Specialty retailers and vendors at last week’s Project and Mrket shows in New York are getting behind loafer styles, including casual driving mocs and dressier tassel versions.
“Everyone wants to slide into something easy,” said Kim Cohen, Northeast territory manager for New York-based Ted Baker. “People’s closets are full of sneakers, and they want something different.”
James Penn, VP of sales and marketing at Puritan of Cape Cod in Hyannis, Mass., said moccasins could boost the chain’s footwear business as dress and boat shoe sales remain flat.
However, he noted, an extra flourish is key. “They need to have details to talk about to guys on the [sales floor].” Drivers with bolder bottoms are in the spring lineup at Trask in Nashville, Tenn.
According to Jeff Munzel, VP of sales, the brand favors drivers with sport-inspired outsoles and sneaker influences. “[They’re] the pure lane of sport casual that can be worn with jeans and a sport coat or T-shirt,” he said.
“Loafers are always a category that sells,” agreed Giovanni Marquez, co-owner of Fashion Shop Boutique in Boynton Beach, Fla. “These looks are two shoes in one, combining fashion with comfort.”
At Zappos, the style is also a strong performer and is expected to continue to do well into spring ’18. “[They’re] king,” said Molly McGean, men’s buyer for Zappos Luxury, noting the silhouette works with the increased emphasis on casual dressing.
Although the industry is emphasizing loafers for spring, the athletic trend is anything but over. “The sneaker business is very much alive,” said McGean. “The basic white sneaker can go from suits to shorts and a buttondown shirt on the weekend. It’s all-purpose.” According to her, upscale sneaker brands, including Vince, Ferragamo and Bally, are racking up strong results.
Like McGean, Michael Griffiths, VP national accounts for Johnston & Murphy, also of Nashville, said sneakers are still driving the men’s business. “[However], we’re seeing more and more loafer business happening not only in our line but on people’s feet today,” he said, noting men of all ages are now embracing the look.