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See the Børn and Børn Kids Fall 2010 Collections at WSA Las Vegas Convention Center, Central Hall, Level 1, Booth #25817

Caroline Diaco Publisher Greg Dutter Editorial Director Nancy Campbell Creative Director


Crazy for Boots


Q&A: Kanner Corp.

Consumers are going gaga over today’s hottest silhouette, and Fall ’10 will likely see a repeat frenzy. By Leslie Shiers

CEO Edward Kanner explains why the Finn, Think, Gabor and Snipe brands answer Americans’ desire for healthy, sustainable footwear. By Greg Dutter


Northern Exposure Canada’s Browns Shoes covers all the bases with supreme service and product for all tastes and demographics. By Melissa Knific

Vintage Shoe Co.


Sexy Boots From booties to thigh-highs, our sneak preview of fall’s luxe styles will lure even the most conservative souls.


Street Kings

Pour La Victoire

Utilitarian work boots get taken to the streets for fall.

4 Publisher’s Letter 6 Editor’s Note 8 Op-Ped 18 Trend Spotting 26 This Just In


In the Elements The Fall ’10 Outdoor Preview: Spanning from trail running to apres sport, the color palette is rich in natural hues.


Outdoor Branches ‘Multisport’ splinters off into niche products for fall as brands take aim at dedicated outdoor enthsiasts’ specific needs. By Angela Velasquez

46 What’s Selling 48 Shoe Salon 53 Kids 54 Comfort 56 Made You Look On the cover: Reed Evins suede pompom boot. Shirt by Hache. Photography by Andrew Woffinden.

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.

EDITORIAL Leslie Shiers Managing Editor Melissa Knific Features Editor Angela Velasquez Editorial Assistant Del-Ann Henry Editorial Intern CREATIVE Trevett McCandliss Art Director 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 Sanford Kearns Webmaster 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@ 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


publisher’s letter new year, new start 7

A Toast to 2010 Hopefully, the crystal ball that fell in Times Square smashed the past year’s memory to bits. Good riddance to 2009! I wish you a Happy New Year with more enthusiasm than ever as we begin anew—and things are looking up for our industry: Consumer confidence is making a (cautious) comeback, and retail sales seem to be improving as we enter a new decade. As 2010 kicks off, I have plenty of “newness” to share with you from Footwear Plus. This year marks a new decade for us—and our 20th anniversary! Our adolescent years are long behind us, so to speak, as our magazine has developed into a mature and respected voice in the industry. In addition, our award-winning design team continues to outdo itself with each issue. There is simply no finer-looking business publication in the footwear industry. In recognition of our milestone, please join us in the April/May issue, where we will celebrate 20 years of all things footwear. This keepsake edition promises to be a spectacular review of our best moments as well as many of yours. In addition to the fashion highs, we can’t resist showcasing a few “What were we thinking?” faux pas. Hindsight truly is 20/20. Along those lines, look for the number 20 theme to appear throughout the book. And what’s an anniversary issue without a look at what the future may hold with respect to our industry? Rest assured, we will put our best foot forward in showcasing where we have come from and where we are headed. Of course, that path is leading all of us deeper into the online world. Just as electronic communications continue to figure more heavily into your marketing plans, Footwear Plus’ online initiatives are also rapidly evolving. I am proud to announce we have welcomed ’Peeps Creative, a digital marketing services firm, into our corporate family. Our revamped website, launching in mid-January, is the first project we’re unveiling in conjunction with the ’Peeps team. Together, we’re looking forward to providing our readers—both wholesalers and retailers—with a broad range of expertise including website development, e-commerce, mobile marketing, brand strategy, search engine optimization, video production, motion graphics and more, enabling you to harness the power of digital media for your business goals. Take a closer look at to see the proficiencies in pixels, print and positioning. Furthermore, the power of social media is only increasing. As a newcomer to Facebook, I witnessed that reach firsthand, having tapped my expanding list of friends for a little footwear feedback. Upon requesting anecdotes regarding their passion for shoes, I was amazed by the sincerity and level of detail in the responses. We are fortunate to be part of an industry that evokes such joy and obsession. The most poignant summation came from a friend who reminded me that, “just like the classic movie characters Cinderella or Dorothy, a new pair of shoes can indeed change your life.” I’m proud to say that after two decades of reporting on “new shoes,” our mission of helping drive the footwear industry to new and greater heights remains as relevant as when we launched. From the outset, we offered a completely fresh take on the trade publication format, and we have continued to push the boundaries ever since. With 20 years down, I’ll excitedly raise my glass to 20 more.

Caroline Diaco, Publisher

USA office: WL TRADING, LLC. 72 Sharp Street C#10 - Hingham, MA 02043 - Phone 781.337.3340/800.562.2212 – Fax: 781.337.3396 –



PRIMIGI-leading the way in customer service from the brand you have come to depend on for crib shoes to tweens. Rapid replenishment on in-stock orders ship with-in 24 hours from PRIMIGI’s new state-of-the-art facility. Fill-ins on basics you rely on for fit and quality. Conveniently shop from your store for PRIMIGI’s top-selling styles from our open stock catalog or cd. Stock new merchandise weekly and watch your margins grow with PRIMIGI.

Please call 800.562.2212 for all show schedules and appointments

editor’s note trend explosions 7

Killer Boots Fashion changes all the time—sometimes gradually, sometimes virtually overnight. In the latter instance, it’s as if there’s some vast underground network that sends a secret message out to women, lighting a fuse for change. And boom! The new trend is seen everywhere. Case in point: In New York this fall, women now by the masses have received their style orders to wear tall-shafted leather boots over skinny jeans or leggings. These various styles by numerous brands all are tall, sleek and sexy. Killer boots make for a powerful statement, and they’re pushed to further extremes by fashionista generals who dare to don over-the-knee styles. We’ve witnessed this trend outside New York, too. In Miami, amid sometimes oppressive heat, women are sweating it out to enlist in the latest fashion ranks. And from even farther from the frontlines of breaking fashion, we’ve heard reports of killer boots sightings. It’s only a matter of time before powerful new looks conquer the most remote locations, as the Internet has shortened fashion cycles and dissolved boundary lines.

While trends spread faster today, our industry’s reigning superpower— Ugg’s signature sheepskin boot—is not yet going the way of the Soviet Union. Far from it, as the style remains prevalent amongst those seeking comfort. While Uggs may not currently be on the tip of the style spear, they have conquered the country (as well as many other distant lands), achieving that hardfought and rarely bestowed rank of “closet staple.” The fact is, even as fashion’s frontlines move forward, many rank-and-file Ugg wearers refuse to go AWOL on the style’s coziness and all-day wearability. Such utilitarian advantages are reasons why the wellie trend—footwear’s current second-in-command boot statement—also still has legs. As long as it rains and, more importantly, as long as women shell out big bucks on beautiful footwear, then the desire to guard against the elements remains. Utilitarian loyalties aside, I believe the popularity of statement-making boots is good for our industry overall. The fact that even experts have difficulty determining whether one of these styles retails for $100 or $800—or if it’s Prada or private label—opens up the playing field to many other brands and the retailers that sell them. Fashion’s power structure is being realigned, and the killer boots trend as a whole is more powerful than a particular label or two. The shift in power should make for an exciting time as we head into the Fall ’10 buying cycle—traditionally a killer season for boots.

Greg Dutter, Editorial Director

THESE BOOTS AREN’T JUST MADE FOR WALKING. For years, outdoor enthusiasts have trusted MUCK® to keep their feet warm, dry and comfortable in some of the toughest conditions around. Now, with our new All-Terrain Collection, you can get that same legacy of performance with a splash of color and style.

To learn more about the All -Terrain Collection, give your MUCK BOOT sales rep a call. Or call us at 1-877-438-6825 to find the representative near you.

Arctic Sport



Op Ped

3 f o r m o r e o f f - t h e - c u f f c o v e ra g e , vi s i t : f o o t w e a r p lu s m a g a z i n e . c o m / b l o g

Sandals That Rock

8 • january 2010

The ‘Entourage’ boys appreciate the finer things in life.

Relapse of Luxury OVER THE PAST few years, the terms “mass,” “attainable” and “accessible” have increasingly been used to describe an emerging class of luxury that is exactly that— goods deemed high end yet affordable to the masses. But let’s be honest, these terms are all oxymoronic when paired with the word “luxury.” By definition, luxury should not be easily attainable, mass produced or in reach of average Joes and Janes. In the pre-financial crisis era when living beyond one’s means was the norm, many luxury labels traded down their brand’s image to tap into the exploding consumer segment of wannabe-wealthies. As it turns out, the strategy may have resulted in short-term gain but longer-term pain. Our economic pall has put the kibosh on faux-rich extravagance, and many upscale brands that watered down their conceits are now dealing with a backlash from their original consumers. Loyal followers never wanted to see Joe Public cruising by in an “affordable” version of their BMW, and the brands have paid the price in terms of lost cachet. As a big fan of HBO’s series “Entourage,” I enjoy the smorgasbord of fancy cars, private jets, mansions and top-tier restaurants that the fictional Hollywood star, Vincent Chase, and his buddies indulge in each episode. The show is designed to make viewers drool over material possessions typically reserved for the world’s elite. It’s a fact made clear in an early season’s story arc during which Vince’s career takes a nosedive. Nothing better defined that fall from luxury than when Vince’s manager (and best friend), Eric, was forced to trade in his new $100,000-plus Maserati for his prior vehicle: an old, beat-up Honda Prelude. But what if he had traded down for one of the entry-level Jaguars, Cadillacs and BMWs introduced over the past few years? It just wouldn’t have had the same impact and viewers would’ve been confused—evidence that “attainable luxury” is sullying those brands’ prestige. Some have gotten the message. Jaguar’s new owners, who took over in 2008, are returning to its upscale roots following a push of $30,000 cars. Get set for the 2010 XJ Sedan—Jaguar’s most expensive model to date with a sticker price that tops out at $115,000. Jaguar only expects to sell 8,000 of these cars this year, compared to 30,000 of the mass-produced models. But the branding-180 should give luxury shoppers a reason to buy Jaguar again. Similarly, Oakley skews upscale again with its new C Six sunglasses, featuring 80 layers of carbon fiber that mold to your face. Price tag: $4,000—six times the price of Oakley’s previous top-shelf eyewear. Yes, the world has truly been turned on its head, but restoring luxury to its rightful place in the consumer-shopping pyramid is a step toward market correction. While many pundits have written off the segment as a permanent casualty of the recession (hogwash!), just consider Hermès: Some of its limited-edition bags— priced in the six-figures—have a two-year waiting list, and the company’s thirdquarter sales are also up 10 percent. Looks like there’s still something to be said for a focus on quality over quantity, uniqueness over ubiquitousness and a “you can’t own it if you can’t afford it” approach. Welcome back, luxury. —G.D.


