NEW YORK -- Sometimes it is the lure of a big-name designer. Other times, the unique or cutting-edge styling. Most times, however, women get hooked on salon, designer and bridge footwear lines that offer one thing season after season, year after year. Consistency. Consistent fit. Consistent quality. Consistent styling. But not necessarily consistent prices. Devoted fans are willing to pay plenty for the privilege of slipping into the cream of footwear design, in many cases eagerly shelling out upwards of $200 for an especially coveted brand.
"There is a certain quality in these lines that is consistent every season," said Judith Gilliard, divisional merchandise manager for women's shoes at Barneys New York, referring to her store's top salon and designer lines. "If the quality is there and the look is right, in that it's very modern, we have no problem selling shoes that are $200 and up."
Of course, the air gets very thin as prices escalate. Still, there are some brands that have continued to top retailers' best-seller lists in the bridge, designer and salon categories for the last several seasons. Moreover, there are also a few -- not more than four, really -- that are perennial favorites with retailers, for their consistent sales performance, and with women, for their unmatched excellence in quality and fit. But, just as important, all these shoes have the distinction of bearing a high-powered label. The quality, fit and styling back up the name, which alone is sometimes enough to push a label to the top. At least for one season. This is particularly true if the store has already built a very successful ready-to-wear business with that designer. As Sherrie Oppenheim of Shirise in Glencoe, Ill., observed: "The people who buy designer shoes are really label-conscious. They won't look at anything that doesn't have a label. Name recognition is very important with designer shoes." Nevertheless, Oppenheim and other better-grade retailers agree that quality and fit are the hallmarks of a line that continually remains at the top. Here, a review of what retailers consider to be the premiere salon, designer and bridge lines in the country.
IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
Manolo Blahnik Niche: Salon/couture Price Point: Upwards of $300
Hermès is launching a Laundromat pop-up shop in NYC - dubbed Hermèsmatic - where customers can bring their old scarves to be dip-dyed by an expert. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews (📷: @donstahl)