Retailers in the South Say One Particular Style Shoe Will Dominate for Fall 2017

Southern Retailers are Banking on Boots
Atlanta Shoe Market

It was a battle of the boots at last week’s Atlanta Shoe Market, with retailers divided on the demand for short styles versus taller silhouettes for fall ’17.

“We had to chase the short boot trend [for fall ’16],” said Jo Ann Epps, owner of Jo’s Comfort Zone in Gaithersburg, Md., who underestimated consumer interest. “We didn’t have enough. People came in for short looks they can wear with leggings.”

Shelley Browne, owner of Boulignini Boutique in Peachtree City, Ga., said she’d also be expanding her bootie o ering for fall ’17 with more detailed looks. “I’m always looking for uniqueness, such as [styles] with embellishment,” she said. On her shopping list were brands including Fly London, Chocolat Blu, Sbicca, Latigo and Cloud. “[They] need to have straps or interesting colors,” Browne added.

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While short boots remain on consumers’ radar, Peggy Wilson, owner of Shoozies in Bristol, Va., found there was consumer interest in the new taller versions.

softinos Slouch boot from Softinos for fall 2017. Johnathon Kelso.

Some retailers were taking the taller boot trend to an extreme with over-the-knee silhouettes. “I had [these versions], two fall seasons in a row,” said Janet Miller, owner of Irma Marie, in Chattanooga, Tenn., who was adding them to her assortment for fall ’17.

Despite the warmer weather in the Southeast this winter, Nancy Stoddard, owner of Shackelford in St. Simons, Ga., was planning once again to buy an over-the-knee boot due to its success this past fall, citing a black wedge version from Eileen Fisher.

arcopedico Color-blocked boot from Arcopedico for fall 2017. Johnathon Kelso.

Not everyone, however, was focused strictly on boots. Retailers were shopping for more transitional styles that work in warmer weather. At Kaufman Shoes in Memphis, Tenn., owner Gary Malkin noted that while the store had a successful season with short boots, he was cutting back for fall ’17 and instead expanding the o ering of more closed-up shoe silhouettes. “Open-toe, open-back booties sold well [for us] in the third quarter,” said Malkin. “My open-to-buy will now go more to transitional shoes.”

fly london Metallic boot with lace detail from Fly London for fall 2-17. Johnathon Kelso.

Athleisure looks were on the radar of Kristi Mabry, the owner of Talloni in Greer, S.C., for fall ’17. “They’re for the person who doesn’t want to wear a tennis shoe, but wants the [same] feeling,” she said. “These [women] go to yoga class in the morning, but don’t take their yoga clothes o [after].” Retailers across the board agreed that color was important for fall. “Southern shoppers like color,” said Peggy Wilson, owner of Shoozies in Bristol, Va.

Since many women dress in black, “it’s nice to have a pop of color on your feet,” added Miller. Among her top choices were olive and charcoal gray. Material interest also dominated, with velvet and hand-burnished leathers seen across a number of collections.

According to Dawn Badolato, owner of Swanky Sole in Melbourne, Fla., “Velvet started for fall ’16, but will be blowing up for fall ’17,” in addition to novelty fabrics and embroideries.

At the Velvet Slipper in Newton, Pa., owner Carole Goldman was investing in footwear with an artisan feeling from U.S. brand Salpy and Italian label Gidgio.