Top Buyers Toast Paris Collections

Next spring is shaping up to be another strong season for the luxury footwear market.

Top buyers attending the European collections, which wrapped up in Paris last Wednesday, said the category was once again a major highlight, led by burgeoning labels such as Charlotte Olympia, Nicholas Kirkwood and Tabitha Simmons, as well as some emerging talent, particularly Sophia Webster.

“The shoe has evolved from being an ‘it’ item into being the key indicator of the season,” said Nicholas Mellamphy, VP and buying director for The Room at Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Co.

“Our shoe business at Nordstrom is very strong and we’re excited about the styles we have coming for spring,” added Jeffrey Kalinsky, EVP of designer merchandising at Nordstrom.

Many retailers also said they would add new labels to their mix and continue to increase their footwear selling space.

“Our [recent] expansion of [10022-SHOE] gave us the opportunity to bring in 19 new brands for fall, and for spring we are launching Sophia Webster. She is such a talent,” said Elizabeth Kanfer, Saks Fifth Avenue’s fashion and co-brand director for women’s accessories.

On the trend front, Ken Downing, SVP and fashion director for Neiman Marcus, called out the gladiator sandal boot as the “shoe of the season” and cited sophisticated low heels with a 1960s influence as another important statement.

Here, other key retailers sound off on their top brand picks and trends for the season.

Ana Maria Pimentel
Fashion director of women’s accessories, Neiman Marcus & Bergdorf Goodman
Brand hits: “We are always impressed by the beautiful assortments offered by our key brands such as Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik. But we are increasingly finding that the fresh crop of young designers bring a lot of novelty and newness to our shoe salon. The designers who excite us most from this category are Nicholas Kirkwood, Tabitha Simmons and Aquazzura, a recent addition. We are particularly excited to launch Sophia Webster at our Bergdorf Goodman 5F shoe salon. Her collection is a perfect mix of great design and a whimsical aesthetic at a contemporary price point.”
Key trends: “In terms of a silhouette, this season there was a big focus on the gladiator. It made a great impact on the runways, and we’re looking forward to buying into it in multiple incarnations. Other key trends we are excited about are the new electric colors, liquid metals, exquisite novelty pieces for evening and spring booties. What is also interesting to note is the huge variety of heel heights.”

Blondie Tsang
Executive director, Pedder Group
Brand hits:
“We love Charlotte Olympia’s whimsical French-inspired collection full of colors. Giuseppe Zanotti has a great story of African-inspired gold-chain sandals. At Christian Louboutin, we love the vinyl single-sole pointy pump.”
Key trends: “Spring will be a feminine season with lots of bright colors and prints.”

Debbie King
VP & DMM of women’s shoes, Bloomingdale’s
Key trends:
“Newness will compel the customer to want to buy. Sneakers, smoking slippers, booties, city sandals, metallic and white are all driving the spring assortment. The single-sole dress shoe continues to gain momentum with an emphasis on the pointy-toe silhouette.”

Aslaug Magnusdottir
CEO, ModaOperandi.com
Brand hits:
“Charlotte Olympia was the best full footwear collection. Her shoes are always whimsical and encourage women to have fun with fashion. … What I love about working in the fashion industry is being introduced to young talents like Sophia Webster. Sophia designs shoes that are wearable works of art. Her expressive use of color and creative combinations of patterns and materials is refreshing.”

Alexis Cozzini
Owner, Sarca, Chicago
Brand hits:
“The Bionda Castana designers captured everything from a flat sandal to the smoking slipper and the sexy lace-up cage pump to the summer boot. They managed to hit on all the of-the-moment trends, yet do it in a way that will allow each shoe to be timeless. I love Jerome Rousseau because I know I can always find great statement shoes from him. I had been looking for a shoe that incorporated lace without being overly specific and found the perfect bootie in his collection. The entire Michel Perry collection was appealing from the standpoint that almost anything can be taken from day to night. Nothing in the collection is sky-high, yet the pieces are able to garner attention through metallic colored leathers, pops of neon piping and textural mixing of leathers and skins.”

Alberto Oliveros
Head of buying, Fashion Own Concept, Dubai
Brand hits:
“Charline De Luca’s designs are both edgy and sophisticated, and her signature cut heel quickly is becoming recognizable within the industry. Mo Helmi fuses traditional Italian craftsmanship with contemporary designs, while Italian designer Edoardo Iannuzzi has invented an innovative closure system that allows the upper and sole of the shoe to be completely unzipped for flat packing. His designs are not only inventive but aesthetically beautiful.”

Sarah Ellison Lewis
Owner, Bootleg Market, Austin, Texas
Brand hits:
“Laurence Dacade continues to be my favorite luxury designer. She brings classic details with a modern mood. And she never sells out to the trends. Minna Parikka’s collection is amazingly playful, but functional, with adorable uses of color. LD Tuttle’s Tiffany Tuttle is one of the most innovative designers in shoes. My customers can’t get enough.”

Karen Daskas
Owner, Tender, Birmingham, Mich.
Brand hits:
Lanvin’s mid-calf high-heel boot with Western details; Nina Ricci’s pointy-toe pump with Lucite heel and exposed toe cleavage; Chrissie Morris’ high chunky heel platform bootie made with neoprene and trimmed with her signature stingray.