Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2010 • December

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THE SOURCE FOR RETAILERS • DECEMBER 2010 • $10.00

STYLE HALL OF FAME

A Real ‘All Star’ and a Loafer Named ‘Earl’

LUXURY REDEFINED

How the New Normal is Altering the Upper Tier

MADE YOU LOOK :

The Tannery’s Take on Outdoor Chic

NEW HEIGHTS

SOLID AND STRUCTURED, DESIGNERS GO BOLD FOR SPRING


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Caroline Diaco Publisher

10 Is Luxe a Four-Letter Word?

Greg Dutter Editorial Director

Still haunted by the recession, consumers seek value, versatility and low prices in their designer shoes. But will it last? By Audrey Goodson

Nancy Campbell Creative Director EDITORIAL Leslie Shiers Managing Editor Angela Velasquez Audrey Goodson Meagan Walker Associate Editors Melissa D’Agnese Editorial Intern

12 Q&A: Restricted

General Manager James Matush reveals how the women’s fashion brand is carving out a growing niche by continually evolving. By Greg Dutter

CREATIVE Trevett McCandliss Executive Art Director Phong Q. Nguyen Brad Istnick Lenny Vella Art Directors

Sandal by Jean Michel Cazabat; Trina Turk studded dress; vintage blouse; Falke tights; hat by Southpaw. ON THE COVER: Cream linen and ostrich spectators by Ron Donovan; vintage striped wrap V-neck blouse and scarf as belt; Billy Reid shorts; beret by Timo Weiland. Photography by Winona BartonBallentine.

CONTRIBUTORS Michel Onofrio Style Director Kathy Passero Editor at Large Jamie Wetherbe West Coast Editor

32 American Girl Designers bet on solid silhouettes to compliment Spring’s nostalgia for heritage styling.

19 Style Hall of Fame

The Hush Puppies “Earl” loafer and Converse’s “Chuck Taylor All Star” join our list of eternally stylish shoes. By Audrey Goodson and Angela Velasquez

ADVERTISING Jennifer Craig Advertising Director Rita Polidori O’Brien VP Business Development David Sutula VP Technology Leslie Sutula VP Account Services Erwin Pearl Special Accounts Laurie Guptill Production Manager ADMINISTRATION Alexandra Marinacci Operations Manager Melanie Prescott Circulation Manager Julie Gibson Webmaster Theodore Hoffman Special Projects Director

44 Trend Spotting

CONTACT INFO Sales/Editorial Offices 8 West 38th Street, Ste. 201 New York, NY 10018 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 editorialrequests@ 9Threads.com Circulation Office 21 Highland Circle Needham, MA 02494 Tel: (800) 964-5150 Fax: (781) 453-9389 circulation@9Threads.com

4 Contributors • 6 Editor’s Note 8 This Just In • 24 What’s Selling • 42 Shoe Salon 46 Kids • 48 Made You Look

CORPORATE 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis, Chairman Lee Zapis, President Rich Bongorno, CFO

From top: Kamik; Bogs.

From London Mod to Moors countryside, rain boots are awash in British influences.

FOOTWEAR PLUS ™ (ISSN#1054-898X) Vol. 21 issue #10 The fashion magazine of the footwear industry is published monthly (except for bimonthly April/May and October/November editions) by 9Threads, 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. 9Threads 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 9Threads. Printed in the United States.


vote now

PLUS AWARDS

THIS JUST IN

EXCELLENCE IN DESIGN FOR 2010

VOTE ONLINE: www.footwearplusmagazine.com ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE c Brooks c Asics c Reebok c New Balance

RAIN BOOTS c Hunter c Chooka c Tretorn c Aigle

OUTDOOR c Merrell c Go-Lite c Teva c Sorel

GREEN Presented by LITE Leather c Simple c Timberland c Patagonia c Reef

ATHLETIC LIFESTYLE

MEN’S DRESS

MEN’S STREET

c Nike SB

c Florsheim by Duckie Brown

c Red Wing

ITEM OF THE YEAR

c Adidas

c Cole Haan

c Clarks Originals

c Vibram FiveFingers

c Converse

c John Varvatos

c Camper

c Ugg Australia/Jimmy Choo

c Vans

c Harrys of London

c Sperry Top-Sider

c Native

MEN’S COMFORT c Ecco c Merrell c Clarks c Rockport

WOMEN’S DRESS c Isola c Charles Jourdan c Pour La Victoire c United Nude

WOMEN’S STREET c Steve Madden c Restricted c Bass c Jessica Simpson

WOMEN’S COMFORT c Dansko c Born c Naot c Gentle Souls

CHILDREN’S c Primigi c Skechers c Geox c Ralph Lauren

WELLNESS c MBT c Earth c FitFlop c Aetrex

BOOTS c Frye c Ugg Australia c Hunter c Nine West Vintage

WORK c Wolverine c Rocky c Red Wing c Timberland Pro

PRE-WALKERS c Livie & Luca c Primigi c See Kai Run c Trimfoot

c Hush Puppies 1958

Collection BRAND OF THE YEAR c TOMS c Ugg Australia c Hunter c Dansko c Clarks

COMPANY OF THE YEAR c Skechers c Deckers Outdoor c Brown Shoe c H.H. Brown c Jones Group c Clarks Companies N.A.


contributors i n s i d e t h e c r e at i v e m i n d

m

WINONA BARTONBALLENTINE, PHOTOGRAPHER Guitarist and singer in the band, Love Tribe, Barton-Ballentine found time for her other love and profession: as photographer of this month’s fashion story, “American Girl” (p. 30). Barton-Ballentine chose a seasonal dormant Rye Playland for the location’s Americana setting. It didn’t hurt that as a child she was a frequent visitor to the suburban New York amusement park. A graduate of Bard College, Barton-Ballentine’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Nylon, A4, Foam, Self-Titled and Sportswear International. Other clients include Urban Outfitters, H. Fredriksson Clothing and Ovenly NYC Baking Co. (yum). Recently, Barton-Ballentine drove around New York, Vermont and Massachusetts shooting a lookbook for Salaam Clothing, singing with her father’s band, reading a lot and learning to drive boats and keep bees—to name but a few endeavors. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she says.

KATE SOMERS, MODEL Toronto native Somers “adores boots,” but that’s not the reason we adored having her grace the pages of our December fashion story, “American Girl.” Somers might be Canadian, but her all-American freckled face and red hair—not to mention stunning legs—served as the perfect match to our spring designer review showcasing the season’s Americana and nautical influences. Somers has graced the pages of many fashion magazines, including Teen Vogue, Lula and Dazed & Confused, but her star power shines brightest on the catwalks. She has strutted the runways for Marc Jacobs, Tracy Reese, Jil Sander, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen and John Paul Gaultier.

DOROTHY HONG, PHOTOGRAPHER A frequent contributor to Footwear Plus, New York-based photographer Hong has a knack for capturing the unique personalities of her subjects. Each is distinct, powerful and full of emotion—far beyond the typical corporate “head shot.” Hong hails from Long Island, NY, and attended the School of Visual Arts. She has worked as photo coordinator of The Fader magazine. Hong’s first solo exhibition went on display in Genoa, Italy in 2009, and she is currently working on her second solo show at the Vision Quest Gallery of Contemporary Photography to open in the fall of 2011. Her clients include Nike, Monocle Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian.



editor’s note a year to remember 7

Delicate China If 2009 WAS the year to forget, then 2010 just might go down as unforgettable—for our industry and the world. As everyone tried to define the “new normal” (no one I have spoken with really quite has) and adjust to the consequences of the great financial collapse set in motion more than two years ago, the common thread was this refrain: at least the world hasn’t come to an end. Let’s all give a shout out for Armageddon being put on hold—temporarily. However, there were still plenty of doomsday scenarios unfolding before our eyes these past 12 months. The devastating earthquake in Haiti kicked the year off tragically and the subsequent collateral health crises have only compounded the island’s suffering. Then came last spring’s BP oil catastrophe that spewed millions of gallons of muck into the Gulf of Mexico. The incredible ineptitude that ensued by the crassly out-of-touch oil execs and slow-to-react officials in our own government did little to reassure us that this spill might be a one-time disaster. Global warming, depletion of natural resources and epic man-made screw-ups—just how much more abuse might Mother Nature be willing to take?

