By  on August 17, 2009

A basic, unadorned shoe has virtually no reason to exist anymore. These days, it’s all about footwear with notice-me shelf appeal — extra buckles and wrapping straps, exposed zippers, ruffles, pleating, topstitching, earthy polished stones and flat studs. Even stretch-fit shoes, after several strong seasons, are trending downward because they curl up and don’t display decorative detail well, said several vendors planning to show at WWDMAGIC.

“The trend is overembellishment,” said Sheena

Parks, marketing director for El Segundo, Calif.-based Matisse Footwear. “Anything we can sew onto an upper, we’re using.”

The 10-year-old firm will bring three labels to the show: Matisse, at $27 to $64 wholesale; Coconuts, at $22 to $32, and The Mix, a new offering that was a Nordstrom exclusive in its first season, at $25 to $45.

In terms of color, blues and purples are expected to be strong for spring as well as dusty neutrals (tans, mushroom taupes, pale greens and rose beige). Metallics have become a staple in the customer’s wardrobe and are expected to run through spring.

Based on trend-scouting trips to Europe, vendors believe gladiators and peep-toe booties will continue as a consumer favorite.

Moreno Habif, president of Miami-based More Shoes, makers of the Enigma label, is offering gladiators with colorful, braided straps and contrast stitching. He’s also seen strong interest in double platform shoes, a look popularized by high-end label Giuseppe Zanotti.

Report Shoes, based in Bellevue, Wash., also is bullish on platform sandals, as well as high-drama, over-the-knee boots.

“Customers have been responding well to ruffles, prints and anything with hardware on it,” said Jeff Powers, Report’s senior vice president.

Chinese Laundry, which will bring its flagship label and three subbrands to the expo, is seeing block heels, espadrilles, stitching accents and burnished leathers fare well. The company will test shoes with macramé uppers for its CL by Laundry label for spring, said brand president Tsering Namgyal.

Flojos, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., also is seeing continued Seventies influences. The company feels strongly about its peace-sign Harmony flip-flops as well as animal exotics (boa, jaguar and zebra), said marketing executive Tiffany Eil.

Stewart Cohen, national account manager for Dreams, says the affordable junior brand will test huaraches alongside gladiators and peep-toe styles.

Along with trends, the City of Industry, Calif.-based company is focused on finishing details, such as rolled edges to hide seams, which aims to appeal to customers trading down from department stores.

“Our new designer, Jo Mortellaro, is traveling around the world to get new ideas about how to make our shoes look like a much more elevated brand,” Cohen said.

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