It’s the summer of the tariff. President Donald Trump ignited more conversation around impending duties on Chinese imports when he delayed the 10% tariff on some products until December. But the headlines didn’t tell the full story: Most shoes are still in the batch of goods that will be hit starting Sept. 1
Meanwhile, it was a dramatic week for retail earnings. Macy’s shocked Wall Street with its disappointing report, sending most retail stocks down on Wednesday. A day later, Walmart and Alibaba fueled some recovery after both companies turned in solid numbers.
Both the tariffs and the tough retail climate were hot topics at FN Platform in Las Vegas. A special panel discussion featuring Pensole’s D’Wayne Edwards and Aldo’s Valerie Martin also examined another burning issue — how companies can enact real change when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
Plus, Steve Madden snapped up two more brands and Tapestry’s Kate Spade continued to face challenges.
Read on for five big stories that defined footwear this week.
For more than a year, President Donald Trump has suggested that China was footing the bill for the tariffs slapped on United States imports. On Tuesday, the U.S. Trade Representative announced that it would postpone the 10% duty on some of the $300 billion worth of Chinese products. The fourth tranche of tariffs has thus been split, with one set impacted with the additional duty on Sept. 1 and another on Dec. 15. “We’re doing this for the Christmas season,” Trump told reporters. “Just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.” But according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, more than three quarters (or 77%) of all shoes, clothes and home textile imports to the U.S. from China — amounting to about $39 billion worth of goods — will be taxed when the first wave of tariffs hits in less than three weeks.
Steven Madden Ltd. is on an acquisition streak. A day after completing the purchase of sneaker startup Greats Brands Inc., the New York-based footwear firm announced it snapped up women’s apparel label BB Dakota. Madden has been making big deals in the past few years, adding Dolce Vita, Blondo and Schwartz & Benjamin to its growing portfolio. And its sales numbers continue to impress, even amid a challenging retail climate: For Q2, the Long Island City, N.Y.-based firm reported revenues of $445 million — a 12% gain over the year-ago period.
Blame it on Macy’s. After the department store reported a disappointing Q2 that missed — by a wide margin — analyst expectations, investors punished other retail stocks over concerns that Macy’s disappointing figures were a sign of larger problems in the retail sector. A day later, however, Walmart and Alibaba posted solid results, providing a glimmer of hope to the market and Wall Street.
Tapestry Inc. shares took a hit as progress at Kate Spade — a brand in the middle of an overhaul — stalled during Q4. But company CEO Victor Luis said the company is working to fix it fast. How so? It will focus on reinvigorating product (starting with handbags), launch more whimsical novelty items and unveil a healthy amount of collaborations. The company also is banking on China to fuel growth across all of its brands.
More companies are prioritizing diversity and equality, but change is coming slow. In a conversation at FN Platform, D’Wayne Edwards of Pensole Footwear Design Academy explained that pay equity can be a “two-way” street. “You should also make an effort to increase your value through knowledge you’ve acquired every single year you’re on that job. You want to make yourself undeniable,” he said.