unnecessary materials and technologies that sometimes overwhelm fitness footwear. By doing so, “We were able to create a clean and sleek silhouette,” notes Susan Ryder, Aetrex’s women’s product director. “We combined this with innovative customization features you expect to find in a performance shoe including support, fit, shock absorption and cushioning.” It’s a balance of not too little but not too much, Schwartz adds, noting that the current buzz around minimalistic design for performance shoes has steered the brand away from over-engineering. In addition, he notes, the same strategies the company has used to improve the look of its women’s casuals have been applied to the Xspress line. “And, based on our pre-sales, we’re onto something,” Schwartz says, reporting that the Xspress Fitness Runner has been the best pre-booked athletic shoe the company has ever offered. The lightweight shoes feature breathable mesh uppers that maximize airflow, plus a heel counter and footbridge that together keep the foot stable and provide support. The design team also ensured great traction through slip-resistant rubber outsoles, while the shoes can accomodate Aetrex’s Mozaic customization technology to relieve pressure on hot spots of an individual’s foot as she engages in walking or running. The Xspress line also baits active women ages 30 to 50 through trendright color combinations (white with lavender, cranberry or light blue as well as a gray version with salmon pink pops that Schwartz says has been the No. 1 choice) and feminine details, such as metallic leathers and python-embossed trims. Available in sizes 5 to 11 and both medium and wide widths, each pair in the Xspress collection is set to retail for $99.95. “We’re very excited about the initial feedback we’ve received,” Ryder reports. “Women feel great running or exercising in them and don’t want to take them off for the rest of the day.” —Leslie Shiers july 2010 • 41

SHOWCASE SPRING ’11 In a class all their own, Chooka rain boots offer an array of dazzling colors and designs to prove that form and function need not come at the price of style. In any weather, Chookas are more than an accessory to an outfit—Chookas are the outfit. The line caters to any style, from modern and classic to edgy and zany. Chooka’s trendsetting styles feed any passion for fashion. For Spring ’11, Chooka is introducing its funky patterns in several new silhouettes, including riding boots and tall knee boots.


FFANY, WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (800) 925-7463

Primigi’s “Irene” style represents the Spring/Summer ’11 collection with an elegant silhouette and on-trend accents. And now Primigi footwear, spanning crib shoes to tween styles, will be complemented by the debut of Primigi sportswear (sizes 0 to 14). Designed to complement the luxe footwear, the clothing mirrors the spirit and quality of the shoes.

Atlanta Shoe Market (800) 562.2212

Founded in Los Angeles, Restricted Footwear is a fashionforward brand appreciated by couture boutiques as well as chain stores. From on-trend boots to fashionable flats and everything in between, Restricted Footwear is the brand consumers are looking for in stores. everywhere. FFANY, WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (626) 961-8889

Featuring its signature rocker outsole and an insanely comfortable removable footbed, Alegria continues to infuse “color therapy” to its line of shoes, clogs and sandals. One of six new sandal collections for Spring ’11, the Carina (pictured) features an earthy, rich burnished leather treated with abalone shell ornaments, adding “happy” to consumers’ spring wardrobes. And yes, the rocker outsole and removable footbed come standard in all Alegria collections.

WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (800) 468-5191

From the wake of its existence, Rialto Footwear has been devoted to creating a collection that breathes novelty, exceptional quality and outstanding value. Rialto engineers its vast selection of product so that both retailers and their customers can enjoy beneficial prices. The commitment to providing a breadth of extraordinary product while maintaining the integrity of the product is the heart of Rialto’s mission.

Anuschka (pronounced “an-ush-ka”) is a unique, handpainted handbag collection that blends art and functionality with élan. Available at select boutiques around the world, the family-owned business offers head-turning fashion and unrivaled quality at an incredible value. The exciting new spring line includes gorgeous floral patterns, exotic tribal art, vibrant paisley and Southwestern

FFANY, Atlanta Shoe Market (781) 326-7171

FFANY, WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market (866) 403-1314

Designed with the quality and craftsmanship of true European tradition, Spring Step combines comfort, technology and fashion to bring you everything that is important in a shoe. Spring Step provides the ultimate in walking pleasure from casual to contemporary.