In comparison, the problems in our industry don’t seem nearly as catastrophic. But we have not been without our challenges, be it trying to decipher the wants and needs of a cautious consumer haunted by record unemployment, grappling with a contentious retail-wholesale relationship that ideally should be beneficial to both sides, and dealing with the elephant in the room: China. Specifically, its labor shortages, factory closings and rising currency rates. Adding to the woe was a mold epidemic due largely to poor storage and shipping practices by inexperienced factories. The overall point being: When more than 90 percent of an industry’s production is sourced out of one country, that country’s sniffle can be a crippling illness and, for those vendors unable to find dependable sourcing alternatives, terminal. Many industry execs I have spoken with have gone into colorful detail about the challenges, frustrations and headaches China’s growing pains are inflicting. Yet despite the tremendous travel required—not to mention the political deft necessary to negotiate dependable sourcing partners and the logistical wizardry required to get product onto store shelves—they still love their jobs. The reward in our business is not purely monetary. Like millions of people the world over who simply adore shoes, there’s something infectious about what we make and sell that’s just not easy to shake. And that’s a terminal condition of the best kind.

Greg Dutter, Editorial Director



THIS JUST IN

Jaclyn Mitgang, 23 Theater student and sales associate for Fred Perry Wearing: American Apparel. What shoes go best with this look? These oxfords, or loafers, depending on the skirt. What came first, the shoes or the look? Definitely the look. Putting the outfit together is the fun part, and the shoes are the accessory to match. What does this look say about you? Mature, sophisticated and womanly. It’s like the old times. I usually dress based on inspiration from the ’40s and ’50s. Which style icon is your inspriation: Elaine Benes or Annie Hall? I like Brigitte Bardot, which is more the hair, but Annie Hall is awesome without realizing it. She’s a more sophisticated bombshell.

Hall Monitors

Spotted this fall on the streets of Manhattan, the “Annie Hall look” presents a refreshing blend of retro, utilitarian and collegiate elements rolled into one. By Dorothy Hong

8


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SPECIAL REPORT

Is Luxe a Four-Letter Word?

In a post-recession landscape, the demand for designer shoes is tempered by a desire for value and versatility. But will it last? By Audrey Goodson

IN THE PAST couple of years, consumers bearing the brunt of a struggling economy watched helplessly as their home values took a dive and retirement accounts cratered—while it seemed like the only folks making money were the Wall Street execs whose reckless leveraging helped trigger the financial mess. So it was no surprise that “luxe” became a four-letter word. Conspicuous displays of wealth were considered crass—and even shoppers with cash to burn began rethinking their designer purchases. “Brown bag couture” became all the rage for luxury shoppers, who hid their Hermès and Prada in a nondescript sack. All of this added up to a miserable few years for luxury brands, whose goods were showing up for the first time in bargain bins. “Luxury was the hardest hit sector in retail, with not only the aspirational consumer dropping off in the recession, but the luxury consumer dropping off, too,” confirms Marshal Cohen, chief analyst for NPD Group, a consumer market research firm that tracks the footwear industry. The news was a bit brighter for 2010, as luxury shoppers returned to the stores, Cohen says. Luxury spending slid 7.8 percent last year to $10.1 billion, but it bounced back up for the first five months of 2010, according to Spending Pulse, a consumerspending monitor from MasterCard. Now that the economy is slowly creeping towards recovery, luxury labels find themselves in an interesting position: Sales are up, but lowered prices haven’t budged, and consumers are savvier than ever when it comes to where they spend their dollars. So where does the new landscape leave luxury footwear? “Fake luxury is out,” says Milton Pedrazza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, an independent research and consulting firm covering the luxury industry. “This severe recession has scared many people into living within their means, and I think we will see this discernment lasting for a long, long time. That means luxury companies will have to step up and deliver more quality for less price.” What does quality mean to the post-recession footwear shopper? It’s no small feat, notes Pedrazza: “The finest materials, craftsmanship, great design and great service—at a great price.” Designers can no longer bank on a name, he adds—even fabled fashion houses have stumbled, like Christian Lacroix, which abandoned its haute couture line in 2009. And even designers with enviable brand cachet—including Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss and Donna Karan—have been forced to increase their accessibility by selling their products on their websites. 10 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010

However, having a well-known moniker can be a big advantage, counters Theresa Ebagua, whose label Chelsea Paris launches in Spring ’11. Manufactured in Italy alongside Louboutin, Bally and Gucci shoes, her line has had to overcome today’s challenging consumer mindset, where shoppers seek a “safety net” in familiar labels, Ebagua reports. “Store buyers and consumers are sticking to established brands, which is proving to be a huge challenge for new designers breaking into the market,” she explains. So what can up-andcoming designers do to lure shoppers to their shoes? Go for versatility, Ebagua suggests. “It’s a huge segment of the luxury market still not being fulfilled. I am addressing this currently as I design my Fall ’11 collection, by introducing 2- and 3-inch heel heights, in addition to flats.” Ebagua seems to be on to something. A huge crop of brands, from Christian Dior to Jimmy Choo to Chanel, have introduced mid-height heels for this spring, as more women are seeking a bigger bang for their designer buck in shoes that transition from day to night. “It’s not like three years ago when people would buy these crazy high heels and wear it for one season and never again,” confirms Chant Angelo, owner of Angelo Shoes, a designer shoe boutique in Pasadena, CA, that offers top-tier designers, including Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino. Angelo notes that the consumer desire for versatility has driven high-end design in the last few years—and it isn’t limited to heel height. “For example, brands before [the recession] would carry shoes with studs or jewels, but now that’s totally changed to a simple black patent pump that can be dressed up or down.” The move to pared-down basics reflects the way his customers are shopping, he adds. “They shop less frequently, so instead of buying six pairs a year, they’ll buy three pairs. And they’ll buy a good-quality classic style, and carry it over into the next season.” Richard Erani, owner and creative director of Manhattan shoe boutique Chuckies, reports that his clients are also looking for more versatility in their purchases, eschewing a new pair to match every outfit. “Women no longer buy a shoe for one dress no matter how much they may need to,” he notes. In addition to versatility, today’s luxury shopper wants value, says Rena Krasnow, chief operating officer and style director for Aquatalia. “She wants a return on her investment. It’s got to have more utility to it,” Krasnow explains, noting that Aquatalia—which retails for $275 to $795—found success with its waterproof footwear. “For what she’s spending, there’s a component >45


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EVOLUTION BRAND

HOW DOES A former insurance salesman turned apparel wholesaler make a seamless transition as general manager of a fastpaced women’s footwear fashion brand— one that has registered solid growth every year since his tenure began five years ago? James Matush, general manager of Restricted Footwear, can tell you how. It all started with a willingness to take a chance on the then small start-up company, coming aboard first as the customer services manager. “During my first meeting with our owner and CEO, Joanne Yang, I could see she was driven,” Matush recalls, noting she was one tough interviewer. “She wanted to find the right person, and I realized, ‘This is someone who really wants to succeed.’” Matush decided then and there that he wanted to be a part of the fledgling City of Industry, CA-based company, now in its tenth year. “There were about five people in-house and we had one Northeast sales rep at the time,” he says. “Today, we are a nationwide brand with four sales reps and 15 employees, and we have grown more than twice in size.” Even in the face of the Great Recession, Matush reports that Restricted was able to post a 20-percent increase in sales volume this year. Such growth flies in the face of many naysayers who claimed success could not be possible, especially for small, stand-alone operations facing China’s labor shortages, factory closings and rising currency rates. But Restricted has proven 12 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010

the conventional wisdom wrong. Matush credits the company’s success to a couple of factors. First, Restricted was proactive when it came to preparing for the downturn. “We saw the writing on the wall at the end of 2008. We took it upon ourselves to stabilize current wholesale prices or lowered them if we could,” he says. The strategy opened up more buying from retailers, since receiving comparable shoes at the same or lower price became an attractive selling point. But Restricted didn’t stop there. The company then

asked its retail partners to keep prices in check as well. “We asked them not to gouge the consumers—even if we were offering the same pricing—and our partners complied.” That strategy increased consumer awareness about the brand significantly. “We were in stores offering a decent product at a decent retail price,” Matush says. “That translated to increased sales.” Restricted’s second major initiative, also considered unconventional in a recessionary landscape, was to increase its marketing budget

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SUSAN GOLDMAN

O&A

Not one to rest on last season’s laurels, James Matush, general manager of Restricted Footwear, discusses the advantages of continually adapting to answer the demands of a rapidly changing market. By Greg Dutter


