Pop Life: Timeless charm is buoyed by fall's quirky details and color combos
Thinking Outside the Box: Four successful retailers—a bike shop, a cupcake boutique, a coffee house and an art store—offer universal insights on how they are thriving in the borderless, digital retail age by thinking locally. By Lyndsay McGregor hat can a footwear retailer learn from a tasty cupcake boutique in Colorado or a snazzy bike shop in Connecticut? How about from a trendy coffee shop in Texas or a boutique art store in Indiana? The short answer: A whole lot.
Fine China?: Battered by escalating costs and worker shortages, footwear manufacturers brace for a tough year ahead in the People’s Republic—and begin to look elsewhere for sourcing. By Audrey Goodson
Lift Off: Bob Infantino: Bob Infantino, president of Drydock Footwear, makers of Aravon, Dunham and the new Cobb Hill, reveals how the company came into being and why it will be a comfort-based powerhouse right off the launch pad. By Greg Dutter
Neigh York: Equestrian-themed boots are in full gallop on the streets of Manhattan this winter.
Lace Makers: Fall dress styles are laced with peeks of satin and head-turning heels.
Stuff Happens: IF THE POPULARITY of certain TV shows is a strong indication of what Americans are really interested in, then recent cable ratings say a whole lot about what the country is really into right now. It boils down to one word: stuff. Be it old stuff, forgotten stuff, antique stuff, junky stuff, possibly valuable stuff, icky stuff, some really big stuff and, ultimately, what to do with all that stuff. Our country is awash in a sea of stuff. Why else would reality shows like American Pickers, Pawn Stars and Storage Wars consistently rank in the top 10, week after week?
A New Breed: Led by the successful relaunch of the iconic Pillow Boot, Steve Sedlbauer, president of Cougar Footwear, discusses how the classic cold-weather boot company’s rebirth into a stylish, upscale lifestyle brand is heating up. By Greg Dutter
Rock Steady: Despite tough economic obstacles, the outdoor category continues its consistent growth trajectory, delivering what consumers increasingly desire: versatile, minimal and fashionable shoes suitable for a rugged hike or a walk in the park. By Mary Avant
Encore Performance: Despite unseasonably warm weather that made sales more challenging, manufacturers are setting the stage for another blockbuster boot season next fall with added styles and features. By Audrey Goodson
Classic Boots: From tough biker and rugged western styles to comfy knits and rich shades of plum, the Fall’ ’12 boots preview offers an array of classic options.
We Salute You: Military-inspired coats and jackets have been called into active duty to combat winter’s chill.
Wood Stock: After seasons of burnin’ rubber, designers go against the grain with wood-sole boots.
Standing Tall: The work boot. The cowboy boot. The go-go boot. The sheepskin boot. The logger boot. The biker boot. The riding boot, the desert boot and the all-theway-to-the-moon boot. The rock star of footwear silhouettes is undoubtedly the boot, especially when you throw in the Beatle boot and the classic 1460 by Dr. Martens—the standard uniform of punk and heavy metal bands for decades.
No Kidding Around: Times are tough, yet Bill LaRossa, president of Primigi USA, believes sticking to the guiding principles that have built the luxury kids' brand into a category leader will enable the company to weather the storm.
Stock Options: Get 'em while they're hot: These styles are in stock and ready to land on store shelves within the next 60 days.
Keeping up with the Big Dogs: With the Internet poised to become the holiday's most popular shopping destination, independent retailers are finding creative ways to compete with Zappos and Shoebuy.
Charting New Territory: He who hesitates is lost.
Many a footwear company has fallen victim to the aforementioned phrase, which can also fall under the guise of resting on one's laurels or getting soft. And then there are those companies that reach a certain girth and become too big to move. The nimble nature that brought them to the forefront is replaced by a big-business mentality that is counterproductive—and demoralizing—to
the entrepreneurs that got the company off the ground.
Show Times: The latest traffic and trend reports out of ENKWSA, FFANY, OR, TASM and FN Platform.
A Well-Respected Man: Post Metrosexual and Retrosexual revolutions, today's male seeks a refined balance as a legion of classic brands and up-and-comers answer the call.
Running Man: An artisan at heart and a salesman by trade, Trevor Delmore, vice president of sales for Coogi Footwear, discusses his passion for selling cutting-edge street fashion and why the pursuit never gets old.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Breaking tradition, Spring '12 lace-ups sport rich color with burnished and distressed treatments.
Pedal Pushers: It's economical, eco-friendly and just plain fun: New Yorkers are hopping on their bikes to get around town in style. No Spandex, please.
