Sneakers, Sandals Dominate High-End Men’s Trends

NEW YORK — The verdict is in: High-fashion kicks and sporty sandals will dominate the men’s market next spring.

“Designer sneakers are everywhere, with almost every brand getting into the business and absolutely no sign of the category abating,” said Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman. He cited Berluti as one strong example: “They featured their new sneaker in an array of styles, and it was worn by almost every model in the show.”

Following two weeks of shows in London, Milan and Paris, buyers said even the unlikeliest of designers are beginning to offer lifestyle trainers and sport-inspired sandals. Labels such as Prada did Teva-style strappy sandals, while Valentino took a more experimental approach with paint-splattered low-tops. (For more top looks, see page 11.)

With the sneaker-sandal movement on the rise, retailers also weighed in on how the trending styles might perform in stores. “Sandals are tricky since they always sell too late in the season,” said Emmanuel de Bayser, co-owner of The Corner Berlin. “Men buy them when they need them and not in advance like women [do].”

Read on for retailers’ picks for hot brands and must-have trends.

Steven Cook
SVP of buying and merchandising, Holt Renfrew

Favorite collections: Salvatore Ferragamo, Tod’s, Prada and Gucci
Trendspotting: “Sneakers continue to be very strong, and are designed to suit all lifestyles and dressing needs, from very casual to formal. Prada looked great with developments in new silhouettes in their signature saffiano leather. Gucci has continued strength in sneakers, both high-top and low, and great unlined loafers.”
Business outlook: “The outlook is very favorable. We continue to expand the offering of men’s footwear.”

Eric Jennings
VP and fashion director of menswear, Saks Fifth Avenue
Favorite collections:
Louis Leeman, Maison Martin Margiela, Santoni, Gucci and Alberto Moretti
Trendspotting: Birkenstock-inspired sandals, Vans-inspired slip-ons, designer trainers, two-toned dress shoes, colorful burnished leathers
Business outlook: “The sneaker trend continues and evolves into cleaner styles. Italy remains a powerhouse for innovation and quality in men’s footwear, and Paris is hitting the mark with the latest trends and hottest brands.”

Bruce Pask
Men’s fashion director, Bergdorf Goodman
“Athletic shoes have become a vital part of a man’s shoe wardrobe, and now we will see different styles cycling in and out of fashion. The lightly constructed, flexible loafer has seen a huge resurgence, with great versions in soft leathers like deerskin and kangaroo. The slip-on sneaker continues to be another featured style, with cool new versions at Louis Leeman and printed styles at Pierre Hardy. Rope-soled casual shoes, and more-constructed, leather-soled espadrilles [also made a showing].”

Emmanuel de Bayser
Co-owner, The Corner Berlin
Favorite collections:
Dries Van Noten, Valentino and Givenchy
Trendspotting: “We’re back to a certain tailoring, but mixed with sporty elements — with shoes in particular. Sneakers are still No. 1. Sandals are always very present in summer collections, even though they are a hard sell for us. New trends are the ballerina slippers inspired by dancers, seen at Dries Van Noten and Bottega Veneta, and workwear shoes, seen at Givenchy.”
Business outlook: “Every customer, classic or trendy, wants sneakers. On the classic side, loafers are performing well and are back this season. Workwear shoes will be back, and we will see a lot of them for fall ’15.”

Daniel Storey
Menswear footwear buyer, Asos.com
Favorite collections: 
Margiela, Acne and Jil Sander
Trendspotting: “It is an exciting time for men’s footwear. While the trainer trend is still [dominant], it is starting to give way to new and fresh styles. Luxe leather trainers, suede Chelsea boots and leather pool slides are being backed with force. Another trend starting to take off is the all-white phenomenon.”
Business outlook: “As with most of the men’s footwear market, spring is a tougher market than fall. Having said this, we are excited at the prospect of next season. There are some new trends that should be commercial winners.”

John Wong
Men’s accessories and footwear buyer, East Dane

Favorite collections: “Kolor by Junichi Abe presented a collection anchored in classics — short-sleeve tees, shorts and sneakers — but with a compelling palette of stripes that translated into an excellent shoe collection.”
Trendspotting: “From reinterpreted running styles to the classic skate shoe, athletic continues to be an overarching trend. This was even more apparent when Kim Jones sent down 39 looks by Louis Vuitton with his luxury adaptation of the 1980s walking sneaker. Another trend that we’ve seen is the adaptation of the ugly-comfortable sandal. Based on what Raf Simons and MSGM are saying, the next style we all need is the shower sandal slide — worn with or without black socks.”
Business outlook: “We had a strong spring season this year boosted by sneakers and sandals. Want Les Essentiels de la Vie and 3.1 Phillip Lim will be introducing their first footwear collections on East Dane, and from what I’ve seen, they will not disappoint.”

Alberto Oliveros
Head of buying, Level Shoe District

Favorite collections: Louis Leeman, Giuseppe Zanotti, Valentino and Magnanni
Trendspotting: “Sandals are huge, from slip-on styles at Fendi to statement [looks] at Nicholas Kirkwood. Sneakers have become a must-have in any man’s wardrobe, from the most classic to the most contemporary gentleman. Espadrilles are also key this season, and monk strap styles continue to be reinvented in different materials and colors, adding a modern twist to this classic style.”
Business outlook: “Spring ’15 is going to be a strong season for us. Our international clientele love to invest in unique sandals and trendy sneakers, and they are not afraid to play with color. Last spring, designer sandals performed extremely well, so I am happy to see a great offer from designers this season.”

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