THE BERNARDO SANDALS featured in the company’s latest ad campaign are “very rock ‘n’ roll” in design, asserts Dennis Comeau, head designer and president of the Houston-based line. And while that’s a key reason the model is styled in a leather jacket, don’t be fooled—that’s not just any leather jacket. It was once worn by the late Dee Dee Ramone, legendary bassist for the Ramones. Comeau, who was part of New York’s emerging punk music scene as a member of The Hormones, considers the coat a piece of rock history. Around 1979, Comeau’s band had an audition in New Haven, CT, where the Ramones happened to have a gig. As fate would have it, both bands ended up grabbing pies at a joint called York Pizza. “I was wearing a black leather biker jacket with lots of really cool studs and nail heads that I’d just bought in London,” Comeau recalls. “Dee Dee loved it, so we ended up swapping jackets.” Little did Comeau know then how influential the Ramones would become, musically and fashion-wise. “I knew [their] raw rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t commercial, but the stuff playing on the radio bored me to tears,” he says, noting that hearing the Sex Pistols in high school changed his life. “We were all protesting against radio stations that force-fed music to the masses.” The Ramones fought that fight for decades. And while the band never scored a Top 40 hit, their sound and style was undeniably groundbreaking. In Comeau’s opinion, what makes the band so great is their “love ’em or hate ’em” quality. “No one thinks the Ramones are ‘just OK,’” he says, noting that avoiding the middle ground defines his own approach to shoe design. “The left side of my brain is constantly telling the right that the most important goal is to stir people’s emotions. I hate shoes and music that are ‘just OK.’” In fact, Comeau and his design partner (and wife) Lynne believe mediocrity is lame. “Buying a pair of shoes is an emotional, impulsive experience. People buy way more shoes that light up their internal flame of ‘lust, must have’ than shoes they ‘need.’” Rock royalty appreciates the Comeaus’ approach and their plays on Bernardo founder Bernard Rudofsky’s original (then-radical) design concepts. Recently, Alice Cooper approached the designers’ 15-year-old daughter to compliment her sandals—Bernardo’s Must Stone style. “It’s stuff like that that makes my day,” Comeau says. —Greg Dutter

Celebrating 20 Years in 2010

Special 20th Anniversary Issue: April/May 2010 Contact: Publisher Caroline Diaco


Crazy for Boots ONE OF LAST YEAR’S most buzzed-about episodes, starring one of 2009’s most buzzed-about people, also happened to surround last season’s most buzzed-about footwear trend. Recall, if you will, the snark-filled backlash (and then a backlash to the backlash) that greeted Sarah Palin the moment she stepped out in a pair of high-heeled, black leather knee boots. Dismissing subdued, expected and politically safe pumps for a style intimating power, confidence and a hint of sex appeal, Palin instead fully committed to her daring fashion statement. Palin was not alone in choosing boots last year. Across the country, women flocked to countless boot brands and silhouettes, forgetting about the recession and snapping up multiple pairs. In spite of the year’s overall retail slump, “We’re seeing a pretty healthy women’s fashion boot trend,” Mitch Kummetz, senior research analyst for Baird Research, surmised in the fourth quarter. The boot frenzy surprised many retailers who had leaned out their inventories in expectation of fewer fall/winter sales. “Nobody has enough boots,” Joe Ouaknine, CEO of Titan Industries, said mid-season. Vendors at last month’s FFANY show agreed. “We’ve seen retail sales of boots perform stronger than shoes,” said Jeffrey Bart, vice president of sales and operations for Miz Mooz. “The consumer is thinking boots and is willing to buy,” echoed Chris Ryan, Matisse Footwear’s vice president of product development, who noted there’s currently more consumer demand for “the right boots” than there is supply. And the definition of “right” seems to be expanding. Uggs have ruled the winter landscape for years, and while the fashion world may have moved on, consumers just aren’t willing to give up these cozy comfort favorites. But as boots become as varied as denim silhouettes, shearling versions are just one of the now many must-haves. Designers’ Fall ’09 runway shows sparked interest in thigh-high styles, a risqué height that quickly seeped down to the masses as vendors began incorporating flat heels, understated materials and subdued colors for everyday wearability. At the opposite end of the spectrum, ankle boots and heeled booties have erupted in recent seasons, and many expect that trend will continue to grow. “Booties will become more important for 2010,” assures Scott Kaminsky, vice president of sales for Highline United. Even men are getting in on the action, perhaps transitioning from hi-tops to a more mature look, choosing rugged lace-ups and sturdy work boots. Manufacturers can cough up countless reasons why boots are currently so hot. First, they’re simply the perfect complement to today’s hottest apparel, says Matt Joyce, president of Tracy Reese footwear at Highline United, who notes the now-mainstream skinny jeans trend has caused the boot silhouette to boom. Second, they’re a pragmatic option in the colder months. “Once winter hits, that’s all people want to wear,” asserts Bart of Miz Mooz. Third, as Palin proved, boots have become acceptable footwear in all aspects of life, OK for the workday, nights out, weekend errands and everything in between. Ryan of Matisse purports that with fewer people working in traditional settings, the requisite tailored office shoes have become less important. Nowadays, “You see [people wearing] opened-up sandals for spring and boots for fall,” Joyce says, wondering, “Where did the shoe business go?” Many vendors also see a connection between the recession and boots’ soar10 • january 2010

ing popularity. Higher shafts, quality tooling and a statement-making look give consumers the feeling they’re getting the most bang for their buck, notes Paul LaVoie, president and CEO of Lucchese. Plus, since the economy faltered, the industry has reported a return to old standbys: well-crafted, dependable, rugged footwear that encapsulates American pride—and will never go out of style. (LaVoie notes that for fans of John Wayne, Harley-Davidson and a casual laid-back lifestyle, nothing beats a boot.) Retailers are banking on boots to keep piquing consumer interest in 2010. Perhaps they’re taking cues from Europe; Ryan says he’s seen several fantastic stores in London, Paris and Bologna, Italy, dedicating up to 75 percent of their inventory to boots. This is only possible due to the variety of styles on the market today, he notes. “There are just-above-the-ankle and over-the-knee versions, all shaft and heel heights—you can fill an entire store with just boots.” Expect to see that diverse boot fashion in Fall ’10 product. Designers are splintering off from black and brown basics to introduce offerings for all tastes and preferences. While thigh-highs continue to bowl over trendseekers, Tanise Hill, designer for Restricted Footwear, says, “Even people scared to dive into the over-the-knee trend still want boots.” She’s answering with a wider variety, plus more color options and metallic hints because, as Hill sees it, “Once a girl has the staple brown boot, she might want something fun.” At Rockport, Haysun Hahn, head of women’s product, hasn’t ignored the basics, but she stresses “we have to do them in the fashion vernacular.” Luckily, says LaVoie, “You can interpret the boot silhouette in so many ways.” He notes Lucchese is moving beyond cowboy designs for fall, applying its boot expertise to more traditional men’s product. Even wellie brands are following popular style cues. “We’re bringing in more high-fashion influences,” says Rob Moehring, president of Washington Shoe Co. “I always look at Alexander McQueen, Prada and Balmain to see what they’re up to, and for fall that’s buckles, studs and straps... Everything is becoming either more classic or more aggressive.” While some industry members fear the current consumer demand for boots may cause a glut of boots at retail next fall, the upside is that, historically speaking, boot demand constantly reoccurs. LaVoie’s reasoning? “There’s just a romance with boots that you can’t have with other footwear,” he smiles. •


Maximum coverage proved last year’s hottest ticket. Will this footwear’s popularity endure? By Leslie Shiers

It’s a breeze. Easy to get to. Easy to work. Easy on the budget. The Atlanta Shoe Market: The one show you should attend this season.

