Letter From the Editor: Miami Heat

Great location? Check. Fascinating speakers? Check. A strategy for future growth? Check, check.

Yes, the sun will most likely be shining when we host the 2011 Footwear News CEO Summit, April 27-29 at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami. While Florida in the spring should hold a special allure after this snowy winter, there are much deeper and more profound reasons to join us at this unique event.

Many of you know from first-hand experience what a powerful role the FN summit plays in the industry. While we have already created an important franchise designed to serve the changing needs of a very challenging and complicated business, we will dramatically raise the stakes this year with an event that is bigger, better and more strategic.

The footwear industry is having a moment. There is a wide variety of success stories. The consumer is engaged, and there are a number of hot trends driving sales across the shoe landscape. Now is the time to focus on what looks to be a promising future. Now is the time to confront the serious challenges ahead.

From sourcing methods and costs to consumer purchasing habits, from the next evolution of social media to the next wave of e-tailing, there are so many unanswered questions about the road that lies in front of us. Our goal is to provide as many answers as possible in Miami.

How do we plan to do that? By assembling an all-star roster of industry leaders to address the challenges and opportunities. By bringing in experts from outside the shoe business to offer insightful examples of new strategies. By having an audience full of the best minds in the business. And that’s where I need your help.

We are deep in the planning stages for this future-directed summit and have a fantastic group of speakers committed to making this event the best. Wes Card, Matt Rubel, Mindy Grossman, John Varvatos, Vince Camuto, Glenn Lyon, Neil Clifford, Jay Piccola and Pepsi’s Bonin Bough are just a few of the names that will grace our stage. They will be joined by some of the hottest emerging designers (Nicholas Kirkwood, Alejandro Ingelmo and Jerome Rousseau) and a powerful group of e-tail and department store players.

This great mix of industry legends and talented newcomers should spark some meaningful debates about the direction in which the business could — and should — move. We have worked hard to make sure that the speakers represent the diversity of the industry, while at the same time addressing the shared goals and challenges of everyone operating in the shoe arena.

The end goal is a two-day think tank designed to give the audience a blueprint for the future. Many of you have joined us for these special gatherings in the past, and the legacy of our events has gone down in the business history books. Deals have been brokered, partnerships have been formed and stars have been born.

There is always a little magic in the air. This year promises to ratchet up the conversation well beyond standard corporate presentations. I have asked every speaker to deliver a plan for moving the industry forward by addressing the hot-button issues we all face. We will ask the audience to get involved in the conversation, to interact with these great minds in a setting that encourages networking and idea sharing.

For those of you who have been to an FN CEO Summit, I welcome you back with a special promise: This one will blow you away. For those of you who have yet to experience the intimacy and thought-provoking moments provided at this A-list gathering, I invite you to join us for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Be a part of the team that writes the industry’s plan for a great future. See you in Miami.

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