The Luxe List

How will the luxury footwear market fare in spring ’15?

As buyers finally reached the finish line of a marathon fashion season in Paris last week, most said they were upbeat about the diversity in the market, which should translate into another winning year.

“We’re very optimistic. Footwear is outpacing the growth in almost all other [segments] in fashion, and this is expected to continue,” said Erin Cerrato, divisional VP of accessories at Holt Renfrew.

While much of the excitement this season centered around the collections from major fashion houses — from Céline and Prada to Dries Van Noten and Saint Laurent — buyers also praised footwear designers’ offerings.

For many retailers, the industry’s rising stars are becoming more and more important. “We saw a lot of our emerging designers become staples,” said Alberto Oliveros, head of buying for Level Shoe District in Dubai. “Paul Andrew, Sophia Webster and Aquazzura have made strong names for themselves in the past few seasons and are paving the way for new talent to come onto the scene.”

Read on to find out what will rule the high-end selling floors come spring.

Scott Meden, EVP & GMM of shoes, Nordstrom
Hit Collections: “While we’re still in market working, we were excited by the runway [styles] from Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Givenchy, Chanel and Valentino. We feel it’s been a strong season and have been pleased with the direction of footwear on the runways as well as with the commercial offer in the showrooms.”
Trend Report: “The lace-up gladiator, the continuation of a flat footbed sandal and 1970s influence.”
Overall Outlook: “We were inspired and excited, and we feel this will translate well onto the selling floor and online.”

Rebecca Farrar-Hockley, buying & creative director, Kurt Geiger
Trend Report:
“Trends we have seen before continue to be important, with no shortage of skaters and sneakers in the big collections. In general, the whole sport influence continues to permeate even the most formal of shoes. Wooden bottoms and clogs seem to be the new item. Flats continue to gain strength, and this for us is a good thing, with real attention being given to this category. The gladiator was important in many of the shows — I particularly loved the Valentino ones.”
Names on the Rise: “For us, Gianvito Rossi continues to excite us, and their business is flying for us, so we will be working harder with them. I was impressed with the work that Balenciaga has done with its shoe collection, which is becoming an increasingly interesting business for us.”
Overall Outlook: “Designers in general seemed to be playing it safe and taking a more cautious approach. That could be commercially helpful as sometimes it takes the consumer longer than we think to ‘catch up,’ but it seems a shame not to have a bit more fizz.”

Jeffrey Kalinsky, founder, Jeffrey New York
Hit Collections: “I loved the runway boot at Givenchy. I thought the Balenciaga shoes, as a collection, looked great. I loved the Dries Van Noten runway shoe, and Lanvin as well.”

Suzanne Timmins, SVP & fashion director, Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor
Hit Collections: “Céline’s soft and supple slipper shoes because comfy is cool. Tabitha Simmons denim espadrilles are the perfect summer footwear for all those little shift dresses. Burberry’s multicolor sneakers and slides because rainbow colors make us happy. Paul Andrew’s high-heeled gladiators are absolutely perfect, and we all know this is a style that can go so wrong. Nicholas Kirkwood’s tricked-out sport sandals for Peter Pilotto and Roksanda Ilincic will definitely be must-haves.”
Trend Report: “There is a trend toward what I call ‘happy feet,’ not only with regards to color, but in comfort as well. Flat soles and low block heels lead the way. Even with regards to higher heels, the platforms and wedges [we see] are much easier on the foot than stilettos. Sport categories continue to grow and sneakers are moving forward, while all those tricked-out Teva-like slides and slab soles will be a new category. Luxe espadrilles look new.”

Erin Cerrato, divisional VP of accessories, Holt Renfrew
Hit Collections:
“Valentino’s knee-high gladiators were a standout, as were the clogs at Prada. In Paris, Saint Laurent made a huge statement with the return of the platform sole.”
Names on the Rise: “We’re excited about the Aquazzura footwear collection. Growth has been strong since we launched the line in spring ’14, carrying into fall with the Olivia Palermo collaboration, and we expect this to continue into 2015. Our customers adore Edgardo Osorio’s design aesthetic, and many are looking forward to meeting him in person when he visits our Western stores later in the month. We launched Gianvito Rossi in the spring, and customer reaction has been strong — the craftsmanship is impeccable and the silhouettes are sophisticated. We’re looking forward to launching Kenzo footwear for spring ’15.”

Alberto Oliveros, head of buying, Level Shoe District
Hit Collections:
“Rupert Sanderson really caught my eye. This season, the collection was more playful and fun. His pointy ballerinas with lips are definitely one of this season’s must-haves. Nicholas Kirkwood’s Origami collection was colorful, vibrant and very unique. His statement sandal with the mix of materials, colors and incredible technique is so far one of my personal favorite shoes of the season. Edgardo Osorio proved again his extraordinary talent, creating another feminine, sexy and wearable collection for Aquazzura. Azzedine Alaïa’s collection once again proved that Mr. Alaïa’s technique and attention to details is still a reference for skillful craftsmanship .”
Trend Report: “Espadrilles and sneakers have become more than a trend: They have become a core category that footwear brands are focusing on and developing. Espadrilles have become a must-have in any women’s wardrobe, and it can be worn in a formal and casual way; we saw great examples in Loewe, Céline, Chanel, Valentino and many more. One of the biggest trends this season are flats.”
Names on the Rise: “We are excited to add Francesco Russo to our women’s designer assortment, as his extraordinary technique and mastering bring a unique and artisanal collection to life. Daniel Lawler’s collection at Oscar de la Renta really caught my eye as well. Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s No. 21 line was perfect for our market, as his statement runway satin sandal heels and flats with embellishments will catch the eyes of our international clientele. Joseph Altuzarra’s first in-house shoe collection was cool, edgy and sophisticated at the same time. We are watching it closely. Amina Muaddi’s collection for Oscar Tiye was again fun, quirky and sexy.”

Laura Vinroot Poole, owner, Capitol Boutique; Charlotte, N.C.
Hit Collections:
“Saint Laurent, Céline and Valentino for the newness of shapes and comfort. I appreciate so much that [Céline’s] Phoebe Philo and [Valentino’s] Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli sent models down the runway that were calm and confident and not writhing in pain from insane heels.”
Trend Report: “After last spring’s complete commitment to Birkenstocks, I’m thrilled to see wearable shoes become a staple.”

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