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O&A ing its marketing programs and increasing its $39 to $55 for shoes and $65 to $70 for boots. significantly. “Our belief was that if we were not international distribution. Overall, he is bullish “Unrestricted is edgier, younger and bitchier,” in the consumer’s face then they would forget about the company as well as the industry for the Matush offers. “It’s our ‘Jersey Shore’ customer.” about us,” Matush maintains. In addition, with coming year. “Shoes are a feel-good purchase and Originally, the plan was to keep Unrestricted’s everyone else cutting back on marketing efforts, I expect sales will increase for us as well as for debut line tight by offering 5 to 10 styles, but it was the perfect opportunity to stand out amid many other brands,” Matush says. “Business has Matush says close to 20 styles were produced a quieter marketplace. “We ran ads in magaalready changed for the better: We booked well because the initial response was strong. zines and we did grassroots efforts via MySpace, for spring and as the year progresses, I Facebook and Twitter,” Matush says. believe it’s going to only improve.” “We threw dollars at that segment, and it really helped with building conHow did your apparel experience sumer awareness of our brand.” prepare you well for the quickThat awareness has been built on a college, but then I switched to What are you reading? The paced nature of shoes? platform of fashionable shoes at an afcrime thriller, “9 Dragons,” by paying jobs. The apparel company I had been fordable price. It translates to $40 for Michael Connelly. working for was very fast-paced, alflats, $55 for pumps and $75 for boots. What is your motto? “Wheththough I didn’t know it at the time. “Our original niche was a retail price er you think you can or you What famous person from We sold millions of shirts each year. that the average consumer can afford,” can’t, you are right.” It’s from history do you most adWhile it was a basic style, what was Matush says, adding that the strategy mire? I have a few: Abraham Henry Ford. It stuck with me featured on the shirts constantly laid the foundation for the company’s from an early age. Lincoln, Gandhi and Jesus. changed. We had to keep up with the expansion to higher-priced products it And no matter how you may changes, and that fast pace translated introduced this fall. “Once that ‘fashion Who is the world’s most view the latter, nobody in a to the footwear industry. Shoe fashat a price’ message got into consuminfluential person in fashshorter lifespan has had a ions are always evolving. In fact, this ers’ minds, we believed they would be ion? Since I’m an ’80s child, more global impact. business moves at even a faster pace willing to purchase our higher-priced the first is Madonna. She has than apparel. shoes because they knew they were goevolved through the years and Aside from Jesus possibly, ing to get quality from us.” Restricted no one is more often imitated. if you could hire anyone Speaking of which, what styles are tested the waters with several leather From a design perspective, who would it be? Prince. He’s trending strong for Spring ’11? boot styles this fall with, as Matush it’s Ralph Lauren. He took artistic, fashion-oriented and Clogs and oxfords, which have been big describes, “some nice bling touches.” happens to be my favorite musi- something so easy—a Polo for us this year, look to be strong for The boots retail for $150 and have sold shirt—and turned it into a cian. He’s also changed with spring. Laser cuts and perfs are also well, he reports. Next fall, the line will complete lifestyle brand. the times and likes high heels, trending for spring. In addition, bling include a few boot styles priced as high so I think he could give us some is kind of back. But it’s a subtle bling, as $200. What is the perfect shoe? It’s good advice in those areas. if there is such a thing. It’s not overkill. Matush believes the key to Restrictsimple but still fashionable. It’s more of an element of flashiness in ed’s long-term growth and success reSometimes less is more. If you What was your first-ever the design. quires continuous evolution. And while have a simple shoe that is still paying job? At 15, I became fashion at an affordable price will alfashionable, you can reach a a dry ice delivery guy. We cut What about dance-inspired shoes a ways be part of the brand’s DNA, the broader customer base. the ice on a band saw in our la the ’80s? danger of being labeled a “one-trick warehouse and then loaded up I think it’s safe to have one in the line. pony” is too risky. “We have to evolve What is your favorite homethe trucks to make deliveries in order to stand out because more and town memory? I grew up in to ice cream trucks and other Unlike recent seasons, there doesn’t more affordable fashion brands are enMonterey Park, CA. Every retail establishments. I guess seem to be one particular style tering the market,” he says. Saturday morning I would you could say that I’ve been in or brand driving consumers into Restricted aims to push further into help my father, who was the wholesale all my life (laughs). stores, which can be both a good becoming a premium brand in 2011. commissioner of our local and a bad thing. Do you agree? In addition to standing out from the Little League, rake the fields What did you want to be Yes. You are not as pigeonholed in crowd, Matush believes the timing will to get them ready for games. when you grew up? I wanted needing [to carry] one particular coincide with an increase in customWe’d play ball all day long. It to be an actor. I took drama style or brand. But that also presents ers looking to lighten their wallet. “We was awesome. in high school and a bit in a challenge with regards to inventory expect the market will improve and management. Going into next spring, consumers will spend more money,” he we think sales will be flats- and wedgsays. “We have to evolve with that.” Maes-driven. It’s going to be simple in a fashionAs for expanding the company’s portfolio furtush adds, “You have to evolve and broaden your able way. For example, I have a perforated flat ther, Matush never says never because the miscustomer base. If you stagnate, the only place to that is selling in very well and I have a two-tone sion is to always keep evolving. “Without giving go is down.” oxford that is also doing really well. too much away, we have plans that don’t strictly Hence the decision to launch Unrestricted involve footwear,” he hints. In the meantime, this year—a teen-driven brand targeted to apMight the clog trend be overblown? Matush says Restricted has plenty on its plate for peal to that demographic with a lower price The clog is a bit scary to me. While we do have 2011, including launching a new website, expandpoint than its predecessor. Suggested retail is

OFF THE CUFF

14 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010



O&A a number of clogs in our spring line and they have booked very well, I feel it’s an in-and-out trend possibly. I didn’t want to be saddled with too many styles in our line. However, I have one particular style that has done phenomenally. It’s cusomizable that features interchangable bling elements, but they are removable so it can be dressed down. How were Restricted’s boots sales this fall? For us, boots were big—probably our best category. We thought one style was going to be the hit because it was a favorite with retailers, but instead it was a sleeper style that sold best. You can’t always tell within the boot category which style will click. My pet peeve with this category is that from a glance, it’s difficult to tell whether a pair is $65 or $900, which can be both good and bad for business. You really don’t know whether it’s an expensive pair or not. In addition, boots are worn in any season now. I think there is a lot of perceived value in boots, and that’s why the category has been so strong. And to your point, the consumer can purchase a $69 pair of boots and look like she is wearing a $900 pair. And they can wear it for a while because boots tend to have a longer fashion shelf life. Are you more often right than wrong when it comes to projecting how a particular style performs at retail? It’s tricky. Retailers do a lot of homework on their customers in an effort to predict what might sell well. I think they are more right than wrong, because if they weren’t they would probably go out of business. But I also think there is something to be said for the wholesale companies knowing what’s going on in the market— even before the retailers might know. What is the current mood of your retailers? They are still cautious, but I would say they are less scared. They are becoming more confident in the brands that they are carrying as well as in the belief that consumers are going to come back in larger numbers next year and be willing to increase their spending somewhat. So that has opened up dollars for us. I’m also hoping that this will translate into more re-orders in 2011. This year, I don’t think they worried as much about the potential of leaving money on the table by not reordering. They didn’t want to take the risk. In the past, we have had many shoes [that were a] hit at retail and our buyers would come back and buy big. This year, they were 16 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010

more likely to use a one-and-done approach. It basically says, “OK, I made my money, and now I’m done. I’m not going to risk bringing in any more inventory.” Is this strategy a healthy approach for retailers to take over the long-term? I don’t think so. From a selfish point of view, I would rather they buy more boots from us. But I also believe that you have got to get behind a shoe when it’s working. If it’s not broken, don’t try to fi x it. Just keep returning to the well. However, I do understand that it is pretty scary out there right now and sometimes a style can just drop off. That’s where we have tried to help our smaller independent retailers by swapping shoes with a style that is selling. How do you think the retail landscape has been altered this year? From a footwear perspective, it was not as bad as most people expected. Shoes are always a feel-good purchase for many consumers. They can buy a $65 pair of shoes and not feel buyer’s remorse. The customer enjoys wearing them, they’re going to last a while and they can be paired with a variety of outfits. Compared to a car or house, it’s much less risky purchase. Perhaps it follows then that consumers are buying from a broader price range. They are. And we have to realize that customers aren’t dumb. They are looking for a good shoe at a bargain price. Specifically, our customer looks for style first. If it doesn’t look appealing on the shelf, then they are not even going to bother picking it up. But if it looks good, the next step is [to determine whether] it’s a brand they know and trust. Right behind that is fit and comfort. But if you are a brand they know and trust, they are willing to sacrifice the latter a little bit. Not that they have to with Restricted, but they will compromise fit and comfort if they really love the style. And if all three purchasing decisions line up, then they usually won’t mind paying a higher price for that particular shoe. If you had to put an APB out on the Restricted customer, how would you describe her? It’s actually a wide-ranging audience. She’s about 20 to 50 years old—a college student all the way up to a working woman or soccer mom. She can fit pretty much any ethnicity. She likes fashion, but doesn’t want to be over the top. She reads fashion magazines and follows trends, but she translates them into her world. She’s also located anywhere in the nation—from the more conservative Midwest to the forward Northeast