Cobb Galleria Centre | Renaissance Waverly Hotel | 706.923.0580 | | February 19-21 2010


European Accent Edward Kanner, CEO of Kanner Corporation— the distributors of Finn, Think, Gabor and Snipe—on why his current brand portfolio is in step with an increasing amount of Americans. By Greg Dutter QUALITY, HANDCRAFTED, COMFORTABLE, ecological, healthy, stylish, exclusive—these are all words that describe the stable of premium European comfort brands (Think, Finn Comfort, Gabor and Snipe) that are distributed in the United States by Kanner Corporation of Thousand Oaks, CA. They also happen to be buzzwords associated with the tastes and demands of a growing amount of American consumers who are tiring of me-too looks and the marketing mirages often associated with wellness and sustainability. These affluent consumers seek authenticity, demand quality and want exclusivity in their purchases—the very desires that Edward Kanner, CEO of Kanner Corporation, says his brands answer. “We are purveyors of luxury European comfort footwear with a strong emphasis on health and wellness,” the exec says. “Brands like Birkenstock [for which Kanner’s parents’ company has owned the license for Canadian distribution since 1968], Finn Comfort and Think were decades ahead of these trends. They didn’t just jump on the bandwagon when green and wellness recently became cool. They have been producing healthy, ecological footwear for generations, and they will be around for generations to come.” Kanner adds that Gabor and Snipe—the Spanish-made brand with a sustainability platform recently acquired by Gabor—are two more labels that are the real deal when it comes to delivering on wellness and sustainability, respectively. Gabor is set to launch its Rolling Soft collection for Fall ’10, and Snipe backs its edgy casual styling with verifiable eco-friendly product design and manufacturing processes. And while Kanner admits that the decision to launch a new brand in the States in 2008 may have seemed like an ill-advised move, he also considers Snipe’s introduction spot-on. “We are witnessing a global behavior shift—the rise of ethical consumerism,” he says. “The short-term, throwaway mentality is over; superficiality is out and individuality is in.” Such ahead-of-the-curve positioning is exactly why Kanner believes his brand portfolio is poised for strong growth, albeit a trajectory he maintains will be controlled, sustainable and—with luck and hard work—profitable for all parties. Having been an importer of European comfort brands since 1991 (beginning with the German-made Finn Comfort), Kanner is a follower of that continent’s often adhered to business model, in which volume for volume’s sake is not the primary goal. When asked what his sales outlook is for his brands in 2010, Kanner candidly responds: “Infinite growth is unrealistic, but our brands are under-distributed, thus we expect to continue our path of steady, controlled growth even in a depressed economy. We are selective and cautious about whom we open, and our relatively limited distribution gives authorized retail partners a form of exclusivity.” To say that is a breath of fresh air in America’s clearly over-distributed landscape is an understatement. Excess regarding pretty much everything is what got many Americans into financial straits to begin with. And if, in fact, we are entering an age where less is more, quality rules over quantity and authenticity—not smoke and mirrors—makes up the new rules, then Kanner believes his brands are in an enviable position. When asked if more brands might en-


O&A Having grown up in the family business, Kanter the Kanner Corporation fold, he is quick to ner says footwear is in his blood. And when he respond: “That’s out of the question right now. is not intensively training for various Ironman The exclusive labels we distribute represent a perfect blend of comfort, fashion and wellness.” Equally fresh is Kanner’s tell-itlike-it-is approach on a range of topics. For example, when asked whether he thinks the economy will be on What are you reading? a day, who would it be? Sir the mend in 2010, he replies, “Media “Salome,” a tragedy by Oscar Winston Churchill, fightand government keep hinting at a Wilde, and Steven Ozment’s ing tyranny during WWII. It recovery and inciting consumers to “A Mighty Fortress: A New would be an inside look at hisspend more to drive the economy. History of the German People.” tory in the making. But what’s good for the economy is not necessarily good for the individWhat’s on your iPod? Anna Which do you fear more: ual. What the consumer really needs Netrebko, Otmar Liebert, The global warming or financial to do is to stop overly spending and Beatles and my daughter’s meltdown? Neither really, but start saving.” As for any pause in Miley Cyrus. further financial turmoil is the era of insatiable greed, Kanner likely to affect us in our lifetime. offers this summation: “The econWhat did you want to be As an importer of European omy will bounce back, but we may when you grew up? Every footwear, we are at the conbe facing a ‘new normal’—perhaps young boy in Quebec dreams of stant mercy of volatile currency the dawn of a new austerity. While being a hockey star. markets. No matter how well it could prove challenging for busiwe hedge our bets, foreign ness, the adjustment in consumer If you could hire anyone who exchange is a constant gamble. behavior was well overdue. Housewould it be? Barack Obama. It hold savings rates in the U.S. are might be a good PR move. As a new decade dawns, can ridiculously low as compared with it be any worse then the prethe European Union overall.” NevWhat was your first-ever pay- vious one? There remains an ertheless, Kanner believes his proding job? At age 15, I became astounding lack of financial ucts serve more as investments in one of the first Birkenstock reps literacy. Look at our generaareas like health and wellness, and in Canada (my father owned tion and its impetuous ways. therefore are not as impacted by the distribution license), sellWe have had it relatively easy consumers who may be cutting back ing to local stores around my and take much for granted. My on frivolous spending. hometown of Montreal. I was a parents grew up smack dab in Kanner’s success coupled with his little kid trying to sell shoes out the middle of WWII, and they family’s longevity in Canada (under of a duffel bag—with limited worked harder for their money the name Serum International) success (laughs). I got the pasand managed it vigilantly. They is validation of their controlled sion early for this business. taught me how to manage growth philosophies, a fact that bemoney carefully very early on. comes even more noteworthy conWhat is your motto? “Persidering the family entered the footsistence and determination What is your favorite homewear business by accident. Before alone are omnipotent.” I town memory? Playing ice landing the Birkenstock license, borrowed that from Calvin hockey on outdoor rinks in Kanner’s parents sold fine GermanCoolidge. -20 degrees and the Montreal made laboratory glassware. “We saw Canadiens winning four conBirkenstock’s medical virtues and If you could be anyone for secutive Stanley Cups. sold it primarily to health stores and medical facilities,” he says. Little did they know then how the market competitions (he’s currently prepping for the for well-made German comfort footwear brands France edition) and marathons (he was the would take North America by storm. “At the beyoungest finisher in the Montreal marathon at ginning, many retailers laughed at the concept, age 14; his next race will take place in Los An[but] today it is one of the most sought after catgeles this March), he’s all about shoes. Kanner egories worldwide,” Kanner says. “We still have and his wife and business partner, Teri, are busy a small medical division. It’s just that now we raising two young children while also rearing are 98 percent footwear and maybe 2 percent four shoe brands. When asked whether he conglassware.”


14 • january 2010

siders himself a triathlete or a shoe executive first, Kanner says, “My wife thinks I’m crazy. She says I love my bike more than I love her. But I’m a shoe executive first. The triathlon training is my therapy as I juggle a busy career and family life.” It may not be the quintessential CEO’s life, but it works for Kanner. “Controlled chaos and the eternal quest for balance is more like it,” he says of his busy schedule. “It’s really more about maintaining a lifestyle of health and wellness.” How has Snipe been received in the U.S. market to date? Very well, despite the challenging environment. Understandably, retailers are reluctant to commit until they see proven results, but we went with a soft launch for Spring ’10 with a number of select retailers and we expect Snipe’s fall business to triple in size. And while our decision to launch a new brand came in the face of severely adverse conditions, we immediately recognized its long-term growth potential and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Snipe stands for a sustainable lifestyle, and it’s different yet functional without neglecting the fun fashion aspect. The shoes are comfortable and made of high-quality, all-natural materials. They are also very well made and therefore last a long time. Timeless design holds up for more than one season, and this is sustainable, too. I also believe that one should never get too comfortable or complacent in business. While challenging times call for prudent decisions, this was a calculated move and a long-term investment in our future. We believe this will be a brand to be reckoned with. And the fact that Snipe was recently acquired and rebranded by Gabor makes it that much more compelling. Gabor’s organization, marketing and logistics are unparalleled. Having a powerhouse parent like them looking over you with a watchful eye is sure to spell success for Snipe. They have the capital to make it work. Where do you think the green movement stands from a footwear perspective, now that the initial hype appears to have waned? I strongly believe there is room for this concept. The conscientious consumer strives to act and shop more ethically while continuing to enjoy a healthy, high-end lifestyle. It is the Whole Foods

shopper in her Mercedes SUV. One doesn’t necessarily have to sacrifice luxury for ecology. While at first glance these traits appear contradictory, such peculiarities often naturally coexist. But it has to look good fi rst, right? To the general population, overall design and quality may still come first and sustainability second. But if it happens to be environmentally friendly, it has an added feel-good/do-good incentive. We believe this is rapidly changing and that we have just scratched the surface of this emerging consumer category. What appears to be exclusive within eco-oriented brands today will hopefully become standard in the footwear industry down the road. Aspects like chrome-free leathers, sustainable materials like cotton and linen, and fair-trade sourced materials should become common practice. In the meantime, eco-friendly brands will have to constantly improve their methods and materials and act as trailblazers for this category. At the same time, this concept becomes terribly watered down when everybody suddenly proclaims their green virtues. We trust that the sophisticated consumer can fi lter out the nonsense and see it as greenwashing. Hyped-up, manipulative sales tactics appeal only to the unsophisticated buyer. American consumers have to ask themselves some hard questions: Is this a frivolous luxury, a throwaway purchase or a long-term investment in quality? We need to inject a dose of consumer conscience and greater financial self-discipline.

