Footwear brands are keeping it casual, comfortable and active for spring ’19 as sneaker-inspired looks dominated this week’s Fashion Footwear Association of New York show. While core athletic brands continue their reign, fashion takes on these active looks are attracting Generation Z to baby boomers consumers.
“Every vendor has a sneaker as part of their brand,” said Danny Wasserman, owner of New York-based Tip Top Shoes. “It’s for older and younger ladies,” noting its broad appeal. “It’s part of the shoe business [today], not the athletic business.” He added, “The [trend] is validated when high-end designers do sneakers.”
For Kate Blake, owner of Shoo in Milwaukee, athleisure styles were on her shopping list for spring, especially platform versions. “I hope they will continue,“ she said. “They were a big portion of my store for spring ’17 and spring ’18.”
Like Blake, Van Pape, owner of Rhea Nichols in Rockville Center, N.Y., noted the athleisure trend is still strong for his store, part of the comfort movement.
Fashion brands offering their take on the category included Spring Footwear and Earth Brands. According to Spring Footwear merchandise manager Laura Fish, “We’ve expanded [our offering] on active bottoms with dressier uppers.”
Added Katie Dobbs, director of marketing for Earth Brands, “Athleisure is happening and we’ve expanded on it. It’s been a successful category.”
Since comfort is critical for today’s consumers, vendors are also meeting the demand with wedges, a dressy alternative to heels, a category that has already proven itself at retail. “We always do well with wedges,” noted Pape, “[especially] with our more mature clientele. It’s about anything with comfort.”
Wasserman was also shopping the show for wedges. “Platforms and wedges are [currently] selling, he said. “They give [women] some lift. They’re the new pump.”
At Suburban Casuals in Scranton, Pa., owner Paul Kubick said she had missed buying into wedges for spring ’18, but was on the hunt for fresh styles at FFANY. “Customers are looking for wedge sandals,” she said, adding she’s also found herself short on dress styles. “For spring ’19, I’ll be buying pumps in black and nude,” keeping the offering concise.
Also on buyers’ shopping list were closed-up sandals, a category that continues to gain momentum due to changing weather patterns. “I [need] more closed-up and year-round looks,” said Blake. “The weather is unpredictable. [The industry] needs to shift its calendar to meet the weather patterns.”
Spring Footwear was working to adapt its footwear to meet this challenge. “We want everyone to have what they need when they need it,” she said, noting an increase in closed-up sandals and cut-out booties that can be worn with socks.
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