The strength of footwear in an overall tepid market has retailers feeling confident about the category, said Elyse Kroll, founder and chairwoman of ENK International, which organizes Sole Commerce and Coterie.
Wedges were the standout style for many show visitors, while several also said bright colors were key.
Here, seven retailers share what brands and trends caught their eye and how they are approaching buying for next season.
Emily Lobel, head buyer, Village Bicycle, London
Brands: Raphael Young, Camilla Skovgaard, Terry De Havilland
Trends: Soft leathers, nudes, beiges, platforms
Spring buying strategy: “High-end shoppers are starting to spend again, so we want to focus on quality. I’m looking for styles that can last [customers] a long time.”
Charles Megginson, owner, Executive Leather Co., New York
Brands: Thierry Rabotin, Paul Mayer Attitudes, United Nude
Trends: Multicolors, wedges and platforms with comfort features
Spring buying strategy: “I’m optimistic and I’m buying more — much more — than last year. We haven’t seen the full turnaround of the economy yet, and I’m hoping it’ll happen in spring.”
Elena Brennan, owner, Bus Stop, Philadelphia
Brands: United Nude, Mea Shadow, J Shoes Inc.
Trends: Laser cuts, unusual heels, nudes
Spring buying strategy: “I’m looking for gems. Spring ’10 was better than 2009, so I’m going to stick with that strategy and do smaller orders. It’s a good way to test certain styles and see what sells.”
Vanessa Kirianoff, owner, Blu Phoenix, Aspen, Colo.
Brands: Bernardo, Charles David
Trends: Boots with military inspiration, lace-up boots, super-high wedges
Spring buying strategy: “I’m picking up more styles [than last spring]. I’m hoping for better [sales], so I want to give my customers more options in styling.”
Eddie Cuevas, owner, Shoegasm, New York
Brands: Jeffrey Campbell, Chelsea Dagger
Trends: Wedges, high wedges, bright colors
Spring buying strategy: “Retail has been improving a little bit, but I’m remaining cautious. I’m still going to buy about the same [quantities] as I did last year.”
David Fehnel, owner, Thirteen Vintage Clothing, New Hope, Pa.
Brands: Jeffrey Campbell, Old Gringo, Irregular Choice
Trends: 1970s inspiration, espadrille styles
Spring buying strategy: “Shoes during the summertime have more shelf life, so I’m forging ahead [with buying]. I’m not too worried about the economy. I’m definitely looking to buy more shoes with very unique styling, something that really breaks away from shoes found at any of the big retailers.”
Nancy McFarland, owner, Wrights, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Brands: Cocobelle, Dusica Dusica, Cordani
Trends: Women’s shoes with a men’s influence
Spring buying strategy: “My store’s located in a beach community, so I’m looking for open toes. Sales have gotten stronger this year. I’ll be buying more shoes, and I’m looking to bring in some new lines.”