Speaking of financial discipline, what’s your take on the luxury market’s viability going forward? Although there are clearly challenges within our niche and some of our brands may never appeal to the great masses, our target customer will open her wallet when she perceives value and authenticity. While Volkswagen will always outsell Mercedes in terms of sheer volume, and while there is greater price-comparison shopping going on today, value is not only measured in terms of price. Original design, health and wellness benefits, orthopedic support and sustainable production are other factors. The unique products we offer are healthier for you and for the planet we share. Having said that, we are certainly not immune to the financial crisis. But we are fortunate to be somewhat sheltered due to the medical/orthopedic nature of our brands. We have rarely concentrated purely on fashion or trends. The fact is many of our products are nothing less than significantly beneficial and truly enhance people’s quality of life. There’s tremendous therapeutic value. We offer products that are sustainable and able to be refurbished, thus one can prolong an investment for many years. Exactly what separates Think from other comfort brands? Think is Austrian-made, high-end, luxury comfort footwear for the sophisticated and health-conscious consumer. We do not sit with the typical slew of moderately priced comfort brands. We are several levels above, both in quality and price. Few tanneries can produce organically tanned leather and, as a result, our availability is very limited. Think’s production philoso-

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$1$720,& )227%('







WSA February 2-4, 2010 Las Vegas, NV

MAGIC February 16-18, 2010 Las Vegas, NV

ATLANTA SHOE MARKET February 19-21, 2010 Booth # 1405/1407

phy rules out 95 percent of tanneries—a fact that has an impact on its pricing. Organic tanning is simply better but costlier, slower and more complex to process. In this day and age, certified vegetabletanned European leather is an extravagance mastered by few European tanneries. Do Think and Finn customers overlap? Quite often, in fact. Both are natural comfort brands with fervent followings, although with Finn we have a stronger orthopedic customer base. While they are both sophisticated, health-conscious consumers, I describe Finn as a Mercedes for your feet. It’s a sturdy, German-built and finely engineered piece of footwear, whereas Think is more of an avant-garde brand—the sportier Mercedes, if you will. It’s also a few steps ahead in the organic arena. Finn shoes aren’t 100-percent natural, but Think goes to great lengths and expense to use only vegetabledyed leathers. In fact, the brand was one of the first in the green movement when we began importing the collection about 12 years ago. And while other brands now copy Think styles left and right, the differences are its European-made, hand-crafted qualities. How were Finn Comfort’s sales this year? Sales continue to grow steadily. Finn Comfort is the crème de la crème of European walking shoes. It is amongst the very few German brands still produced exclusively in Germany. In a world of mass production, Finn Comfort is a handcrafted masterpiece. Serious function and support set the brand apart from the competition. Connoisseurs around the world praise our superior quality. Arguably, you were selling “comfort couture” before it was even considered a category in the States. First of all, the term “comfort” is overused—all footwear needs to be comfortable. But Think is a comfort couture pioneer. Its groundbreaking, original design was heretofore unseen in Euro comfort. Think set a new, higher design standard and spawned countless imitations—albeit mostly of lesser quality. I noticed Gabor is launching a line called Rocker Soft. What’s unique about that collection? Rolling Soft by Gabor is outpacing all expectations. The shoes have a built-in stabilizer for enhanced motion control and feature great medial/lateral stability. Unlike several competitors who preach the benefits of instability, Rolling Soft is all about exceptional stability. Similarly, Finnamic is our new rocker sole by Finn Comfort. The gentle rocker soles work in conjunction with Finn Comfort’s renowned orthopedic footbeds to provide serious support for your feet. The key difference is that these shoes provide what I call anti-instability. But you are not anti-rocker sole? We offer a much less aggressive rocker sole. But we offer all the health and wellness benefits of a rocker sole with a stable base. MBT, Finnamic and Rolling Soft could all be merchandised on the same table as a retailer expands its presentation of health and wellness products. What’s your take on the whole rocker-sole craze going forward? Rocker soles promote a more natural way to walk and offer numerous health benefits, but anyone who really believes they are going to get fit solely from wearing rocker soles is delusional. Often, >55

See more at

March 12-14, 2010 D端sseldorf, Germany

For show information: Messe D端sseldorf North America 150 North Michigan Avenue Suite 2920 Chicago, IL 60601 Tel. (312) 781-5180 Fax (312) 781-5188 E-mail:

For hotel and travel arrangements: TTI Travel, Inc. Tel. (866) 674-3476 Fax (212) 674-3477

Official Airline


Rough & Tumbled Distressed effects and vintage styling redefine the men’s assortment. Clockwise from top left: Blondo lug-sole boot; Rockport buckle boot; weathered Western boot by Lucchese; Rebel by Durango harness boot; Old Gringo cowboy boot.




Teal Appeal Fall’s top pop color adds oomph amid basic brown and black. Clockwise from top: Rialto ankle bootie; Reed Evins patterned wedge boot; foldover ankle boot by BC Shoes; Spring Footwear calf boot with artisan detail. Center, from top: Madeline desert bootie; color-blocked platform heel by Corso Como.


Peep Show Heeled ankle boots raise the appeal of ashing a hint of skin. Clockwise from top left: Chinese Laundry heel with front zip; Dulce snakeskin wooden platform; Miss Sixty strappy lug-sole stiletto; Victorian-inspired lace-up by Betsey Johnson; Lovely People studded satin bootie; three-zipper heel by Kelsi Dagger.


Stabilizer for motion control and exceptional stability

Rocker sole for a smooth and comfortable ride

Contact your KANNER sales representative, dial 1-800-361-3466 or write

In Stock Spring 2010

Proudly introducing Rolling Soft by Gabor. A built-in stabilizer for enhanced motion control ensures optimum lateral and medial stability. Experience a smooth natural ride and superior weight distribution through the steady transfer of bodyweight from heel strike to toe off. Reduced foot fatigue, improved posture and gait – and less risk of injury. Test walk Rolling Soft today!

Shock absorber for a soft heel strike

Walking naturally is now in fashion:


Biker Chic Various heights and metal hardware change up the motorcycle look. Clockwise from top: Restricted knee-high boot; green bootie by 80%20; Chooka rubber wellie; satin boot by Jessica Bennett; open-toe heel by Schutz; Sendra ankle boot.


The WSA Show will celebrate 62 years in the footwear industry, and Two Ten Foundation is marking its 70th year serving the footwear industry. Our organizations have the same roots. We stand for the same principles. The time has come to get back to basics. WSA and Two Ten have decided to re-build a partnership that will benefit the industry in its time of need. We will always be stronger standing together rather than standing apart. Times are tough but extending a helping hand doesn’t hurt! WSA would like to be the national footwear event for the industry. WSA will pledge $62 per brand that participates in the August 2010 WSA Show. We look forward to welcoming you back to the show. Help us contribute to the industry’s foundation, and together we can make a difference in these difficult economic times. ENK International


Lacy & Racy Rear lacing, buckles and cording give boots allure from behind. Clockwise from top: Santana Canada ankle boot with patent detail; Betsey Johnson over-the-knee boot; military-inspired hiker by J Shoes; Rialto covered wedge; Mea Shadow silver-heel stiletto. Center: suede knee boot with elastic cording by Rockport.



Alex Caufield, 19 Student, Syracuse, NY Wearing: Adidas, bought on for $75. How many pairs of kicks do you own? Nine. What makes for “must buy” kicks? Hype. The more outlandish they are, the more they’re hyped up. What brand has the most street cred? Nike. They’ve mastered the simplistic style you can wear with everything.

Sonny Johnson, 20 Student, Bronx, NY Wearing: Louis Vuitton, bought at the LV store for $980. The most I’ve ever paid was $1,700. How many pairs of kicks do you own? 372. What brands have the most street cred? Nike, Supra, retro Jordans. Kicks or concert tix? Tickets! A concert’s a once in a lifetime experience. You can always get the sneakers.

Julian Mitchell, 20 Student, Wash. Heights, NY Wearing: Nike Air Yeezy. I camped for two weeks outside of Foot Action, and got them for $210. How many pairs of kicks do you own? 20. What makes for “must buy” kicks? The color, style, comfort. How long would you camp out for a new release? Two weeks was nothing. I’d camp out for longer.

Luke Spieldenner, 19 DJ, East Harlem, NY Wearing: Nike Vandals. I traded a friend for these. I can’t walk into a sneaker store without leaving with a pair, so I try not to go in at all. How many pairs of kicks do you own? 15. What makes for “must buy” kicks? Freshness— the more original the better. Creative Recreation is my favorite brand.

Sneaker Fiends

Ming Zhang, 26 Cashier, Binghamton, NY Wearing: Bape, purchased at the Bape store in Soho for $200. How many pairs of kicks do you own? 10. How many does one need to be considered a collector? 30 or 40. Would you camp out for a new release? I’d wait for Nike Air Yeezys or SBs. Kicks or concert tix? I just like shoes better.

Pristine kicks in neons and neutrals put extra cool in the urban swagger. By Dorothy Hong 26 • january 2010

Advertise your kids’ footwear brand in the Fall ’10 edition of Little Steps magazine. Gain exposure to more than 30,000 buyers through the combined circulation of Footwear Plus and Earnshaw’s magazines plus bonus distribution at WSA, FFANY, ENK Children’s Club, Children’s Great Shoe Event & KIDShow.

