President Donald Trump’s controversial tariff moves. Sustainable product design. Augmented and virtual reality.
These were just a few of the hot topics discussed at Tuesday’s Footwear Sourcing and Innovation Summit, hosted by the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America at the New York Stock Exchange.
Among the event’s speakers were Allbirds co-CEO Joey Zwillinger, Caleres president of sourcing and global supply chains Dan Friedman and Payless Shoesource COO Mike McBreen.
In an interview with FN, FDRA President and CEO Matt Priest shared his key takeaways, which focused on how brands are investing in innovation to meet consumer demand.
He also cited some of the obstacles facing the industry, particularly the recent tariff hikes put in place by Trump’s administration. Organizations such as the FDRA, the American Apparel & Footwear Association and the Sports & Fitness Industry Association collectively claim would adversely affect American businesses and consumers.
“The industry is trying to figure out what is just plain disruption for disruption’s sake, and what is actually going to be policy that impacts sourcing,” Priest posited. “How do companies strategize to make business decisions with real impact — to save costs or to help drive innovative product — in the age of President Trump? That’s not a question that’s easily answerable.”
However, Priest did offer a solution: “Companies need to continue to do what they do best, and that’s to create footwear the best way they know how in the locations they feel the most comfortable doing that.”
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