FN Platform: Hot Athletic and Comfort Trends

The influence of athletics continues to drive the fashion and comfort categories, according to retailers speaking at a seminar earlier today at FN Platform in Las Vegas.

The panelists said young consumers who want the next hot sneaker collaboration, as well as women looking for footwear to complement their yoga pants, will continue to drive the industry.

“Until the bottom story changes, true performance and casual-active [looks] will [dominate],” said Carl Scibetta, EVP and GMM of Shoe Carnival, about the continued popularity of leggings and yoga bottoms, key trends in the women’s market. “Everything she has [in her wardrobe] has a comfort element that is athletic-inspired. Yoga pants don’t look good with brown comfort shoes. [The market] is evolving and becoming more active in its inspiration.”

For the young consumer, it’s all about the athletic shoe of the moment, according to Tarek Hassan, co-owner of The Tannery and Concepts.

“Consumers want something limited and special,” he said. “If it’s on the shelf for more than two weeks, it is dead.”

“We wall [retailers] want to be special and try to have things that stand out,” agreed Scibetta. “It’s about newness and freshness every time they come into the [store].”

Money is not an object, agreed the panel, for young consumers willing to shell out top dollar for the latest athletic styles. “There’s no price resistance to basketball sneakers over $200,” said Jeff Rosenthal, CEO of Hibbett Sports.

The best way to get the word out about a new look is through social media, agreed the retailers.

“Social posts are continuing to grow,” said Rosenthal. “It’s the way we communicate with our customers.”

Noted Hassan: “Our biggest success is on Instagram.” That platform, he said, can sometimes lead to styles selling out in a matter of minutes.

It’s all about storytelling on social media, rather than simply showcasing an item, said Scibetta. For these retailers, a team of young, savvy marketers makes the social media connection with their buying peers. “We have a young social staff — they know how to get it done,” he added.

“Kids want to know there is a story behind a shoe and some inspiration,” said Hassan.

The power of social media allows kids around the country to tap into hot trends, said Rosenthal. “Kids in small towns want the same shoes as big-city kids.”

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