Ad close: Jan. 8, 2010 Contact: Caroline Diaco, publisher 917.450.7584

❄ NORTHERN EXPOSURE Canada’s Browns Shoe Shops covers it all—from $30 vulcanized kicks to $600plus designer stilettos. By Melissa Knific

A COMPLIMENTARY ESPRESSO. A phone call when a shipment from your favorite shoe brand arrives in store. A free shoeshine. These might sound like perks for customers shopping only at the highest-end retailers, but it’s happening at Browns Shoe Shops of Canada— a chain of 50-plus stores that offers fashion footwear for the entire family. That’s not to say the Montreal-based retailer doesn’t sell shoes fit for a ritzy cocktail party; it dabbles in brands like Manolo Blahnik and Casadei. But on the flipside, Browns also sells everyday, moderately-priced brands such as Keds and Steve Madden. Senior ladies’ fashion buyer Julia Brownstein says this all-encompassing approach is something most retailers—whether in Canada, the United States or elsewhere—haven’t tried. “There’s no other place in the world where you can find such a wide range of product,” she asserts. “That’s what’s made us so successful.” Not only is the store’s breadth of product massive, so is its customer base. Brownstein notes that Browns carries a little something for everybody. “A grandmother can shop at Browns as well as her grandkids,” she notes. Women’s shoes make up the majority of the business, but the store also carries men’s and children’s footwear as well as handbags and other accessories. Brownstein declares the retailer’s top brands are Michael Kors, Sorel, Stuart Weitzman and Ugg Australia (Browns bills itself as the largest Ugg dealer in Canada). The chain is also big on fashion athletic brands such as Converse, Keds, Nike and Adidas as well as designer brands including Tods, Gucci and Marc Jacobs. “It’s a one-stop shop for shoes,” Brownstein explains, noting Browns’ prices range from $30 to several hundred. “We don’t want someone to come in our store for something and go to another store for something else,” she adds. Walking into a Browns store—or browsing online at—shoppers will also find brands as widespread as Chie Mihara, Cesare Paciotti, Blondo, Chooka, Miss Sixty, Betsey Johnson, Aquatalia, Clarks, Hugo Boss, Geox, Ed Hardy, Miz Mooz, Naughty Monkey, Magnanni, Hush Puppies, Frye and more. While Browns’ name-brand business continues to prove successful, so does private label, which Brownstein says comprises approximately 50 percent of sales. That’s a number the company looks to grow. 28 • january 2010

“It’s a key way to differentiate ourselves,” she notes. The retailer’s seven or so private-label brands span the comfort to all-weather to fashion categories. Alessandro Borrelli, buying director for the women’s department, notes that private label used to comprise 75 percent of sales. “We’d like to get [back] there,” he says. However, Brownstein admits, “People are more brand-conscious than ever before. It’s a challenge.” The original concept for Browns, which has earned high marks among Canadian consumers for its customer service and selection, wasn’t for it to become solely a footwear store. Brownstein explains that in 1940, her greatgrandfather, Benjamin Brownstein, opened up shop as a general store in Montreal’s shopping district on St. Catherine Street. In 1954, a fire gutted the business and Benjamin’s son Morton Brownstein took over giving the company a new direction by focusing on fashion footwear. “There weren’t so many [shoe] retailers in Canada at the time,” Brownstein notes, adding that her grandfather built up the company from one location to almost 50. Today, Morton Brownstein is still involved in the business but works more on its charitable side, while his son, Michael Brownstein, serves as Browns goes to the nines the current president. in design, décor and As the company evolved, merchandise selection. Michael launched a division of stores called B2, which carry much of the same product at Browns but entices “a little more street, fashion-savvy” consumer due to its modern metal décor. To date, the company operates 48 stores: 33 Browns stores, seven B2 shops and eight shop-in-shops located inside The Bay, the department store division of Canadian-based Hudson’s Bay Co. The company plans to open three more stores by April. For now, the company’s locations are all within Canada—stretching

from British Columbia to Quebec—but it won’t count out expansion beyond its home country. “We never know what the future holds,” Brownstein says. “We plan to keep growing.” The stores range in size from 2,500 to 4,500 square feet and are merchandised according to gender and style—except for the high-end shoes, which have their own section and are categorized by label. Each Browns location has a different setup and interior design, but overall, they share a modern aesthetic, complete with handpicked upholstery and chandeliers. “We really pride ourselves on our décor,” Brownstein says. “We hire an amazing architect and interior decorator.” B2 follows the same philosophy, just with an edgier appearance. Because women’s is the largest category, the ladies’ buyers are split into two teams. One group, which Brownstein heads, handles the trendier items. Although she certainly analyzes product history (“If we sell something very well the season before, there’s a very good chance that we’ll be able to sell it again,” she notes), Brownstein says keeping tabs on what celebrities are wearing is crucial on her end. The second group, run by Borrelli, is to make the bread-and-butter styles modern each season and to offer iterations of Brownstein’s trendier product in a way that makes sense for “la madame tout le monde.” While the teams may have slightly different missions, the overall goal remains the same: Choose product that is eye-catching, No. 1, because that’s what gets people in the door. After that, Borrelli says price, comfort, fit, and quality all play equal roles. “We want to excite [consumers] with the windows and displays,” he explains. His and Brownstein’s team meet at least twice per week to make sure they’re on the same page. Men’s, children’s and accessories each have a separate buying team. Once in the door, customer service is king. Browns is keen on providing top-notch attention and recently launched a test program at select stores in which staff are going above-and-beyond by offering freshly brewed coffee, shoe cleaning and more to anyone who walks through the door. A cus-

tomer relationship management team in the corporate office follows up with the chosen stores to gauge shoppers’ feedback. But Browns locations not a part of the test program still go the extra mile on a daily basis: Staff will call customers when new merchandise arrives in their size, send them cards thanking them for their purchase and give them a heads up before a sale. For example, if a woman can’t live without her Stuart Weitzmans, a salesman might put aside five new styles of flats and suggest she come check them out. “They feel so special that it often leads to a really big sale,” Brownstein says. Browns not only keeps the customer in mind, however; it also its plays an important role where philanthropy is concerned. The company donates 10 percent of its pre-tax profits to charities, spanning from the Jewish General Hospital to the Montreal Association for the Blind. In 2004, Morton Brownstein was recognized for his fundraising efforts when he was appointed to the Order of Canada, a merit honor that recognizes people who have made the world better by their actions. In addition, the company sponsors an annual $3,000 scholarship for students in Montreal fashion schools. Employees recognize the store’s affection for its customers, Brownstein says, noting that a large chunk of the staff has worked for the company 30-plus years. “A lot of staff invite their families to come work with us as well,” Brownstein says, noting her grandfather, Morton, considers that one of the ultimate compliments. “We’re obviously doing something right,” Brownstein laughs. Overall, an estimated 600 full-timers and 400 part-timers are employed at Browns. To ensure all are well-versed on the brands Browns carries, the company schedules a “shoe fair” one night each season, where representatives from eight to 10 of the company’s most important vendors meet with employees to discuss their products’ key features. Borrelli says everyone leaves the fair with a load of information, giving them an advantage over the competition. He’s one of those employees who has worked at Browns for 30 years and notes he has no plans to leave: “I wouldn’t change my job for anything,” he affirms.•


january 2010 • 29


A utilitarian silhouette proves functional and fashionable for fall. 30


Red Wing

Eastland Levi Strauss & Co.


Wolverine 1883

Giant by Georgia Boot



A flash of leg and a hint of come-hither: Here’s your sneak peek at the sultry, sassy array stepping out for 2010. Photography by Andrew Woffinden

Charles Jourdan suede and mesh over-the-knee boot. Bodysuit by Rock & Republic; Malene Birger blouse.



Styling by Michel Onofrio; hair by Rebecca Plymate for See Management; makeup by Vanessa Evelyn. Fashion editor: Melissa Knific

Teal suede boot by Restricted. Hache tee.

Velvet Angels wedge boot with chain detail. Dress by Rock & Republic.



Ruffle-edged ankle boot by Me Too. Bodysuit by Rock & Republic; Sue by Sue Elen skirt. Opposite page: Charles by Charles David twistedvamp wedge. Skirt by Hache; stylist’s vest.



Open-toe bootie by L.A.M.B. Mango necklace. Opposite page: Pura Lopez lace-up boot. Hache bra and bloomers.



Despite instincts to safeguard the Fall ’10 season with multipurpose styles, outdoor footwear brands are designing with specific markets in mind—niches with deep or expanding outdoor roots. By Angela Velasquez LIGHT TREKKING

BACKPACKING “Maybe today’s backpackers don’t call themselves that,” says John Connelly, founder of Oboz. According to The Outdoor Foundation’s latest participation report, the traditional backpacking market still exists (and is growing), but Connelly describes the latest generation as “occasional backpackers”—young men and women who are apt to take a day trip opposed to three-day jaunts. The Bozeman, MT-based brand plans to tap into this segment with the Gallatin Mid, a waxed nubuck and suede mid-cut boot designed to provide steady ankle support without the weight of traditional boots. A low-cut style is also available. Connelly says full-on backpacking boots are foreign and uncomfortable to today’s users. The Gallatin, with its rugged good looks and high-friction rubber outsoles, has all the security features a backpacker needs (including deep lugs, a protective forefoot plate and waterproof, breathable liner). The boot also boasts Oboz’s newest insole, which is poised to deliver immediate comfort with three densities for optimal cushioning.

40 • january 2010

EXTREME COLD Columbia breaks out the thermals for winter. The company’s Omni-Heat advancements kick dressing for cold weather adventures up a watt with the push of a button. It’s a simple concept—a heater within a shoe—but groundbreaking technology for consumers looking beyond waterproof, insulated materials that are today givens in the category. “Columbia is reinventing cold weather boots,” says Anna Sanford, spokesperson for the Portland, OR-based brand. Essentials like grippy rubber outsoles to tackle ice and slush are kept intact but Sanford notes, “We are taking them to the next step by allowing our customers to be outdoors longer, while being more comfortable.” Offered in the sleek Snowfall boot ($300) for women, the Omni-Heat Thermal Electric system delivers instant warmth to feet with a state-ofthe-art carbon-heating element powered by rechargeable Li polymer batteries. The unit, which has one setting, offers continuous heat for several hours as micro-thin reflective lining retains, regulates and disperses body heat and moisture. It’s a light alternative to bulky insulation. Easy-to-use features include a waterproof control switch and a battery pack that can be rebooted using a USB cord.