to the downplayed Southeast to anythig goes on the West Coast. Yet some trends now have uniformity across the country almost simultaneously. When Restricted first started, the marketplace was very different from today. It’s one of the reasons why we feel we have to keep evolving to adapt. The digital age—be it the Internet, smart phones or TMZ—enables consumers to be very savvy. They know what’s up—and quickly. I’m not just referring to New York and L.A.; I’m talking about places like Minnesota and Oklahoma. They are on it—and we, as a brand, have to be on it too. However, sometimes less is more. So we also have to be basic enough to translate to a broader audience. Some people don’t want to be over the top. They just want to wear their basic pumps to work. Have consumers really changed all that much since the fi nancial collapse? Not really. For me, there are two types of consumers: shoppers and spenders. Both of them spend money. The spenders do so right away. They see what they like and don’t really care what the cost is. But the percentage of these people has gone down over the past year. There are definitely more shoppers these days. Those people shop for the best value, but ultimately they spend something. Where is your customer primarily shopping these days? Online. Our online sales are higher than they’ve ever been. And that’s just from our sales on Endless, Piperlime, ShoeBuy, Kohl’s and What A Pair, as well as other major online retailers. Even our sales to brick-and-mortar online divisions are growing. Online shopping meets the demands of our busy customers. Might online retailing eventually rule the world some day? Who knows? Online shopping is definitely here to stay and, as an industry, we have to be on top of our game, product- and production-wise, to meet shoppers’ demands. For example, if you sell online, the shoes better be well-made and look almost exactly as they appear on that computer screen. Because, thanks to free shipping, if it doesn’t look right or fit well they will send it back. Wholesalers want to keep their rate of returns down. So we need to raise our game on the production level. Might the offer of free returns end some day? You know, Nordstrom was the first to >45


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JUNE 7-9, 2011

Tuesday – Thursday

Hilton New York Hotel & Member Showrooms

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OUR 2010 INDUCTEES, THE “EARL” LOAFER BY HUSH PUPPIES AND CONVERSE’S “ CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR,” JOIN OUR LIST OF ETERNALLY STYLISH SHOES.

fame F O O T W E A R

STYLE

P LU S

HALL OF

PREVIOUS INDUCTEES : 2007: VANS “CHECKERBOARD”; FERRAGAMO “VARA”; CLARKS “WALLABEE”; MERRELL “JUNGLE MOC” 2008: NIKE “AIR FORCE 1”; UGG “CLASSIC SHORT”; BERNARDO “MIAMI”; DR. MARTENS “1460” 2009: FRYE “CAMPUS”; REEBOK “FREESTYLE”; STRIDE RITE “PARKER II”; BIRKENSTOCK “ARIZONA”

december 2010 • footwearplusmagazine.com 19


I N D UCTEE: C O N V E R S E CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR

A Star Is Born FIRST PRODUCED IN 1917 by the Converse Rubber Shoe Company as the All Star, the 2-ply white—or unbleached— cotton canvas vulcanized hi-top was the rubber manufacturer’s first design to capture a piece of the emerging basketball market. Basketball player Charles H. Taylor made the shoe his court signature, ushering in sales as he introduced the sport to Americans. Ever the businessman—and a precursor of the multi-million dollar athlete endorsements to come—Taylor proposed improvements to the shoe: an ankle patch for support, a non-slip sole—and signed on as Converse’s first player endorser and salesman. By 1923, the sneaker was re-christened the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, complete with its iconic namesake patch. “The Chuck Taylor was the basketball shoe for years,” says Matt Halfhill, publisher of sneaker blog and e-commerce site NiceKicks.com. “It was the foundation that all basketball shoes were built from.” Up until the mid-1960s, only white and black styles were produced. Wearers personalized Chucks

Left: Converse’s athletic shoe before it became an All Star. Right: The super star as it is today.

20 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010

by swapping out white laces for colors. As the style reached beyond the basketball courts, Converse adapted the style with new fabrications and colors, says Brad Lacey, global creative director of Converse, in order to help the group of diverse people around the world wearing Chucks to express themselves. “That said, you’re never going to out-design the original black Chuck Taylor All Star,” he asserts. “You have parents wearing them, their children, teens and young adults,” says Brian Betschart founder of SneakerFiles.com. “As a fan myself, I know the loyal Chuck Taylor fan owns a few pairs—one to wear outdoors, another to events and a brand new pair still in the box ready to be worn,” Beschart adds. Part of the shoe’s everlasting charm, according to Halfhill, is its ability to be absorbed into any style. “The beauty of the shoe is the versatile message it projects. It can be as diverse as the crowd who wears it,” he explains. Lacey calls the style a blank canvas. “Every generation has adopted the shoe in a slightly different way and made it their own,” he says. “The Chuck Taylor is a shoe that allows people to both be themselves and to define their personality to others.” —Angela Velasquez


ROCK STAR STATUS Today, “Chucks are as synonymous with rock-n-roll fashion as the black leather jacket,” says Dee Anderson, a fashion stylist whose client list includes The Beastie Boys, Green Day, Dashboard Confessionals and Linkin Park. She describes the shoe as an integral part of the rock uniform. From the burgeoning teen culture of the 1940s and ‘50s to the birth of rock and roll, Lacey says the sneaker is an iconic symbol of those moments. The same goes for the birth of punk and many other cultural and music moments that span beyond our borders, he says. According to Luke Storey, a wardrobe stylist who has dressed everyone from No Doubt and the Foo Fighters to Marylin Manson and Kanye West, it all started with The Ramones. “Their look was street-wise and punk,” he explains. Chucks, along with the rockers’ stable of super skinny jeans, worn-out tees and fitted leather jackets, delivered the band’s tough rebellious stance against the majority. The Converse by John Varvatos collection has cinched the style’s tie to music even tighter, with new colors, fabrications and hardware that capture Varvatos’ rock-and-roll craftsman approach to design. “The collaboration never feels forced and always results in beautiful shoes that have a handcrafted look and feel,” Lacey says. “The partnership has forged new business and expanded the reach of Converse to new customers, who love the great designs and our associaton with John,” he notes. “I think the attraction with musicians is based on the simple design and old-school aesthetic,” Storey explains. The sneaker has an attitude that can be felt from the stage. “When you feel ‘cool’ it gives you a certain sense of confidence,” he continues. Anderson brings a mixed bag of shoe styles to each shoot she wardrobes, but when it comes to sneakers, her clients inherently gravitate to the Chucks. “I would say that 95 percent of the musicians I work with request Chucks,” she notes. Anderson says there is no rhyme or reason to rockers’ adoration for the kicks—few punks are known for their basketball skills. But Anderson likens the bond to musicians’ other love, guitars. “Why do rockers still want to get their hands on a Les Pauls from 40 years ago?” she asks. “There is perfection in the original that cannot be improved upon.”

WHICH ROCK STAR— DEAD OR ALIVE— WEARS CONVERSE ALL-STARS THE BEST?

Clockwise: Chucks were essential to Kurt Cobain’s grunge look; the shoe is part of Billie Joe Armsrong’s stage uniform; the sneaker sported by NBA legend ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich.

CHUCKS IN 3 WORDS: Cool. Classic. Universal. —Dee Anderson, stylist Classic. Simple. Versatile. —Brian Betschart, founder of SneakerFiles.com Rebellious. Comfortable. Classic. —Luke Storey, stylist Timeless. Classic. Authentic. —Matt Halfhill, publisher of NiceKicks.com

Anderson: I say Billie Joe Armstrong. I have been working with Green Day since 2000 and Billie Joe was wearing them then—and probably long before that—and is still wearing them today. Over the length of a single tour, he probably goes through 300 pairs. He’ll wear them with everything from a suit to an awards show to every night on stage. And it’s always the black monochrome style, the classic black and white or his signature Converse. Storey: Most recently, Kurt Cobain. His sloppy look was trendsetting in the ’90s. If he had worn old flannels and cardigans with a pair of Vans, it would have looked softer and more skater. Chucks made his look punk, which gave the shoe another boost in popularity for that decade.