KLAS Shoes is committed to delivering “true worth” across all of its brands. With respect to the health and wellness market, Rotasole, Stroll-eez and KlasFit are designed to build consumer loyalty through a comfortable, stylish and medically engineered experience, while Roc-A-Bouts offers a complete children’s collection that satisfies at every turn.

WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (800) 962-0030

Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (800) 962-0030

WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (800) 962-0030

Blossom Footwear has always had one goal when it comes to its selections, which is that its shoes are unique and fashionable as well as comfortable. In fact, the brand is known for “fashion with comfort!” With the wide variety of shoes offered, Blossom continues to create the best selections for customers to relish and enjoy, such as the Sanyo 21 featured here. WSA, FN Platform (626) 581-8837

With a track record spanning more than 40 years of designing “seriously healthy footwear,” Earth Inc. introduces Earthies for Spring ’11: a combination of wellness and fashion footwear for women. Naturally elegant and gorgeously designed, Earthies combines a discerning sense of style with ease of movement for exceptional comfort.

WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market (877) 746-3364

BAM! Washington Shoe Company is teaming with Warner Bros. to introduce the Superman Raingear collection. Western Chief Kids’ newest set replicates the traditional garb and includes rain boots with a coordinating rain jacket and umbrella. Between the detachable cape and flying superhero boots, Superman is sure to be a hit with any young FFANY, WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (800) 925-7463


Fly Flot introduces “Four Points of Comfort,” a leading technology designed to achieve superior flexibility, softness and lightness. The more you wear Fly Flots, the more the shoes adjust to the way you walk and stand—i.e. the way you live.

Since its inception, Yaleet, distributor of Naot footwear, has been guided by two basic principles: We offer solutions and we promise 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.


FFANY, WSA, Outdoor Retailer, Atlanta Shoe Market (800) 435-3577

Nothing will set off spring’s soft palettes like the 13” Jealousy boot in burnished taupe from the Crush by Durango line. The understated hue holds a soft sheen, which will perfectly accentuate a ruffled or floral skirt. The 100-percent full-grain leather upper has a soft mesh lining for comfort, while a steel shank and composition rubber outsole provide stability.

Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (877) 795-2410

The Original Muck Boot Company introduces its All Terrain collection, featuring fashionable styles that deliver the same waterproof quality and comfort found in its original footwear. These fashion-driven boots are designed to meet the needs of men, women and children who want to embrace the outdoors as a lifestyle while meeting their demand for a warm, comfortable and waterproof rubber boot.

Titan Industries offers fashionforward branding for the following labels: Badgley Mischka, Bebe, Betsey Johnson, Charles Jourdan, L.A.M.B., Penny Loves Kenny and—beginning with Spring ’11— Mark & James and True Religion.

FFANY, Atlanta Shoe Market, FN Platform (714) 934-8800

WSA, Atlanta Shoe Market (978) 475-4889

Since 2005, Vibram FiveFingers has redefined performance footwear with products designed to allow the foot to work and move more naturally. For Spring ’11, Vibram FiveFingers is excited to launch the Vibram FiveFingers children’s collection and showcase its new line of innovative, fitness-specific footwear—strategically designed for every athlete. Outdoor Retailer, Atlanta Shoe Market (978) 318-0000

Cocktail Party & Casino Night Friday, August 13, 2010 | 6-9pm COBB ENERGY PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE Round-trip shuttle service (two-minute ride) is available to and from the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Pick up and drop off located at the east parking lot of the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Fresh. All the latest styles. All under one roof. Convenient. Affordable. And fresh new areas to shop: The Fashion Collection and The Kids Shoe Box. The Atlanta Shoe Market: the one show you should attend this season.