“It’s no secret in this industry that customization is one way to make products stand out,” explains Roger Huard, vice president of product development for Wolverine. And the light trekking category is no different. Fabricated from suede/mesh uppers and rubber outsoles, the men’s Terrain and women’s Sierra, offered in low ($135) and mid ($150) silhouettes, are built along the same platform for equal performance and feature the Rockport, MI-based brand’s signature iCS technology. Huard reports that in a segment of footwear where waterproof and lightweight materials are just the “bar of entry,” customized comfort technology puts the Terrain and Sierra over the tipping point. He also emphasizes the “light” qualifier in “light trekking.” The new styles are not hardcore performance shoes but are crafted to meet the needs of a broader market. “The vast majority of outdoor participants are not scaling the peaks of the Rockies,” Huard reports, adding that the iCS technology allows wearers to tailor comfort to their own purpose, no matter how adventurous or low key it may be. “The Terrain and Sierra are relevant to today’s trekker because the styles’ athletic aesthetic and waterproof features lend itself as a perfect shoe for trekking, travel or just everyday use.”


URBAN ADVENTURE Tamara Silvera, spokeswoman for ExOfficio, describes the urban adventurer as “an active consumer with a youthful spirit.” The Barrier ($110) for men—made with supple, waterproof leather uppers; siped and lugged outsoles for wet and dry traction; and moisture-wicking lining— covers all the needs for navigating city sidewalks while still looking and feeling good. “He wants an everyday performance casual shoe that can be worn in inclement weather if needed,” she notes. Slightly dressier than a basic casual shoe, the Barrier is a crossover—a hybrid of the best in travel, trail walking and streetwear styles—and is ExOfficio’s bridge from the dedicated outdoor customer to the consumer who just likes that outdoorsy style. PR and retail distribution efforts outside the traditional outdoor channels are part of the Tukwila, WA-based company’s plan to reach this emerging customer who, according to Silvera, is part of a segment outdoor companies have yet to seriously consider. “Very few brands have explored this market from the level of performance in which we are building the shoes. We think we have a nice niche here to tap into,” she explains.

Brooks’ Green Silence running shoe ($100) sustains the trails it conquers while making an eco statement supported by outdoor enthusiasts. The men’s and women’s addition is part of the Bothell, WA-based company’s mission to incorporate more green designs and manufacturing practices—an approach to outdoor gear that began with Brooks’ BioMoGo biodegradable midsole in 2008. Jim Weber, president and CEO of Brooks, says the running shoe “lights the path to bringing more eco-friendlier elements” into the company’s future. Seventy-five percent of the Green Silence’s materials are post-consumer recycled and this model requires 41-percent less energy to create. The shoe also boasts 100-percent recycled laces, packaging and nontoxic dyes. And true to Brooks’ nature, the Green Silence packs the performance features and outdoor support that wearers expect from the brand, including a thick midsole for a wider coverage base, foot-hugging asymmetrical vamp and lacing systems, and fewer seams for comfort that lasts throughout long distances on rough terrain.

WOMEN’S Even in a category synonymous with rough and tumble designs, outdoor companies can not ignore the value of stylish women’s gear. With a nod to the ladies, Portland, OR-based Keen is rolling out the Hoodoo collection, four silhouettes built for high altitudes and cold temperatures with a street sensibility. The collection features pops of purple, orange and turquoise and includes a high boot with an aggressive dual-climate rubber outsole, an easy lace-up made with oiled nubuck, a casual mid boot and a slip-on with the feel of a slipper backed by the technical construction of a hiking shoe. Each style is lined with microfleece or synthetic wool and is secured by a waterproof, breathable membrane. Kelly Wallrich, vice president of product for Keen, says feminine hiking boots can get a lot of mileage—especially those designed with the durable features that are at the core of most men’s styles. “The key is to create footwear that can be comfortably worn out with friends or up on a mountain,” she says. “A great functional boot can cross over a range of consumers.”




Off-whites, earth tones and candy-bright pops complete the outdoor palette for Fall ’10.


Clockwise from top: Patagonia, Merrell, Wolverine, Hi-Tec and Columbia.

Clockwise from top left: Keen, Patagonia, Merrell, Cushe and Wolverine. Center: Rocky.



Clockwise from top left: Teva, La Sportiva, New Balance, Vasque and Timberland. Center: Brooks.


w h at ’s s e l l i n g

outdoor specialty

Black Dome

Walk In The Woods

Vital Outdoors

As head buyer for this 26-year-old outfitter, Kurt Shoemaker has his work cut out for him. “Asheville is surrounded by national forest in almost every direction,” he says. To provide for the area’s popular hiking, trail running and climbing activities, Shoemaker loads up on the appropriate footwear, plus styles with crossover appeal. “We pride ourselves on having the best balance of quality and cutting-edge technology, selecting only the finest products in the industry,” he adds. The store also organizes presentations, book signings and sponsors the Mt. Mitchell Marathon and the Rock to Run Trail Run.

Customer requests are taken seriously at Jacqui Gress’ store. “I started with lots of the outdoor brands you’d expect to find in an outdoor store but, oddly enough, had customers asking for others,” she says. Gress filtered out merchandise and now carries a mix of Teva, Merrell and Florida-centric labels like Ocean Minded and Crocs—brands particularly popular with her touristy crowd. She says her quaint town packs in a lot of outdoor activities that appeal to its broad demographic. And although her No. 1 customers are women, she says it’s important to have something to address everyone in the family.

Just over a year ago, David Livingston and his wife, Simona, opened their second outdoor business venture—an offshoot from their bicycle shop and touring company. “Cute and unique” styles move quickly, Livingston reports, but he says all footwear must pass his family’s test of approval. “Our shoe collections are growing,” he says. “We like to take our daughter and dog to the great running and hiking trails here to try out products.” As a new business in an active community with a small-town feel, Livingston says he plans to connect with locals through guest speakers and women’s night out classes.

Top-selling performance styles this season: Salomon’s XA Pro 3D in Swamp, Scarpa’s Zen climbing shoe and the Siren Ventilator hiking boot by Merrell.

Top-selling performance styles this season: Spira, with its midsole spring that reduces impact and prevents injury.

Top-selling performance styles this season: Keen’s Venice H2 in the Carnelian colorway for women and Newport H2 sandal for men.

Best-selling casual brands: It has to be Crocs, with almost 70 styles offered.

Best-selling casual brands: Merrell’s San Remo ankle strap sandal and Minnetonka’s Silverthorne thong.

Asheville, NC

Best-selling casual brands: Merrell, but we don’t really focus on casual shoes.

Mount Dora, FL

Golden, CO

Best new brand added this year: Reef. Best new brand added this year: Scarpa. Popular colors: Earth tones remain popular. Biggest disappointment: R.I.P. END. We were really behind the brand, and I believe it would have shown more growth than any other brand on the wall. Top brand in 2009: Scarpa, Merrell and Asolo. Projected top-selling brand for this year: Scarpa, because I think the momentum will continue. Montrail is a brand we’re excited to have back, and Merrell has a solid lineup. Best-selling accessories: Darn Tough 1/4 Socks with open mesh, YakTracks Pro traction device and Outdoor Research’s Flex Tex gaitors. 46 • january 2010

Popular colors: We carry pops of color, but customers usually stick with traditional outdoor hues. Biggest disappointment: I have a lot of faith in Cushe, but it’s not moving as well as expected. We have it next to our Merrell products and customers pick it up but don’t buy it. But I’m willing to give it a chance.

Best new brands added this year: Dansko and Ugg. These are shoes people collect. Popular colors: Women are catching on to white, but it has to be the right white. White has been popular in Europe for a while, so I guess it’s hitting the States now. Biggest disappointment: Manufacturers ran low with inventory and it made reorders difficult or impossible. Not good for a new store.

Top brand in 2009: Crocs. Top brand in 2009: Merrell. Projected top-selling brand for this year: I know people don’t like the way Crocs look, but sales are steady. I’m sure next year will be the same. We are a Top 5 Crocs dealer in the state. Best-selling accessories: AmeriBags and Peppers performance sunglasses.

Projected top-selling brand for this year: Merrell, Dansko and Keen. All three have strong customer loyalty and offer a surprising mix of colors and styles. Best-selling accessory: YakTraks.

Presented by Ellen Campuzano Ellen is the founder and president of the Committee for Colour & Trends, one of New York’s leading forecasting and consulting services for the footwear and accessories industry.

It’s a breeze. Easy to get to. Easy to work. Easy on the budget. The Atlanta Shoe Market: The one show you should attend this season.

Saturday, February 20, 2010 7:30 Breakfast | Seminar from 8-9:00 Renaissance Waverly Hotel — Wilton Room $10 per person and the $10 will be refunded the day of the seminar. Space is limited, so please register early. Make checks payable to: Southeastern Shoe Travelers. Registration Deadline: January 29, 2010.

CASINO NIGHT & COCKTAIL PARTY Saturday, February 20, 2010 | 6-9pm Cobb Galleria Centre, John A. Williams Ballroom Complimentary to all attendees Entertainment provided by Party On The Moon. Elaborate buffet & one complimentary drink ticket per person.

Featuring Party On The Moon

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 – $89. 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) Cobb Galleria Centre | Renaissance Waverly Hotel | February 19-21 2010 706.923.0580 |

Saturday, February 20, 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.

Shoe Salon

Designer Chat: Rocio Ildemaro

What kind of woman do you design for? So many women love shoes, how can I only design for one woman? But in a way I do. I design for myself. Every shoe is one that I desire and can’t 48 • january 2010

Clockwise from top left: Matisse, Daniblack and Eastland.

