Retailers Upbeat at Sole Commerce

NEW YORK — Optimism ruled the day with buyers at Sole Commerce, which ran Feb. 21-23 at the Javits Center in New York.

Footwear News caught up with retailers at the show to get their take on must-have styles for fall ’12, as well as their business forecasts for the season.

Rachel Green, assistant shoe buyer, Anthropologie
Buying list: “We are looking for heels. There is an overwhelming amount of booties [on the market for fall ’12], so it’s hard not to get oversaturated with those.”
Top fall trends: “We are loving the animal trend. I’m not [referring to] animal prints, but to things like mice and wildcats [decorating] loafers. We also like flatforms, and we are excited about rugged, dressy booties, which I think wasn’t done to its full potential last year. We are also seeing a lot of party shoes and glitter, glitter, glitter.”
Fall forecast: “In this economy, [the customer is] really investing in shoes because she can wear them with anything to make a statement.”

Dana Schwister & Erika Vala
, owners, Mini Market and Shoe Market, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Top fall trends: “For the New York girl, Chelsea boots and smoking slippers will be strong trends, as well as different variations on the bootie,” Schwister said. “The penny loafer is getting cuter, too, and animal prints and animal hair are still happening — also, quilting.”
Fall forecast: “We are optimistic,” Vala said. “Business has already started to be better, and it feels good in the store. There’s good energy.”

Ray Maurice, owner, Haberdashery of New England, Nantucket, Mass.
Buying list: “Everything we do is European. We look for resort [shoes] that are comfortable but also have style. We do very well with Paul Mayer Attitudes because … we can add some color and a little zest.”
Top fall trends: “We have always done well with nautical [styles] in the tradition of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and New England summers, but lately we have felt that push in our market even more.”
Fall forecast: “I’m cautiously optimistic. I don’t think we are quite done with this recession, but there has been a vibrant mood at the [trade] shows.”

Leslie Pittman, owner, Laura Kathryn, Birmingham, Ala.
Buying list: “One of the brands on our list is Cordani, and we are also excited about Freebird by Steven. We also like Ash, and I’m excited about adding Joie footwear.”
Top fall trends: “We are seeing Western-looking boots with shorter heels and suede with grommets.”
Fall forecast: “The mood is good. I feel like the buy is getting easier, and we’ve got the right mix to bring to the people. I look forward to editing [my fall selections] and seeing what I can actually buy. Fitting it all into the budget is the hard part.”

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