Buyers Go Colorful at WSA

LAS VEGAS — Comfort buyers at last week’s WSA Show here were in a bright mood.

Fun colors — “not just basic beige, black and white” — was what Rebecca McDonald, manager of Foot Solutions in Sherman Oaks, Calif., looked for as she shopped the show, singling out purple and silver as her top tones.

Purple has already proven a winner at Salisbury, Md.-based Vernon Powell Shoes. According to Dave Massey, comfort buyer, the color was strong for spring ’10, a trend he predicted will continue.

“Color makes things pop,” said Massey. “It gets customers in [the store].”

Kirk Brown, owner of Buck’s Shoes, in Freemont, Neb., said that while his store did not offer much color last spring, he was expanding the offering going forward. “People weren’t looking for color [last spring],” he said. “They were in a conservative mode.”

Navy-blue also appears to be a strong choice among buyers for spring.

“I don’t buy black anymore,” said Alice Aydjian, owner of Ocean City, N.J.-based Alyse’s Shoes. “Until now, I had no navy. Now a lot of people are asking for it.”

Similarly, Lou Ann Toland, co-owner of Santa Fe, N.M.-based Street Feet, said she is seeing lots of navy in ready-to-wear. “I’ve always loved it, and people have navy-blue fever right now,” she said.

Cayley Lazarus, sales and merchandising director for Sole Comfort, Newport Beach, Calif., is taking a more subtle approach to color for spring, banking on lighter hues, such as rose beige.

However, she is still a big believer in metallics, which continue to be a strong performer for the store. “Metallics are a standard,” she said. “They make things pop and can dress [looks] up or down.”

For Mindi Henderson, buyer for Shoe Mill, in Tempe, Ariz., both color and finishes were on her agenda. Grays, non-brown neutrals and smoky colors topped her buying list.

“I’m looking for shimmery, pearlized leathers,” she said.

Henderson also was hunting for less glitz and glam when it came to ornamentation, moving away from rhinestones and jewels. “It’s understated bling,” she said about her new approach to details.

Phil Aved, owner of Napa, Calif.-based Shoes On First, agreed that less is more for spring.

“Cleaner looks that are anti-bling [are the way to go],” he said. “It’s about understated elegance and tailored details.”

Retailers were also taking a simpler approach to the gladiator trend.

“Gladiators need to be a little more minimal,” said Toland. “I’m over the heavy ankle treatments.”

While Toland said she still thinks there is life in the gladiator trend, McDonald was remaining cautious.

“By the time gladiators come to the comfort market [this spring], they might be outdated,” McDonald said. “It might be too late and we have missed the mark.”

What is still connecting with consumers are toning and wellness looks, retailers said.

“I see wellness and toning as the big thing, and new brands are doing it,” said Andrew Monarch, regional manager for Footwear Etc., in San Diego.

Monarch remains optimistic about the category’s potential. “It’s not just about toning and muscles,” he said. “It’s about feeling better about yourself at the end of the day.”

Access exclusive content