Canvas Backdrop E D I T O R’ S P I C K S

wait to wear myself. Even though I saw the shoe through the whole process, I always jump for joy when I try a pair on. Where do you look for design inspiration? Oh boy, everywhere. My last collection was about music, old films, art and museums. For this line, many shoes were inspired by a map. I thought of cities that I have been to and designed a shoe for an experience or feeling I had in each. What shoes could you not live without? My future shoes. I could not live without the thought of them, since they keep me moving on to the next season.

Heavy-duty fabric sets the stage for fall. Describe a shoe we would never see in your line. I would hate to insult any little shoe out there, but since most shoes tend to only read doormats and not publications, I think it’s OK to say cowboy boots. We don’t wear cowboy boots in South America. What would people be surprised to learn about you? I don’t mind getting my hands dirty. I ride vintage Vespas and enjoy working on them and rebuilding carburetors. I also have a 53 Bel Air, and if I want it to run, then I have to get my hands dirty. And I always wear my heels when riding and working on them. —Angela Velasquez


Bespoke footwear’s first-rate artistry and attention to detail provides the framework for Rocio Ildemaro’s eponymous ready-to-wear line. The former bespoke designer and Milan at Ars Sutoria graduate approached her debut Fall ’09 collection with the same allegiance as its one-of-akind predecessors—and boutique buyers caught wind. “My retailers appreciate my craftsmanship, design and humor,” Ildemaro says. “They want something unique yet totally wearable.” Ildemaro—who hails from Venezuela but is now based in New York—admits to still agonizing over which details and designs will make the cut, but she expects to roll out 12 new styles for unruly winter weather, including shoes with hidden platforms and thicker heels. The collection toys with texture, a signature Ildemaro says she’s come to accept after years of denying it. “I think it feels nice to run your hand over something and feel the differences,” she explains. Styles feature soft and warm leathers, antiqued pony skin and shades of single colors layered for a look Ildemaro describes as “a shoe you can practically wear with everything, yet it still remains a special shoe for a great occasion.” She notes, “I want my fall/ winter line to be a spot of joy to an otherwise cold season. I think shoes always do that.”

Reach for the Stars!

One Industry . . . One Goal . . . One Place . . . THE USRA MAY EVENT 2010 Coming Soon! A Gala Industry Production Featuring ... Keynote Speakers, Panels & Workshops

Golf Tournament

Continuing Education Points for CPEDs

Most importantly, networking with some of the industry's strongest Retailers & Vendors!!

Order Discounts

Hotel & Meals included

Enjoy the star treatment from our sponsors, keynote speakers and events. You will have a key role in the workshops, parties, fun, adventure, and networking events! Call or email the USRA office for Membership info or a May Event package Phone: (818) 703-6062 Email:


hosted by



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. Chooka is introducing its funky patterns in several silhouettes, including riding boots and tall knee boots as well as expanding the classic Chooka rain boot line. Visit us at WSA, OR, FFANY and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

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 fashion contemporary. The style ‘Welcome’ is part of the Spring Step Picante Collection of hand-painted shoes. Visit us at WSA, Magic and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

(800) 925-7463

(800) 962-0030

It is a new year and a new collection, filled with endless fashion options from the brand you have come to depend on for quick shipping, open stock and customer service that you can count on. Look forward to the “The Best of Primigi,” as the Fall/Winter 2010 collection is a must-see! Contact us for show appointments and information.

Alegria is proud to unveil the Feliz, a ballet flat on our mini-bottom. The Feliz has all the benefits of our Perfect Fit System but on a lower profile. The first in fashion comfort, Alegria presents metallics, snakes and unique prints.

(800) 562-2212 x18

Børn Handcrafted Footwear for Fall ’10 embodies the natural free spirit of organic handsewn design with ultra-rugged, buttery-soft leathers and our patented Opanka comfort constructions. Børn footwear is artfully made to last. Visit us at OR (booth 12041), WSA and FFANY.

(800) 468-5191

Since its creation, Yaleet, the 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. Visit us at OR, WSA, FFANY and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

(800) 435-3577

Caressa offers fashionable shoes that are the building blocks of a smart woman’s wardrobe. From boots to flats to dress to casual, our exceptionally crafted footwear features leather uppers and linings and durable outsoles, combining superior design with great value. Caressa, shoes for smart women of style. Visit us at FFANY (Warwick Hotel, Davies Room), The Atlanta Shoe Market and Magic.


(704) 321-2584

Earth’s expansive collection of lightweight calorie burners feature a 3.7-degree incline that helps to burn 4 times more fat than ordinary shoes without compromising a single ounce of style! Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with us at WSA, and burn even more calories with every step in 2010! Visit us at WSA.

Snipe: The no-lifestyle style where health and fashion meet fun. Kanner Corp. proudly introduces a new ecological Spanish label specializing in natural, authentic and functional European comfort footwear. Snipe is the brand for LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health and Sustainability)—responsible consumers who shop with a conscience and value products that are sustainable and environmently friendly. Extensive stock program available from Spring 2010. Visit us at WSA, FFANY and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

(877) 746-3364

Thanks to Penny Loves Kenny, today’s trends are available at a price point everyone can appreciate. Style, comfort and affordability—what else can you ask for? To see the entire collection, visit Visit us at Magic and FFANY.

(714) 934-8800

(800) 361-3466

Washington Shoe Company is proud to announce our partnership with the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from Western Chief Kids’ FDUSA Rain Gear will be donated to the cause. The set includes rain boots, jackets and umbrellas that replicate the traditional firefighter uniform. Visit us at WSA, OR, FFANY and The Atlanta Shoe Market.

(800) 925-7465


Rotasole™ was specifically created by Klas Shoes to enhance one’s overall health and well-being. Our “breakthrough” technology simply involves a “slightly” rotating-disc which is located on the outer-sole of the shoe. During routine walking or intense athletic activity, this disc encourages minimal rotation of the foot, thus providing stress relief to a person’s knees, hips and ankles.It’s that simple. Come see how it works. It’s pretty incredible. Visit us at The Atlanta Shoe Market (booth 1230).

Founded in Los Angeles, Restricted Footwear is a fashion-forward national brand that is 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. The brand is showing at WSA, FFANY, The Atlanta Shoe Market, Fame, Magic and regional shows across the country.

(781) 326-7171

(626) 961-8889


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.

Established in 1990, Dansko has been a leader in providing innovative comfort footwear while standing at the forefront of sustainable and ethical business practices. Dansko is an employee-owned Pennsylvania company still operated by its founders, husband and wife team Mandy Cabot and Peter Kjellerup. Dansko shoes and boots are distributed to over 2,500 premium U.S. and international retail locations. For more information on Dansko’s footwear collections as well as their global responsibility initiatives, please visit: Visit us at OR (booth 18027), WSA and The Altanta Shoe Market (1404).

Blossom Footwear has always had one goal when it comes to our selections: It must be unique and fashionable as well as comfortable. In fact, we are known for “fashion with comfort!” With the wide variety of shoes we offer, we continue to create the best selections for our customers to relish and enjoy, such as the Mossi-2 (Snake), featured below. Visit us at the Metropolitan New York Shoe Market, WSA and Magic.

(800) DANSKO-4

(626) 581-8837

The Original Muck Boot Company story began in 1999 with the sole purpose of building the most comfortable, high-performance footwear on the market. Every boot in the line is expected to deliver the same waterproof quality and comfort that inspired the original footwear. The line now features fashionable styles beyond the classic down-and-dirty boots the company is so famous for without losing important features such as breathable Airmesh lining, a CR flex-form bootie and four-way stretch nylon lining. Visit us at OR (31184W) and WSA.


Born Again BBC International takes on the premium leather brand.

BORN HAS FOUND a new children’s footwear licensee in BBC International, the Randolph, MA, and Boca Raton, FL-headquartered manufacturer that has built a niche in licensed kids’ product. The company takes on H.H. Brown’s Born Kids line beginning with the Fall ’10 season and is rolling out everyday options for youth and toddlers as well as NuBorn crib shoes for infants. “Born has a really loyal following that we’re hoping to capitalize on as well,” says David Kern, BBC International’s vice president of sales and marketing. He says his company is working closely with Greenwich, CT-based Born’s design team but is using its own expertise in the kids’ market to adapt the brand’s trademark leather products for smaller feet. The initial collection is filled with core silhouettes made with full-grain leathers, taking the form of hand-stitched clogs, Mary Janes, boots and spoontoe ballerina flats for girls and slip-ons, classic lace-ups and dressy sneakers for boys. Leather is so much of what Born is about, Kern says, noting the mix of smooth and crinkled leather and suede textures makes the product line unique. While the styles tend toward the classic (think American revival and heritage shapes), BBC keeps the embellishments fresh with grommets, buckles, fringe, subtle studding, shearling touches, contrast accent stitching, and pleating and braiding details. For the fall season, deep jewel tones bring a warmer option to an array of black and brown staples. BBC International is targeting the Born line—available in sizes 0 to 4 for toddlers and 10.5 to 7 for youth—at better department and specialty stores, with retail prices ranging from approximately $60 to $100. The NuBorn line— booties and slip-ons packaged in gift-ready boxes—will retail for roughly $30 to $40. —Leslie Shiers

Klass Strip ad


It’s a Stretch Aetrex’s latest collection adds elasticity to uppers.

eSoles’ 3-D data makes for a custom fit.

