“What was on offer wasn’t particularly exciting in terms of styling,” said Fern Wharmby, retail director at London-based The Boot Tree Ltd. “Instead, it was a play on what already seems to be working, but this is reflective of the times.”
A number of brands delivered updates on brogues, wooden bottoms and gladiator-inspired sandals. “Clogs are definitely making their way back, but spring ’11 will only see the higher-end stores and consumers buying into it,” said Michael Pearce, owner of Feldspar International, which launched Ugglebo Toffeln, an authentic Swedish clog brand at GDS. The line will retail from $130 to $150 and will be sold in the U.S. and Europe.
Other vendors were making slight changes to tried-and-true looks and adapting trends from last season.
For example, Sulingen, Germany-based shoemaker Lloyd Shoes and U.K.-based brand Barker upped the color quotient in their men’s collections with bright suede uppers and brick-colored soles. Barker also noticed the female consumer’s growing appetite for masculine silhouettes and added women’s brogues to its repertoire.
Retailers said the color story was a big factor in their buying plans. “So far, we’ve been struck by the vibrant [hues] for spring, and we’ve seen new brands that help to make this trip so special,” said Lenny Comeras, CEO at Easton Shoes, adding that he has been a GDS regular for more than 15 years.
Overall, footwear players at the show were more upbeat about the economy compared with last season. “It’s considerably better than a year ago. You could hear and feel this in the exhibit halls,” said GDS organizer Kirsten Deutelmoser, who noted an increase in the number of exhibitors from The Netherlands and Portugal.
Several U.S. vendors attending the show said they had a strong few days. “We took many orders, especially for our Shape-ups,” said Marvin Bernstein, managing partner for Skechers USA Inc. “The trade fair was very successful for us.”
All told, 28,600 visitors from 79 countries attended GDS.