Slim is In at Bread and Butter

BERLIN — Retailers attending the recent Bread & Butter show here were on the hunt for heritage sneakers and shoes with slimmer profiles, as well as spring ’11 updates on existing menswear fashion.

“The trend in men’s is more or less the same as last year, but the upper is smarter and cleaner, moving away from the distressed uppers of before, while the sole is becoming thinner,” said Moji Kash, owner of London’s Scorpion Shoes, who predicted that canvas, boat and chukka boots would continue as important trends into 2011.

Flat lace-up and slip-on espadrilles for men surfaced at Lacoste, El Naturalista, Kickers, Rubber Duck and even Havaianas.

“The current trend in footwear basics is for thin soles,” said Jos Houtkamp, footwear buyer at Front Runner, which has 14 stores across the Netherlands. The retailer said Diadora, Tacchini, Ellesse, Fila, Hummel and Keds — which also presented heritage collections — had caught his eye at the show.

“For our stores — and the market — the heritage sport trend is interesting,” Houtkamp said.

Krystian Jany, owner of Berlin-based store Snika, said he found several new sneaker brands at the show. He singled out Feiyue and Quick, a heritage sneaker brand from the Netherlands, as offering unique product.

As usual, Bread & Butter appealed to mostly European buyers, but there was a strong showing from U.S.-based brands.

“It’s a great show, but it’s a little early for most Americans to send a whole bunch of buyers to Europe, when it isn’t so cheap anymore and when the domestic shows are coming up,” said Blowfish founder Stephen Hoyt. “Our international business has doubled, in particular in Europe and the U.K., and it could have been bigger if we hadn’t forecasted cautiously.”

For his part, show organizer Karl-Heinz Müller said the excitement surrounding the World Cup helped boost attendance.

“The first day of the show was really crowded, and in the evening we had 9,000 people here watching the football semi-final,” he said.

As far as the show floor, Müller noted there was excellent feedback on the L.O.C.K. (Labels of Common Kin) area, where the men’s shoe brands 123 & 124 and Grenson debuted. He added that going forward, the new Kids Club area would double its 8,202-sq.-ft. space for January 2011, and grow again for July 2011. The first edition of Kids Club included footwear by Naturino and Diesel Kids.

“We believe there is a strong market for kids,” Müller said. “At the moment, we only have regional trade shows here in Germany, or Pitti Bimbo in Italy.”

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