Casual Comfort Shoes Topped Retailers’ Shopping Lists At The Atlanta Shoe Market

Atlanta Shoe Market
The scene at the Atlanta Shoe Market.
Johnathon Kelso.

Comfort footwear with a twist took top billing at the Atlanta Shoe Market, which ends today.

Despite a challenging economy, independents based in the south said there were opportunities in comfort casuals with an edge. “I’m looking for fun comfort,” said Adele Rowell, owner of Head Over Heels in Georgetown, S.C. “We’re in a coastal town where everyone is casual.”

Key styles on her shopping list included espadrilles, detailed with zippers and laces, from brands including Andre Assous and Kanna.

Beth Weingarten, co-owner of The Shoe Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., agreed that espadrilles were making a comeback. “We’re celebrating a new incarnation of espadrilles,” she said.

While Weingarten was banking on the classic, she added athleisure is also going to be strong, bringing in styles from Geox and Attilio Giusti Leombruni. “We always had some fashion sneakers,” she said, but the potential going forward is huge.

Jill Bubenick, co-owner of Elevation, Highlands, N.C., whose store is based in a resort area where casual dressing is the norm, feels as though athleisure is a huge opportunity heading into spring, part of the casual movement. “We doing a minimum of dressy looks,” she said.

There was also a consensus when it came to color. Neutrals and blush tones took center stage, according to retailers. “There are lots of pinks,” said Weingarten. “We are leaning toward softer colors.”

Mark Jubelirer, owner of Ryers Shoe Store in Sharon, Pa., was also shopping for shoes in a softer palette. “There are variations of beige,” he said, “that include camel, champagne to light, earthy neutrals.”