GDS Retailers Freshen Up Spring

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — Buyers came to the recent edition of GDS looking for innovative product to add to their spring ’10 offering.

Maurice Breton, CEO of Comfort One Shoes in Manassas, Va., said he snapped up styles from several overseas brands.

“We saw a lot of ballerinas and ended up ordering them from a Spanish company, Ska, along with comfort shoes from the Austrian brand Harjes,” Breton said. “We found GDS to be just as good as usual.”

Buyers from U.K.-based retailer Office were on the hunt for sandals, flats and boots for its private-label offering. “For us, GDS is still quite good, especially when looking for spring sandals, which I found in The Far East halls and the Indian Pavilion,” said Janice Pinfold, a juniors’ buyer for Office.

Meanwhile, buzz still surrounded the invitation-only White Cubes area, where mostly German distributors unveiled a mix of fashion names that included Chie Mihara, Fornarina, Australia Luxe Collective, Steve Madden, Hunter and Sam Edelman, while newer brands surfaced in other areas of the show.

Women’s trends included updated versions of already popular styles, such as boat shoes, wedges, gladiators and espadrilles, as well as a range of styles incorporating wooden bottoms.

For their part, many vendors said the German market continues to be a bright spot in a difficult global economy.

“We have an excellent business in Germany, so much so that on the last day, we weren’t able to close our booth as planned at 5:30 p.m.,” said Marvin Bernstein of Skechers, who noted that business in Germany has outshined other countries for the past two years.

Holster, an Australian brand that specializes in jellies dressed up with rhinestones for adults and kids, attended the show for the first time last week.

“We were very content. Buyers from Greece, Germany, Holland and Japan bought from us, and we will definitely return again in March,” said Melanie Rolliston, director of Holster U.K.

London-based Aki Choklat previewed the Aki Choklat for Lahtiset collection, the designer’s collaboration with the Finnish felt footwear manufacturer.

The designer said he moved the Lahtiset line away from its core slipper market with a collection of wooden sandals and gladiators. According to Choklat, the line was well received and picked-up by some Japanese buyers.

All told, attendance totaled 28,500, down 6 percent from the last edition of GDS in March, which drew 31,000 visitors.

Organizers of the show were upbeat about the turnout, with half of the visitors coming from overseas.

“We are very satisfied with the way GDS and Global Shoes went,” director Kirstin Deutelmoser said at the end of both fairs. “Over the last three days, both events presented themselves as reliable fixtures in unsettled times.”

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