The casual footwear wave is continuing for spring ’19, with athleisure looks and comfort-driven wedges making their way down South, according to retailers attending the Atlanta Shoe Market last week.
“Sneakers are the ‘it’ shoe,” said Amy Ingle, manager of Chattanooga Shoe Co., in Chattanooga, Tenn. “You can put the same style with a dress or yoga [looks]. They [appeal] to women 18 to 50.”
At Boutique MMM in Franklin, Tenn., owner Maria Molnar Baskin agreed that athleisure continues to dominate. “It’s still big and selling tremendously,” she noted. “People are looking for comfort with fashion.” Shawn O’Neil, SVP of Comfort One Shoes in Manassas, Va., said that even conservative customers in Washington, D.C., are more relaxed. “[Everything is] more casual. Guys’ ties are coming off,” O’Neil said.
Tammy Sutton, buyer for Work Boots & More in Waynesville, N.C., admitted she was surprised by the popularity of the athletic trend. “I was a [bit] scared of these looks for spring ’18 but will be adding more [next] spring,” she said.
Women will also be making more room in their closets for wedges, buyers at the show predicted. “They’re more comfortable than heels,” Baskin commented about the retro-inspired silhouette.
At Barkin’ Dogs Shoe Co. in Madison Ga., owner Vickie Hunt said wedges were an important part of the overall comfort story. ”They take the pressure off the ball of the foot,” she noted. “We’re trying to educate younger consumers about wearing good shoes.”
In contrast, “We can’t give away a high heel,” said Kathy Sanford, owner of Chou Chou in Rowayton, Ct.
Flats were also on retailers’ radars, and Yvette Bergeron, owner of Shopmunki.com, was ramping up her assortment. “Ballet flats are back,” she said, noting that she increased her buy of the category for spring.
Vionic ranked high for Finona Atkinson, manager and buyer for Phillips Shoes in Charleston, S.C. “The brand has expanded to [styles] women can wear to work,” she said. ‘The Minna ballet is [popular] for both moms and daughters.”
There was also a consensus when it came to the season’s color palette. Blues and reds, rounded out with metallics, took center stage.
Betsy Foster, buyer for Sole in the City in Knoxville, Tenn., is looking forward to introducing more color next season. At e-commerce site Shopmunki.com, Bergeron added, “Leopard is doing well. We make sure we [always] have it. It’s an all-seasons shoe.”
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