Comfort Continues To Dominate Women’s Footwear For Spring 2016

Comfort styles — especially athletic-inspired looks — continue to rule the footwear market for spring ’16. According to panelists at MAGIC’s Seminar Series on Aug. 17 at FN Platform, “Stern Agee Presents: Fall ’15 & Spring ’16 Women’s Fashion Trend Outlook,” consumers’ growing interest in living a healthy lifestyle is translating into comfort-focused shoes. However, panelists — including Carl Scibetta, EVP and GMM of Shoe Carnival, and George McCracken, stylist and designer for M-82— said the focus is on less technical styles and more on athleisure looks that borrow elements from the performance market.

“There’s a move away from super-techie athletics, especially on the runway,” said McCracken, who was on hand to speak about fashion shifts in the men’s market. “It’s athletic, but more inspired by the ’70s.” He noted the return of the Stan Smith sneaker in classic white as an example.

Sam Poser
Stern Agee analyst Sam Poser at FN Platform in Las Vegas.
CREDIT: Courtesy.

Scibetta agreed that the ’70s athleisure trend is still relevant in the women’s market. “It has to do with the apparel [that female consumers] are wearing,” he said. While the younger shopper may be starting to move back to flared-leg denim, which calls for more traditional footwear, including clogs and Birkenstock sandals, the more mature market is still hooked on athletic-driven styles. “Yoga pants and leggings don’t look good with brown leather shoes,” he added. But “even as we move away from athletic looks, there will be a [focus] on shoes that are softer and more comfortable.”

When it comes to more classic footwear, Scibetta said, Shoe Carnival has seen an uptick in sales over the past year for single-sole dress pumps, even in the junior’s category. He expects that trend to continue into spring ’16. Also key for spring, said Scibetta, will be footbed sandals, flat sandals and wedges. On the men’s side, McCracken said the industry will be promoting leather sandals, shoes with thinner rubber soles and softly constructed loafers.

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