Eco-consciousness, comfort and versatility are the buzzwords for footwear at WWDMAGIC, with vendors offering everything from hand-painted shoes made from sustainable bamboo, to featherweight footwear that can literally be folded up and slipped into a pocket.
This story first appeared in the August 11, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
At Bamboo 54, the El Monte, Calif.-based company that makes fashion, accessories and home products out of bamboo, tropical flowers painted onto a smooth bamboo surface are anticipated to be a hot seller.
Available in both flat sandals as well as with a slight heel, the open-toed footwear is handmade and painted in Indonesia and the Philippines. Colors and designs are floral, featuring vibrant shades, green grass prints and other elements of nature.
“The artists treated the footwear like canvas, like artwork for the shoes. And another plus is we get to support the artists that produce them,” said Michael Horn, the general manager for the line, which wholesales for between $15 and $25.
Ballet shoes are also expected to be a strong trend. Murval, a French label represented in the U.S. by France Deco Trading in Doral, Fla., is introducing a line of ballerina flats in printed polyester. They wholesale for $79 for a package of six pairs.
Andrea Weisner, president of Spare Soles in San Diego, is launching a new version of her 10-month old collection, which is essentially a portable ballerina flat that comes in a small purse for any time a spare pair of shoes might be needed. The new offerings are part of the Diamond line, and come in white and ivory designed primarily for use among brides.
The Diamond line is made of spandex satin blend and has an extra lining. Both shoe and purse are jeweled. The regular line wholesales at $10.95, and the Diamond at $13.95.
But the season is also about versatility. Judi Flowers, owner of the Judi Flowers Studio in Novato, Calif., which manufactures under the Bonjour Fleurette label, is showing a new square-toed mule that buyers can customize with different adornments.
“Our customer really wants a comfortable shoe, but we want to sell comfort plus glamor,” she said. The mule, called Pirouette, wholesales for $42 to $100, features a 1.5-inch heel, and comes in five different fabrications, including a lavish leopard print, a gold raw silk or a fun black-and-white plaid taffeta. Then the adornments are added on — a black velvet bow with a rhinestone buckle, feathers, flowers or crystals.
“It’s really a shoe with an accessory,” said Flowers.