Vendors at Sole Commerce on Tuesday started the three-day trade show in an overall optimistic mood.
The ENK event, being held at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York this week, drew brands from a wide array of categories — from Frye boots to Ipanema flip-flops — and price points, but the focus for all was on catering to still-cautious buyers through improved product and flexible ordering options for spring ’14.
“Spring is very upbeat,” said Modern Vintage CEO Rick Cytrynbaum. His firm revamped its namesake label for the season, as well as added men’s shoes and took the business global. Cytrynbaum also added that sales for the company’s other label, Nicole Richie’s House of Harlow 1960, were solid. “They are still a little cautious this season, so [orders] have been a bit [of both closer to season and further out], so we work with our customers,” he noted.
At Ash Footwear, a label under the umbrella of Highline United, partner Rob Perschino said the team was “very confident” as it wrapped up spring trade show season with a tightly edited mix. “The main collection’s DNA is back to where it should be, with consistency and updated styles,” he said. He listed creeper-inspired constructions, skate-influenced styles and footbed sandals as major trends on the horizon for contemporary.
Jacques Levine President Sam Calvino pointed out that, for his brand, buyers were going back to shopping further in advance of the selling season, with smoking slippers and sandals getting attention.
Newer and independent vendors were also moving into the season with bolstered spirits. Bed Stu’s Northeast account manager Paul Ayson said the label had experienced substantial growth this year, fueled by its expanding women’s business, which the brand added three years ago. Spring boots, the just-launched Western-focused styles and distressed looks for both men and women were performing well, Ayson added. “I think the market is all product-driven, as it always is.”
Carolinna Espinosa CEO and President Alan Luchette, who introduced the brand to the U.S. a year ago, echoed that opinion. “I’m feeling very optimistic with our product going into the season,” he said. “Last spring was difficult, but we delivered some fantastic [footwear], and buyers are noticing. [For spring ’14] we added a lot of special details and played with different materials to help [boost the label].”
Messeca started Sole Commerce with a busy booth, and the brand’s creative director, Nicole Ortega, attributed the buzz to the collection’s new look, which had been toned down from previous seasons. “People are still buying, but they are buying safer,” she said. “Sales are good and buyers are responding. A few that dropped [Messeca] two years ago when it got more fashion-forward have come back.”
Her general outlook for spring ’14? “So far we have been slammed,” she said.