Value was at the top of buyers’ minds at the Project, Capsule and Agenda trade shows here this week.
As higher costs made their way to the show floors, retailers were looking for vendors that could give them the best bang for their bucks.
“Across the board we’re seeing price increases from [brands],” said Karmaloop.com buyer Isaiah Bond. “People are buying a lot tighter, cutting their orders down. As a buyer, it’s knowing what [sells] and knowing how to work with a smaller amount of supply.”
Bond added that he was looking for styles such as chukka boots and oxfords by heritage brands that consumers can wear year-round. He said the Swear London, Clarks and Red Wing brands particularly caught his eye.
John Pizzolato, owner of International Playground in New York, said the $200 retail price point has been working best for his shoppers.
With 30 percent of his overall inventory in footwear, Pizzolato was shopping for out-of-the-ordinary shoes that had canvas, woven detailing or loud prints.
“We’re moving out of the heritage and Americana sort of styling and things are getting a little bit more forward and interesting again,” Pizzolato said. “It’s not just basic. People are actually making fashion-forward choices, which is a good thing to embrace.” He added that he was impressed by Danish brand Soulland.
For boutique Sneakerology, which has three locations in New York resort areas, price was a lesser concern than finding hot new brands, due to a recent uptick in sales this past spring.
“We’re doing a little bit better, so we’re opting to try a few new companies,” said co-owner Lorrie Vahamonde. “All our locations are very high-end and fashionable. Our customers don’t want to see [products] that you can find everywhere.” She added that she’s recently had success with brands Sperry Top-Sider, Creative Recreation and Clae at her stores.
Mikey Sette, owner of Strong Hold Shop in New Jersey, said he was seeking classic styles. With 10 percent of his inventory in shoes, he hoped to bring in simple-looking footwear that could be paired with his apparel offering.
“I try to find diversity in the brands, where [customers] in different age groups would be interested in wearing them,” he said, adding that Supra and Fila were some new labels he was considering. “With those brands, a kid in the street skating could wear it, or someone going to a bar or a club could throw it on.”
Sette also was looking for shoe brands that already had an established apparel business in his store.
“If a strong clothing brand comes out with footwear and they pull it off really well … I like that because [customers] are loyal to the brands,” he said, citing skate apparel brand Diamond Supply Co. as an example of a strong vendor.
Trent Hall, co-owner of Exclucity in Montreal, said he is basing his buys on music-video fashion trends and his consumers’ requests.
“If rappers aren’t wearing it, it’s not going to sell,” he said. “I buy styles that resemble what I see in magazines, on the Internet and in music videos.”