The Devil Inside: Smart preventative measures can keep employee theft from hurting your store's bottom line.
The Real Jersey Shore: Forget Snooki, self-tanner and over-gelled wannabe Romeos. Despite what MTV may say, for these footwear retailers, the real Jersey Shore is full of locals who flock to the coast for sun, sports and style.
American Accent: Rob Rask, managing director of Ara Shoes North America, reveals why the German-based Euro comfort company—already a major player around the world—is positioned to take the country by storm.
Arm Candy: Big and many: Stacked bangles make a bold statement and contrast well with barely-there summer shoe styles.
A Vote For Change: Ever since life after the Great Financial Collapse was dubbed the "new normal" by pundits and adopted by millions of confused and rattled-to-the-core consumers, the sad reality is that there's little normalcy in this new landscape. It's so disturbing, perplexing and rapidly changing that if your head is not spinning by now, it might be because you've stuck it into the sand.
Kiss the Sky: Rich leathers, earthy textures and a blend of sun-washed and vibrant colors sets spring '12 aglow.
Shopping Goes Social: Facebook is poised to become a booming online marketplace. Follow these top tips from social-marketing pros to set up shop and start cashing in.
Baring It All: The minimalist running category is red hot with emerging brands, fresh designs and new claims related to the concept's approach to the age-old exercise of running. The latest market analysis and Spring '12 products are sure to keep the buzz going.
Revolutionary Times: Angel Martinez, chairman and CEO of Deckers Outdoor, on the company's evolving portfolio and its place in the revolutionary worlds of social media, sourcing and emerging brands.
Hamptons Chic: Casual sandals top the packing list of city dwellers summering in the Hamptons.
Turning the Tables: I'm the one who asks the questions. For more than 20 years as a working journalist, I've been the interviewer and, with respect to my tenure at Footwear Plus, it's been in search for answers to help readers better understand the latest goings-on in our industry as well as to get to know the people behind the brands and storefronts. The selling of shoes is a people business, and learning about the individuals can only be of help. Beyond that, it's fascinating to learn where people come from—literally and figuratively.
Sweet: Feminine silhouettes and tranquil hues lend a breath of fresh air to spring '12 sneakers.
Mr. Sandman: Designers dust off classic kicks with leather and preppy details.
Pinkalicious: Bubblegum shades add a pop of color for Spring '12.
Make It Rain: Rain gear retailers and manufacturers offer key tips for sunny sales in stormy weather.
Midwestern Moxie: When times got tough, Jane and Matt Stricker got going, building their Nebraska comfort boutique Footloose & Fancy into a growing chain.
Utilitarian Man: Bill Combs, CEO of Bogs Footwear, talks about the recent acquisition by Weyco Group, makers of Florsheim, and why even if the rain boot craze were to dry up tomorrow, the brand's future remains lush.
Zip It: The closure takes front and center stage this fall.
Love Rain: With new silhouettes, trendy details and signature color pops, Fall '11 rain boots shape-shift their way into fashion. Photography by Jason Hindley.
The Other Sheen: Sleek heels and patent leather prove to be a winning combination for fall.
Looks Like Rain: In case you have been living under a rock the past year, the country is awash in rain boots. When it rains (or snows), it pours wellies—many in cheery colors and whimsical patterns. Rubber boots are the latest utilitarian fashion statement in a long line of user-friendly footwear staples, including Merrell's Jungle Mocs, Ugg sheepskin boots, Crocs and ubiquitous flip-flops, to cite a few.
Rockin’ Rubber: When the forecast calls for rain, New York streets become awash in the latest utilitarian fashion wave: wellies.
Show Time!: From New York to Atlanta to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas—twice—here's the skinny on what was trending and buzzing about shoes and shows.
2010 Plus Awards Winners: Timeless style, innovative design and expansive collections were just a few reasons retailers honored the following brands with a Plus Award for excellence in design.
Straight Talk: Industry veteran Steve Lax, CEO of Yaleet, distributors of Naot, offers a no nonsense lay of the land: the good, the bad, the ugly—and why, despite it all, sales continue to boom for the comfort fashion brand.
Walk Like an Egyptian: In a recent column I wrote how I believed that the world is in desperate need of a groundbreaking movement that would hopefully shake it out of the recessionary doldrums. From a design perspective, I likened this reluctance to embrace newness to post-WWII England before the Mod era ushered in a kaleidoscope of colors, wild fashions and personal freedoms—the result of a pent-up demand finally unleashed following decades of austerity and bleakness.