Buyers Seek Updated Classics at NYC Trade Shows

Retailers at this week’s Project Sole, Capsule and Liberty trade shows were seeking classic men’s shoes with updated and slightly unusual touches.

“I’m seeing lots of suede on chukka boots, as well as edgier sneaker designs,” said Naresh Patel, a buyer and manager for Philadelphia-based high-end boutique Boyds. He also noticed vibrant colors incorporated into a lot of looks.

Among the brands that stood out for Patel was Fratelli Lisco, a Milan-based line of studded and gold-plated sneakers that launched its first men’s collection stateside last year.

Thomas Cykana, buyer for New York’s Kith boutique, was looking for variety in casual boot and shoe brands, citing casual staples such as Clae and newcomers like Thorocraft as hallmarks for durability and affordability. 

“They provide an alternative to consumers who are looking for quality product and are willing to spend a few hundred dollars,” Cykana said.

He also touted labels such as Grenson, Yuketen and Fracap for their unique designs. “Grenson is introducing a triple-welded boot. Yuketen had a brogue-constructed upper on a Vibram outsole. Also, Fracap has introduced mountain hiker boots that will become increasingly popular as the year goes on,” he said.

Jennifer Mankins, owner of Brooklyn, N.Y., fashion boutique Bird, said next fall seems promising for the business as customers seek more-refined designs at all price points.

For example, new Japanese brand Buddy is now making simple canvas sneakers in every color retailing for $150.

“But on the other end of the spectrum, you have cult-sneaker brands like Common Projects collaborating with designer Robert Geller to make very luxe, very limited-edition kicks,” Mankins said.

The buyer predicted that defining fall looks will be leather-soled lace-up leather ankle boots and tonal leather laceups or slip-on sneakers with matching colored soles. “It’s all about being more refined and less rugged. It’s time to move away from the hiking boot trend,” she said.

Leslie Gallin, VP of footwear for Advanstar Global, which owns Project Sole, said versatility and season-less styles were most popular at the show.

“I sense the trend for men is shoes you can wear all year long, such as updated hiker boots, chukka boots, sneakers with softer edging and leather finishing. As far as color, black-and-white combos are looking fresh and polished,” she said, adding that Pikolinos, Camper and Trask are brands to watch.

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