Color, Texture to Dominate in 2012/13

Expect bright synthetics, lots of texture and material embossing for fall ’12 and spring ’13, designers and buyers said at Thursday’s Northeast Apparel & Footwear Materials Show.

The two-day event, held at the CoCo Key Hotel & Water Resort in Danvers, Mass., focused on a variety of footwear material trends for the coming seasons, including material embossing and brightly colored shiny synthetics. The semi-annual event, with 93 exhibitors and 250 attendees, was far busier than last year, said show planner Hisham Muhareb from American Events Inc. In fact, online registration more than doubled, he said. And the West Coast edition of the trade show will take place this week, from Sept. 21-22 in Portland, Ore., at the Oregon Convention Center. Twice as many attendees are expected to visit, said Muhareb.

Buyers from many New England-based athletic and casual brands, such as New Balance, Converse, Reebok, Sperry Top-Sider and Eastland, converged last Thursday to view the latest in footwear materials and components. In her morning trend presentation, Haysun Hahn of New York-based Fast Forward Trending, said she expects exaggerated and varied textures in footwear materials in 2012 and beyond.

One show attendee, Victor Toro, from New Balance’s visual prototyping design group for lifestyle, said his company plans to put embossing, as well as other treatments, on popular existing materials as a way evolve shoe lines for upcoming years. Toro added that he is interested in several technological advancements in materials, such as prints in between mesh linings, which become reflective once light hits; heat-sensitive synthetic suede; materials that reduce blisters; and a continuation of heat-melded instead of stitched treatments on overlays.

Regarding colors, Hahn said navy will continue to be important in footwear. Other popular hues in the apparel and footwear world will be red, royal blue, spearmint, yolk and intense pastels, such as green, purple and turquoise. Natural tones, including bone, peacock, amethyst and rust, will also prevail, said Hahn.

Reebok senior designer for advanced concepts Hank Hardigan said he was looking out for new meshes and colors for the brand’s 2013 offering. Specifically, he sought “powdered or washed-out fluorescents,” which he described as being like a “faded beach T-shirt” in “surf colors.”

Metallics were top-of-mind for Darin Hager, founder and head designer at Heyday Footwear. He trolled the show floor hunting for shades of red, navy and blue “with flash to them.” He also planned to look for python-printed leathers in “interesting” colors.

For comfort brand Waldies, sales associate Tiffany Hearn searched the show floor for the perfect shade of “vibrant maroon” to appease customers looking for new color options of her firm’s popular clogs.

In the children’s footwear space, Christine Orpin, lead kids’ designer at New Balance, said she hoped to find materials with color prints, sparkles and glitter. While kids’ shoes previously appeared in neutral shades, Orpin said combinations of bright neons mixed with glitter are now on trend. Her colleague, Jesse Plouffe, New Balance senior product developer for kids’, added that he sought synthetic materials that are sparkly with a bright gloss, such as a black material with an aqua sparkle.

In men’s, Hahn cited workboots and unlaced sneakers as trends for 2013, calling the trend “preppy goes outdoors.”

“There will be a mix of traditionally tailored shapes and rugged vintage outdoor detailing,” she said.

To that end, denim will continue to be an important textile look for footwear, noted Allen Lai, sales manager of supplier Tai Ruey Fong Co. Lai, whose company supplies printed and fashion fabrics to Nike, also said he expects 3-D effects to trend in 2013.

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