August 13-15 2010

Back by popular demand “PARTY ON THE MOON” Complimentary to all attendees Elaborate buffet & one complimentary drink per person

Featuring Party On The Moon

Saturday, August 14, 2010 7:30 Breakfast Seminar from 8-9:00 Renaissance Waverly Hotel Wilton Room Presented by Ellen Campuzano $10 per person and the $10 will be refunded the day of the seminar. Space is limited, so please register early. Make checks payable to: Southeastern Shoe Travelers. Registration Deadline: July 13, 2010.

HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS Renaissance Waverly Hotel – $129 Please refer to The Atlanta Shoe Market. 888.391.8724 Embassy Suites Galleria – $109 single, $129 double. For reservations: 770.984.9300 Atlanta Marriott Hotel NW – $95. 800.228.9290 Sheraton Suites – $92. 770.995.3900

AIRFARE SPECIAL RATE We have arranged a 10% discount on the lowest available AirTran Airways one-way fare. In order to receive this special rate, you must book your reservation by calling the Event Savers Desk at 866.683.8368. Please refer to: Event Code AMS09. Please call 8am-9pm EST, Monday thru Friday.

CAR RENTAL To reserve a vehicle, call 800.rentacar or visit and refer to Corporate Account# 03CON15 Pin# ATL

SIR MEETING (Southeastern Independent Retailers) Saturday, August 14, 2010, 6-7:00 pm, Room 119, Cobb Galleria Centre. Admission is complimentary for all independent retailers, but space is limited. Please pre-register if you plan to attend.


COBB GALLERIA CENTRE | RENAISSANCE WAVERLY HOTEL | ATLANTA For show information contact 706-923-0580 |

Non-stop service between the Renaissance Waverly Hotel at the Cobb Galleria Centre and the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Service from the airport every half hour from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Service to airport every hour from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. $30* one way (advance reservations only); $50* round trip (advance reservations only). For Reservations: By phone: 770-955-4565 (Mon.-Fri, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) By email: Online: reservations.asp *Prices subject to change

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Q&A • continued from page 19

I wouldn’t want to venture a guess as to how the economic crisis will play out, but I’m certain that the landscape will be different. The irresponsible manufacturing, rampant consumption and uncontrolled spending that we’ve seen in the past 30 years are simply unsustainable. Any advice for retailers trying to weather this ongoing storm? Partner with reliable vendors. That’s not to say don’t try new product, but know who you’re partnering with. How can retailers get more into the conversation with consumers?

Make it personal. Most buying decisions are emotional, so the way to win loyalty beyond reason is by connecting with consumers’ hearts on a personal level. Consumers are looking for what they can love. Sharing information is important, but sharing stories is even better. The new consumer wants us to be in her heart, not in her face. Tell her why you care and how you can help her. Be a life-changer. Any advice for independents trying to maintain a foothold amid retail and Internet behemoths? Within your local community, defi ne who you want to be in your area and who you want to serve. Make it personal, focus on service and choose your product mix wisely.

AUGUST 13-15, 2010 • SAN DIEGO CA

The most comprehensive business to business marketplace for surf, skate, swim, moto, music, art and youth culture lifestyle brands in the Western Hemisphere. ASR Marketplace is the platform for Retailers from around the world to do business with over 500 authentic action sports brands.

Register today: Interested in exhibiting? Contact

Where do you see Dansko in five years? In addition to our planned brand expansions, we see growth in two major areas: international and green. Not for growth’s sake, mind you, but because these two areas are squarely in line with our original vision. On the personal side, I see myself—finally—growing into my CEO title, retiring as COE, or Chief of Everything, and playing more of a supportive role. If you want to be truly sustainable—meaning around for the long haul—you have to engage the passion and vision of the next generation of leaders. That’ll be my job five years from now. Looking back on just about 20 years, what do you most take pride in? Not selling out. We walked away from some immensely flattering offers—which is every entrepreneur’s dream, right? Also, safeguarding and cultivating our company’s culture, and standing by our commitments to our employees, retailers, consumers and our community. Lastly, knowing when to ask for help and finding the people who could provide it. Here’s your opportunity to give a shout-out to anyone past or present who has played a major part in making Dansko’s success a reality. The unsung, behind-the-scenes “hero of Dansko” is Mimi Curry, our chief operations officer, who handles every one of the mundane and utterly essential details that make our world go ’round. Mimi has shepherded us along since we were toddlers, and we are where we are today in large part because of her. Mimi is our Rock of Gibraltar. What do you love most about your job? Solving problems, making things better, making a difference in people’s lives and working side by side with my other half. •