Data Entry

eSoles debuts a new high-tech way to customize comfort. How do you make an impression in a market inundated with healthbenefiting, performance-enhancing promises? Try user-friendly kiosks that scan and produce precise data to tailor footbeds to the wearer’s unique needs—and get those footbeds to the customer in just a week. Glen Hinshaw, CEO and founder of eSoles, describes it as a concept his company has honed. Collaborations with top physical therapists and biomedical engineers—ones with extensive footwear experience via prior projects with Adidas, Nike plus MLB, NBA and Olympians—have aligned eSoles to become a leader in the science and development of custom footbeds. “The real magic is in our technology,” Hinshaw says. The in-store system— coined 3D TruCapture—uses a tactile pressure mat, air bladder foot receiver, touchscreen monitor and a digital white light scanner to craft one-of-a-kind footbeds to ensure proper body and joint alignment. Using the information collected by the 3D TruCapture, consumers can choose eFit ($69) modular system footbeds (made in-store from a collection of pieces) or further customize their footbeds with ePro ($249) footbeds manufactured on an individual basis. A former cyclist on the U.S. Postal Service Masters team, Hinshaw has seen plenty of repackaged and retooled footwear fall flat. He describes the Scottsdale, AZ, company as just what the market needs “to break the redundancy in footwear”—not to mention an enticing opportunity for retailers to build their customer database while earning residual income. Retailers are digitally linked to each consumer scanned in their store. If that customer orders additional footbeds down the road, the original retailer will receive a portion of the sale no matter where they are purchased. Hinshaw says it’s an innovative selling point that complements eSoles’ innovative technology, and he anticipates momentum to build Stateside—particularly within sports specialty and big-box stores. —Angela Velasquez 54 • january 2010

Having built its brand platform on customized insole technologies, Aetrex now offers 360 degrees of personalized comfort with the launch of its Stretch collection for Fall ’10. The new line features stretch materials in the uppers that do exactly that—stretch to accommodate individual foot shapes. “We are all about customization and comfort, and Stretch allows a customized fit to the upper part of these shoes that compliments what we do in the underfoot area,” says Sue Ryder, women’s product director for Teaneck, NJ-based Aetrex. “The stretch allows the shoes to give to whatever little lump or bump a foot may have, and it also provides huge amounts of fit flexibility.” The Stretch products feature a combination of materials, Ryder says, starting with memory foam made of breathable, slow recovery, opencell polyurethane. Then Aetrex pairs stretchy materials with varying amounts of leather, depending upon the style. Silhouettes include clogs, Mary Janes, wedges and strap-closure oxfords. Most shoes are available in two widths; the clogs come in three. The fall color palette spans earthy browns, greens and eggplant, and retail prices run $99 to $109. Ryder says the clogs and Mary Janes reflect the popular yogainspired, outdoor casual trend, making them a fit in both comfort and outdoor specialty dealers. She notes the line should appeal to a broad range of women with respect to age and tastes. “[She] just has real comfort needs. It could be someone with a foot problem, but most of the time it’s just someone who wants a stylish, comfortable shoe,” she says. Matt Schwartz, executive vice president of sales, agrees the Stretch shoes speak to the needs of 20-somethings as well as 40-somethings. An added feature is the last, he adds, noting it is the brand’s most popular and is compatible with its Mosaic custom-fit insole program, through which customers can find a perfect fit via in-store scanning on Aetrex’s iStep fit system devices. “When you add that to the Mosaic custom-fit capability atop the four-way stretch and breathable uppers, we are confident these shoes will be an easy sell,” he says. The Stretch introduction comes atop Aetrex’s double-digit sales gain for several years running, which Schwartz attributes to good timing and hitting on several key macro consumer trends. “Part of our brand platform is using technology to personalize products to provide the benefit of wellness or help people stay active,” he says. In doing so, Aetrex has introduced an in-store experience with its iStep foot scanners, which Schwartz believes is in line with Starbucks’, Cold Stone Creamery’s and Best Cellars’ retail concepts and personalizable products like iPods and memory foam mattresses. “We are giving dealers the opportunity not to just sell footwear but wrap it in a new [shopping] experience. It’s 21stcentury footwear fitting.” —Greg Dutter

Q&A • continued from page 16

brands resort to hype, exaggeration or misleading facts. If you want to get healthy, go to the gym or go outside to be more active. Rocker soles have existed for decades in orthopedic/pedorthic milieus. Nonetheless, hats off to MBT and their fine marketing campaign that pioneered an entire new footwear category—one vendors and retailers can no longer afford to neglect—and rendering it intelligible to the average consumer. Was 2009 as bad as everyone says it was? How did Kanner Corporation fare? It was a challenging year. We were steady on most brands. Flat is the new growth, right? But I also think there is a problem with this desire for infinite growth. Where does it end? Must you grow 20 percent every single year? At some point, if you have a good business that’s profitable, what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with f lat, so long as it’s profitable?

professionals to convey our products’ unique features and benefits. The message needs to be genuine and heartfelt. No B.S. Just what impact has the downturn had on the industry overall? It is survival of the fittest. The unprecedented downturn forces both vendors and retailers to be leaner and to maximize efficiency. Those who survive will come out of it stronger and smarter. What do you love most about your job? Working with people of character, honor and integrity. There are still a few of these people left. We strive to conduct our business with dignity and propriety. •

Dare I say that you are content? We are building brands and pioneering them in this market, which takes time. Our portfolio consists of four of the world’s finest brands and all are still in their relative infancy in this market and boast considerable growth potential. There is tremendous work to be done, and we look forward to it with great anticipation. As has been shown time and again, it takes years to break in and establish a new brand in the States. And being a powerhouse in Europe or elsewhere overseas does not guarantee instant success in North America. There are so many brands out of the GDS show that have tried to get into this market and failed miserably. They have come in, spent a few million dollars over a few seasons and then they close shop. It requires a lot of work and patience. More importantly, it takes experience. Over the years we have developed the systems, hired the personnel and established relationships with the key accounts to make it happen. In today’s business, there are just so many brands out there clawing for two feet of shelf space. So while the power of the brand is key, the power of the distributor is equally important. Who has the best customer service team, the best shipping, the best warehouse? It’s more than just the brand. And we must be doing something right as we decline—on a near monthly basis—distribution offers from major European brands that know our reputation.



Any advice for retailers trying to weather these tough times? Prudence, common sense and aggressive cost control. Take advantage of your vendors with strong in-stock/rapid replenishment programs. Kanner is a recognized stockist and we are working on expanding our in-stock offerings and rapid delivery system with respect to all of our brands. In addition, many stores lack character, personality or atmosphere. I would advise creating a warm, inviting ambiance. Hire educated and self-motivated sales personnel. And where possible, establish relationships with your clients. Because our shoes are more expensive, technical and boast many one-of-a-kind attributes, we depend heavily on sales


FALL 2010


WINTER 2010–11

made you look doing-good business


Sea Legs Three years into the shoe business, founder Blake Mycoskie has TOMS on solid footing and is steering the cause-based company in new directions.

TOMS shoes are catching on. What are your goals for the brand in 2010? Going into ’09, we’d given away about 160,000 pairs of shoes. Our goal was to reach half a million by the end of the year, and it looks like we did it. For 2010, we’re working on that 1 million mark. But for me, the bigger goal has been our work in fighting Podoconiosis, a debilitating foot disease [caused by walking barefoot on certain soils] predominant in Southern Ethiopia. TOMS started as a social experiment but it quickly became a shoe company. Now, it’s moving more toward a movement. I want to not only be giving shoes around world and fulfilling our one-to-one promise but working with doctors and local governments to eradicate Podo in 15 to 20 years. Your AT&T commercial put TOMS on the map. How else are you growing brand awareness? Our limited-edition collection launches with Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman were big holiday initiatives, and we’re looking to do similar partnerships with other luxury retailers across the world. Plus, we added new boot styles last year and are introducing a wedge for spring, meaning TOMS can be worn year-round. I think this product diversity is going to take the brand and its accessibility to a whole new level. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the footwear business? That you have to use shoeboxes. Initially, we didn’t want to create excess waste. Our retailers said, “You have to,” but I was adamant. Six months in, our sales at one of the big department stores were horrible. When I asked why, they said the bags were tangled in a big mess in the stockroom, and if we stuck with them, TOMS wouldn’t have a chance. You can go against the grain in some aspects of any industry, but there are certain things you just have to go with. Which shoe-drop experiences stick in your mind most? On an early drop in Argentina, after the kids got their shoes, they pulled me around their school to a soccer field. It was full of rocks and sticks that would have mangled their feet if they were playing barefoot. Growing up as an athlete, I remember being stoked about any new gear that would improve my game. While we gave them the shoes for health reasons, I realized they viewed them as equipment. You’re something of a serial entrepreneur. Are you itching to move on to a new project? I see TOMS as my business soul mate. I’ve had some prior successes, failures and learned a lot with other companies, but the minute I realized TOMS could be sustainable, I thought, this is my match. I still get to use my creativity and entrepreneurial drive when launching new products, Web initiatives and retail partnerships, but would I start a new business? Nah. I’m a married man to TOMS.


What might people be surprised to learn about you? Before starting TOMS, I only wore cowboy boots. I’m from Texas, and I have a great collection. —Leslie Shiers

FFANY • Feb. 2-4 Warwick New York Hotel •Sussex Suites 65 West 54th St

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Call your rep to book your showing today.

Dansko is a registered trademark of Dansko, LLC. © 2010 Dansko, LLC. 1.800.326.7564

Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2010 • January  

High Time: The Fall '10 Boot Preview, Why Women Can't Get Enough...Boots, What Really 'Works' for Guys, Outdoor Gets White Hot, Browns Shoe...

Footwear Plus | The Source for Retailers | 2010 • January  

High Time: The Fall '10 Boot Preview, Why Women Can't Get Enough...Boots, What Really 'Works' for Guys, Outdoor Gets White Hot, Browns Shoe...