Compass Buyers Hunt for Versatile Styles

Retailers at last week’s Compass show were searching for trend-right styles at practical price points.

Tawfeeq Gaines, buyer for New York streetwear boutique Prince of Soho, said he was shying away from brands that are “too niche” and was leaning toward products that consumers can wear every day.

“I’m looking for styles that are versatile,” Gaines said. “My customer likes to wear the same shoe with different outfits, so I want products that serve that function.” Brands that he was considering bringing in included Gola, Creative Recreation and Pony.

As for price points, Gaines said his customers are not comfortable paying more than $100 for sneakers, so to that end, he is counting on heritage brands priced between $60 and $80 to ring up sales in the spring.

 For Joe Salce, co-owner of The Starting Line in New York, reasonable prices were also a priority. He was seeking to pick up plain sneakers that sold for less than $100 and workboots retailing for no more than $150. Brands on his list included Keds, Maians, Native and Sneaky Steve.

Jared Warwick, buyer at San Francisco-based Gimme Shoes, was not concerned about price as much as multifunctionality.

“I’m hoping to find hybrid sneakers that are basic and easy to wear,” he said. “[Our customers] want shoes they can wear to the gym and then go out to eat in.” Warwick added that he wanted to stay in the range of $150 to $300 for next season.

On the trend front, Salce is banking on the Americana craze to continue into spring. In fact, the only brand he will carry next year that sells over his target price point is Red Wing, which retails for $250. “People don’t mind paying more if it’s a good brand,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Compass show continues to gain traction in the women’s arena, and exhibitors this time around included Acrobats of God, 80%20, Alexa Wagner and Calleen Cordero. Women’s retailers at the show said they were on the hunt for innovative looks.

“I want shoes that I can’t find anywhere else,” said Susan Pitcher, owner of Dressed, in Santa Barbara, Calif. “People will spend money on products that are inspired and original.”

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