"I tapped into the younger energy level of Outdoor Retailer and the people it attracts. I'll continue to honor our current customer base but want to expand my thinking to reach into secondary markets." –David Fischer, Owner of HealthShoes, Taos NM

FOOTWEAR BUYERS YOU’RE INVITED TO ATTEND OUTDOOR RETAILER SUMMER MARKET 2010 Join over 20,000 participants at Outdoor Retailer; 2,800+ footwear buyers! Over 200 footwear brands occupy the show floor covering the full spectrum from casual lifestyle to performance running.







TRADESHOW • AUGUST 3-6, 2010 • Salt Palace Convention Center • Salt Lake City, UT OPEN AIR DEMO • AUGUST 2, 2010 • Jordanelle State Park • Heber City, UT

w h at ’s s e l l i n g

running specialty

New Balance



Skinny Raven Sports

Get Fit

Rhode Runner Inc.

With the help of purchasing manager John Clark, Adidas designed the AdiStar Raven sneaker for Alaska’s tough trails and named it after the store. Clark and the rest of the store’s expert staff pride themselves on being able to find customers the right footwear. “We are not your typical running store set in your typical strip mall location with slat wall displays,” says Clark. Since 1994, Skinny Raven Sports has provided assistance in footwear, apparel, accessories, injury prevention and fitness direction. “Exercise is challenging enough without the proper equipment and guidance,” explains Clark.

Having been employed for over 22 years in the Texas public school system as a coach, teacher, counselor and administrator, Karen Roberts has played a huge role in helping her community. However, it was her passion for running that really got her involved, leading her to open Get Fit and to spread its “Get Fit. Live Well.” philosophy throughout the city. Welcoming casual walkers to marathon runners, Get Fit offers Texans in the surrounding Amarillo area a place to purchase top-quality shoes, apparel and accessories for a large variety of individual fitness regimens.

As a veteran track athlete and one-time footwear developer for New Balance, Brooks and Saucony, Bob Bischoff knows running a business is much like a marathon. Deeming his store “a one-stop shop for the running and walking community,” Bischoff believes it’s his staff that separates Rhode Runner from competitors. “Our knowledge is not only about product,” he explains. “We can assist in dietary and training needs and recommendations to local doctors, clubs and events.” Since August ’01, Rhode Runner’s goal has been “to fit our customers in the best footwear and apparel for their unique needs,” says Bischoff.

Current top-sellers: Asics, Adidas, Brooks.

Current top-sellers: Brooks’ Adrenaline, Beast/Ariel and Defiance; Asics’ Nimbus and Kayano; and New Balance’s 1012.

Current top-sellers: Brooks is our top brand; Asics and Saucony tie for second. Our bestselling shoe is the Brooks Adrenaline 10, followed by the Saucony Guide 3, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 6 and the Asics GT-2150.

Anchorage, AK

Projected best-selling brand this year: Asics. Best new brand added to the mix: Reebok has rededicated itself to running with good, viable products, aggressive sales and discount programs.

Amarillo, TX

Projected best-selling brand this year: Brooks. Best new brand added to the mix: Nike.

Brand, color, price or comfort—what’s most important to your customers? I’d say comfort, but the overriding aspect in our store is service. Customers can find any of those four aspects on their own; they travel from all over Alaska for our service. What is your fastest-growing customer segment? All are doing well, but women are our largest segment, so that growth is magnified more.

