Boots Top of Mind for Buyers at Compass

NEW YORK — Retailers who braved the icy and slushy conditions in New York to attend Compass last week said boots would continue to be important this fall.

The recent winter weather in the Northeast has been a boon for Zacky’s, according to owner Zacky Joseph, and that has influenced his strategy for the season.

“Anything waterproof has been working,” said Joseph of his boutique, located in New York’s Soho neighborhood. “It’s definitely a factor you consider when you buy [for next season].”

However, Joseph added that he was not seeking to blow out the boot category next winter. “We’re going to try to tone it down and have a more targeted buy, focused on our proven sellers,” he said, pointing to Sorel, Hunter and Timberland as key brands.

The category also drove a “great, great” fall and holiday season for the Cleveland-based Next stores, according to owner Steve Silver. “The whole Americana theme is in full-bloom right now, and I’m excited because I love that look. We’ll see that broadening next fall, with more choices and more brown rugged boots,” he said. “We’ve been pushing [that trend] for almost three years now, and it’s getting very mature next year. That’s good right now. There’s still a lot of room.”

Susan Boyle, owner of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Rime, also said boots were peforming well at her store. “In the winter, that’s a good thing,” she said, noting that she is not abandoning sneaker styles for winter. “People are dropping off the [athletic] business, but there’s still a market out there for sneakers.”

Weatherized looks and high-top athletic styles in treated leathers are in Boyle’s buying plan for fall, but she will continue to stock classic looks. “I’ll always have an Air Max or a Samba,” she said.

At the show, Boyle was impressed by vintage styles from K-Swiss, as well as the boot offering from Carolina Boot, which she said would make a nice alternative to her other heritage brands.

Edina Sultanik of BPMW, the group that organizes Compass, said vendors throughout the show were optimistic about the coming season, thanks to strength in all aspects of the boot category, from hikers and moccasins to workboots for men and women. “Heritage continues to be strong for us,” she said. “And brands such as Eastland, Carolina, Brockton Originals, Abington by Timberland and Florsheim by Duckie Brown are revitalizing the top-tier footwear business by offering high-end interpretations of classic styles.”

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