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Color, Novelty Reign at Sole Commerce

NEW YORK — Retailers at the recent Sole Commerce, the first installment of the trade show under new parent Advanstar Global LLC, were largely positive about next spring, even with prevailing uncertainties.

Several buyers at the show, held here Sept. 17-19 at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, said they plan to either increase quantities for spring or keep them equal to last year.

For instance, DNA boutique owner Daniel Kahalani aimed to stock not only his existing five stores in Brooklyn, N.Y., but also a new location slated to open this fall in the borough’s Greenpoint neighborhood.

“We are increasing [orders] by 20 to 25 percent for core product,” he said. “We’re always adding new things because we have to keep it fresh.”

Kahalani noted for spring he would pick up industry newcomer Kim & Zozi, out of Los Angeles, and buy more heavily into Australian label Rollie, an existing account.

The retailer added that despite his uneasiness about unpredictable winter weather and world news, he is optimistic about the coming months. Business has been steady, with booties remaining the swiftest sellers at DNA, he said.

In New Jersey, meanwhile, Randal’s Shoes will mirror last year’s buy, according to Randy Aronoff, owner of the 55-year-old family business in Westfield. His strategy over the past few seasons has centered on purchasing closer to season to avoid offering markdowns.

“The winter business will be good,” he added, predicting bold colors and vintage-inspired styles will continue to sell. “There are a lot of good possibilities, but I’m very concerned about the weather. We don’t know if we are going to get another Hurricane Sandy, which set [sales] back about six months. And politics is definitely an issue.”

Buyer Fran Magnus said her store, A Nose for Clothes in Miami, primarily focuses on apparel, but the boutique aims to increase its footwear offering for spring.

“I’m buying more [shoes] and we are looking for novelty in items,” she said. “Our budget is a little better this year, and the styles and the price points [at market] are better for us, too. It’s all about perceived value because people have become used to the buying behavior of spending less money.”

Also based in Florida, The Sun Porch is upping its shoe orders this season, thanks to an expanding footwear department. Natalie Edens, owner of the Boca Grande-based store, will be shopping close to season for spring, with an eye toward attention-grabbing colors and classic silhouettes that have a twist. “I’m excited,” she said. “We’ve been lucky the last few years and our business has been growing.”

Edens’ sunny attitude appeared to be consistent across the show.

“The mood is definitely upbeat,” said Advanstar’s VP of footwear, Leslie Gallin, noting that upgrades to Sole Commerce included booths with uniform fixtures styled after those at FN Platform, as well as a more fashion-focused assortment of vendors and a more comprehensive layout. “[Sole Commerce] can become very important to the market because it is so convenient and accessible for the tri-state area,” she added. “The stores can come in, take the pulse of the industry and network. The world keeps changing, but if the buyers continue to talk to each other, we can help build a better retail structure.”

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