december 2010 • footwearplusmagazine.com 21


I NDUCTEE : H U S H P U PPIES EARL

The All American Loafer IN A WORLD where it’s now acceptable to wear denim to the office and flip-flops to the White House, it’s hard to imagine a time when a little thing like a loafer was revolutionary. But when Hush Puppies launched at the National Shoe Fair in Chicago 1957, the company set the footwear industry on fire by offering the first truly casual line of shoes for men. By mid-1959, the company had produced its first million pairs. By the mid-60s, everybody from Warren Beatty to the Rat Pack to The Beatles were sporting the suede shoes. But over the years, classic fashion went out of vogue, and the brand suffered from its Americana image, with its adorable Basset Hound logo harkening back to a bygone era. So it came as a surprise to Hush Puppies execs in the mid-90s when a Manhattan creative director at GQ magazine noted that hipsters in SoHo and the East Village had started scavenging vintage shops for Bernard Lansky, famed the Columbia, a slip-on loafer with a Memphis clotheir golden buckle. “Back in 1995, nobody to Count Basie and Elvis Presley, shows off really had a clue that it was going to an early version of Hush be as big as it was because we’d had Puppies’ iconic loafer. those shoes in the line for such a long time,” says Tom Rio, global director of men’s product development for Hush Puppies, a division of Wolverine World Wide. “But then as we got more involved and did a runway show with John Bartlett, things just exploded beyond anybody’s expectations, that’s for sure.” Bartlett, a prominent menswear designer in the 90’s, approached Hush Puppies with an idea for a runway collaboration— removing the strap from the Columbia and producing it in

22 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010

an array of bold colorways—and thus, the “Earl” was born. Soon, Hush Puppies was collaborating with designer Anna Sui to create a women’s line, fielding phone calls from celebrities desperate to get their hands on a pair and selling millions of shoes. “We’ve carried Hush Puppies a long, long time, including back when some of them even had perforations. And when John Bartlett put them on the runway, we saw a huge explosion,” confirms Danny Wasserman, owner of Tip Top Shoes in New York. When Eunice Kennedy Shriver stopped by to pick up her own pair, the mania amplified. “My phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I literally had to take it off the hook,” Wasserman says. “Hush Puppies was kind enough to send over 48 pairs right away and we went through them in a half a day.” At the beginning of the craze, Joel Fitzpatrick, who was a designer in Los Angeles at the time, plopped a giant inflatable basset hound on his roof and turned his art exhibition space into a Hush Puppies store. “I sold 10,000 pairs in my first three months,” he says, reciting a long list of celebrity clients, including Anjelica Huston, Samuel L. Jackson and Susan Sarandon. Why does he think the brightly hued Earl was such a hit? “There is nothing more American than a blue suede Hush Puppies shoe,” Fitzpatrick asserts. “It’s like baseball and apple pie.” —Audrey Goodson


TOP DOG Joel Fitzpatrick’s Hush Puppies shop in Los Angeles, The Swell Store, sold the most shoes in the company’s history. Here, he shares his wild ride with the brand: “I had never sold a pair of shoes in my life, and I just decided to do it. I had my own clothing company, and I was always trying to get my hands on vintage shoes, and it seemed like every time we got on something, the company would end up reissuing it. And Hush Puppies was the most American, casual brand I could think of—it was the perfect combination of comfort and dress shoe. They were re-launching the brand, and they let me be part of the team. I was a designer, so I designed my own colorways. In a way, their comeback was really telling of where [fashion] would go—now every tennis shoe brand and their mother does a collaboration. I sold 10,00 pairs in my first three months. We would unload semi trucks, by forming a human chain and passing the boxes into the store, staying up all night putting Post-It notes on the shoes, because they were all pre-sold. In fact, we sold more than the whole Nordstrom’s chain combined. Pee-Wee Herman [Paul Reubens] came in and got a pair of lime green hush puppies a week before anyone else in the country. He was the first celebrity [to wear them]. Then, I literally would have celebrities begging for them. Ellen DeGeneres must have come shopping 50 times for them. And in 1995, I put four out of five best actresses Oscar nominees in the shoes, including the winner, Susan Sarandon. Hush Puppies would give me a ton of money to throw these huge, great parties, and we even threw a party for the launch of Patrón tequila, with GQ magazine and Hush Puppies. But people thought I was crazy for getting in the shoe business. Who thinks you’re going to get rich selling lime green Hush Puppies, you know?”

Hush Puppies’ 1996 ad campaign captured the decade’s casualcool aesthetic.

:

AS THE EARL CAUGHT ON, CELEBRITIES WERE CLAMORING TO JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON. SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES INCLUDE:

Mini-Me battles Austin Powers in his silver Earls.

Princess Diana, who requested her own special collection: twotone pastel-colored Earls. Nicolas Cage and Kevin Spacey, who wore Earls while accepting their Academy Awards in 1996. Dr. Evil, played by Mike Myers in “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” sported several different Earls— including a sparkly silver version. His sidekick Mini-Me, wore matching pairs in the movie’s sequel.

Princess Diana

Nicolas Cage

Kevin Spacey

december 2010 • footwearplusmagazine.com 23


what ’s s e l l i n g

designer boutiques

CHUCKIES

ANGELO SHOES

This quintessential designer boutique caters to chic New Yorkers and celebrities like Renée Zellwegger with its wide variety of top-tier designer brands, including Jimmy Choo, Giuseppe Zanotti, Chloé and Valentino. Originally a 200-square-foot commercial store in Brooklyn, Chuckies moved to Manhattan in 1988 and began attracting an exclusive clientele, says owner and creative director Richard Erani. “Everyone seems to think they’ve found a jewel box,” he says of the celebrities who happen to swing by the 900-square-foot space. “That’s why we never did too much advertising. It kind of ruins the cachet of having found us.”

Family owned and operated for 30 years, this 750-square-foot boutique “sticks to high-fashion runway bags and shoes” for women, says owner Chant Angelo. The only spot for upscale footwear in its well-heeled neighborhood, Angelo’s carries top French and Italian names, including Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Sergio Rossi, Missoni and Luciano Padovan. The shop’s secret to maintaining its loyal customer base? “We never pressure them to buy,” Angelo says. “We’re more like a showroom, and if you need something to buy, we’ll help you.”

New York, NY Lanvin

Valentino

Fendi

Stella McCartney

Sergio Rossi

Viktor & Rolf

Current best-selling brands: Believe it or not, one of the best brands is our private label, Chuckies New York. In addition, Lanvin, Viktor & Rolf, Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent. Best-selling styles: For women, it would have to be wedge boots, and for men it’s chunky distressed boots. Best new label: Viktor & Rolf. Any disappointments this year? Dressy shoes really took a dive. Has the average expenditure per customer changed? Not really, but because prices are so high, women are just buying less. Best-selling accessories: Handbags, jewelry and sunglasses. Throw them on as many customers that are receptive and a few will bite. In what ways has the recession most affected your customers’ shopping habits? They are definitely not impulsive. What is the male-to-female ratio of your sales? Ten-to-one women, and we really get all ages, from teens to women in their 70s. But the multiple sales are with women in their 20s to 50s. Has that profile changed at all as a result of the poor economy? No, just less of them all equally. Is there anything in particular you think is missing from the market? Only customers. The shoes are over saturated with everything. What is the biggest challenge facing your business? Steering customers away from department stores is a challenge with all their coupons and family-and-friends sales. How important is marketing, promotion and instore events? How a store markets itself is very important. If you want customers coming back you need to be consistent. E-mail promotions are great, if you keep them very sparse, otherwise [clients] just want off the “list.” As for store events, I don’t know many people who want to socialize with their local neighborhood shoe salesperson in New York City. Maybe in Ohio.

