Attendees at Agenda Look to the Past

Brand representatives at Agenda in New York said they felt positive about both trends and the consumer’s response to them, while retailers reported that differentiating their offerings is more important than ever.

“I love my old faithful brands, but I’m trying to look for some new companies because Urban Outfitters has been picking up a lot of the mainstream streetwear brands, which takes away from what we do,” said Susan Boyle, owner of Rime in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Americana — in the form of premium boot styles and made-in-America looks from players like Allen Edmonds and New Balance — continue to perform well for Village Shoes in Manhattan and Style Square in Hoboken, N.J., said buyer David Kwok. He aimed to augment his mix with “something new and fresh,” adding that buyers are more choosy today, opting for higher-priced styles but fewer pairs.

Retro looks were tracking well for spring at Fila, according to Louis Colon, product and marketing manager for lifestyle — and also for Reebok, according to Paul Fisher, head of global merchandising for Classics.

Gunther Arnoux, owner of Trendsetter NY in Nyack, N.Y., said he was interested in throwback offerings such as Reebok retro styles, to help his store diversify and freshen up its footwear offering. 

And for Onitsuka Tiger/Asics Archive, shoes that fuse the brand’s retro uppers on lightweight new bottom units have been seeing strong sales after a slow start last season, said sales and marketing manager Colin Brickley. The blend has been popular with a younger consumer who grew up in lighter options, he explained.

“People want to be comfortable, but they want to look cool,” said Brickley.

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