Trade Talk: Men’s Growth Rivals Women’s

Emma Watson Best Shoes
2003: Here, a much younger Watson grabbed boots to complete her bohemian look back in 2003 at the British Academy Children's Film and Television Awards.
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Optimism was high for men’s shoes at the 86th edition of the Pitti Uomo trade show, which wrapped up here today.

Eric Jennings, menswear fashion director at Sak’s Fifth Avenue, reported double-digit increases for men’s shoes across the board at the department store.

“It’s our fastest-growing business in the last few years, rivaling tailored clothing,” he said.

Jennings explained that designer sneakers, trainers and high-tops are doing particularly well, but are “not taking away from the dress shoe business or the fashion leather shoe business. Men are just buying more shoes.”

Steven Cook, chief merchant for Canadian luxury department store Holt Renfrew, said the rapidly expanding men’s category is showing the same sustained growth that ladies’ shoes and handbags have experienced in past years. The only challenge is allocating enough “real estate” in displays for men’s shoes.

“It’s a huge growth creator for us. There are no barrier in terms of a price or range perspective,” Cook said.

“We’re going to buy a lot more of everything,” he continued, noted that a particular target is luxury designer sneakers, a category the department store chain under-stocked last season.

Both Cook and Jennings were upbeat on new product offered by the exhibitors at Pitti Uomo.

“We’re seeing a lot of novelty, unique materials, color, fashion components. Shoemakers are really pushing the envelope,” said Jennings.

“It’s an amazing show. It’s overwhelming,” said Cook.