Pasadena, CA

Current best-selling brand: Valentino. Best-selling styles: The classic black patent peeptoe, Sergio Rossi over-the-knee flat leather boots, and three-quarter length and ankle boots by Fendi are doing really well. Best new label: Valentino. Any disappointments this year? My disappointment would be that we didn’t receive too many new customers this year. We worked a lot with our existing clientele. Has the average expenditure per customer changed? Typically, they would spend about $1,000. That’s gone down about 20 percent. Best-selling accessory: Yves Saint Laurent’s Roady handbag. In what ways has the recession most affected your customers’ shopping habits? They shop less frequently, so instead of buying six pairs a year, they’ll buy three pairs. They’ll buy a good-quality classic style, and carry it over into the next season. Has your customer profile changed at all as a result of the economy? Women of about 40 years of age remain our customer base. The younger ones can’t really afford us anyway. Is there anything in particular you think is missing from the market? There’s certainly nothing missing; you just have to pick the right mix of brands for your customer. What is the biggest challenge facing your business? Estimating how much our business is going to progress in the next six months to a year. We don’t know how much specifically to order. We anticipate a brighter future, but the recession has been going for three years strong. What was the biggest surprise this year? The biggest shock for us was [designer Alexander] McQueen’s passing. We used to carry McQueen, but we discontinued, and brought in Valentino instead. How important is marketing, promotion and instore events? Word of mouth is best. My clientele isn’t out to party, they just want to buy a nice shoe. Treat them well, and they’re going to come back as well as tell their friends about us. —Audrey Goodson




ADVERTORIAL

2010 REFLECTIONS

Industry leaders reflect on the past year—the trials and tribulations, the successes and rewards—all with an eye on positioning their respective businesses for the year ahead and beyond.


small fashion stores that are terrific. They cater to a specific customer base, offering watches, jeans, scarves, books and shoes. To a certain extent, Urban Outfitters offers a lifestyle assortment as well. The strength of that concept is: if you like it, you really like it. In contrast, many shoe stores remain conservative. The men’s shoes go there, women’s over there and the kids’ here. Perhaps merchandising the lines in a fresh way or working with customers differently would improve sales? If something isn’t working, then why keep doing it? To that end, we started being more consistent this year. Retailers need to know Geox is a big company, but let’s start with a precise collection that makes sense. We are a family brand with understandable fashion. If you are a 20-year-old who parties every Saturday night until you drop, then you’re probably not going to be wearing our shoes. But if you are a 25-year-old who just started a family but don’t want to be viewed as “old”—rather you want style, quality and a legitimate technology— then you are our customer. In addition, kids’ remains a very important business for us. Children wearing our sneakers will have dry socks at the end of the day—that’s a huge point of difference for parents.

Martin Berendsen vp marketing & sales, geox usa

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN POTTENGER/COASTLINE STUDIOS

I have logged more than 240,000 air miles this year visiting our headquarters in Italy, meeting with sales reps and seeing as many retailers in their stores as possible. I believe the face-to-face aspect of communication is lacking these days. Yet the need to understand each other is more critical than ever, especially amid the ongoing uncertainty in the U.S. Not knowing what direction the country is heading from political, economic and healthcare perspectives, not to mention the polarization of government at every level, equates to a tremendous sense of insecurity. In retail, this uneasiness leads to more of an item-driven market. If you have the shoe in the right style and the right color, you will do well. If not, too bad. Retailers are reluctant to take risks. They want to buy the items that they know are working. Unlike the athletic market where brands tend to build categories with a diversity of unique technologies and designs, the casual business suffers when everyone knocks off the hot style. The result is basically the same shoe in every store. But this is actually a good time to introduce new concepts. The worse it gets, the more innovative ideas will work. I have recently seen some


PHOTOGRAPH BY KEVIN CASEY

rob moehring ceo, washington shoe company

Our Chooka and Western Chief rain boot businesses continue to expand rapidly, and we will have nearly doubled our sales this year. But I have had to double my trips to China recently in order to secure more production capabilities. We’ve opened a couple of new factories, but since rubber is so hot, everybody’s knocking on doors trying to get production. Our main advantage is that we have been making rubber footwear in China since ’92. The factories give us orders because they know we are not just some fly-by-night company and will be doing business with them long after the craze dies down. Overall, the shoe business has been good this year—really. The theory making the rounds is that women’s ready-to-wear has been dull, so consumers are viewing footwear as the fashion statement. Exciting boot styles and different heel configurations are causing women to buy shoes like crazy. The other theory harks back to my father’s days toiling in this business: “When cars aren’t selling, shoes are because consumers have more ready-cash to spend.” But it’s not easy to succeed in this business today. Being extremely organized and having the ability to plan way ahead are essential. You must also remain focused. When you’re hot, customers often say you need to do this, this and this. But then it can become difficult to execute. Instead, our plan this year and going into 2011 is to take care of the businesses that we have by trying to improve on what we already do well rather than taking on new business or a new category. Value is another key component to success today. Consumers are more concerned than ever before about getting value for their dollar. The product requires great design, good workmanship and quality materials. Along these lines, we continue to solicit feedback from our retail partners as much as possible. Their invaluable input has led to the continuous creation of exciting new styles, which has been another key to our success. Overall, we have been very fortunate as a company these past few years and, despite the increased pressure that comes with success, it’s actually a wonderful problem to have.

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tom romeo ceo, bearpaw

PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF BURKHOLDER/LIFE IMAGE PRODUCTIONS

This year was challenging. Not only was the U.S. retail environment hard to get a read on, but what made it even more difficult were the unexpected twists in China, which included container and labor shortages and rising currency rates. It was a triple whammy for nearly the entire industry. And while it caused us to be late on some shipments, you either deliver late or you don’t deliver at all. We also carry 700,000 pairs in our warehouse to meet any inventory needs. My new motto is “We have options,” to make our customers feel warm and fuzzy. Our extensive inventory is an option, and if we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t have had growth this year. Our sales will be up about 40 percent compared to 2009. To succeed today you also have to know your customers better—their buying habits and likes and dislikes. And you must offer them added value, to a level where they say, “Wow, I can’t pass this up.” A lot of our growth is due to great marketing, social media and in-store signage. Remember, 85 percent of buying decisions are made in the stores. At the very least, you better have a good display and the right marketing and co-op programs in place. We do, mainly because we are constantly in communication with our retail partners. I always ask, “How can I help you help me?” And the proposition goes vice-versa. You must work together in this economy to learn what your customers expect. As a result, I believe our success will continue into next year. We have also been proactive with respect to sourcing and shipping issues. Logistically, we are changing how we manufacture and ship to be as cost and time efficient as possible. But customers don’t want to hear about your problems, they just want to hear your solutions. They want you to ring the register, because that’s what it’s all about. While it’s all very challenging amid the “new normal,” I still love this industry—shoes, our customers and selling. So you either adapt or you die, simple as that. We are adapting well and, fortunately, ringing the register.


PHOTOGRAPH BY DOROTHY HONG

I believe 2010 was a year where everyone—not just our industry— refocused on the fundamentals. It was a reality check, but not in a bad, smack-in-the-head way. Rather, it was a check that reinforces what “value” means. For example, Skechers ShapeUps and Reebok Easy Tones reminded consumers that the perceived benefits of a product have a very real value. In addition, retailers got back to focusing on inventory productivity and suppliers invested in ways to deliver greater customer value—both keys to success in a difficult economic climate. The “new normal” is that people need to be engaged in order to spend money—engaged by exciting product, the feeling of community and the benefits of what they purchase. The Apple iPad, unheard of a year ago, has become a must-have item, and the purchasers have become part of a community where many are missionary in their zeal to share the benefits with everyone they know. Apple does this better than anyone—consumers become their brand ambassadors. The emergence of “social selling” and the viral spread of opinions are critical to success today. It used to be that knowledge was power; now it’s information. The more you know and the quicker you know it, the more capable you are of utilizing the information to plan a strategy and share it with others. All of this will determine your success. Along these lines, we have created a dedicated Footwear Group within ENK that features a team of industry insiders with experience as both retailers and wholesalers. The Footwear Group will be 100 percent focused on serving the needs of our industry—starting with a re-engineered WSA show in Las Vegas (Feb. 7-9, 2011). We are harnessing the power of the ENK trade show engine and unleashing it onto the footwear world. Ultimately, our task is simple: get buyers and exhibitors in one place at one time so they can work in the most efficient manner possible. Retailers will shop major brands and emerging resources as well as learn about broad market trends—all in an entertaining place like Las Vegas. WSA is here to serve the industry rather than the other way around. If you consistently focus on serving your customers, whether you are a retailer, a supplier or a trade show producer, you will succeed. To that end, we are creating a shoe show for shoe people, by shoe people. It was a great idea then, and it’s a great idea now.

david kahan

president, enk footwear group

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Vena Cava platform clogs; Betsey Johnson jumper; vintage blouse; Trina Turk cardigan; tights by Falke.

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AMERICAN GIRL

SOLID, STACKED AND SUBSTANTIAL, DESIGNERS MAKE A POWERFUL STATEMENT FOR SPRING. PHOTOGRAPHY BY WINONA BARTON-BALLENTINE


VPL wedges; Shiplcy & Halmos linen shorts; vintage blouse, blazer and belt. Opposite: Sandal by Jean Michel Cazabat; Trina Turk studded dress; vintage blouse; Falke tights; hat by Southpaw.

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Loeffler Randall peep-toe mules; A Detacher blouse and thigh highs; Leifsdottir skirt; vintage headband.

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Styling by Michel Onofrio; hair by Robert Lyon for Atelier Management; makeup by Jordie Poon.

Karen Walker platform mules; dress by Timo Weiland; Leifsdottir blouse; Falke tights; vintage belt and hat.


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Candela lace-up slingback; vintage dress; Timo Weiland cardigan; Falke tights Southpaw belt; vintage hat. Opposite: Betsey Johnson platform wedges; vintage blouse; Billy Reid skirt; Falke tights; vintage belt and scarf.

