Utility, versatility and value are what consumers are looking for in their athletic and outdoor footwear, and those impulses will play out in design, look and function for fall ’13, industry expert T.J. Gray told Footwear News.
Gray, a founder of the industrial design firm Rocket Fish Design, said consumers are looking for functional product that they can use for lifestyle, but they’re not shopping according to strict category types.
“Buyers coming into [Outdoor Retailer] should be keeping an open mind about what running and outdoor footwear is these days,” he said. “People are exposed to so much on the Web and there is so much they can get to. And with tighter dollars and a tighter economy, they’re looking to get more out of the pairs of shoes they can buy.”
Minimalism will continue to evolve into the next generation of lightweight shoes, designed to maximize sensory input for fall ’13 and beyond, Gray said. And the trend will touch almost all categories of outdoor and athletic footwear.
In running, trail running, light hiking and multisport, he noted, lightweight, flexible product with lower midsoles will be important once again, but the conversation will center on the enhanced feedback the product provides.
“There’ll be more talk of the sensory aspect, of being able to feel the trail or get sensory stimulation when you’re running,” he explained.
Outdoor and athletic footwear also is moving toward a more sophisticated use of color, and in keeping with the emphasis on utility, reflective treatments on shoes and apparel will gain ground.
“Color is modulating in all categories,” Gray said. “You’ll see more [bright] color pops with earthy tones [overall].”
The good news, he added, is that consumers still demand feature-heavy items. “People are willing to pay more, but they want to know what they’re getting,” Gray said.