Top-selling accessories: Socks, hats, visors, eyewear and inserts. Brand, color, price or comfort—what’s most important to your customers? Comfort. What is your fastest-growing customer segment? Women.

Do you sell barefoot running shoes and rocker-soled shoes? Yes, we sell both.

Is running recession-proof? Yes. It can be done anywhere, anytime, and the cost of proper equipment is low versus other sports.

What are you doing to address our country’s growing obesity epidemic? We organize a summer youth running program and adult training groups, sponsor dozens of events, have team nights for local track and cross country teams, and hold a teacher appreciation day. We are fortunate to have such great support from our community and enjoy giving back.

What are you doing to address our country’s growing obesity epidemic? We promote a “Get Fit. Live Well.” lifestyle. We hold training classes, sponsor 10K races for charity and are adding an in-store lecture series to address injury prevention, nutrition, etc. We also plan to team with local schools, providing rewards to encourage kids to run.

48 • july 2010

Providence, RI

Projected best-selling brand this year: Brooks. The Adrenaline 10 fits remarkably well and offers a smooth, consistent ride. The brand offers a good deal of consistency year in and out—they get a lot of repeat customers. Brand, color, price or comfort—what’s most important to your customers? We focus on fit and structure. If someone wants a specific price range, we definitely try to work within that. But we try to inform our customers that how the shoe fits and how it performs are far more important than how it looks. What is your fastest-growing customer segment? Women’s is growing most steadily. Is running recession-proof? It’s a fairly inexpensive way to relieve stress, and when money’s tight, stress tends to increase. I think running specialty stores are better able to weather a recession than big-box stores. When money is tight, people want to make sure they are spending their money well. —Christine Bove

June 1, 2010 Dear Friends, Times continue to be difď&#x192;&#x17E;cult for far too many Shoepeople and their families. Two Ten wants to respond and help. If you or someone you know is struggling with: -Rent/Mortgage -Utility bills -Car payments -Other emergencies We want to hear from you or them. Please contact us. Phone: (800) 346-3210 Web: No membership required. We are all part of the footwear community. Warmest regards,

Peggy Kim Meill President, Two Ten Footwear Foundation  ."*/  453&&5  |

8"-5)".  ." 