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Shoe Salon

Designer Chat:

Candela

THEY STARTED WITH

Which is the bigger challenge to design: the footwear or ready-to-wear? Shoes are the fun part—it has come really naturally for us. We feel we’re able to stay ahead of most major trends. Of course, we have some sad stories. For example, we had wanted to do wood clogs for a long time, but 42 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010

Left to right: sandal by 5th Avenue Shoe Repair, Cole Haan lace-up, Florsheim by Duckie Brown chukka.

E D I T O R’ S P I C K S

our suppliers don’t make clogs. Ultimately, Chanel beat us to it—and now it’s clog fever! Unfortunately, we missed that boat. What inspired your Spring ’11 collection? We start with different ideas that might stem from music, movies, a painting—anything that really triggers our passion. This time, it was Native American music and photos of various tribes as well as Victorian influences, which together led us to a trading post idea. We’re always playing with contrasts. Can you give us a hint of what we’ll see for fall? We’ve seen a trend in a more “uniform” sort of look—something between school and military uniforms. It’s kind of severe but playful at the same time. And the 1976 film “Network” inspired our color palette. Everything Faye Dunaway wears in the movie showcases

Basket Case Whipped, weaved and twisted, men’s styles take an indigenous form.

the palette we want to use: camel, brown and accents of red, denim blue and cream. Is Dunaway’s “Diana” an accurate portrayal of the typical Candela girl? Our girl is definitely well traveled and interested in art and music and other cultures. She’s freespirited and fun—she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She can dress sophisticated but also be comfortable in no makeup. Our customer is typically 25 to 35 years old, but we want to cater to every woman. Both our mothers and little sisters could wear our line. What else might we see from Candela in the future? We’ve been a flats-driven brand, but our customers are asking for heels. In fact, our top-sellers for spring were heels, so we’re “womanizing” and growing up a little bit by adding more heels for fall. —Leslie Shiers

EDITOR’S PICKS PHOTOGRAPHY BY TREVETT MCCANDLISS. FASHION EDITOR: ANGELA VELASQUEZ

T-shirts. Now, Candela— the brainchild of Gabriela Perezutti-Isacson and Natalia Jacobs—features a full range of women’s ready-to-wear adored for its free-spirited aesthetic and mix of rough and romantic elements. But it’s the label’s footwear category, which the Brooklyn, NY-based designers added in 2006, that now accounts for 60 to 70 percent of their sales. The duo traces the line’s distinctive flair to their shared South American roots (PerezuttiIsacson hails from Uruguay; Jacobs grew up in Argentina). However, the fast pace of New York helps bridge their heritage looks with current fashion. Such contrarian ideas frequently appear in their line, from the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine styling to a mix of ethnic and modern elements—themes that both can be seen in the Spring ’11 collection. Made to pair with flowy dresses, metallic shawls and embroidered button-downs, the footwear showcases multicultural mash-ups in fringed sandals, beaded moccasins, tall leather boots with woven uppers, a metallic gold cut-out oxford and an unconventional take on the gladiator sandal. Candela aims to offer well-constructed and innovatively designed footwear that is still attainable to most women, thanks to retail prices between $200 and $500. The designers believe that sticking to this price range is what helped them grow as the economy tanked.


THE MAY EVENT CLASS OF 2011

USRA invites you to enroll in the fun! Stay on course in footwear retailing!

It’s Back to School at Footwear U! The Wigwam Resort, Phoenix – May 3-5, 2011 You’re invited to enroll in Footwear U at The 18th Annual USRA May Event, May 3-5, 2011. Our “Back-to-School” curriculum will get you back to basics and back to the future of footwear retailing. Learn how to stay at the top of your class! The May Event is the biggest footwear pep rally of the year! Three cheers for your continued success!

• • • •

Higher Education Keynote “professors,” scholarly panels and Interactive Workshops! Earn Extra Credit CPEDs earn Continuing Education Points! Golf Course Our courses include fun! Golf tournament at one of the top-rated gold resorts in the world. Pep Rallies Party and mingle with new friends and alumni, enjoy “keggers,” group dinners, “rushing”, games and maybe even a toga party! We’re all in a very special fraternity/sorority of footwear retailers!

• Score Discounts Many leading footwear brands will offer “alumni” merchandise discounts.

hosted by

Call or email the USRA office for Membership info or a May Event package. Phone: (818) 703-6062

Email: Linda@USRAonline.org www.USRAONLINE.ORG

One Industry. One Goal. One Place.


TREND

English Lesson

With a nod to the countryside, Spring ’11 wellies honor their aristocratic roots. Clockwise from top: quilted boot by Hunter, Däv short boot with ribbon detail, Chooka riding boot. Center: plaid Sperry Top-Sider.

44 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MCCANDLISSANDCAMPBELL. FASHION EDITOR: ANGELA VELASQUEZ

SPOTTING


Special Report • continued from page 10

she can use to justify that amount of money. It’s not a fringe or splurge purchase,” Krasnow says. For designer Abbe Held, who expanded her handbag line Kooba to include shoes this year, added value means added comfort. “It’s very important that in addition to the look, a shoe must be comfortable and functional. For example, we have a sensational sky-high platform, but the secret to its success is that there is only a 2-inch pitch to the foot. It’s as comfortable as it is sexy, making it the perfect shoe for running around the city or making a statement out at night.” Pedrazza agrees that designers must consider value and comfort when designing for today’s marketplace, noting that the quality of product at budget-friendly fashion chains Uniqlo, H&M and Zara is “pretty good.” So shoppers have begun to ask more of luxury labels, he notes: “Why am I paying a price difference? What’s the function you’re delivering for me?” For many industry insiders, the difference is craftsmanship. “Consumers are still looking for quality,” Pedrazza explains, noting that if shoppers are going to shell out top dollars for a designer name, then “the product has to be impeccable.” With a reputation that hinges on carrying only the best French and Italian brands, Angelo agrees: “The quality has to be something special and the finishing has to be perfect.” Which luxury designers meet the mark? Pedrazza names Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel. “There’s a reason these brands have lasted for so long,” he notes.

But the most challenging change for the postrecession luxury footwear purveyors is not that customers want versatility, value, comfort and craftsmanship—it’s that they want it all at a lower price. “I would say that the biggest change in the luxury footwear industry has been the pricing,” says designer Coye Nokes, whose namesake brand of women’s designer shoes retails from $280 to $650. “As customers become more price sensitive, the brands have been forced to respond. For many luxury brands this has meant a significant decrease in the entry price point enabled by new sourcing.” Pedrazza agrees, noting that the average benchmark for luxury footwear used to be $600, but has decreased to $400 in recent years. At Angelo Shoes, the average customer expenditure of $1,000 is down by 20 percent, Angelo reports. Now that the economy is on the mend, do industry experts see the trends reversing back to the pre-recession norm in the luxury footwear market? The answer, for the time being, is no. “I think the change in price structure for luxury footwear will be permanent, even as the economy begins to recover,” Nokes says. “Many brands have begun new lower cost sourcing partnerships and are investing in development. Given their investment, they are likely to continue to deliver lower price product that appeals to a larger segment of the market.” And even if prices do begin to creep back up, the consumer mindset is unlikely to change. “We’re smarter now,” Pedrazza notes. “We think through

our expenditures. We still want our nice things, but without the waste.” Krasnow agrees that the consumer desire for value will linger, even among the luxury set. “I think there will always be a small sector of the market that will bounce back to excess, but I think it’s become more chic to be cautious about how we spend money and what we spend it on. If the pendulum swings, it won’t swing all the way back. I don’t think we will go back to those prerecession levels where we were spending at the better end without thinking.” Of course, there will always be women who can’t live without the latest Manolos. So how do retailers capitalize on this label-loving sector? “Pure luxury has not grown much in terms of new footwear brands, but what has grown is the level of the presentation by stores selling luxury footwear,” NPD’s Cohen notes. “Retailers have learned they truly must treat luxury footwear like fine jewelry and service the customer with displays and places to view the product, in a salon-style environment.” It looks like Spring ’11 fashions may help retailers make such a sell more possible, as the runways revealed bolder, brighter designs. It appears that the fashion industry might finally be ready to branch out beyond the cautious, practical aesthetic of recent seasons and tempt shoppers with a bit more embellishment, color and just plain fun. Will the plan work? “Definitely,” Erani says. “It’s like kids boycotting candy. How long do you think it can last?” •

contest with regards to an upcoming collection. Each winner will win that respective style.

caused by U.S. customs. They have been much more intense about letting shipments through. And it’s not just checking one or two boxes, it’s a full examination of the container. While we have to let them do it, it delays getting products onto store shelves. With 90-plus percent of shoes made in China, nearly everyone is being affected by these issues. It’s the elephant in the room and it must be dealt with. How successfully you deal with it will determine how much business you will be able to do. We are fortunate to have a great factory partner. We are able to get re-orders and deliveries on time as our lead times have increased only slightly. But price increases have hit us with respect to raw materials and labor costs. We are doing our best to keep prices stable, but we have to pass some increases along.

