Bold Colors Brighten Spring Sales

NEW YORK — Spring brings renewed optimism to retailers, who are looking forward to a stronger performance this season, thanks to footwear designers upping the fashion ante.

After a mixed holiday season, buzzwords for the coming months include “color” and “ladylike,” trends that merchants told Footwear News will encourage shoppers to open their wallets.

“Color is flying off the shelves,” said Eloise Taussig, VP and DMM of women’s shoes at Bergdorf Goodman, “particularly shades of blue, yellow, as well as pink and red.”

Ken Downing, SVP and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, noted that Christian Louboutin’s 20th anniversary will help drive his business as the designer releases a special collection. Meanwhile, the return of the single sole will translate into a strong season for Manolo Blahnik, he noted.

Executives are, however, keeping an eye on uncontrollable factors that may impact consumer spending. Liz Rodbell, Lord & Taylor’s EVP of merchandising, continues to watch the weather. “If it’s too cold in the summer months, our sandal business might be affected,” she said.

Here, retailers sound off on what’s hot for spring and resort:

Cody Kondo, Saks Fifth Avenue’s SVP & GMM of accessories
Must-have brands/items: Over-the-top fashion from Nicholas Kirkwood and B by Brian Atwood; the launch of Isa Tapia and items from Jimmy Choo, Prada, Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Giuseppe Zanotti.
Top trends: Mixed-material wedges, single-sole pumps, color and menswear loafers.
Spring ’12 sales expectations: We are excited by the newness in the collections. [Prices] in collections have increased [due to] a tremendous movement toward artisan details and special handiwork.

Barbara Atkin, VP of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew
Must-have brands/items:
Alexander Wang’s sporty, sexy ankle-strap shoe; Jimmy Choo’s feminine wedges; and Prada’s colorful and novel [styles] with 1950s car details.
Top trends: Color: pretty pastels and intense neon brights, worn to mix or to clash; prints: especially florals; sport detailing: Velcro closures and perforations; and vintage, be it 1920s strappy dance shoes, 1940s wedges and platforms, 1950s pumps or 1960s mod block heels.
Spring ’12 sales expectations: “Ladies’ footwear continues to be a leading division, up [more than] 20 percent for 2011 on top of strong double-digit growth in 2010. We … have exciting plans to drive continued growth,” added Pat Di Bratto, SVP of buying and merchandising at Holt Renfrew.

Ken Downing, SVP & fashion director of Neiman Marcus

Must-have brands/items: Chanel’s cubist inspirations, [which] are directional and necessary for every fashionable woman; Charlotte Olympia’s Hollywood glamour with a vintage nod, [replete with] printed leaves on wrought-iron heels inspired by garden furniture; Tabitha Simmons’ “it girl” cool; Lanvin’s sexy and elegant [styles] and Rachel Zoe’s second season of on-the-mark fashion sensibility at a happy price.
Top trends: Bold, bright color, neon accents and a silver shoe for day and night. Sport motifs add an unexpected twist to the ladylike ideas that emerged last fall, while mixed materials [and] multistraps add newness to the season’s collections.

Liz Rodbell, Lord & Taylor’s EVP of merchandising
Must-have brands/items: B Brian Atwood’s Felicite high-heel shoe; Michael Kors’ pointy-toe, single-sole pump; Vince Camuto’s Zella dress shoe; Steve Madden’s Eltonn smoking shoe; and Sam Edelman’s Gigi T-strap.
Top trends: Bright colors will be in all classifications of the shoe business. The single-sole pump will reign as the new hot dress shoe. Flats remain important, but the focus is the smoking shoe for a closed-toe silhouette and the embellished T-strap flat sandal for high summer.
Spring ’12 sales expectations: [We plan to] continue 2011’s successes into spring ’12 and have healthy comp-store increases projected across all classes. We are also excited to be opening two new stores this season that will add growth to the chain.

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