| 1 | ' | 888  5805&/  03( 

marketers canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dismiss the power of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, which have become quick and easy ways to reach consumers. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not to say that the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Be Like Mikeâ&#x20AC;? era of athletic brand marketing has completely dissolved. Many brands are still reporting success with attaching athletesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; names to their product, albeit many are lesser-sized heroes from a household-name aspect. For example, Brooks has a deal with renowned triathlete Chrissie Wellingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a credible association for a specialty running brand, but surely not along the broad impact lines of Air Jordan, Shaq and LeBron. Times and fashions have changed. Reebok may have recently signed John Wall (the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft) to support its ZigTech performance collection, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not like there was a major bidding war for the top pickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s endorsement as evidenced by Wallâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s statement upon signing his deal: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Reebok believed in me when nobody else did.â&#x20AC;? In a press release, Todd Krinsky, Reebokâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s head of sports and entertainment marketing, describes Wall as a unique player who has a huge cultural inďŹ&#x201A;uence that separates him from the pack. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He has a distinct swagger on the court and an aspirational style and ďŹ&#x201A;air off the court. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s individualism and energy make him the perfect ďŹ t for the Reebok brand.â&#x20AC;? Maybe so, but Wall also didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t come with near the price tag of previous No. 1 draft picks like LeBron James. In fact, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Kingâ&#x20AC;? of basketball recently re-upped with Nike without a well-publicized bidding war for his servicesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;again unlike years ago when such a marketing coup would have been headline news. Earlier this year, James reached a new long-term deal that will keep him with the Swoosh for the next seven years. (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nikeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relationship with LeBron has created innovative basketball products and captivating campaigns,â&#x20AC;? brand spokesperson Kejuan Wilkins states. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re proud to continue our partnership with him for years to come.â&#x20AC;?) Mark Cavanaugh, general manager of team sports at New Balance, notes his company is ďŹ nding value in more targeted endorsements. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We believe we can demonstrate a better way to involve athletes with our brand,â&#x20AC;? he says.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;We will continue to support them in their training and competition and will leverage their expertise to help us develop better product.â&#x20AC;? New Balance recently signed Dustin Pedroia and Manny del Carmen from the Red Sox and Mets pitcher Johan Santana. Along such lines, Etnies brand marketing manager Jeff Taylor reports its roster of endorsers remains crucial because they are often involved in the design process. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t view them as standard endorsements,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking at them for input.â&#x20AC;? Etnies sponsors athletes in every category it covers, including skateboarding veteran Ryan Sheckler, X Games motocross gold medalist Kyle Loza and top BMX rider Jamie Bestwick. In addition to design expertise, Taylor says the fact that these niche-oriented athletes are more accessibleâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;as opposed to other brands that have virtually unattainable endorsersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;gives the brand an added advantage. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a competitive value of ours,â&#x20AC;? he notes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re authenticâ&#x20AC;Ś We view these guys as not just endorsers but as members of our family.â&#x20AC;? Taylor attributes this to the fact that the brand is actually owned by an athlete, pro skateboarder Pierre-Andre Senizergues. Slayton of Asics America agrees endorsers can still be relevant when used strategically with consumer demographics in speciďŹ c categories. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There has been a very limited, elite group of individuals that actually pulled a brand to a signiďŹ cantly higher level solely on their celebrity merit,â&#x20AC;? he notes. For example, Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top marathoner, Ryan Hall, endorses Asics, which Slayton says provides brand credibility in the marathon/distance running category. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This reinforces our commitment in the eyes of the consumer to provide world-class gear to the best athletes.â&#x20AC;? In the end, brands and retailers note that consumers come from all walks of life, and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no one way of reaching them. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s up to the brand itself to research its audience and ďŹ nd what will resonate with them. As Larson of Brooks notes, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Marketing has beenâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and always will beâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;about who connects best with the end consumer.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;˘




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MAY EVENT happens annually at a world class resort and provides relaxation, events and ideas that will improve your business all for less than the normal room cost. Meet and socialize with many retailers and vendors – Seminars & Workshops – Keynote Speakers – Golf & Tennis – Purchasing Discounts – CPED Points – Cocktails & Meals – Provocative Ideas for Business Improvement and More! The Membership Fee of $95.00 (per membership year 10/1-9/30) can save you thousands, and increase sales even more. (818) 703-6062

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Show Stoppers




Reed Evins



Gentle Souls


Poetic License Dr. Scholl’s




Thierry Rabotin


Pour La Victoire Nicole

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J Shoes Pazzo



Oh! Shoes Skin

HINT OF SPRING 52 • july 2010


THE FFANY SHOW brought the first winds of seasonal change, with brands delivering both the bold and the beautiful. A rainbow of brights will welcome warm weather—candy colors are ready to sweeten summery outfits while deeper shades offer Hamptons-ready sophistication. Yet a wide range of neutrals offers equally appealing alterna-

tives that will catch shoppers’ eyes thanks to basketweaving, mesh, raffia and braided leather details. Wedges, clogs and opened-up booties look to be the key silhouettes, but designers are jazzing up heels and flats across the board with treatments, embellishments and woven materials that attract the eye to and up the instep. —Leslie Shiers

The Atlanta Shoe Market August 13-15 Booths # 537, 636

A message to anyone thinking about infringing on any of our 200+ patents and trademarks. VIBRAM, FIVEFINGERS, the Octagon Logo, the Yellow Octagon Logo, and the color Canary Yellow are registered trademarks and trademarks of Vibram S.p.A.

Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2010 • July  

Memory Motel: Simple lines, classic profiles and a hint of clean canvas for springtime sneakers; Brought to You By...: Athletic brands explo...

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