Q&A • continued from page 16

make that offer. Customers could return a pair of shoes in their stores without even a receipt. It’s like with the airlines; if one carrier does a special offer then they all do it. With respect to online retailers and the offer of free shipping, it’s really their most effective way to keep consumers from going into stores. The fact is you want consumers to be able to touch and feel the shoes as well as be able try them on, and this is the online retailer’s way of doing that without having the consumer go into an actual store. Speaking of the Internet, in what ways is Restricted utilizing social media to build brand awareness? It’s still grassroots, but it’s becoming an important piece of our marketing puzzle. We utilize Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. In the consumer’s mind, visibility on these sites gives your brand legitimacy. Currently, we have 5,000 fans on our Facebook page, and they are telling their friends about us. There’s strength in numbers. We just ran a Halloween contest where Facebook fans with the five best costumes received a free pair of shoes. We are also going to hold a “name that shoe”

Are you conducting focus groups through these portals? For starters, I check our Facebook page every morning to see how many fans we added and how many may have “unliked” our page. I also read our followers’ comments. In addition, we are asking questions and posting pictures of some of our latest styles to generate feedback. We can see if it’s a shoe that they really like or not. We can get early reads on an upcoming season. Of course, I don’t want to put too many styles out there because I don’t want to be copied, but I can test the waters. I want to know what consumers are saying about our shoes. It’s not our primary focus group—because we use our retail partners for that—but it doesn’t hurt. So how is Restricted coping with China’s labor and currency issues? You had to go there. The factory closings and the appreciation of its currency is difficult enough, but then there’s the increasing delays

What do you love most about your job? The people. We are in the business of fashion, but ultimately it’s a people business. My co-workers and the many industry colleagues that I’m fortunate to call friends are the part of my job that I love the most. •


ATHLETIC COMFORT DRESS KIDS OUTDOOR WORK

Little Legacies Trimfoot’s licensed collection brings Eastland’s signature styles to kids.

Instant Classics

Cole Haan partners with Synclaire Brands for traditional children’s designs. SLOWLY BUT SURELY, Cole Haan is expanding its brand—now a full-fledged lifestyle label that encompasses adults’ footwear, outerwear, sunglasses and more—to children. The company (a division of Nike Inc.) introduced a small collection of kidsized classics for Fall ’10, and consumer interest is driving the children’s line forward for Spring ’11, reports Lisa Lavora, the brand’s director of communications. With 11 styles for pre-walkers, toddlers and youth, the spring collection—which is produced under license by Synclaire Brands—centers on key styles shoppers would find in the men’s and women’s offerings, such as oxfords and moccasins. Vincent Capritto, brand manager at Synclaire, notes that the line is especially strong for boys, with timeless oxfords, tassel and penny loafers, boat shoes and saddle shoes. The girls’ product, he adds, includes traditional styles (think Mary Janes) as well as fashion items like gladiator sandals, but even these trendier options are designed with the brand’s classic aesthetic and longevity in mind. As expected, traditional leathers are an important material for the line, but of-themoment finishes and age-appropriate fabrications also appear, with styles done up in denim, patent, metallics and more. “You’ll see the same focus on craftsmanship and artisanship as in our adult collection,” Lavora says, noting the push into the children’s market was a natural next step. And according to Capritto, approximately 90 percent of the children’s shoes feature the hidden Nike Air technology that has come to differentiate Cole Haan’s footwear in terms of offering a comfortable fashion product. “It’s going to be a great line,” Capritto asserts. “It has name recognition, high-quality and a great fit. We feel strongly about this collection’s success.” The Cole Haan’s kids’ shoes are available in sizes 1 to 7 for pre-walkers, 8 to 12 for toddlers and 13 to 6 for youth. The average retail price for the infant product is $40; the average toddler and kids’ style is priced at $78. The line is directed at department stores and select boutiques. —Leslie Shiers 46 footwearplusmagazine.com • december 2010

EASTLAND SHOE CORP. is dipping a toe in the children’s market once again for Spring ’11, launching little versions of its classic adult footwear, along with trend-driven options and shoes to pair with school uniforms, through a license partnership with children’s footwear manufacturer Trimfoot Co. With more than 90 years experience, Trimfoot is a leader in infants’ and children’s footwear, spanning everything from making quality product to handling sales and customer service. It’s been several years since Eastland offered children’s sizes, but based on consumer demand (including many parents who grew up with the brand, which dates back to 1955), an increased interest in Americana styling and the opportunity to build upon Trimfoot’s talent and stellar reputation in the category, Eastland president Jim Klein says the timing is right. “We look forward to working with Trimfoot and drawing on their extensive experience in the children’s footwear industry,” he explains. “Our goal is to offer trend-right classic children’s styles in the quality and value-driven package that our customers have been asking for.” Trimfoot president Steve Stroup says his company plans to leverage Eastland’s heavyweight brand name in the market— including its reputation for producing top-quality leather products—and run with that in the children’s category. And the benefits of the partnership go both ways: “Eastland will strengthen our position as a leader in the school uniform business while also offering a selected fashion line in both fall/ winter and spring/summer seasons,” Stroup adds. Hitting retail in June 2011, the collection will include core styles for girls and boys such as classic leather oxfords, boat shoes, slip-ons and loafers that Klein says encapsulate the current trend for authentic heritage footwear. Mary Brown, Eastland’s director of marketing, called the collection “timeless” and notes that many adults who wore Eastland shoes in the past have been requesting legacy styles for their own kids and grandkids. The shoes will come in sizes 10 to 6 youth and are set to retail between $45 and $60. —L.S.


THINK BIG Advertise in Little Steps magazine and reach more than 30,000 children’s footwear buyers.

†LITTLE KNOWN FACTS • Little Steps is the only magazine exclusively devoted to children’s footwear. • Little Steps is a supplement to Footwear Plus and Earshaw’s magazines. • The Fall ‘11 edition of Little Steps will debut February 1, 2011. • Little Steps will receive bonus distribution at WSA, FFANY, ENK Children’s Club, Children’s Great Shoe Event & KIDShow. Ad close: January 5, 2011 Contact: Caroline Diaco, Publisher • caroline.diaco@9Threads.com • (917) 450-7584


made you look blazing a new trail

Into the Wild

PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRANK CURRAN

Tarek Hassan in his element at the Wilderness Workshop.

LIVE PINES TREES line the staircase and customers sink into oversized leather couches at the Wilderness Workshop—a store within The Tannery’s new megaoutpost in Boston’s Back Bay. From the old cement floor to the rich wood-beam ceiling, the Workshop exudes a rugged ambience. Even the store’s sign bears resemblance to the name plaques that hang from cabin roof peaks at summer camp. But this isn’t your typical R.E.I. shop—there are no fishing poles, kayaks or tents for sale. Rather, the clothing, shoes and handpicked accessories embrace a timeless outdoor aesthetic, equally at home in the deep woods and downtown streets. The Wilderness Workshop is the brainchild of Boston-based shoe man, Tarek Hassan, who first introduced a shop-within-in-a-shop back in the ’90s with the sneaker boutique, Concepts (now a standalone store in nearby Cambridge.) The environment at the Workshop, which is nestled in The Tannery’s basement, can make almost anyone feel comfortable, Hassan offers. “We have tourists, students, neighbors— everyone can find unique products,” he says. “It merges function with fashion, all under one roof.” Thanks to a coffee bar, pastries baking on premise and the fresh pines, the Workshop’s aroma could entice any coffeehouse dweller’s nose. “Coffee sets the tone for the store’s identity,” Hassan says. “It makes it relaxing and totally different than your typical outdoor store.” Of course, the shop’s assortment is the main course. Swedish, British and Canadian brands—Fjallraven, Barbour and Canada Goose, respectively—have collaborated with The Tannery’s design team on special makeups. “We bring our input and experience to the table to create something really unique and different,” Hassan says, adding that the shop’s mission is to be a curator of the segment’s coolest emerging brands. Three months in, Hassan reports that the fledgling shop has been well received. “We believe the Wilderness Workshop can stand on its own,” he hints. “The Wilderness Workshop is more than just a store; it’s really a lifestyle.” —Meagan Walker




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