Boots Rule at GDS

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — Retailers shopping the GDS show, held here March 12-14, said they were stocking up on winter boots for next season after this year’s long, cold winter.

“I do a lot of sheepskin and winter boots, so I found GDS visually enlightening,” said Rick Meyer, owner of Ruby Leather in Milwaukee. The retailer, who was attending the show for the first time, said he found niche product from Europe and Asia that would fit into his store’s mix.

Show organizer Kirstin Deutelmoser said retailers had benefited from the lengthy boot season and were still banking on the trend. “Their stocks are depleted and they need to be replenished for next winter,” she said.

Richard Wharton, who consults on the Lacoste and Ted Baker lines, said he was happy to see the wide range of boot assortments.

“I’ve been preaching that people need to buy into waterproof and snow boots as a [category] on its own,” Wharton said. “Many retailers never prepare for [cold weather], and it takes them by surprise.”

Elsewhere on the show floor, the high-end invitation-only White Cubes area continued to get high marks from attendees.

Many brands made their GDS debut in the popular, agent-dominated section, including Tracey Neuls and Esska. And the British men’s brand Lodger exhibited with its German agent here for the first time.

Kaz Ukleja, buying director at U.K.-based retailer Shoon said he was looking for “freshness” in the White Cubes area because GDS was the last show of the season.

“Collections shown early were repetitive, so we’re looking for styles that have been added to collections later and will give our customers a reason to spend,” Ukleja said.

Overlapping dates with Modacalzado in Madrid didn’t deter some larger Spanish brands from showing in Düsseldorf.

“Germany is our biggest market worldwide, and we write a lot of orders at this show,” said Juan de la Peña, sales manager at El Naturalista. He said the brand’s global sales had grown by 14 percent in 2009 and could increase another 20 percent in 2010. However, he said, the downturn had cut U.S. volumes in half, but he is forecasting brighter times ahead.

Meanwhile, organizers announced that starting in 2011, show days will run Wednesday to Friday instead of Friday to Sunday. “Thanks to the [change], we will avoid the day with the highest retail sales: Saturday,” said Deutelmoser.

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